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Fugitive ScienceEmpiricism and Freedom in Early African American Culture$
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Britt Rusert

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781479885688

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479885688.001.0001

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The Banneker Age

The Banneker Age

Black Afterlives of Early National Science

(p.33) 1 The Banneker Age
Fugitive Science

Britt Rusert

NYU Press

This chapter identifies Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia (1785, 1787) as a “founding text” for a vibrant genealogy of black scientific discourse in the early national and antebellum periods, from Benjamin Banneker’s 1791 correspondence with Jefferson to David Walker’s 1829 Appeal, James Pennington’s 1844 ethnology, and James McCune Smith’s essays on Notes, written in 1859, on the cusp of the Civil War. It also examines the widespread memorialization of Benjamin Banneker by African Americans in the antebellum period, an act that, among other things, used Banneker to imagine the beginning of a new scientific age, marked by anti-racism and emancipatory politics.

Keywords:   Jefferson, Banneker, David Walker, James McCune Smith, James W.C. Pennington, ethnology

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