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The Life of Benjamin Banneker: The First African-American Man of Science
Orginally published by Scribner in 1972 to wide praise and critical acclaim, Silvio Bedini's work remains the definitive biography of Benjamin Banneker, the self-educated mathematician and astronomer who became America's first black scientist. Born a free man in Maryland in 1731, he had little formal education but developed a remarkable aptitude for mathematics. He ...more
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published December 2nd 1998 by The Maryland Historical Society
(first published January 1972)
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The first time I heard of Benjamin Banneker was through Rita Dove's poem "Banneker." Born 1731, he was a free black man raised in Maryland who, like his parents, grew to be a tobacco farmer as well as a self-taught mathematician, astronomer, and almanac writer. He also raised bees. At 22 he first gained fame when he made a clock, which worked perfectly, striking on the hour for over 100 years. People would travel to his remote farm just to see the clock and meet "the unusual Negro farmer" who ...more
Not a whole lot of documentation still exists regarding Banneker's life but there's enough, and Bedini is honest with what he searched for but could not find. Banneker is mostly remembered for his almanacs and the work he did surveying Washington, D.C. There's also a lot that is sad: one letter from someone else claims Banneker was invited to eat with the white men, for instance, who were also surveying Washington but Banneker felt it was inappropriate so he ate separately. He also led a very ...more