AP Language Arts
Ms. Lorraine Catienza
October 22, 2012
Banneker’s Last Call
Author, Benjamin Banneker, in his letter to Thomas Jefferson, warns about the issue of inequality among blacks in the new nation. Banneker’s purpose is to outline the contradictions of the Declaration of Independence and establish the rights of liberty to abused minorities. He adopts a didactic tone in order to lionize feelings of sympathy to stir his audiences. Banneker implements emotional diction, religious appeals, and logical reasoning to persuade Jefferson into casting out this system of slavery.
Banneker opens his petition to then-Sec. of State Thomas Jefferson by contrasting the inhumane practice of slavery to the momentous message of egality by the Declaration of Independence. Through expressing a plethora of emotional diction; he recalls the hostile memory of blood, cannons, and sacrifice Jefferson endured in the “variety of dangers” that “even hope and fortitude wore the aspect of inability” during the battle for freedom in 1776. He references the Revolutionary War in order to compare the persecution of the colonists from the British crown to the daily hardships of slaves, which caused Jefferson to “publickly held forth this true and valuable doctrine.” This melancholia from Banneker conveys the pain both colonists and slaves must face to know freedom.
Banneker shifts to religious appeals by questioning Jefferson’s use of slaves and the realization that God himself does not condone such cruelty. He affirms that while Jefferson is “fully convinced of the benevolence of the Father” to all humanity by divine grace, he “counteracts his mercies” by opposing all godly nature. The religious appeal is positioned in order to relate the two men’s beliefs and daringly scrutinize the sins of Jefferson. The judgment on Jefferson’s dead rituals exposes his hypocrisy and reveals that God would not honor those who commit transgressions towards their...