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But her health had been failing rapidly, and she soon
died, leaving a large circle of friends and admirers to
mourn her early and lamented death.
No colored man is acquainted with the history of his
race in this country who is not familiar with the record of
Benjamin Banneker, the scholar, the philanthropist, and
the astronomer. No negro figures so conspicuously in the
history of the last century as Banneker.
He was born in Maryland, in 1732. His parents were
pure negroes, one of whom had been sold into slavery.
The mother secured the freedom of her husband, and pur-
chasing a few acres of land, settled down in her own home.
Their son, Benjamin, was a bright and intelligent boy, and
early gave evidence of superior mental capacity. He was
sent by his parents to the school established for the children
of free negroes, where he was diligent and successful in all
his studies. When fifteen years of age, he had mastered the
course prescribed, and, consequently, left school; but con-
tinued his studies. One Mr. Geo. Ellicott, a gentleman of
fortune and literary taste, became interested in young Ban-
neker, and gave him the privilege of his large and valu-
He studied Mayer's Tables, Ferguson's Astronomy, and
Leadbeater's Lunar Tables. He obtained some astronom-
ical instruments, which he used admirably.
He had a taste for the languages, and became very ef-
ficient in Latin, Greek, German, and French. He paid
considerable attention to the classics and general literature.
But it was evident that his genius was in the line of math-
ematics and astronomy. Accordingly, he turned his atten-
tion to astronomical observations. He completed a set of
calculations for a whole year. He was so successful that he
made calculations for the years 1792 to 1795, and pub-
lished almanacs "exhibiting the different aspects of the