Benjamin Banneker’s Strategies to Speak Against the Slavery
Banneker uses rhetorical strategies to argue against slavery. He states about the unfairness of the British Crown and the dangers which the slaves have unfair treatment. He uses historical evidence to back up his points as well as religious context. He uses his opinion as well as a way of solution to end against slavery. He specifically states his opinions with details and enables the reader to understand his feelings towards slavery with his tone. He would say this because he was a son of former slaves and therefore has a personal story and experience. He discusses over his personal feelings as well about slavery.
Banneker first states that slavery should not be used through the use of historical evidence and quotes to back him up about the horrible conditions of slavery. His tone towards slavery allows the reader to know how he feels in regards to the problem of slavery. He states about the fact that the people of the free country did not acknowledge the power of freedom that should have been also offered to slaves. He stated quotes from politicians to support his idea. He criticizes the people who do not see the way that he sees slavery.
Religious evidence helps Banneker defend his point regarding the issue of slavery. He stated that the slaves did not have the ability to have the right of freedom which was offered in heaven. He wanted to let the people to feel guilty and realize the importance of freedom with his convincing that God wanted them to all have equal rights. He wanted to point out to the politicians that what they were doing was a “criminal act” by not offering freedom to the slaves.
In the document, Banneker uses his personal opinion about the issue of slavery. He talks about the value of liberty as well as the privileges that should be offered upon him and other slaves. He talks in a persuasive manner in order to try to convince the politicians to whom the letter was written to. He does this in order to persuade them to see the unfairness of slavery and the deserving right of the slaves. He wanted the politicians to treat the slaves the way that they wanted to be treated.
Banneker writes this letter to try to convince the politicians who ran the country to grant freedom to the slaves. He uses different types of rhetorical devices and tones to try to support his ideas. He gave many examples in the letter in hopes of the right of equality granted to the slaves.
How did the War between Britain and America Benefit Others
How did the war between Britain and America benefit others?
The American Revolution took place between 1765 up until 1783. The war was fought over America’s independence from Britain, which they won. Many people died during the war between America and Britain. There were many loses for both sides, but the war also had its benefits. Freedom was offered to the slaves who fought for either the British or the Continental army, blacks were also treated more humanely then before the war.
Both sides needed more men to fight for them, and with the slave population being at its peak it was the optimal choice. Unlike normal soldiers who fought for pay, slaves were offered freedom by the British and the colonist. In a slave’s view “women and men knew what freedom meant and were willing to make their own declarations of independence by leaping over plantation boundaries and giving liberty a running chance” (Ripper, 2008). Slaves would run away from their owners fully knowing the consequences and the bounties put on them due to them running away, but even the slim chance of being free convinced them that it was worth it.
The war also displayed that no matter what color skin they may be, they can all fight towards a common goal which was liberty. Slaves during and after the war could take to court the matter of slavery and bring it to the higher-ups. Mum Bett was the first to sue her owner for “for freedom after getting burned by a “fire shovel” he swung at Mum Bett’s sister” (Ripper, 2008). Many others soon followed suit and tried their luck. Slave men also petitioned legally why they weren’t free, four men wrote a letter “to the town of Thompson’s representative in the Massachusetts assembly. Noting that the “divine spirit of freedom, seems to fire every humane breast on this continent” (Ripper, 2008), they argued that the people of the province were moved by equity and justice and they should, in turn, grant freedom to the slaves. Benjamin Banneker also exhibits his opinion on the matter. He also wrote a letter, this one addressed to Thomas Jefferson, stating how could we as a country be founded on equality when African Americans were under captivity and cruel oppression. These cries for plea were not in vain, “States throughout the North began providing for the gradual emancipation of their slaves… in response to the petitions written by African-Americans, the sacrifices made by about 5,000 black soldiers” (Ripper, 2008).
Banneker was also an example proving that blacks were as capable as whites in many matters. He was raised on a farm but was also interested in books and other scientific topics. He became friends with the Ellicot’s son, George, that lived near his farm. George even recognized that he had a keen mind, George having connections in his family recommended Banneker to help Charles Ellicot, who was appointed lead surveyor for the District of Columbia. Banneker wrote a personal letter to Thomas Jefferson of his view of slavery, Jefferson agreed saying “’No body wishes more than I do,’ Jefferson replied, ‘to see such proofs as you exhibit, that nature has given to our black brethren talents equal to those of the other colors of men’” (Ripper, 2008). I personally believed this to happen due to the war and the promises made to slaves.
The American Revolution changed many aspects of life for slaves. They were granted freedom for those that fought in the war as well as the idea of abolishing slavery coming to the minds of many. Do you believe that the war is the reason why slavery is now abolished?
Ethical Considerations of Slavery by Benjamin Banneker
Slavery shook the roots and morals of the United States from its creation to it’s 20th century endeavors. Despite one of the country’s foundational principles being “all men are created equal”, there was assigned socioeconomic merit to maintaining a slave population. Unable to foresee an appropriate or effective change in this abject situation, Benjamin Banneker appealed to Thomas Jefferson, one of the most respected and trusted men in the country, bringing to question not only him but ultimately classical American morals on slavery. Benjamin Banneker’s appeals bring in historical and biblical allusions that fuel the emotional appeal and logic of his argument which are combined with a professional but adamant tone that tie in his respect for Jefferson as well as criticisms of his inactions.
To begin with, Banneker uses a historical allusion to the American revolution in order to imbue feelings of empathy well as pride which help build the logic behind the abolition of slavery. He sets up an implicit parallel between the current slaves or his “brethren” and the people who thought against the “British Crown [that] [reduced] [them] to a State of Servitude” (3-5). Banneker is able to set up a logical argument as well as appeal on a personal and emotional level to Jefferson in one fell swoop. Banneker is able to inductively argue that the people fought against their servitude to the British and thus the American people must now fight against the servitude of African Americans to the white population. He goes on to flatter Jefferson by referencing how Jefferson “clearly saw into the injustice of a state of slavery” and “publicly held forth [the] true and valuable doctrine” (20). Banneker is able to appeal to Jefferson through personal experience as Jefferson was a founding father who worked to establish the new country that formed as a result of the revolt against Britain. By establishing the connection to the Declaration of Independence, Banneker places at least part of the responsibility of upholding the morals on which the country was founded on onto Jefferson. This is intended to both flatter Jefferson as well as introduce a need for guilt in the idea that Jefferson once saw slavery for what it was and knew it best but now has let his sights fall short of that fact.
Throughout the first part of his letter, Benjamin Banneker maintains a professional tone that conveys his respect and admiration of Jefferson in order to establish a favorable dialogue. Banneker treads lightly with repetitive phrases that begin with “Sir” such as “Sir suffer me” where he repeats the formality in order to lead into his main argument while maintaining his demonstration of respect for Jefferson. In reference to the Declaration of Independence, a work which Jefferson was part of, Banneker names it “worthy to be recorded and remembered in all succeeding ages” (21). The persisting formality and the direct praise aimed at Jefferson are intended to provide the foundation of favorable feelings between the two in the dialogue, for Banneker must soon lead into the difficult and direct topic of the injustice that is slavery.
Banneker begins the more candidate part of his letter and uses Biblical allusions to illustrate how freedom is related to God’s will and how Jefferson has, by allowing slavery to continue, disregarded God’s will. Christians believe that God decided the rich and the poor and the rights of all men. Banneker references this idea when he states that it is “pitiable that although [Jefferson] [was] so fully convinced of the benevolence of the Father of mankind” he is condoning slavery in the form of “groaning captivity and cruel oppressions” (35). Using the reference to the Bible draw on the uniting christian standards and faith that is shared, Banneker strengthens the logic of his argument. In previous paragraphs, the secular reasons against slavery were established when he discussed the American Revolution itself and the Declaration of War doctrine, however by bringing in religion Banneker has touched the major points that are basics of society morals and values. It would be in the natural duty of someone like Jefferson to reexamine an action or inaction that goes against the will of God. Banneker once again refers to the Bible when he proposes a first step to the solution for slavery. Banneker proposes that people should follow in the advice of Job, a righteous man who endured much suffering in the Bible, and learn to “put [their] soul into [the souls of the oppressed]” or basically imagine what it would be like to be treated as they are. This reference to the Bible and to the Christian values of love and love for thy neighbor contributes even more the argument logic as well as to the emotional impact on a fellow christian.
In the last third of the letter, Banneker’s tone quickly shifts from his proper and adorning tone to one of candid criticism. Following his initial discussion of the success of Jefferson, Banneker begins to address the downfalls in “that [Jefferson” should at the same time be found guilty of [the] criminal act which [he] professedly detested in others” (40). This strategy of praise followed by criticism is meant to crease a sense of guilt in Jefferson. In the most respectful way possible, Banneker instills the notion that Jefferson should know better than to do what he is doing for “[his] knowledge of the situation of [Banneker’s] brethren is too extensive to need a recital” (42). Jefferson’s extensive role in establishing the doctrine of equality and the pursuit of happiness made him a primary representor of justice and fairness. However, Jefferson is still condoning slavery despite seeing the treatment that the colonial Americans had to endure. Banneker candidly notes this idea of Jefferson needing to assume responsibility for his doctrine and his values for the American people.
The combination of allusions and dynamic tone led to the continued strengthening of Banneker’s argument. The more experiences he could pull from that united the American people as one, the more cohesive and applicable his argument became. In a succinct format, Banneker was able to respectfully convey his opinion without harshly accusing and scolding Jefferson or the government.
Analysis Of Benjamin Banneker’s Techniques To Argue Against Slavery In His Letter To Thomas Jefferson
The Bill of Rights, adopted in 1791, was written to protect basic American rights, yet the freedoms it presented were kept from countless African slaves. During the same year, Benjamin Banneker, a free African American and the son of former slaves, decided to challenge society’s viewpoint of slavery. In a letter to Thomas Jefferson, Banneker illustrates the hypocrisy of the Declaration of Independence, describes the oppressive conditions that slaves had to endure, and offers a solution for equality in order to argue against the cruel nature of slavery.
Banneker employs exemplification, providing a specific case to support his argument, to illustrate the hypocrisy of the Declaration of Independence. Aiming to take advantage of America’s historical struggles, Banneker forces his audience to remember the time when they themselves were victims of oppression. He provides a sensitive example in which America has been reduced to a “State of Servitude” by the controlling “tyranny of the British Crown” to appeal to his patriotic audience who fought so hard to free their country from oppression. Comparing America’s previous helpless state to the plight of slaves establishes a feeling of guilt among audience members who have experienced the same oppression, convincing them to take on an anti-slavery viewpoint.
Banneker candidly describes the grotesque conditions that slaves are forced to endure through a use of strong language such as the “horrors of its condition” and the “groaning captivity” and “cruel oppression”. Horrific and appalling, the description evokes a sense of pity from the audience as they imagine the insufferable obstacles that slaves have to face on an everyday basis. The audience — still guilt-ridden from the memory of their own battle with oppression — is able to emotionally connect with the plight of slaves and is more likely to be swayed to take a stance against slavery.
His compelling description of slavery still resonating, Banneker offers a solution of equality. Like a wise and patient mentor teaching his student, Banneker proposes that society “put your their souls in their souls” and promises that by doing so people will begin to adopt a sense of “kindness and benevolence”. In other words, Banneker urges his audience to put themselves in the shoes of slaves and look at the situation from the perspective of the oppressed. He backs up his claim with religious allusions, for instance, how God created all of mankind equal with an “impartial distribution of those rights and privileges”. While Banneker could have suggested a radical approach to end slavery, he gently advises society to gradually accept slaves as human beings though a peaceful method of changing one’s own nature. By justifying equality with religion, Banneker appeals to the religious members of his audience and convinces them to follow in the footsteps of God and stand against slavery.
Through the use of description, exemplification, and solution to a problem, Banneker argues against the inhumane nature of slavery. Appealing to their sense of morality with historical references, graphic imagery, and religious allusions, Banneker’s letter exerted a powerful influence on persuading people to join the abolitionist cause.
Ethos, Pathos and Repetition in Benjamin Banneker’s Letter to Thomas Jefferson
During the 1790s, Benjamin Banneker wrote a letter to Thomas Jefferson, the creator of the Declaration of Independence and secretary of state to President George Washington. In this letter, Benjamin expresses his negative opinions on slavery. He exposes the injustices of slavery and shares other people’s experiences and how slavery has affected them as well as himself. He uses rhetorical appeals to support his argument by connecting to the readers who have experienced slavery before and to appeal to their emotions. Through writing this letter, Benjamin uses ethos, pathos and repetition to express his argument against slavery.
Banneker uses ethos to establish credibility, and trust in the audience. He does this by referencing the Declaration of Independence, and using its own words against the idea of slavery. He says, “All men are created equal” and “that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” which proves that Banneker is knowledgeable and is able to be trusted. He also talks about the Job in the Bible and is able to connect that to hardships that African Americans faced during slavery.
Banneker also uses pathos through emotional diction to create sympathy within the readers. This is shown when he says “groaning captivity” and “cruel oppression”. By acknowledging the condition of slavery, he is able to display the hardships of slavery and make the readers sympathize with him. He makes it more personalized to make the readers pity him even more by using pronouns like “his” in “his brethren”. He continues to say that violence has become a part of his everyday life. This also helps to keep the readers engaged when reading the letter. He tries to make Jefferson realize that there is a need for change when it comes to slavery.
Banneker uses repetition in order to appeal to Jefferson with respect and with the sense of an authority figure. Banneker opens his letters with “sir” and continuously repeats it throughout the letter. This shows that even though he does not agree with Jefferson’s ideals about slavery it shows that he has respect for him. He believes that if he repeats “sir” enough it will make Jefferson realize his wrongs. He uses “sir” to reason with Jefferson and tries to make him listen to his opinions. By using “sir” he is showing Jefferson that even though you’ve treated African Americans wrongly, I will still treat you with respect and be the better person. It also makes it difficult for Jefferson to become angry with these new ideals if he is continually being treated respected throughout the entirety of the letter.
Banneker uses pathos, ethos, and repetition to support his argument and convince Jefferson that slavery is wrong. By using his credibility through the use of historical documents he is able to show readers that he is educated and able to support his fellow African Americans in freeing them from slavery. He is able to make the readers sympathize with others and convinces the readers and finally maybe with Jefferson as well.
B. Banners Letter to T. Jefferson: Analysis of the Utilized Strategies
Banneker Rhetorical Essay
Benjamin Banneker, a son of former slaves and an educated scholar, wrote a letter to Thomas Jefferson arguing about the mistreatment of slaves and the injustice of slavery. He assumes a knowledgeable and matter-of fact persona in order to challenge Jefferson’s loyalty to his Christian faith and urge him to abolish slavery. Banneker organizes his speech in a cause and effect manner by demonstrating Jefferson’s hypocrisy towards slavery and providing justification for his claims; he emphasizes his purpose by utilizing negative diction, historical allusions, and an appeal to religion in order to illustrate the injustice of slavery and effectively convey that it should be abolished.
Banneker begins his letter by comparing British rule to slavery and establishing that Jefferson was once a strong advocate of anti-slavery ideals. He urges Jefferson to remember the “variety of dangers to which [he was] exposed to” and the time when he saw “the injustice of slavery” and the true “horrors of its conditions.” Banneker appeals to Jefferson’s emotions by connecting negative diction, such as “injustice” and “horrors”, with the system of slavery in order to effectively highlight Jefferson’s previous encounters with slavery and address the fact that Jefferson recognizes the horrors and oppression behind it. Additionally, Banneker’s negative diction associates a negative tone towards slavery for the rest of his letter and serves to justify his claims that slavery is immoral and severely wrong. Banneker goes on to allude to the Declaration of Independence which reveals Jefferson’s previous anti-slavery attitude. Within the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson argued that “all men are created equal” with “certain unalienable rights” when he himself was experiencing a form of slavery, yet he had no qualms about participating in slavery when the roles were reversed. Banneker references the Declaration of Independence in order to provide evidence of Jefferson’s hypocrisy and show that Jefferson held anti-slavery views but has since contradicted these views by actively participating in slavery. Moreover, Banneker’s usage of the Declaration of Independence reinforces and strengthens his argument by allowing him to directly attack Jefferson’s present and past ethical views and present himself as a credible source.
Furthermore, Banneker continues his letter by employing a compare and contrast structure to emphasize that Jefferson’s words have been empty and have lacked actual action; he reveals how Jefferson, once a strong advocate of abolishing slavery, is now “guilty of that most criminal act” which he “professedly detested in others.” Additionally, Banneker describes slavery as “groaning captivity” and “cruel oppression” which serves to represent slavery in its harshest light; Banneker purposefully utilizes powerful, negative diction to illustrate slavery as an unjust and horrendous action. Banneker, methodically and strategically, picks apart Jefferson’s Christian values by attacking his religious views and calling out Jefferson for being “fully convinced of the benevolence of the Father” yet directly “counteract[ing] his mercies.” Jefferson is Christian, yet he’s knowingly going against the will of God and committing an atrocious sin. Banneker utilizes a religious appeal in order to provoke guilt from Jefferson about allowing slavery to continue and make him realize that he is not following Christian values. Throughout the letter, Banneker addresses Jefferson as “sir” and “you” which serves the purpose of creating a mocking, condescending tone towards Jefferson. Banneker’s repetition of the pronoun “you” and title “sir” is a powerful and methodical technique that serves to place direct blame on Jefferson and make Jefferson take responsibility for his actions. Banneker’s usage of strong diction, religious appeals, and repetition serves the purpose of exposing Jefferson’s contradictory attitude towards slavery and challenge his Christian values.
Through the tactical usage of powerful and emotional diction, appeal to religion, and uniform repetition, Banneker constructs a strong and empowering letter arguing about the injustice of slavery. Banneker hopes to reveal Jefferson’s hypocritical view concerning slavery and to demonstrate the dark and cruel nature of slavery in order to convince Jefferson that slavery shouldn’t exist. Banneker’s letter exposed that our nation was founded on the empty words of Jefferson and led to a movement that resulted in the abolishment of slavery.
The Role Of Benjamin Banneker And Paul Cuffe In The Antislavery Movement
Many freedmen were abolitionists and had a significant impact on slavery and the antebellum period. Benjamin Banneker and Paul Cuffe are only a few of the significant freedmen of the slavery period. They took up the cause and helped the antislavery movement move forward.
Benjamin Banneker was born on November 9, 1731, in Banneky Farm, Maryland. He was an astronomer, farmer, mathematician, inventor, and writer. His grandmother taught him to read and write. He had a great interest in mathematics and science. He taught himself astronomy. Later, Banneker built a wooden clock by hand that was very accurate. He only had a pocket watch and a picture of a clock as his model. This clock was believed to be the first made in America. () Benjamin Banneker also correctly predicted a solar eclipse. The prediction was in contrast to the forecasts of most well-known scientists. He made all calculations for a yearly almanac. Banneker sent his almanac to Jefferson. Jefferson was impressed with his work. He sent the almanac to the Royal Academy of Sciences in Paris. The almanac showed the talent and skill of African American people. It was used by abolitionists to show that African Americans have skills and talents. Therefore, they can contribute to society and are the same as white people. He changed the view many people held towards African Americans at that time. Benjamin Banneker died on October 9, 1731, in Baltimore, Maryland.
Paul Cuffe or Paul Slocum was born on January 17, 1759, in Cuttyhunk Island, Maryland. He was an American shipowner, merchant, and Pan-Africanist. He was one of the wealthiest African Americans of his time. He was born to Ruth Moses, an African American woman, and Kofi Slocum, a freed black man. During the American Revolution, Paul Cuffe served as a privateer. He then married a Native American woman, Alice Pequit. They had ten children together. He wanted to establish African settlements and develop trade routes. He supported black emigration. Paul Cuffe advocated and raise help for black settlers to relocate to Sierra Leone. Even though he was seeking help for African Americans, he accepted help from white people. He joined the Society of Friends, a Christian group of Quakers. His faith was important and spurred his interest in advocating for his fellow African Americans. He used his wealth to help others. He assisted Africa in the revitalization. He founded the Friendly Society of Sierra Leone. He transported many African Americans to Sierra Leone. He also wrote the “Memoir of Captain Paul Cuffee”. Paul Cuffe wanted to make many more trips to Sierra Leone to relocate African Americans. Alas, he would not be able to continue his life work. He died on September 7, 1817, in Westport, Maryland. He was buried in a Society of Friends cemetery.
Therefore, African American freedmen had a significant impact on the antislavery movement during the antebellum period. They changed the perception of African Americans and encouraged the abolitionist movement. They led to the emancipation of slaves in later years.
Benjamin Banneker – A Revolutionary Figure In American History
Benjamin Banneker, born from slavery, was an astronomer, mathematician, and most importantly an author. He wrote to Thomas Jefferson, one of the framers of the Declaration of Independence and then Secretary of State to President George Washington. Banneker was brave in writing Jefferson in that he used many different rhetorical strategies such as biblical allusions, repetition, and emotional diction in order to truly connect and convey the message to the American people.
Banneker puts Jefferson’s ethics and morals to question by initially making many biblical allusions to attack his pro-slavery stance. He goes on to say that while Jefferson is “fully convinced of the benevolence of the Father” to all of man, Jefferson himself contradicts and “counteracts his mercies” by allowing such an oppressive act to continue. The use of religion in this argument not only gave Banneker a way to scorn and ridicule Jefferson’s acts but it also allows him to do so without tarnishing his polished virtue and character. He established this under the power of Gods judgment rather than just Banneker himself. Through the perfect integration of biblical allusions, Banneker was able to greatly increase the magnitude of the situation because he’s essentially shedding light on the sins of Jefferson’s past.
Although Banneker had to be frustrated with the topic of slavery, he maintained a very polite disposition throughout the letter. He continually references Jefferson as “Sir” and “you” to be polite as well as addressing Jefferson in a much more personal manner. He refers to Jefferson as “Sir” six times in the letter, with at least one instance in every paragraph. While Banneker is condemning the actions of Jefferson, he still maintains the utmost respect for him and the political office that he holds. Banneker purposefully maintained this air of modesty and dignity to destroy Jefferson’s prior assertion that race makes a person inferior. Banneker was smart to want to reason with, and not fully attack Jefferson on this issue because how could he justify being mad at someone who clearly holds Jefferson’s name with very high esteem.
His argument against slavery was also riddled with many examples of emotional diction used to depict the true impact of slavery. Banneker refers to slavery as being a “criminal act which you professedly detested to others with respect to yourselves”. This crime that Jefferson has committed has long gone unchecked in the eyes of Banneker. The “cruel oppression” that is slavery was a major crime against humanity. These powerful words represent the plight of slavery as well as the horrendous lives that those affected must endure daily. He goes on to strengthen his argument further making many connections as to how the actions of Jefferson have affected him on a very personal level. He effectively turned the population of slaves from being mere property into real human beings by championing a policy of kindness towards all of mankind.
A modest hero, Benjamin Banneker, was a revolutionary figure in American history and the fight against slavery. His letter to Thomas Jefferson is likely the match that lit the fire under the anti-slavery movement. His mild-mannered approach politely condemned Jefferson’s actions all while spreading awareness of the true atrocities of slavery and oppression.
Tone and Diction of Banneker’s Letter to Jefferson
Banneker’s use of formal tone and succinct diction delivers to Jefferson the urgency of ending slavery. He demonstrates the lack of equality and hypocrisy as Jefferson claims “all men created equal” while treating human beings as possessions that could be bought and sold; and doing that exactly. He strengthens his point by using negative diction and challenges Jefferson’s Christian values to successfully express that slavery should be ended.
Benjamin Banneker utilizes personification to start off his letter by referencing their ruler, Britain, and requesting Jefferson to recall the moment when “the arms and tyranny of the British Crown were exerted with every powerful effort in order to reduce you to a State of Servitude.” This use of personification was used to prioritize and compare the correspondence of past slavery to present-day slavery and how Jefferson once carried an anti-slavery attitude. Banneker utilizes negative diction such as “horrors of it’s conditions” to intrigue Jefferson’s emotions in order to remind him that he does in fact know the persecution and horrors of slavery. Banneker uses the Declaration of Independence as evidence to attack Jefferson with his own past claims and views: ”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…”, exposing his hypocrisy and that he indeed was against slavery, but however now chooses to ignore this when it’s his own country. Banneker highlights that Jefferson’s words are meaningless, and that he went from being a former anti-slavery supporter, to now “guilty of that most criminal act which you professedly detested in others.” Banneker displays slavery as such a dreadful doing by using negative diction to describe it as “cruel oppression” and “groaning captivity.”
Banneker challenges Jefferson’s Christian values to successfully express that slavery should be abolished. He uses the Bible to express the correspondence between persecuted men in the Bible and persecuted slaves. Banneker attacks Jefferson’s religious views and beliefs to try and make him feel guilty for tolerating slavery and bringing to his attention that he isn’t following Christian beliefs. Banneker says to Jefferson that, ‘You were so fully convinced of the benevolence of the father of mankind and of his equal and impartial distribution of those rights and privileges.” This effectively reminds Jefferson that he is going against God’s will. Additionally, Banneker addresses Jefferson as “sir” and “you” in order to mock him and blame him for his actions.
Throughout this letter, Banneker uses strong and emotional diction, as well as Jefferson’s Christian beliefs and his own past claims against him to prioritize the importance of the abolition of slavery. He utilizes negative diction in order to guilt and remind Jefferson how horrific slavery is and that he is tolerating it.
Disapproval of Slavery in Banneker’s Letter to Jefferson
Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness simply do not seem consistent with slavery. How could people be so passionate about the unalienable rights, and yet maintain the brutal practice of human bondage? Somehow slavery would manage to survive the revolutionary era, and the same people who stood against it would support it. Benjamin Banneker takes a huge step in writing Thomas Jefferson about his disapproval of slavery. Banneker wanted Jefferson to see the horrendous situation of the slaves in the U.S. This was an effort by Banneker to persuade Jefferson in seeing the injustice of slavery. Banneker’s purpose is to convey his negative feeling about the issue of slavery. He adopts a respected yet critical tone in order to get his point across politely in his letter to Thomas Jefferson.
Banneker starts off the letter by reminding Jefferson the tyranny of the British. Banneker wants to recall the time when the “Tyranny of the British crown?” (Banneker) tried to push down Thomas Jefferson “to a state of Servitude” (Banneker). Banneker takes Jefferson to a time where he was also treated like a lesser being. Banneker uses personification, and it is so powerful that Jefferson can connect the situation of a slave to his life when the British oppressed them down to nothing. It forces Jefferson to think about the hardships of the slaves. Freedom is something very important to man. No matter what race you are, what gender you are, you always want it. When Jefferson was under the control of the British where he did not have any freedom, and like any man would do, he fought for his freedom. That is exactly what now the slaves are trying to do. Banneker allows Jefferson to compare his own life with a slave, and how similar they can be. Banneker also follows up with parallelism, Where he uses contrasting sentences to indicate the freedom which Jefferson has, which he is denying from the slaves. Banneker says to Jefferson to look at a time “in which every human aid appeared unavailable” (Banneker), and then contrasts this dark times by saying that “you cannot but acknowledge that the present freedom” (Banneker), which Jefferson enjoys is a “blessing from heaven” (Banneker).
Banneker wants Jefferson to see all the hardships he went through before getting his freedom, and by this Jefferson will surely know the value of freedom. Banneker intends to indicate to Jefferson that how does someone who knows the value of freedom, Deny other from getting it. The slaves are in the same place Jefferson was before he got his freedom. They are also fighting for their freedom Just like Jefferson did. Banneker wants Jefferson to acknowledge this and allow them to have their freedom. Banneker utilizes an array of emotional diction to argue about the sufferings of the slaves. Banneker is angry about the many his “Brethren under Groaning captivity and cruel oppression” (Banneker). Banneker uses all this word like “groaning captivity”, “cruel oppression”, as also speaking of the “Injustice” in all this. Banneker specifically chose these words to indicate the conditions of slavery, and the dreadful life they lived. Banneker mainly uses the word “Brethren” to show how they are related to him personally. This makes the slaves look like actual people with feelings rather than properties to be sold. He depicts slaves as real human beings, which Jefferson may have failed to realize. Banneker strongly indicates what Jefferson actions are doing to real people, and install some much-needed guilt in Jefferson as well as calling for change.
“The situation of my brethren is too extensive to need a recital here”. (Banneker). Banneker again uses “Brethren” to show his personal connection with the slaves. Banneker uses the word “Extensive” to show the extent to which the slavery has reached. It has kept growing and never has really stopped growing. And everyone really knows what the situation is here. There is no need for explanation. But why is know one still taking any action. This is what Banneker wanted to ask Jefferson. This institution has been around for too long be kept unnoticed. Someone needs to step up and take action. And Banneker wants Jefferson to step up because he already knows the difficulty the slaves have been through my past experiences.
Banneker uses many religious appeals to go against Jefferson’s slavery stance. He says that even though Jefferson is “Fully convinced of the benevolence of the father” (Banneker) of mankind, he still ”counteract his mercies” by allowing slavery to continue. This appeal serves two purposes. One is to indicate the connection between Banneker and Jefferson as they follow the same religion and worship the same god. This is to show their mutual standing on this topic. But then, Banneker chooses to strike at Jefferson under the name of God so he seems polite, but critical at the same time. This type of criticism has much more value as he is not trying to communicate as a son of a former slave, but as a fellow religious follower pointing out Jefferson’s wrongdoing. Bankers also ask Jefferson to “Put your souls in their souls stead” (Banneker) so Jefferson can know how the slaves feel, and make his “heart enlarged with Kindness” (Banneker). Jefferson is a high-class white male citizen, and there is very little chance Jefferson knows what it means to be a slave. He might not know the suffering the slaves go through when they are separated from their family, and made to do all these harsh work. Banneker wants Jefferson to at least once think about how the slaves feel, so he can understand their hardships. Banneker uses this quote from the Bible because it has more credibility than something Banneker might say because it is the word of God.