"on the third day from the present, he was to preach the Election Sermon"
Frontispiece of a 1785 election sermon
Public DomainFrontispiece of a 1785 election sermon - Credit: Jeremy Belknap

An election sermon was one delivered to mark the inauguration of a new governor. Governors were elected annually by the minority accorded voting rights: only freemen could participate, and this status was not easily come by. In order to qualify, one had to be an unindentured male, an established church-member and to have undergone a transformative spiritual experience mandated by God and attested to by other church leaders. In keeping with a system that viewed political authority as part of the religious structure, elections were carried out fifty days after Easter until the practice was suspended by Charles II in 1684.

Read an election sermon preached at Boston in 1669 here. In the video, a modern sermon delivered before the 2008 presidential election, in which Barack Obama defeated John McCain, offers some interesting insights into what the original Puritan version was like.