Banneker Rhetorical Essay
Benjamin Banneker, in his letter to the Secretary of State, argues that slavery is wrong and against the Declaration of Independence. In order to illuminate his view on slavery, Banneker uses biblical pathos, personalized repetition, and blatant irony. He adopts an argumentative and passionate tone for his primary audience, Thomas Jefferson, and his secondary audience, George Washington and the other governmental leaders.
Benjamin Banneker utilizes biblical pathos to help the reader feel more connected to what he is saying. Banneker calls America’s independence from Britain a, “blessing of Heaven”. After America’s independence, most Americans, especially the army and its commanders, were overwhelmed with joy. Bringing up this major victory of U.S. history, reminds the reader of how grateful and free everyone must have felt afterwards. Banneker uses this statement to build up to his argument on slavery and how even though so many Americans were free, slaves were still trapped in America with no rights. Banneker also brings up a specific character from the bible named, “Job”. Job is a humble man whose life is destroyed by a trail of tragic events. The author uses this man’s story to give the reader an idea of how horrible it felt to live the life of a slave. He hopes that Jefferson will read this and remember how Job suffered. In the end, God gave Job his life back, and he can do the same for slaves and their families. Banneker also wants the reader to realize that slaves are people too and that they have families and rights just like everyone else.
The second strategy that Benjamin Banneker uses is personalized repetition which makes the reader feel responsible and involved with the fight against slavery. Banneker makes his letter more personal by continually saying, “You” and “Sir”. The reader, specifically Jefferson, instantly feels that the writer is talking directly to him rather than the general public. Banneker lets...