1568 Lyon Benoist Rigaud

Le Roy vouldra dans cité neufue entrer
Par ennemys expugner lon viendra
Captif libere faulx dire & perpetrer,
Roy dehors estre, loin d’ennemys tiendra.

The King will wish to get into OR start doing something with the new-style city
Furthered by his opponents coming to submission
Freed captive to speak falsely and to accomplish crime,
The King placed outside, far from the foes held.
This King will hold himself far outside (the range of) his foes.
A King holds himself aloof, his enemies grasp the moment.

If the ‘Captif libere’ of Line 3 was also the King of Line 1 in the above quatrain then we should also consider New England’s hidden history:

The condition of black slaves and black freemen, mulattos and native indians etc. was totally different in the North from the paternal slavery and attitudes in the Southern States of America. The latter often degraded the Africans publicly yet honoured their private duty to take care of them including in old age. The Northerners also kept these non-whites down but took no interest in their lives leaving their slaves abandoned if they were not a positive financial asset (i.e. rejecting liability for the very young, the disabled and the very old) treating them the same way as they would redundant white factory workers in the future.

There is no doubt that the poor New England underdogs were subjected to maltreatments and the severest social injustice but this was somehow not as bad as the cruel plantations of the West Indies. (Being sold across to there was the punishment for the crime of mixed marriage, somehow justified by the non-whites being genetically from the “bad seed of Adam” so tainting white racial purity. This would later dignify itself as the ‘science’ of eugenics and is resurfacing colourlessly today thanks to DNA historical research supporting the dangerous notion of rare blood lines carrying some secret superiority over common ones.) A group of 20 African slaves who fought in the Revolutionary War petitioned the state of Massachusetts to outlaw slavery on the grounds of this being in line with the revolutionary ideals they fought for and ipso facto Constitutional. They were freed individually quite recently, 230 years too late, with a humanitarian-style apology from the Governor for the delay.

Although state laws were passed making slavemasters responsible for their ‘freed slaves’ this was like any law – necessary because the opposite was happening – and in hard times the burden of the ‘free man’ was passing to the town or parish. And no freed captive ever dared to exercise their right to a vote in the State of Connecticut. African culture, despite being suppresed in so very many ways, slipped into this gap. The African words for types of tribal leaders responsible for rules of public organization and social welfare translated into English neatly as Governor and King.

The following was liberated from the Connecticut State Library:

“Evidence of the tradition among African Americans of electing black governors or kings can be found in several New England colonies throughout the eighteenth century. In Connecticut, the practice appears to have started in the mid 1750s. It is thought that slaves, who accompanied their owners to Hartford for the yearly election of the colony’s governor, chose a person to become a leader of their community as well. The first black governor mentioned in historical sources is London, who was a slave of Captain Thomas Seymour. He was elected in Hartford in 1755.”

 The history of voting procedures is as obscure as the history of elected black kings in America. These black governor-kings were buried unmarked in African Burial Grounds while white Governors had grand tombstones.

In fact the black Governor or King was accorded much power and influence in the whole community and the colourful exuberance of their election parades became imitated by white communities everywhere. At one point a local black Governor, Sam Huntington, was a servant in the white household of the overall Governor of Connecticut, Samuel Huntington! Nevertheless, he and others could “still be called on to perform important functions within his community, and the position commanded respect from both black and white residents”. The local elections were well-supported and the presentable incumbents sometimes held their positions for years on end. Black Governors could appoint a Lieutenant Governor and deputize as necessary including magistrates and justices of the peace and sheriffs to help them administer and enforce the law. Of course it was ‘good politics’ to have the black Governor King dispense punishments to his own in the North but there was a positive trade-off also on pressing questions of reform. The system ceased in Connecticut after 1856.

Basically the white population conceived this role as being a special form of governorship whilst the Africans viewed it as an elected form of monarchy. In 1899, Frederick C. Norton confirmed that they demonstrated  “imposing presence, strength, firmness and volubility” and were “quick to decide, ready to command and able to flog”. Their inaugural parades were spectacular “with colors waving, military uniforms and fifes, fiddles and clarinets”.

Without wishing to appear lacking in any due deference or diffidence, it seems curious to see from here that the first black President of America, an elected People’s King with powers to rival the legislature, has extended these powers to include seizure and indefinite imprisonment without warrant or charge, the continued sending of untried detainees to unnamed lands, sequestered trials with little or no representation in secluded courts (apparently one recent decision was made whilst the judge was out) executions without trial (like the outlawed lynching of a ‘citizen of bad seed’ but by a missile that can also take out all the ‘bad seed bystanders’) and no hiding place from innumerable posses of standby militiamen and bounty hunters,  all of which would have been depressingly familiar to an African freed man/liberated slave/escaped slave/debt-driven sharecropper way back when ‘white power’ alone ruled the land unjustly.