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planets, a table of the motions of the sun and moon, their
risings and settings, and the courses of the bodies of the
His reputation became national, and the ablest schol-
ars of the United States opened up correspondence with
him, and sought his society. He was a fine writer, and the
celebrated firm of Goddard & Angell, of Baltimore, secured
his services for their house, and gladly became the publish-
ers of his almanacs.
He sent one of his almanacs and a letter to Thomas
Jefferson, which in itself is a production of literary value.
Jefferson responded in an elegant and characteristic vein.
The great statesman was so very much pleased with the al-
manac that he sent it to the distinguished French writer,
Brissot, and in his letter referred to Banneker in glowing
terms, calling him the "Negro Philosopher."
Just before the French Revolution of 1789, or there-
abouts, the "Society of the Friends of the Blacks" was
organized by Lafayette, Brissot, Barnave, Condorcet, and
Gregoire. The name of Banneker was often upon the
lips of these orators of freedom, who used him as an argu-
ment in favor of the black race. And in the British House
of Commons, Pitt, Wilberforce, and Buxton often referred
to him, calling his name, in proof the capacity of the negro.
He was invited by the Maryland commissioners to help
lay off the District of Columbia as the national capital, and
took a distinguished part in that important work. He
knew every branch of history," says a writer, "both natural
and civil; he had read all the original historians of Eng-
land, France, and Germany, and was a great antiquarian.
Criticism, metaphysics, morals, politics, voyages, and travels
were all studied and well digested by him. With such a
fund of knowledge his conversation was equally interesting,
instructive, and entertaining." He was so highly appre-