Benjamin Banneker Letter

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Rhetorical Analysis
A son of former slaves, Benjamin Banneker wrote a critical letter to Thomas Jefferson addressing the problems concerning slavery. Benjamin Banneker uses various rhetorical strategies to increase his effectiveness. Banneker develops his reasoning against slavery through the use of rhetorical strategies such as literary allusions, appeals to ethos and pathos, diction, and tone.

To begin with, Banneker uses a historical allusion to allow Jefferson to reflect on how the people of Britain were under the British tyranny. This exemplifies how the slaves did not have any freedom or tranquility. Banneker uses a nostalgic tone to emphasize Jefferson’s further understanding of the oppression and the hardships the slaves were exposed to. Biblical allusions are also employed to illustrate how freedom is related to God’s will. “You cannot but acknowledge that the present freedom and tranquility which you enjoy you have the mercifully received and that it is the pecular blessing of Heaven”. This quote is demonstrating how freedom is nothing but a merciful gift from God. Banneker utilizes the reference made to the Bible so Jefferson can realize how fortunate he is and creates a sense of sympathetic tone toward the unjust actions.

Next, Banneker appeals to ethos since he was the son of former slaves. This justifies that he has witnessed the adversities in his parents’ life as well as his life. He has also gained credibility by making references to the Declaration of Independence. Therefore his reasoning is more effective. Banneker appeals of pathos through his use of abstract nouns such as freedom, tranquility, kindness, liberty, and happiness. His abstract diction is used to evoke Jefferson’s emotions. The diction is used to manipulate the thoughts of the reader by creating a sense of guilt. Banneker compares the British tyranny to the enslaved African Americans. Many people from Britain eventually redeem their freedom; however, African Americans...
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