Thomas Fuller, also known as “Negro Tom” and the “Virginia Calculator,” was an enslaved African renowned for his extraordinary mathematical abilities. Born in 1710 in what is now Benin πŸ‡§πŸ‡―, Fuller was brought to America as a slave in 1724. He became famous for his remarkable powers of mental calculation, and later in life, he was discovered by antislavery campaigners who used his abilities to argue that blacks were not inferior to whites in academics.

In a report, Rush emphasized the credibility of Hartshorne and Coates, who tested Fuller’s mathematical skills:

When asked how many seconds there are in a year and a half, Fuller answered in about two minutes: 47,304,000 seconds.
When asked how many seconds a man has lived who is seventy years, seventeen days, and twelve hours old, he answered in a minute and a half: 2,210,500,800 seconds. A gentleman who had been calculating with a pen told Fuller he was wrong, but Fuller quickly replied, β€œtop, massa, you forget de leap year.” Upon adding the leap year seconds, the calculations matched exactly.

When asked how many sows a farmer would have if he started with six sows, each sow had six female pigs in the first year, and they all increased in the same proportion for eight years, Fuller answered in ten minutes: 34,588,806 sows. The additional time taken to answer was due to a minor misunderstanding of the question.

Despite Fuller’s perfect answers, Hartshorne and Coates noted that his mental abilities may have been even greater in his youth. Fuller, who was gray-headed and showed signs of old age, had worked hard on a farm all his life and was never intemperate with alcohol. He spoke highly of his mistress, who refused to sell him despite large offers, showing her respect for him. When Mr. Coates remarked that it was a pity Fuller had not received an education equal to his genius, Fuller replied, “No, Massa, it is best I had no learning, for many learned men be great fools.”

Fuller’s mathematical abilities were unparalleled, and no one could challenge his talents.

By osibanews

Eliel Otote A is an Actor and Filmmaker, with a bias for journalism. He was a freelance feature writer with the Nigerian Observer in the 80's in Benin City, he also presented programmes on both radio and television. Eliel is the Editor and Publisher of OSIBAnews Network Magazine, of which this blog is an affiliate.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *