Negro Elections Day
Negro Elections Day
Negro Elections Day, a ceremony among African-American slaves in New England, is of disputed origin. Known also as Negro Governor's Day and by several other names, Negro Elections Day is a celebration that entailed costumes, feasting, and the election of a "governor" among certain slave populations. More of a symbolic position than anything else, an elected "governor" had no real legislative or political power.
In some cases contests of cleverness and strength were designed as a means of picking a winner, who would then become governor; in other cases personal character, morality, intelligence, and wisdom were prerequisites for appointment to governor. In a few cases the appointed governor was a descendent of African royalty or had actually been a prince or king prior to capture by slave traders.
Negro Elections Day generally fell on one of the days granted to slaves for rest and recreation. On this day slave men and women dressed in fancy garb or costume, played music, and paraded through the streets on foot or on horseback, accompanying their elected governor. The governor usually wore military dress or emblems (such as a crown) of royalty. The parade was usually followed by a dinner and dance.
Some eighteenth-century writers speculate that the election of governors was a vestige of the ceremonies accompanying the election of a king or chief that had taken place in Africa. Other writers suggest that enslaved Africans, now politically powerless, were imitating the election process that they had witnessed in the company of their white masters. However, the fact that Negro Elections Day is documented as having grown less political and more ceremonial over the years (when fewer Africans with a knowledge of original customs were being imported), combined with the fact that similar celebrations took place among slave populations in the Caribbean and Latin America, seems to buttress the belief that the practice originated in Africa.
Aimes, Hubert H. S. "African Institutions in America." Journal of American Folk-Lore 18 (1905): 15–32.
Shelton, Jane deForest. "The New England Negro—A Remnant." Harper's New Monthly Magazine 88 (1894): 533–538.
petra e. lewis (1996)
"Negro Elections Day." Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History. . Encyclopedia.com. (March 20, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/negro-elections-day
"Negro Elections Day." Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History. . Retrieved March 20, 2019 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/negro-elections-day
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
- Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
- In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.