Analysis of Benjamin Banneker's Letter to Thomas Jefferson

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 In this letter to Thomas Jefferson, Banneker wanted to demonstrate slavery is a thing of the past and, how inhumane it is. But,  after analysis of Benjamin Banneker's letter to Thomas Jefferson, I believe his main argument was how challenging Jefferson's conclusions of pro-slavery as conflicting with the Declaration of Independence. 

Within the letter, he conjured the American battle against Britain and pointed fingers at Jefferson to realize slavery’s pitilessness. This was heavily shown in line 24, a time in which the Arms and tyranny of the British Crown were exerted with every powerful effort to reduce you to the State of Servitude. This evidence makes a connection to their society and the period by having where the United States also committed an act of prejudice. Benjamin Banneker’s letter started a truce and conflict with Thomas Jefferson. Their composing assistance uncovered Jefferson’s conflicting sees on subjugation and race, as he communicated doubts almost the slave exchange whereas owning subjugated African individuals, and declared that the dark and white races were particular. Thomas Jefferson moreover wanted that flexibility for African Americans would be taken after by colonization arrange to migrate them exterior of the joined together. ” he proceeded, “ in confining by extortion and viciousness so various a portion of my brethren beneath moaning imprisonment and unfeeling abuse, you ought to at the same time be found blameworthy of that most criminal act, which you professedly disdained in others, about yourselves.” I believe from this statement he wanted to grab Thomas Jefferson and hook him on to his thesis. 

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Additionally, Banneker uses a stronger approach to Jefferson and his argument by adding the religious factor. He mentions the logic of god which resulted in him meaning business and wanted to make his point clear about abolishing slavery. Where Banneker states, “which so generally prevails concerning us, and that your sentiments are concurrent with mine, which are that one universal Father hath given Being to us all and that he hath not only made us all of one flesh, but that he hath also without partiality afforded us all the same sensations, and endued us all with the same faculties, and that however variable we may be in society or religion, however, diversified in situation or color, we are all of the same family, and stand in the same relation to him”. 

Finally, after analysis of Benjamin Banneker's letter to Thomas Jefferson, I see that Banneker makes several references to “the Father” where he wanted to take Jefferson’s time and make an oath. One rhetorical strategy Banneker uses is having a repetition of the word “ Sir”, I believed Banneker wanted to show he was capable of being at the same amount of “intelligence” and comprehensiveness. He wanted to prove that he wasn’t like anyone else and that although because of his background he didn’t want that to define him.  

Works cited

  1. Jefferson, T. (1781). Notes on the State of Virginia. University of North Carolina Press.
  2. Onuf, P. S. (2016). "Race," Thomas Jefferson, and the Problem of National Identity. The William and Mary Quarterly, 73(4), 559-602.
  3. Ellis, J. J. (1996). American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson. Vintage.
  4. Peterson, M. D. (1970). Thomas Jefferson and the Negro Slavery Question. University of Virginia Press.
  5. Stanton, L. J., & Staples, B. D. (Eds.). (2008). The Essential Antislavery Writings. HarperCollins.
  6. Onuf, P. S. (1993). Jefferson, Slavery, and the Problem of Historical Responsibility. The Journal of Southern History, 59(2), 201-228.
  7. Finkelman, P., & Miller, C. (Eds.). (2009). His Soul Goes Marching On: Responses to John Brown and the Harpers Ferry Raid. University Press of Virginia.
  8. Goldstein, D. L. (Ed.). (1996). Thomas Jefferson: America's Philosopher-King. University Press of Virginia.
  9. Thompson, M. (Ed.). (1990). Thomas Jefferson: Political Writings. Cambridge University Press.

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