From: Karmen Lewis
Time: 10:53:21 PM
Remote Name: 18.104.22.168
Karmen L Lewis History 67Tuesday/Thursday William Cutler 2/22/00
Primary Source Assignments: Who was Benjamin Banneker and why did Thomas Jefferson write this letter to him in August 1791?
Born a free man in 1731, Benjamin Banneker strived to better himself and liberate others (slaves). Banneker displayed his brilliance and talent at an early age. During the day he taught him math and at night he studied stars other wise know as astronomy. Slavery was an important issue for Benjamin Banneker. He adamantly believed that slavery should be abolished. In 1791, Banneker wrote a passionate letter to Thomas Jefferson. Banneker spoke against Jefferson for being one of Virginias largest slaveholders and challenged his sincerity about the liberation of slaves. Thomas Jefferson responded by expressing his belief that African Americans posses talents equal to those of “other colours of men”, 30 August 1791(Thomas Jefferson Papers). In addition, Jefferson told Banneker that he had sent some of his work to Marquis de Condorcet secretary of the Royal Academy of Science. Condorcet used Bannekers work to dispel European doubts in regards to black intelligence. The letter informed us that most white Americans believed that blacks were intellectually inferior. In Addition, Thomas Jefferson expressed his two sided views on slavery and assured Banneker that he would help better the condition of blacks.