Benjamin Banneker Letter Rhetorical Analysis

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Through the 1790's and prior, The United States developed a systematic racism through slavery. Benjamin Banneker, an educated man, son of a freed slave, drafted a letter to Thomas Jefferson, writer of the Declaration of Independence. Banneker composed this letter to prompt Jefferson to take a strong stance against slavery so that slavery may eventually end. His letter courteously questions Jefferson's validity of the statement “all men are created equal” within the Declaration of Independence by calling to question the institution of slavery. Banneker uses repetition to reinforce a formal and respectful tone, utilizes strong and emotional diction, and concludes with a biblical allusion. The beginning of Banneker's letter strives to recall to Jefferson's memory the strife of the pre-1776 colonies against the tyrannical British Crown. Banneker initiates the letter by writing, "Sir, suffer me to recall to you." Banneker utilizes the word "sir" numerous times throughout the letter as he does in his introduction. Banneker does this in order to establish a formal tone that remains consistent throughout the letter. Banneker practices a…show more content…
Whilst addressing this state of slavery, Banneker declares that the United States has neglected to learn from the mistakes of British tyranny by supporting the "groaning captivity and cruel oppression" of blacks through slavery. The words "groaning" and "cruel" are words that engender an emotional almost horrific response. Using this gruesome diction permits Jefferson to vividly visualize the horror of black slaves in America. Banneker's emotional tone may reach Jefferson, therefore Jefferson may be more empathetic and realize what the wrongdoings of slavery are, prompting the government to end
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