For Bahamian whites and those hoping to pass for white, there were tough times ahead, as they emigrated from the islands to South Florida, in the early 1900s. As more and more, of every racial hue and tone, left the impoverished Bahama Islands, to seek their fortunes in the emerging industrialised America, they soon realised that uncompromising racial standards were the deciding factor in everything, in America.
Whereas a light-skinned, wavy-haired mulatto, in The Bahamas, could invariably enjoy all the privileges conferred on pure whites, once they travelled abroad however, they were considered a negro and treated as such.
One generation removed from mixed negro ancestry just wasn’t going to allow you to live in the white’s only areas in America, or vote or be eligible for certain jobs and services.
(The Tampa Tribune, Monday, 03 March, 1919)
(The Miami News, Saturday, 12 September, 1908)
If you weren’t pure white, you had to have been at least three generations removed from any mixed negro lineage. All traces of negro blood had to be removed and this could only be accomplished through adherence to strict miscegenation rules. If such were the circumstances of someone’s true heritage, those matters were better left hidden under floorboards or in graves.
For Bahamian born, George Granville Morton, who was undoubtedly a white man, it was probably the long days spent playing under the intense Bahamian sun or years enjoying the warm sea water, which tanned his skin to the point where the Americans questioned his whiteness in 1907.
They questioned it so vociferously that 24 year old George has to get a letter of attestation, an affidavit, authenticating his pure whiteness. It was published in the Miami paper for a week.
We can only hope that it helped to open the right doors for poor George.
George Granville Morton was born on 15 February 1883 in Palmetto Point, Eleuthera, The Bahamas.
His father, John Bennett Salathiel Morton was born in 1875 in Rugby, Warwickshire, England and died in 1908 in Eleuthera, The Bahamas.
His mother, Anna Marie Ward was an American from New York. She was born in 1863 and died in 1952 in Miami, Florida.
George Granville Morton emigrated to Miami in October 1905 at the age of 22.
By 1907, George was in need of an affidavit attesting to his racial lineage as a white man of pure blood.
In 1915, Bahamian George Granville Morton applied to become a naturalised American citizen.
George Granville Morton, the Bahamian from Palmetto Point, Eleuthera, who had to publish his affidavit of pure whiteness, to the satisfaction of those in Miami, who questioned his racial ancestry in 1907, died in Florida, in September 1960.