Benjamin Banneker's Letter To Thomas Jefferson

Words: 561
Pages: 3

Benjamin Banneker was a “son of former slaves” who was very well-educated (i.e. a farmer, astronomer, mathematician, surveyor, and author.) The combination of those two qualities give him a strong opinion on slavery. He conveys his opinion of slavery in a letter he wrote to Thomas Jefferson, the framer of the Declaration of Independence and the secretary of state under George Washington. In Banneker’s letter to Thomas Jefferson, he pitches a series of arguments against the institution of slavery through his use of pathos, his allusion to the Declaration of Independence, and his respectful tone towards Jefferson. Banneker uses pathos throughout his letter to make Jefferson realize how horrible and unfair slavery is. Banneker refers to the “groaning captivity and cruel oppression” of his “brethren.” He means that the slaves have had to be under authority of the white men for too long, and that they are treated so poorly. Banneker doesn’t think it’s fair that the Founding Father’s fought to gain their freedom from “the British Crown,” …show more content…
He only ever refers to Jefferson as “sir.” Banneker realizes his place in society. He understands that he is black, and that he is writing to the third most important man in the country. He needs to be as respectful as he can towards Thomas Jefferson. Banneker knows that Jefferson has a “knowledge of the situation,” and must think that the way that slaves are treated is wrong, so he doesn’t go into details about how slavery could be solved, but just tells Jefferson to have an open mind. In conclusion, Benjamin Banneker argues against the “criminal” and “cruel” action that is slavery with many rhetorical devices. However, Bannekers use of pathos, allusions, and respectful tone throughout the letter really help drive his compelling argument against slavery. In doing so, he was able to articulate just how unjust the institution of slavery truly