Banneker Argument Essay

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Banneker Rough Draft #2
Decades before the Civil War, even when the nation was but a few years old, slavery played quite a controversial role in the United States. While writing the Declaration of Independence, exclusions of all references made to slavery avoided conflict in an attempt to hold the fragile young nation together during the critical period leading up to its independence. However, the leaders of the country knew the subject would pop up again. Just a few short years later, as the country began to envision its future, the issue of slavery made another appearance. Many people, including free African-Americans such as Benjamin Banneker, argued against slavery. In his letter to Thomas Jefferson, Banneker argues in favor of abolition with respect and passion through his mastery of powerful diction, impassioned and reverent tone, and emotional appeal.

Throughout the piece, Banneker reminds Jefferson of the struggle for independence. He recalls for Jefferson how discontented the colonies felt with King George’s tyranny. He supports his argument with key words from the Revolution, speaking of the “rights and privileges” bestowed upon the former colonists. He quotes Jefferson himself, pulling an excerpt from the Declaration of Independence which states that “all men are created equal.” However, many thought slaves simply property and not men, so did not seem applicable to the situation in their eyes. Banneker warns against hypocrisy, stating with loaded words such as “groaning captivity and cruel oppression” that Jefferson and the others would be just as tyrannical as King George should they just stand by and let slavery continue. Banneker feels quite passionately about this, something reflected by his tone. He feels obligated to act, because “so numerous a part of [his] brethren” were experiencing carnal treatment and abhorrent horrors and all he could do to help included sending a strongly-worded, yet most likely ineffective, letter to a political...
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