[African-Americana] [Dance] [Hancock, John. (1736-1793)]
Original Engraving of the 1793 Equality Ball
A very interesting original print showing John Hancock shaking hands with an African-American man at the "Equality Ball" given by Hancock in Boston in 1793. While other African-American men and women dance and one plays the violin, the governor warmly greets a man named Cuffey. Meanwhile, another white man in the corner holds his nose. The engraving appeared in The Echo, with other Poems (1807), an illustrated collection of poems by a group of "wits" including one satirizing the event. The caption is excerpted from the poem, which mocks free people of color's way of speaking: "While CUFFEY near him takes his stand, / Hale-fellow met, and grasps his hand-- / With pleasure glistening in his eyes, / 'Ah! Massa Gubbernur!' he cries, / 'Me grad to see you, for de peeple say / 'you lub de Neegur better dan de play.'
Engraved by Leney after Tisdale and captioned "Page 66. Echo 10." Overall foxing and toning, with three pen strokes at the upper right and two small mounting remnants; overall in very good condition. 7.5 x 4.75 inches (18.9 x 12.4 cm).
See: Robert H. Gudmestad, 'Dance,' in Encyclopedia of African American History, 1619-1895: From the Colonial Period to the Age of Frederick Douglass, pp. 363-366.
Joanne Pope Melish, Disowning Slavery: Gradual Emancipation and 'Race' in New England, 1780-1860.
Culture, Ethnicity & Gender