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Historical Document
Jefferson's reply to Banneker

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Less than two weeks after Benjamin Banneker wrote to Thomas Jefferson, challenging the democratic ideology that denied liberty and humanity to blacks, Jefferson sent him a polite response (dated August 30, 1791).

While repeatedly asserting the desirability of "such proofs as you exhibit...talents equal to those of the other colors of men," Jefferson fails to comment either on his impressions of the Almanac Banneker sent to him or on the critical issues that Banneker's letter raised.

Years later, in a letter to his friend Joel Barlow, Jefferson speculates that Banneker had help in developing the calculations for his Almanac, and refers to the "long letter from Banneker, which shows him to have had a mind of very common stature indeed..."

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Banneker's letter to Jefferson

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