Benjamin Banneker Rhetorical Analysis

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 487 |

Page: 1|

3 min read

Published: Mar 13, 2024

Words: 487|Page: 1|3 min read

Published: Mar 13, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Thesis Statement
  2. Body
  3. Ethos
  4. Conclusion

Benjamin Banneker was an African-American scientist, astronomer, mathematician, and author who lived during the 18th century. He is best known for his almanacs and his work on surveying the District of Columbia. In 1791, Banneker wrote a letter to Thomas Jefferson, then Secretary of State, in which he eloquently and passionately argued against the institution of slavery and for the equality of all men. In this essay, we will analyze Banneker's rhetorical strategies and their effectiveness in persuading Jefferson to reconsider his views on slavery.

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Thesis Statement

Banneker's letter to Thomas Jefferson effectively utilizes rhetorical devices such as ethos, pathos, and logos to make a compelling argument against slavery, ultimately challenging Jefferson's beliefs and advocating for the equality of all men.



Banneker establishes his credibility and authority early in the letter by referencing his own accomplishments as a mathematician and astronomer. He also mentions Jefferson's own words in the Declaration of Independence, appealing to Jefferson's sense of honor and integrity. By doing so, Banneker effectively establishes his ethos and positions himself as a knowledgeable and trustworthy source. This appeal to ethos strengthens his argument and makes his message more persuasive.


Banneker employs emotional language and vivid imagery to evoke empathy and compassion in Jefferson. He describes the plight of enslaved individuals and the suffering they endure, appealing to Jefferson's sense of morality and empathy. Banneker's use of pathos is particularly effective in humanizing the issue of slavery and eliciting an emotional response from Jefferson. By appealing to Jefferson's emotions, Banneker makes his argument more relatable and compelling.


In addition to ethos and pathos, Banneker also utilizes logical reasoning and evidence to support his argument. He cites the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the inherent rights of all individuals, highlighting the hypocrisy of advocating for liberty while perpetuating slavery. Banneker's use of logos is effective in appealing to Jefferson's sense of reason and logic, as it forces Jefferson to confront the inconsistency of his beliefs. By employing logical reasoning, Banneker strengthens his argument and makes it more intellectually compelling.


In conclusion, Benjamin Banneker's letter to Thomas Jefferson effectively utilizes rhetorical devices such as ethos, pathos, and logos to make a compelling argument against slavery. By appealing to Jefferson's sense of honor, morality, and logic, Banneker challenges Jefferson's beliefs and advocates for the equality of all men. The rhetorical strategies employed by Banneker in his letter ultimately serve to persuade Jefferson to reconsider his views on slavery, making this a powerful and effective piece of persuasive writing.

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Moreover, Banneker's letter serves as a timeless example of the power of rhetoric in effecting social change. By analyzing Banneker's rhetorical strategies, we can gain insight into the art of persuasion and the ways in which language can be used to challenge prevailing beliefs and advocate for justice. Banneker's letter continues to inspire and resonate with readers to this day, serving as a testament to the enduring power of effective rhetoric.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

Benjamin Banneker Rhetorical Analysis. (2024, March 13). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 21, 2024, from
“Benjamin Banneker Rhetorical Analysis.” GradesFixer, 13 Mar. 2024,
Benjamin Banneker Rhetorical Analysis. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 May 2024].
Benjamin Banneker Rhetorical Analysis [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Mar 13 [cited 2024 May 21]. Available from:
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