First Black Self-Governing System Negro Election Day History
Black King Pompey was an African man of Royal Blood. He was captured during the slave Trade and sold to Daniel Mansfield of Lynn MA.
Black King Pompey and other Africans of royal blood used their heritage to establish the First Black Voting System called Negro Election Day! He called it "Negro" because in West Africa there was a part of the country called Negroland. This is where many Africans from the Ghana area were stolen from their homes. The name Negro Election Day was in honor of that land. (*Please see image of the map)
In 1740, these enslaved men held a 2-week election process beginning with debating, then to an annual 1-day Voter Election, held on the same day as the white Election Day. The winner earned the title of King or Governor. In Massachusetts Black King Pompey won the election earning him the title of Black King Pompey. in his business served as Black Once elected, a 1-day celebration called a Coronation, was held. The winner paraded through town on a horse, with aides on each side. Others marched while playing fifes, fiddles, drums, and horns. After the parade, people gathered on 2 acres of land, later, purchased in 1758 by Black King Pompey, for political activities, outdoor feast, socializing and competed in athletic contests, dancing, gambling, and drinking.
After Negro Election Day coronation Black King Pompey served as mediator and liaison between the slave, elected colonial leaders and white slave owners. They held court trials and deliberated punishment for non-law-abiding slaves in their communities. When Negro Election Day became too large to hold on the 2 -acres of land, it moved to Salem Willows Park in Salem MA. Negro Election Day was not only held in MA locations like - Lynn, Saugus, Marblehead and Boston; they were held in RI, Ct and NH.
Negro Election Day’s history is a powerful story of how Slaves of Royal blood turned their tragedy into positive triumph. But now, with its new location in Salem MA and the end of slavery allowing Blacks to obtain the right to Vote in mainstream elections, Negro Election Day began to become masked. Once it left Lynn and moved to Salem Willows the Negro Election Day Coronation remained and the first name change began, Emancipation Day. Articles are being written but women of the community organized the celebration and began calling it Maids Picnic to honor workers. With the name Picnic its legacy value diminished and lost what it represented. When Churches in Lynn, Chelsea, Cambridge and Boston, hosted the celebration they continued using picnic but called it Sunday Picnic and moved it to Sunday not Saturday.
During World War II, celebrating 200 years of Negro Election Day another name change was crafted, Colored People’s Picnic, moving it back to Saturday to allow factory and defense plant workers to attend and attracted families and descendants. Then the late 1960’s showcased the Civil Rights Movement, an awareness of Black Power renamed Black Picnic Day, merging pride honor and Black achievement, while leaving out its original black achievements.
The 21st Century introduced 3 women who initiated a rebirth through Salem United, Inc. unmasking the history of Negro Election Day and its relationship to the 3rd Saturday in July. Their mission was to Preserve, Protect and Build Black History. Salem United, Inc. was not going to continue to allow Black people to continue to believe its Slavery history was not real or to look at its history as a 100 year history the churches started. Some people even believed it was a day off for slaves. We stand proud in working for the understanding - against its legacy - being based on a connection to lynching, instead of the true historical significance as the First Black Voting system; and the building of black self-governing in America.
In Marblehead Massachusetts at the Black Joe Tavern, Joe Fogger or Black Joe celebrated Negro Election Day serving as a Black King.
Richard Crafus Became Black King Practicing Negro Election Day Celebrated During the War of 1812
During the War of 1812, more than a thousand African-American prisoners in Dartmoor Prison toed the line set by a tall, powerful young privateer named Richard Crafus.
They called him King Dick, and he was the most famous man in the prison.
He arrived on Oct. 9, 1814, forced to march 17 miles to the gloomy stone prison high upon a rocky, windy moor.
Twenty percent of the sailors aboard privateers and U.S. Navy vessels during the War of 1812 were black.
By 1814, 1,000 African American sailors and 5,000 of their shipmates were incarcerated in Dartmoor Prison. Some 271 died there.
Conditions at Dartmoor Prison were brutal. It was perched 1700 feet above sea level on a windswept moor. The prisoners were exposed to winter blasts of rain and snow, given starvation rations of beef tea and black bread once a day and abused by cruel guards. They slept in hammocks stacked high in crowded, lice-infested barracks.
The prisoners weren’t confined to cells and so were able to govern themselves. They had courts that punished miscreants, a gambling room, a market, sporting events and a theater. Prisoners could volunteer to work in stone quarries or build the prison chapel.
The jailers segregated the African-American prisoners in their own barracks, Prison Number Four. There they created their own culture, which whites could join if they wanted.
And unlike the white prisons, the African-American prison held Sunday worship services.
King Dick earned fame throughout Dartmoor Prison for ruling with an iron hand.
Twenty-eight percent of the African-American prisoners were born in New England. Many of the rest sailed from New England ports. Most would have known the tradition of electing or appointing black kings and governors on Election Day.
Kings and governors were often chosen for their physical prowess. Richard Crafus was 6’ 3” when the average height was 5’6,” physically powerful and a masterful bare-knuckle boxer. He wore a bearskin grenadiers’ cap as a symbol of his authority.
Richard Crafus negotiated with prison authorities and kept order among the prisoners. He made daily rounds, checking each berth for infractions.
Richard Crafus probably died around 1835.
*Note: We will be adding two additional stories of Danvers and Marblehead in 2023
“1½ lb. butter
5 lb. flour
2 lb. sugar
1 quart hop yeast
1 teaspoon soda (instead of soda, I use Royal Baking Powder and doubtless Grandma would if she’d had it),
1 pint hot milk
½ oz. cinnamon
2 lb. stones raisins
make 4 loaves.
From these sources it would seem milk based Election Cake was the most popular version.
All of these recipes are from cookbooks outside the Hartford area. All of the recipes are called “Election Cake” with the exception of one called “Hartford Election Cake”. Does the milk version differ with how the ladies of Hartford made their Election Cakes?
1889 Hartford Election Cake and Other Receipts
“Chiefly From Manuscript Sources” (Sic)
Published For The Benefit of St. Peter’s-In-The-Mount, Holderness, NH
Recipes collected By Ellen Terry Johnson
Printed in Hartford, CT
The cookbook contains 30 cake and cookie recipes. Of these, eleven are Election Cake recipes, nine are other cake recipes and ten are cookie recipes. All the Election Cake recipes came from different sources or women. What is interesting is the consistency among these recipes. Every recipe called for flour, sugar, butter, eggs, raisins, spice, milk, wine and brandy, and homemade yeast. A comparison of the recipes showed that there were well defined ratios: equal quantities of sugar and butter, each being half the amount of flour used. Example: 8 pounds flour, 4 pounds sugar, 4 pounds butter. Eggs vary but generally were equal to about half the weight of the flour. All the recipes used milk. All used liquor. The liquor consisted of wine and brandy with the exception of one that called for rum. Without exception all the recipes called for homemade yeast and in some cases, had a recipe for it. The women all considered homemade yeast to be superior to Fleichman’s cake yeast specifically for making Election Cake. None called it Hartford Election Cake. Homemade yeast takes longer to rise so this bread-cake was made over two days.
The consistency of the recipes and the number of Election Cake recipes indicates it was a popular cake in the Hartford area and remained so well after it was considered “old-fashioned” by outsiders. Child’s cookbook published in Boston in 1833 called the recipe “Old-fashioned election cake” as did Aunt Mary’s New England Cook Book (Boston, 1881) “Old Fashioned Election Cake”. The New England Cook Book (1912) by Helen Wright has “Old Hartford Election Cake (150 Years Old)” with the correct ingredients and amounts (ratios) to those in the Hartford Election Cake cook book. This suggests there was an election cake specific to the Hartford area. If the date is correct then it dates the cake back to the 1760’s.
5 lb. flour
2 lb. butter
2 lb. sugar
3 gills of distillery yeast, or twice the quantity of home-brewed [yeast]
1 gill wine
1 gill brandy
½ oz. nutmeg
2 lbs. fruit
1 quart milk
1 lb. citron, optional
Election Cake had two versions. Both were popular. The milk version conformed to temperance agenda. The wine and brandy version conformed to the gaiety and drinking associated with partying on election day. As time went on and election day was no longer the grand event of the year, Election Day Cake did not disappear. Housewives adapted and served “this cake every fall and winter” as the Connecticut lady from Maine explained.
“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.”
“I have been told to whitewash my history, to delete the name "Negro" from Negro Election Day. I will not do what others have done to our history.
I have knowledge of this history. I teach it to you. But I preserve its culture. I do not delete its significance. I do not mask its origin.
I believe in the words of Marcus Garvey and I live by those words."
Doreen Wade President, Salem United, Inc.
― DaShanne Stokes
“Resistance isn’t enough. If we want change, we have to get out the vote.”