In January 1942, Stafford Sands got up in the General Assembly and proposed that the current sitting of the House be extended until  World War II was over – whenever that would be. Fighting was raging across Europe, Africa, and thanks to the Pearl Harbour bombing on December 7th, 1941, which pulled America into a war with the Japanese, there was no telling when anything would end.  The life of the Bahamas Assembly was already seven long years. The precedent for extending the life of the House was during the last big war, World War I, when elections were postponed because of  hostilities.

(The Nassau Guardian Friday January 9, 1942)

But that was a different time.

Different men now sat in the Assembly.

Different men were also voting.

The General Assembly was immediately divided over this issue of postponing elections. In 1942, it was Roland Symonette representing the Eastern District, who asked if some were scared to go back to the people who had elected them. This threw the cat among the pigeons. Over the course of the debate, members were quick to defend themselves. Were the ones voting in favour of the Bill really just trying to postpone the inevitable or was there real concern about the colony’s finances and being able to afford General Elections?

Before Stafford Sands could close his mouth to finish the first reading of his proposed bill, he was interrupted by Mr. Roland Symonette.

Symonette’s first point was that the bill for extending the current life of the Assembly was neither here nor there, because if the Governor (the Duke of Windsor at the time) had the last word anyway, and could dissolve the House at will, thus forcing elections, what was the point of the debate.

(The Nassau Guardian Friday January 9, 1942)

Point two was the one that caused the other members to cough uncomfortably in their seats. Symonette pointed out that they were sent there by the constituents and without mincing words, if they had hesitancy in going back to ask for another term as representative.

(The Nassau Guardian Friday January 9, 1942)

The Second Reading January 15, 1942

The vote of 9 in favour of the Bill to Extend the Life of the House, and 9 opposed to the bill allowed a second reading of the bill.

Stafford Sands rose from his seat to propose a second reading of the bill. In referencing the comments made by Symonette at the last session, he made it clear that he was not afraid to go back to his constituents. Sands also introduced that since the last Assembly session, the Government, meaning the Governor, the Attorney General and other top British administrators in Nassau, have made it clear, they wanted elections to take place as scheduled.

(The Nassau Guardian January 15, 1942)

Symonette, unmoved by Sands’ speech,  again moves against the Bill introduced by the Member.

(The Nassau Guardian Thursday January 15, 1942)

In what only could be called a first time for everything, Mr. Milo B. Butler agreed with Symonette that the Bill was ill-timed and unwarranted. Butler seconds Symonette’s motion. Butler adds that such a measure should not have been introduced in the House in the first place. It should have come, if it were that necessary, from the Government itself and not those who may have an interest in seeing the life of the House extended.

(The Nassau Guardian Thursday January 15, 1942)

Third Reading of the Bill

By the third reading the Bill to extend the life of the House passed by a vote of 13 to 9.

(The Nassau Guardian Friday January 23, 1942)

Before the final vote was taken, L. W. Young makes his contribution to the debate. Young is credited with bringing up the use of a law, The Secret Ballot Law, which had been sitting on the books, just waiting on the chance to be rolled out. L. W. Young proposes the use of the Secret Ballot for the first time in Bahamas history. Young, in 1942, was the oldest member of the Assembly. His proposals for an election only on New Providence, and not on the Out Islands and the use of the Secret Ballot law, received no seconds.

(The Nassau Guardian Friday January 23, 1942)


We know that there were elections in 1942, so what happened to divert the course of the Extension Bill becoming law?

A. F. Adderley is what happened!

By Monday January 26, 1942, the now passed General Assembly Bill to extend the life of the House by at least one year, was given short shrift, a rapid and unsympathetic dismissal, by Legislative member Mr. A. F. Adderley.

(The Nassau Guardian Monday January 26, 1942)

A. F. Adderley must have been waiting with baited breath on this bill. He ripped it to shreds in minutes. Like the expert lawyer he was, Adderley had already done his homework before class.

First, Adderley presented the will of the people, the voters of the Bahamas. He tabled signed petitions from voters who were demanding elections. Voters had already thought seven years was too long.

(The Nassau Guardian Monday January 26, 1942)

Then, Adderley pointed out the exaggerations of Sands and others in making and voting for the Bill. The rest of the Empire was not in fact postponing elections, so why should  they, especially given the fact that the Bahamas General Assembly had a life term which was much longer than most.

(The Nassau Guardian Monday January 26, 1942)

When Adderley got finished with his speech, the rest were left dumbfounded. They had nothing to add. A. F. Adderley had eviscerated every argument, every sentence, and every thought behind the Extension Bill.

(The Nassau Guardian Monday January 26, 1942)

The elections in the Bahamas of 1942, in the middle of a world war, happened and became history. L. W. Young lost his seat and so did Dr. C. R. Walker. Their names became memorialised years later with schools in Nassau being named after them.

Special Mention: Sir Harry Oakes, a foreigner sits in the law House!

In the Bahamian legislative council of 1942, voting on important Bahamian matters, was an American, a rich man who had come to the Bahamas less than a decade earlier. Sir Harry Oakes sat on the Bahamas Legislative Council. He was not a Bahamian. But he was rich. Oakes money could be seen all over Nassau. It is of little wonder that he made it to the Legislative Council in time like 1940s on a small island chain desperate for foreign investment.

Even Oakes’ son-in-law, Mr. Alfred de Marigny, another rich foreigner, from the French Mauritius, who would later go on trial and be acquitted for Sir Harry Oakes murder, had announced he would be running for Eleuthera if General Elections took place that year 1942.

(The Nassau Guardian, Wednesday January 14, 1942)
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