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Benjamin Banneker-Abolitionist, Inventor, and Intellectual by Elizabeth Cohan-Lawson » I For Color

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Benjamin Banneker-Abolitionist, Inventor, and Intellectual by Elizabeth Cohan-Lawson

 

Banneker’s biggest accomplishment was his assistance in the surveying and planning of Washington. Appointed by Andrew Ellicott, cousin of the Ellicott Brothers, they and  famous French architect, Pierre Charles L’Enfant, plotted out what would become the District of Columbia.

Andrew Ellicott

Andrew Ellicott

All went well, and the men were almost finished with the project, but due to frequent disagreements, paranoia, and his desire to model it perfectly after Paris,

Pierre Charles L’Enfant

Pierre Charles L’Enfant

(L’Enfant abandoned the project, taking the plans with him.)

“…as the project progressed, L’Enfant began to exhibit personal traits—a quick temper and overbearing disposition—that soon alienated those around him. He also refused to meet a deadline for his final map, and on March 1, 1792, L’Enfant was relieved of his duties by a sad George Washington. Ellicott was then directed to produce a map, from memory, of L’Enfant’s plan.Tragically, L’Enfant’s life continued on a downward spiral. He refused payment offered him for his work on the plan for the Capitol, and also an appointment as professor of engineering at the Military Academy at West Point. During the War of 1812 with England, he set to work constructing fortifications near Washington, but again quarreled with his superior officers and left the service. He apparently haunted the doors of Congress for years with applications for payment for his work, but they came to naught.Poor and forgotten, he spent his last days at the home of a friend, William Dudley Digges, near Bladensburg, MD., where he died and was buried on June 14, 1825.” – PBS A Capital Fourth