A Rhetorical Analysis Of Benjamin Banneker's Letter To Thomas Jefferson

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Slavery: what a disgrace. Although slavery is still practiced in numerous countries, America has successfully abolished slavery. However, it did not happen quickly and in fact took centuries to end. It took the willpower of several individuals to reach this standpoint. One of which is Benjamin Banneker, son of former slaves, who writes an extensive letter to Thomas Jefferson for the purpose of abolishing slavery. Banneker uses multiple rhetorical devices to argue against slavery and create a sense of guilt in Jefferson. Jefferson’s guilt trip starts by Banneker using logos in his first paragraph. He starts off by reminding Jefferson that, “the British Crown were exerted with every powerful effort in order to reduce you [Jefferson] to a state of servitude.” With this, Banneker establishes that Jefferson was one of the numerous colonists that felt the colonies should not be under British rule. Also, Banneker builds on to the fact that Jefferson was once a servant himself, consequently starting to guilt Jefferson, since Jefferson supports slavery despite once being a “servant” himself.…show more content…
Banneker brings up the point that Jefferson believes in “the benevolence of the Father of mankind” and the rights “the Father” has put forth to everyone, however, Jefferson, “counteracts his [the Father’s] mercies” by allowing slavery. This then leads Banneker to the conclusion that Jefferson should logically be held accountable for a criminal act, since Jefferson fails to acknowledge the violence numerous people are experiencing. There is also a sense of irony, since Banneker mentions earlier that Jefferson stated “all men are equal” and yet Jefferson counteracts the equality “the Father” has placed upon people. In fact, this also leads to conveying guilt, considering Banneker is holding Jefferson accountable for his actions and showing Jefferson that he is in the wrong, not the
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