Benjamin Banneker Essay

501 Words3 Pages
Benjamin Banneker, the son of former slaves, was a farmer, astronomer, mathematician, surveyor, and author. In1791 he wrote to Thomas Jefferson, framer of the Declaration of Independence and secretary of state to President George Washington. Read the following excerpt from the letter and write an essay that analyzes how Banneker uses rhetorical strategies to argue against slavery. Banneker, the son of former slaves, was a farmer, astronomer, mathematician, surveyor and author. Applying Pathos, repetition, aphorism and logos to his letter, Banneker comes off strong and emotive about the topic at hand. He alludes to America’s own feelings of oppression under the British Imperials and through humble words entreats him, “look back… on the variety of dangers to which you were exposed; reflect on that time in which every human aid appeared unavailable, and in which even hope and fortitude wore the aspect of inability to the conflict and you cannot but be led to a serious and grateful sense of your miraculous and providential preservation.” In a firm but powerful manner none the less, he is stating that Jefferson of all people should be able to relate to his “brethren under groaning captivity and cruel oppression.” Banneker uses reflective observation to subtly accuses Jefferson of being a hypocrite, declaring that although Jefferson felt appalled by the idea of slavery, the idea , “that 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,” did not apply to all men, and that although Jefferson condemned slavery in his Declaration, he himself was a slave owner. Remaining submissive throughout this whole conversation, by referring to Jefferson as “Sir,” Banneker is implying that Jefferson, although of a higher status rank that he, should still
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