ELECTION DAY TRADITIONS
by Hans DePold, town historian
(Published in the Bolton Community News, October 1998)
Connecticut has a unique history of government. In 1636 Thomas Hooker led the first Connecticut settlers from Massachusetts through Bolton to finally settle in Hartford. Finding themselves without a charter, they established a set of laws, the Fundamental Orders. At their first election, in 1638, Hooker preached a sermon about the privilege of election, which he said belongs to the people, but must be exercised according to the will and law of God. To those unfamiliar with the Puritan beliefs, the sermon appeared to be a liberal assertion against autocratic rule. It was in fact the Puritan doctrine.
While the Puritan religion was normally of a very serious nature, Election Day was a day of celebration and of baking cakes. The tradition stuck. By the mid-1800s, after a trip to the polls, large groups met throughout Connecticut to celebrate the election returns. Election Day guests were served yeast cakes accompanied by eggnog or punch. The traditional evening menu might also include homemade sausages, hot biscuits, fried green apples, and blueberry preserves. Our unique traditional Election Day recipe survives to this day in many New England cookbooks.
The following recipe is from "The Yankee Cook Book," by Imogene Wolcott, who explains that Election Cake is said to have originated in Hartford, Conn., and was "served to all who voted the straight ticket."