In 1704 a black slave (born in present-day Cameroon) was bought by a Russian in Constantinople and presented to Peter the Great. The Emperor liked 8 years old boy Abram and immediately adopted him.
In 1705 the boy was baptized with Peter as his godfather and he became Abram Petrovich.
The boy became Peter’s valet on various military campaigns and journeys.
In 1716 Peter the Great visited France. He then left his godson there to study engineering and mathematics at a military school. Two years later, Abram Petrovich joined the French army and fought in the war against Spain. During his time in France Abram Petrovich adopted surname Gannibal in honor of the Carthaginian general Hannibal.
In 1723 Gannibal returned to Russia. Soon Peter the Great died and Prince Menshikov, who disliked Gannibal, assigned him to Siberia.
Gannibal’s fortunes changed in 1741, when Empress Elisabeth (daughter of Peter the Great) took the throne.
Elizabeth made him the military commander of city of Reval ((now Tallinn, Estonia). He served in this place between 1743 and 1751.
Then Gannibal oversaw expansions of the Ladoga Canal and Russian fortresses throughout the empire. By 1760 Abram Petrovich had been promoted to the rank of a full general.
In 1762 Gannibal retired to the Mikhailovskoye estate in Pskov. The estate with hundreds of serfs was given to him in 1742 by Elizabeth. He died there in 1781.
His great-grandson was Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin, the famous Russian poet and writer.