PLSO The Oregon Surveyor May/June 2022

26 groundbreaking almanac have earned him a significant place in American history. We also selected Banneker because it was his ability to overcome the adversity of being a free Black man in early colonial America. Through much self-teaching, he was able to excel at the contributions previously listed in a period when Blacks were not accepted for their educational abilities. The selection committee chose Mr. Banneker over the three presidents who are famously chiseled on Mt. Rushmore, and Henry David Thoreau, an author who also surveyed to fund his writing career. The committee felt that Mr. Banneker’s contributions not just to the surveying profession made him deserve this honor, but his total body of work in a time when men like him were not accepted as capable human beings. Our world needs more people like Benjamin Banneker and would be a better place because of them.” [Photo 1] While recognition as the Global Surveyor of the Year is admirable and fitting for his accomplishments, Banneker might take some offense with this nomination mentioning his skin color. However, given the era of his life, the societal obstacles he overcame are truly notable. By the limited historical record that is available, Banneker was a man who stood on his own two feet and wanted his accomplishments to stand on their own with the surveyors of his time. Banneker was highly regarded by surveyors George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, George Ellicott, Andrew Ellicott, and David Rittenhouse, but despite his accomplishments as a person his skin color was often a qualifier on peoples praise of his work. The following material is paraphrased from the White House Historical Association page entitled “Benjamin Banneker—The Black Tobacco Farmer who the Presidents Couldn’t Ignore” and prepared by Louis Keene, WHHA-USC Price School Fellow. I encourage you to read the original article in full as we celebrate the Global Surveyor of the Year. The White House Historical Association article notes that Banneker’s astronomy work, related to the ephemeris he published, was so advanced that there were few who could review it let alone know if it was correct or not. The review continued  Photo 2: Benjamin Banneker Park in Arlington, Virginia, contains boundary monument SW-9 on the original DC boundary. This is the oldest survey monument the author Pat Gaylord has ever visited. The Oregon Surveyor | Vol. 45, No. 3 The Lost Surveyor