Rhetorical Analysis Of Benjamin Banneker's Letter

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Rhetorical Analysis Essay
In Benjamin Banneker’s 1791 letter to Thomas Jefferson he argues against slavery in the United States. The letter was written soon after the Founding of the United States as a country and at a time when slavery would have been a common practice throughout the nation. Mr. Banneker was an accomplished black man who was the son of a former slave. President Jefferson, at the time, was the secretary of state and would have been a known advocate of freedom (through his co-framing of the Declaration of Independence); despite his ownership of slaves. Mr. Banneker argues to Jefferson that slaves, like the Americans who had just successfully fought for their rights and freedom, are just as deserving of freedom as everyone else and argues this through his use of a mock-reverent tone, comparison, and logical fallacy. Banneker establishes a mock-reverent tone through his repetition of the word “sir” six times in the passage. In his initial use of the word it appears out of respect but by the end of the passage, just before accusing him of having imbibed “narrow prejudices,” it is clearly out of contemp. Banneker mock-reverence is clearly directed at Jefferson’s ownership of slaves, insinuated by “I supper that your knowledge of the situation of my brethren is too extensive…, despite being an
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By this logic Banneker argues that, since Jefferson’s own words would entitle slaves to freedom, it would be hypercritical of him to not be against

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