Slavery In Benjamin Banneker's Letter To Thomas Jefferson

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Benjamin Banneker in his letter to Thomas Jefferson, argues that slavery is a great injustice. Banneker supports his argument by highlighting the hypocrisy of the United States and its official documents. The author writes in a respectful, yet critical tone for Thomas Jefferson. The author’s purpose is to convince Jefferson that his views are unjust and inequitable so that slaves can receive the rights and the equality they deserve. In order for Jefferson to convince him of his narrow minded and wrongful views, Banneker begins by using formal diction and effective arrangement, later on in his letter Banneker incorporates an effective allusion along with harsh diction, and to end his letter Banneker uses another powerful allusion side by side …show more content…
The allusion that Banneker integrates was a direct quote from the Declaration of Independence; a document that “supposedly” should include all people. This quote that Banneker included states, “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 among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” By including this quote, Banneker admonishes Jefferson and this official document because this document contradicts the entire institution of slavery. This document contradicts slavery because slaves are not free and have no rights, therefore when this document refers to “all men,” all men are not actually included.By including this quote it was a very effective approach in trying to get Jefferson to see through his eyes, as it directly identifies the hypocrisy of such an important document that he personally had a great influence on. Banneker essentially used a logical approach when he included this quote, as he revealed truthful and factual information that again identifies the hypocrisy of this document. Additionally, by including this quote from The Declaration of Independence, it also enacts a sense of guilt. Being a major part of this document, Jefferson may feel this guilt, as what he wrote clearly contradicts the circumstances during this time. Similarly, to simulate an emotional response from Jefferson, Banneker uses a harsh word choice when describing slavery. This can be recognized later on in his letter when Banneker refers to slavery as “groaning captivity and cruel oppression”. Each of these words alone is effective, but when they are put together and placed side by side, it becomes extremely powerful. These words create a very serious and concerned tone that again reinforces Banneker’s purpose: to eliminate all ties to

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