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Banneker, Benjamin  

Brad S. Born

Benjamin Banneker was born 9 November 1731in Baltimore County, Maryland, the first child of free African American parents Mary Banneker and Robert, a former slave whose freedom she had purchased and who took her surname upon marriage. Growing up on their tobacco farm, Benjamin received little formal schooling, learning to read and write from his grandmother and attending for several seasons an interracial school where he first developed his lifelong interest in mathematics. Following his parents’ deaths and three sisters’ departures from home, Banneker remained on the farm, working the crops and cultivating his intellect in relative seclusion.

In 1771, he befriended George Ellicott a Quaker neighbor whose family had developed a large complex of mills on the adjoining property With astronomical texts and instruments borrowed from Ellicott he trained himself to calculate ephemerides tables establishing the positioning of the sun moon and stars for each day ...

Article

Lewis, Robert Benjamin  

Reginald H. Pitts

inventor, entrepreneur, and historian, was born in what is now Gardiner, Maine, the son of Matthias Lewis, a farm laborer of Mohegan Indian ancestry. Nothing is now known of Lewis's mother. Sometime after 28 July 1800 Lewis's father married Lucy Stockbridge of Pittston, Maine, the daughter of African slaves. It is not known whether this marriage legalized a longstanding relationship or was Matthias's actual second marriage.

Although little is known of Lewis's early life, it appears that he first went to sea in ships that worked the Atlantic rim and the coastal trade down to the Caribbean. It is known that Lewis wanted to become a missionary to Africa; after his death, his neighbors remembered, “it was said … that the Congregational Church in Hallowell [where Lewis moved around 1820 had in consequence of the intelligence he had manifested in youth obtained for him an ...

Article

Pelham, Robert A., Jr.  

Jacqueline-Bethel Mougoué

inventor, newspaper publisher, and editor, was born the second son and fifth child to Robert and Frances Pelham near Petersburg, Virginia. In the year of his birth his family moved to Detroit, Michigan, seeking better educational and economic opportunities. Pelham attended the public schools of Detroit and managed to finish a twelve-year educational course in nine years.

In 1871, while still in high school, Pelham sharpened his journalistic skills while working at the Daily Post, a leading Republican newspaper of the time. At the Daily Post Pelham worked under Zachariah Chandler, who not only was the owner of the Daily Post but also was a prominent Republican who went on to become mayor of Detroit and a U.S. senator. This close working relationship probably explains Pelham's later involvement with the Republican Party.

Pelham wrote for the Detroit Daily from 1883 to 1891 While ...