Topics: Slavery in the United States, American Civil War, Frederick Douglass Pages: 3 (641 words) Published: November 4, 2013
S Campbell
Pathways English 16C.003
Fall 2013

A Rhetorical Analysis of Pre- and Post-1799 Slave Bills of Sale and the 1799 Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery

1. Defining the “Rhetorical Situation”

You have read from Eric Foner that freedom is an “essentially contested” idea, indeed, freedom is neither a static or universal concept, but an evolving and active situation being played out in all places and in all times. And we, the people of all nations and ethnicities, continuously and constantly respond when our freedoms are restricted. Given the malleability of this idea we call “freedom,” both pre-recorded and recorded history have left us with an extraordinary record of responses to what it means to be free. According to Lloyd Bitzer, in “The Rhetorical Situation,” all of these responses, whether recorded or not, are rhetorical responses to various situations, the means by which people come to question a problem and find answers to it.

In this rhetorical analysis assignment, we are responding to the situation illustrated in the Slave Bills of Sale at BHS. We are asking ourselves how the 1799 Act responds to this situation and what strides, if any, it makes in resolving the situation.

2. Constructing the Rhetorical Analysis

As a starting point for your rhetorical analysis essay, please analyze the rhetorical situation evidenced in your group’s pre-1799 slave bill of sale. What is the genre of the document?
What is the purpose of the document?
To what situation does the document respond?
Who are the parties to the document?
What is the “angle of vision” or “point of view” of the parties to the document? Who is the audience of the document?
What tools do the authors use to persuade the audience of the validity of their point of view?

Then, analyze the 1799 Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery. What is the genre of the document?
What is the purpose of the document?
To what situation does the document...
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