Daily Almanac for Friday, February 26, 2021; Black History Month Feature: Benjamin Banneker, inventor of the Wooden Clock

Benjamin Banneker depicted on a 1943 mural by Maxime Seelbinder, Public Domain, https commons.wikimedia.org

FROM WIKIPEDIA COMMONS

Benjamin Banneker (November 9, 1731 – October 19, 1806) was a free African-American almanac author, surveyorlandowner and farmer who had knowledge of mathematics and natural history. Born in Baltimore County, Maryland, to a free African-American woman and a former slave, Banneker had little or no formal education and was largely self-taught. He became known for assisting Major Andrew Ellicott in a survey that established the original borders of the District of Columbia, the federal capital district of the United States.

Banneker’s knowledge of astronomy helped him author a commercially successful series of almanacs. He corresponded with Thomas Jefferson on the topics of slavery and racial equality, Jefferson having earlier drafted the United States Declaration of IndependenceAbolitionists and advocates of racial equality promoted and praised Banneker’s works.

Although a fire on the day of Banneker’s funeral destroyed many of his papers and belongings, one of his journals and several of his remaining artifacts are presently available for public viewing. Parks, schools, streets and other tributes commemorate him and his works. However, many accounts of his life exaggerate his accomplishments or attribute to him the achievements of others.

Notable works

Around 1753, at about the age of 21, Banneker reportedly completed a wooden clock that struck on the hour. He appears to have modeled his clock from a borrowed pocket watch by carving each piece to scale. The clock purportedly continued to work until his death.

THE ALMANAC

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COURTESY www.almanac.com

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