Known today as “invisible ink,” nineteenth-century writers called the chemical concoction that concealed writing by another name—“sympathetic ink.” Readers encountered descriptions of sympathetic ink throughout American magazines, newspapers, and books. Capitalizing on the widespread interest in sympathetic ink, Edgar Allan Poe incorporated the device into his popular 1843 story, “The Gold-Bug,” but not for sociable ends. Poe instead uses invisible ink to puncture fantasies of democratic conviviality by emphasizing the way secrecy (vis-à-vis invisible ink) allows for the formation of control over black bodies. Evoking the longue durée of American political history, “The Gold-Bug” presents a seventeenth-century treasure map written in invisible ink that brings together murder, transatlantic slavery, and white antebellum control over black labor. In Poe’s hands, the fire that makes invisible ink visible simultaneously brings forth recurring temporalities of violence.