Benjamin Banneker Rhetorical Devices

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The art of persuasion, rhetoric, has allowed speakers and writers to influence others with their words, and Benjamin Banneker uses various compositional techniques in an attempt to liberate his people. He challenges Thomas Jefferson’s pro slavery views by criticizing his racist, and hypocritical, views of blatant human persecution. The vile institution of slavery was an issue that Americans during Banneker’s time blindly accepted. By using allusions to American history, Banneker attempted to prove that Jefferson was a hypocrite of his own American beliefs. Banneker makes a plethora of references to Jefferson’s hypocrisy, such as the line “you cannot acknowledge that the present freedom and tranquility which you enjoy you have mercifully received and that it is the peculiar blessing of Heaven”.…show more content…
He maintains his composed disposition and he writes to Jefferson as if he were a respected elder. This not only strengthens Banneker’s argument through pathos, it also successfully uses ethos as a rhetorical device. Banneker also has several biblical references throughout his letter, such as the ending of the aforementioned quote “the peculiar blessings of Heaven” and the biblical man named Job who said to his friends “put your souls in their soul’s stead”. He accomplishes several rhetorical strategies by appealing to rhetorical pathos and alluding to the foundation of revolutionary era America, religion. By attacking Jefferson’s religious ethics in a passive manner, Banneker effectively calls out Jefferson for supporting slavery, Jefferson’s crime against humanity. When Banneker says “You should be found guilty of that most criminal act which you profusely detested in others with respect to yourselves” after referencing Jefferson’s own religious beliefs he is implying that Jefferson is placing himself in a position above God, which is an eye opening statement for any religious American to say the
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