Benjamin Banneker

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Benjamin Banneker’s Letter to Thomas Jefferson Rhetorical Analysis In a letter to Thomas Jefferson an advocate for slavery and framer of “The Declaration of Independence”; author, astronomer, mathematician, farmer, and the son of former slaves, Benjamin Banneker addresses the oppressive and horrifying nature of the slave trade that Banneker's ancestors had been in for generations. In this letter, Banneker exposes the cruelty slaves endeavored while expanding on the rights that were taken from his people, thus creating an elevated and sympathetic tone in which he builds his credibility to gain sympathy from Jefferson about former hardships to perhaps reach common ground. Also, Banneker uses complex diction in order to form his reasonable and collective argument to Jefferson as he establishes himself as a reliable adversary in obtaining equal rights for his people. Banneker builds his credibility by stating that he too has been through horrifying adversities, as Jefferson has, in trying to achieve freedom and independence. This and the use of complex diction aid Banneker in the creation of a tone that is not indignant, but is calm and collective in order to appeal to the higher-class society and educated patriots, such as Thomas Jefferson. He then encourages his audience to question Thomas Jefferson’s standpoint of slavery by quoting Jefferson's own words in the Declaration of Independence, “All men are created equal, and that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” By quoting “The Declaration of Independence,” Banneker implies that Jefferson, who supporting slavery at that time, contradicts himself by saying all men should be free and have the same rights. Banneker then further emphasizes Jefferson’s hypocrisy and unfairness to try and change his views of slavery. In addition to his argument of infringed rights, Banneker continues his letter with an allusion that the...
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