Benjamin Banneker earnestly attempts to persuade Thomas Jefferson, former slave owner, the wrongness of slavery by using his sense of morality and reasoning against him. Banneker brings to light Jefferson’s views and to set the foundation to take his argument further. He refers to the Revolutionary War in line 2, "...arms and tyranny of the British Crown..." and explains the British Crown and indirectly refers to their ruling of the colonies. The word he most significantly used was ‘tyranny’ which sums up the rule of the British Crown in the colonists eyes. He uses the Revolutionary War and its impact on the colonies to further deepen the argument on his next point, without this clarification what he said next wouldn't have made any
At first, he neglected his godmother, who’s raised him since he was a child. Now he lets her embrace him (and embraces her back) for as long as she needs. Here, Jefferson’s actions resemble nothing so much as a sinner confessing his sins on his deathbed. (Ironically, this would make Grant, not Reverend Ambrose, the “priest.”) His final words to Grant show that Grant has succeeded as a teacher.
Banneker wrote a letter that argues against slavery from a former slave’s son point of view. He has argued against slavery by demonstrating his knowledge through word choices and repetition, and showed respect through his tone. By doing so, Banneker was able to argue against slavery and provoke Jefferson’s emotions on
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.
The notebook that was handed Jefferson symbolizes his worth and sense of education. People, such as the sheriff and the “white folks”, believe he is an old hog who does not know how to read or write. The notebook that is handed to him shows everything that Jefferson knows and thinks about on a daily basis. Some of his last words were, “good by mr wigin tell them im strong tell them im a man good by mr wigin im gon ax paul if he can bring you this," (Gaines 234). By writing down his thoughts, Jefferson begins to seriously think about his life and reflect on the world.
This passage reveals the underlying causes of Grant’s anxiety about teaching Jefferson his final lesson. His own education has been based on mastering the cultural vocabulary of white America, and although he is respected in the quarter for his high level of academic achievement, Grant knows that he is only helping to perpetuate this system. Although he wants to help his students avoid the pitfalls of being black and poor in the deep South, he feels ill-equipped to do this despite his academic pedigree. This is one of Jefferson’s first pieces of dialogue that does not relate to him being a hog.
Benjamin Banneker in the letter, argues against slavery. Banneker uses biblical allusion, and a melancholic tone in order to argue against slavery to Thomas Jefferson in 1791. Banneker uses biblical allusion in order to demonstrate that all humans should be treated the same, and have equal rights. For example, “you cannot but acknowledge that the present freedom and tranquility which you enjoy you have mercifully received and that it is the pecular blessing of Heaven” (Banneker 1). Banneker presents his argument by stating that Thomas Jefferson has freedom because of heaven, and he should extend the same right to everyone else.
Jefferson uses repetition by using same words to educate the King with what they believe in and hoping that these beliefs are enough for the King to agree with the decision of the Colonists to break apart from them without causing any bloodshed. The repeated words purpose was emphasize the feelings of Jefferson for his beliefs to change the King’s attitude of keeping the Colonist as resources for Britain and let the Colonist have their freedom. Finally, Jefferson uses restatement; Other people think that he used it effectively because it makes his message clearer and stress on key points.
Benjamin Banneker, in his letter to Thomas Jefferson, offers a series of arguments against the institution of slavery through a respectful tone, references to history, and the Bible. As a son of former slaves, Banneker is seeking justice for the black population and uses Jefferson’s own words against him as he speaks on behalf of “Black America.” He shares his opinions with Jefferson, who is higher authority, in a respectful manner while still managing to criticize him. Banneker starts off his letter to Jefferson by calling his “Sir.” He refers to Jefferson this way because he wants to be respectful to this man who exists as a higher authority as a politician.
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.
Mr. Jefferson states that, “I just want to serve the people rather than insisting that they serve me”. It was heartfelt and eye-opening when Mr. Jefferson revealed that, “The most difficult decisions for me are the ones where the interests of the ministries are more important than the interest of an individual”. Serving others seems to have been a lifelong calling for Mr. Jefferson. He is a true servant leader. (W. Jefferson, personal communication, October 24, 2015).
Both of these interactions take place in cases where Jefferson shows signs of opening up to others, but they are also instances of how little Jefferson loves or cares about those who care about him. On page 139, this is addressed when Jefferson has another conversation with Grant a couple of days later. When talking with Jefferson, Grant tells him, “no matter how bad off we are,’ I said, ‘we still owe something. You owe something, Jefferson. Not to me.
The negative diction and details clearly show that Banneker is dismayed concerning the issue of slavery, while the positive diction show that Banneker is tenacious concerning the need to end slavery. Banneker uses negative diction to let Jefferson know why slavery needed to end; Banneker uses such words as suffer, injustice, and slavery. Banneker uses the words to remind Jefferson about the treatment of slaves was injustice and how the United States once used to be in the same predicament. Banneker also appeals to Jefferson’s Christianity by using these words to show that all people did not have freedom.
Guilt is a big motivator for many of people's actions because most people don’t want to offend anyone, especially if they want to uphold a certain reputation, like a man with political power. To his advantage, with an accusatory, critical, yet reverent tone, Banneker makes sure that Jefferson, a man with political power, understands the hypocritical actions of the nation and feels ashamed of the suffering which has gone on, hopefully enough to make a difference in the injustice which the United States has
The letter was understandably harsh and severe, but Banneker does this in such a humble manner, that his opinion on slavery can not be argued by Jefferson. Jefferson absolutely has to accept what Banneker is saying because of how he portrayed, and wrote his letter. Banneker starts the letter off with referring to Jefferson as ‘Sir’, and does this in every paragraph to solidify and ensure that he is being polite while still getting his point across. This was to make Jefferson believe what Banneker was saying, to show Jefferson that he does have respect towards him and that he is taking this letter seriously so Jefferson should too. Banneker does this to help Jefferson believe that Banneker knows what he is talking about, that he is credible, so he can fix his moral dilemma, and help him make the choice toward ending