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This program was produced by WB Geo for a national educational radio undergrad from the National Library Foundation. From the struggle for freedom in the 18th century through the struggle for freedom in the 20th. Americans have helped make American history. These are a few of the travellers along that Lori wrote. The stories of Negro Americans who have shared in the building of our nation. Today Benjamin Banneker. Yankee Doodle won the war. Yes the Revolutionary War was over. Canada no longer bloom the New York muskets were still in Pennsylvania and the drums of Yorktown were silent. The time had come to rebuild and choose a capital city to be the heart of the new nation. Over 20 cities competed for the honor. But the final decision to place the new capital name Ford's first President
Washington on 10 square miles of land bordering the Potomac River and 1791 three man commission in charge of city planning met with major Pierre L'Enfant the man appointed by President George Washington to be the capital city architect this year. Gentlemen of the commission you only appointed me for my chief said I am Major Andrew and it can't mean that you can not. And my friends you have seen it and you approve I presume. Magnificent magnificent. We have studied them but we wonder if they were or are possible. Naturally if I planned them they can be done. I'm a practical man sir and I approve of your beautiful views and gardens and fountains. But can the plans be matched to the existing land this year Carol. That is why we have major and I got here. He is an engineer and survey major then yes I have you found the assistant. We need indeed sir he awaits in the end what that negro
a surveyor is not known by his color Mr. Stewart. Oh come now Ellicott that man is fifty if he's a day. But man Mr. Benjamin Banneker has spent years doing the various types of work which qualify him for this job. It is true however that his grandfather's first steps along to our shores were taken in chains as he came off a slave. Then they go back to a lasting place coming down. Excuse me Sire but is this a preist crisis not a one of the best places last. Fresh off the boat from Africa. But with the likes of you needing a sleigh for anyone to help. You with land drop your not for do you want pay for my passage from England with seven years of hard work. Even cites a little Michael. It's free I am and I landowner to simmer down. Last I meant no offense. In fact I'd give you some good advice. Pick your man from those in
Barking from the center of why that's where they put the tallest and the strongest. More headroom there you see. Oh yes I can. Ride to see what you mean. Some of the others look at you. And why not. It's no bunch of boys from Africa. Let's start with this. Dr. Black are you with us for this. All right why did for the slave not create this country. Poor folks let's hear it all started it turned 20 20 20 25 25. There were a story where girly girl did not do so much
in the capital 25 Going once going twice. When you get spot you're in Sandy Carroll's out so what's your name. Molly Molly Roche of Maryland and what would be the fate of this gentleman right. I am very panicky. And so Molly waltz took Banneker back to the hills as our grandfather was a slave major Alcott. We were discussing surveyors not slaves. A surveyor as one who knows the land on how to use it Mr. Carro prints about a key or Banneker was a surveyor of sorts using a system of locks and channels like those he had used in his African homeland. He developed some of the finest tobacco to be found in Maryland. His grandson Benjamin while still a young boy often worked in the fields first laid up by him even in times of drought the Banneker's of water for the tobacco much
to the astonishment. But that is amazing Blake just down the road my tobacco crop is ruined while yours is strong and healthy. How do you do it. WE channel the water from the back of the spring so that if the springs are manic or is it the same name. Yes sir it was named for my grandfather and Big Mama who settled this land but the name changed gradually over the years and who might be Big Mama my grandmother her name is Molly Walsh but everybody around here calls a big mama. Now that grandpa is dead. Oh Arthur My name is Ben Benjamin Banneker and my name is Mr Henry. Your new neighbor and schoolteacher. Not my schoolteacher sir begging your pardon but what don't you want to come to school. I can't so why not. I'm a negro. Well that has nothing to do with reading writing and arithmetic. Oh how I would like to know more about numbers. I've been taught to read in my home but no one up to the house knows very much about numbers. No one at my house is very good on tobacco. Let's make a bargain
then. You come to school and learn numbers from me and I learn more about tobacco farming from you. Agreed. Agreed sir thank you. We can begin right now to see how I look don't worry about it whatever it is more deeply. They studied many years with Heinrich and he knew his mathematics but majorly Could we need a man who can figure angles calculate distances measure land contours In short sir we need an advanced mathematical scientist. I noticed Mr. Stuart that you were wearing a what. Why yes I was and so was Peter Heinrich one day when he dropped by to see ben many years after the first. Man Mr. Henrik how glad I am to see you. I'm sorry my farming duty said kept me from you lately. Looks like another good Banagher crop. Yes but it takes all my time. Now that I'm the only man left in the family. Speaking of time Ben I want to show you this Why what is it. It's called a
watch. A friend of mine brought it to me from London as if a clock. That's good an explanation as any Been it does tell to how Mr. Henry dear look at it. You and your questions. Well I'm no longer able to answer them. Mechanical contraptions like this are not my line Ben. It seems to be some sort of system of gears here in the back. But I wonder how they are set in motion is beyond me. Keep it for a while then look it over I thank you sir. I wonder if I could learn. And here is a book that might help you. It's of no use to me for I can't make head or tail of a principio by Sir Isaac Newton. It's a wonder for. Why here's a chapter entitled The laws of motion. Maybe that would help me understand. Well maybe and maybe I could build a clock but you make a clock and I'll eat my best Quaker black.
Working on this clock for two years are you really finished I believe. I'll start the mechanism here and my word Bennett it's going that's all me. Let me wait Mr. Hendrick my calculations and measurements are correct. It does work. Mr. Hendricks I've done it so you gradually. Well all right pass me the syrup syrup. You don't expect me to eat this hot with nothing on it do you. I'm on the clock was only a beginning gentlemen. Recently he's been studying astronomy writing and editing and organizing this discussion I would like to commission. Hi I am good. I miss you get when you arrange to have President Washington make this appointment official. I will take care of it. Now major find where you are these detailed plans of the center of the city. Observe the triangular effect we have on the one point of the
triangle. Then I want to preserve this triangular bearing because of the magnificent distances one may see the proud distance. Can we keep to this origin of play. I believe so said according to my calculations the capital will be on Jenkins heights. One large revenue will go west to the president's house and one large more south to the presidential money and I guess yes that is it. Now they've got to do it here is what does that figure back Thirty eight degrees. 53 minutes north. Yes yes yes now I worried about that. The water problem. Can we divert the water from the creek up here here is that it's possible the Tiber springs can provide water for the capital and the overflow will flow from this point in a cascade and run through the gardens you plant Yes yes he says I have grand Yes it must be a city of beauty when I must visit
the secretary of state. Mr. Jefferson to report on the progress we are making and of that corroborate some commission or else maybe monsieur and Jefferson will talk to them at their next meal. That moment gentlemen please Mr. Jefferson has an important announcement to make. Thank you commissioners. I have great news. As you know President Washington acting on your recommendation relieved major L'Enfant of all his duties serves him right I say. What about those city lights Mr. Jefferson. Can we go through with the sale of them now that one fine is out of the picture. Just where are those lives. What do you mean when I look at the map. Major avocat will you explain your love of refuses to release the map showing the city lights. Nonsense insist to give them to let's impossible. He has left Washington so I'm afraid the only thing we can do is to start all over. Wait a minute Ben might be able to solve this. Who is Ben. Benjamin Banneker my assistant. He worked very closely with love. Perhaps he would.
No Ben wants to return to his other work data is that the same fellow who writes those all next. Well yes it is but how did you end up. Never mind that now Major and I got to go to Mr. Banneker tell him that Mr. Jefferson would deem it most kind if you could assist in any way possible. I don't quite understand sir but of course I shall deliver your message immediately. Gentlemen I bid you a hasty good. Wait a minute Andrew how are you confused and confused. Do you remember the layout of city lots of available for public sale of a love made by I'm not quite sure and I did begin working on a lot of plans for it I plan but do you remember the endo. I think my work here is finished. I want to go home and even of Mr. Thomas Jefferson himself requested that you do this for us Mr. Jefferson made this request. Yossi did burn Mr. Jefferson did something for me ones I didn't even know you knew him. I sent Mr. Jefferson a copy of my own act which he forwarded to the Academy of
Science in Paris. Do you know why I remember exactly Mr. Jefferson's written words. Nobody wished more than idle to see such proofs as you exhibit that nature has given to our black brother and talents equal to those of other colors of man. I have taken the liberty of sending your money back to maturity Conder say Secretary of the Academy of Science in Paris because I consider it a document to which I hold has a right for their justification against the doubts which have been entertained of them. Yes and go if Mr. Jefferson wants me to try I shall. What a lucky thing this is for us. I would have done it anyway or friend for my country but especially for Mr. Jefferson. After all he's the man who said We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal. After working one more year in Washington Ben returned to Maryland and for the rest of his
life continued the yearly publication of his old not so essential to the farmers of the book. First but as the story of Benjamin Banneker grandson of a slave and son of the father of astronomers surveyor a mathematician on the road genius in a time when many people thought the only man of intellect were white. This program Benjamin Banneker in the series Glory Road was written by Sally B Foster and produced and directed by Steve Russell heard in today's CAS where Walter Clifford Lee Smith I've let me borrow way in Carl Samuel Seidler Walter Crews my Joan Pollock state Russell Don Wilson and Michel Martin. Music courtesy of RCA Victor Columbia and Mercury Records.
The glory road
Benjamin Banneker
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program focuses on scientist and surveyor Benjamin Banneker.
Other Description
The stories of African-Americans who have helped make the United States what it is today.
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Race and Ethnicity
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Actor: Cahn, Rolf
Director: Russell, Steve
Writer: Foster, Sally B.
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 66-9-2 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:14:48
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Chicago: “The glory road; Benjamin Banneker,” 1965-11-30, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed October 23, 2021,
MLA: “The glory road; Benjamin Banneker.” 1965-11-30. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. October 23, 2021. <>.
APA: The glory road; Benjamin Banneker. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from