His First Almanac

Banneker had learned a great deal about astronomy from Major Ellicott. He put this knowledge to work as he compiled his new ephemeris. In June 1791, two months after his return home, Banneker finished the first draft of his 1792 almanac. He took his work to two printers, Goddard and Angell in Baltimore and Crukshank and Humpreys in Philadelphia, both of whom ultimately acknowledged that Banneker's work was of the highest competence and agreed to publish his work. As Banneker had hoped, Joseph Pemberton and the Society for the Relief of Free Negroes played a significant role in supporting Banneker in view of the publishers. According to S. A. Bedini's Benjamin Banneker, on a morning in late December 1791, an advertisement in the Baltimore paper read:

Benjamin Banneker's highly approved Almanac, for 1792, to be sold by the Printers hereof, Wholesale and Retail.

Banneker could not have been happier or more grateful to his friends. He had received personal support from a number of prominent figures, the Ellicott family being chief among them, including the now famous geographer general of the United States, Major Andrew Ellicott. In the end, however, it was not who he knew that caused his almanac to succeed, but the fine work of the almanac itself.

After negotiations between the printers were finalized, his 1792 almanac was printed by Goddard and Angell in Baltimore (the same publisher who rejected his first almanac), by Crukshank and Humphreys in Philadelphia, and by Hanson and Bond in Alexandria. This was a historical first in major scientific accomplishments by African Americans and was a key event in the advocacy of the abolition of slavery. Through his work, Banneker proved that the intellect of an African was equal to any.

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