The Character of Ignatius Sancho
This chapter focuses on the epistolary texts of Afro-British thinker Ignatius Sancho, the first and perhaps only Black British man to vote in the eighteenth century. Situating Sancho within an intellectual set that includes adherents of British sentimentalism, rationalism, and abolitionists, the chapter reads the critical privileging of Joseph Jekyll's largely unverifiable biography of Ignatius Sancho against the customary scholarly dismissal of Sancho's letters. The chapter argues that Sancho's familiar letters are complex textual artifacts. Reading letters that he wrote to John Meheux, it looks at a letter in which a public exchange about miscegenation in the newspapers is represented as repeatedly lost and found. It argues that the reader's task is to find what is present in the exchange, the response to a public definition by a racial subject. This chapter shows how textual play might open these letters up for future readers.