Home AFRICAN STORY The Story Of Thomas Fuller a.k.a The Virginia Calculator (1710 – 1790)

The Story Of Thomas Fuller a.k.a The Virginia Calculator (1710 – 1790)

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Thomas Fuller

Thomas Fuller was a 14-year-old young African boy from Liberia who was captured and sold into slavery in the 18th century when slavery was a common practice. He was brought to America and was forced to work for his new masters.

Fuller had a remarkable ability to solve complex math problems in his head. His talent was so incredible that people started calling him the “Virginia Calculator.”

He could solve mathematical problems faster than most people could do with pen and paper.

At the age of 70, Fuller was discovered by antislavery campaigners who used him as a demonstration that blacks are not mentally inferior to whites

In an interview, Fuller was asked how many seconds there were in a year and a half. Without hesitation, he answered in about two minutes, “47,304,000.”

His interviewers were amazed by his quick response and decided to challenge him further. They asked him how many seconds a man had lived who was 70 years, 17 days, and 12 hours old. Once again, Fuller didn’t disappoint. He answered in a minute and a half, “2,210,500,800.”

But one of the men wasn’t convinced. He was working out the problems on paper and informed Fuller that he was wrong because the answer was much smaller. Without hesitation, Fuller replied, “‘Top, massa, you forget de leap year.” The man had overlooked the leap year, When the leap year was added in, the sums matched perfectly.

Again, he was asked another question: suppose a farmer has six sows, and each sow has six female pigs, in the first year, and they all increase in the same proportion, to the end of eight years, how many sows will the farmer then have? In ten minutes, he answered, 34,588,806. The difference in time between his answering this, and the two former questions, was occasioned by a trifling mistake he made from a misapprehension of the question.

Despite being forced into slavery, Fuller didn’t let his circumstances define him. Instead, he used his gift to showcase his intelligence and make a name for himself. 

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