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This chapter looks at how the unstable beginnings of an Enlightenment discourse of race are intertwined with a Black Enlightenment subject in the figure of the free Jamaican Francis Williams, the first prominent Black intellectual in the British Empire. A belatedly added footnote by David Hume in his essay, “Of National Characters,” is widely considered to have inaugurated an Enlightenment discourse of race. That note happens also to be the first mention of Williams in print. This chapter reads the scattered records we have about Williams against Hume's note, both of which take on lives of their own in the debates on abolition and slavery during the 1770s.

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