Banneker, Walker Stewart: Arguments against Slavery

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Benjamin Banneker, David Walker, and Maria Stewart all make good, yet different arguments against slavery. Banneker wrote his argument in a letter addressed to Thomas Jefferson. In the letter, he writes a response to Jefferson’s Notes on Virginia, in which he clearly and calmly contradicts Jefferson’s thoughts and arguments. Banneker is attempting to respectfully reason with Jefferson by writing pointed statements that respond to Jefferson’s ideas. For instance, Banneker’s uses Jefferson’s famous statement from the Declaration of Independence, “we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, and that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that amongst these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” to question the application and context of Jefferson’s words and concepts. Banneker seems to be using Jefferson’s words and ideas to argue his own perspective, but he does so in a respectful and thoughtful manner. I think this is an effective way to approach a disagreement with someone’s argument because it keeps the disagreement polite and civil. However, this style seems to subordinate off the original argument, preventing the introduction of new ideas. Instead, there is a different perspective on an existing argument. David Walker writes very forcefully and aggressively in his Appeal. He is speaking directly to Americans, especially African Americans, and is demanding their attention. He seems to be imploring African Americans to think about their condition and treatment, as a way to inspire a responsive action from them. He, like Banneker, refutes the writings, ideas, and arguments of Thomas Jefferson, but he does so with strong passion and emotion. He speaks vigorously about many of the injustices toward African Americans in the United States, and he makes a very forceful plea to them to stand up against

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