In November 1921, Assembly Members were debating whether or not, an electricity building contract, had been drafted by the Attorney General, in a timely and correct manner. This debate ignited an angry row between Thaddeus Toote, Member for San Salvador and H. J. Russell junior member for East New Providence. Toote was black and Russell was white.
For 1921, the social and economic tables, between these two men, were strangely reversed.
Toote, a black man, was a private school and London educated barrister. Toote’s father was also a barrister. Toote trained at Lincoln’s Inn and called to the English Bar and Bahamas Bar. He was, for 1921, a highly educated negro. H. J. Russell, a white Bahamin, was apparently not as educated as Toote or the Attorney General, whom they had been arguing over.
House of Assembly Member for San Salvador, Thaddeus Augustus Toote, the younger, unleashed all manner of verbal fury. Toote locked horns with H. J. Russell, junior member for Eastern District of New Providence. Leon Walton Young (a black man) was the Senior Member for Eastern District of New Providence.
Toote took umbrage at Russell, impugning the character of an educated man, like the Attorney General, who was a British appointed lawyer. It was obvious Thaddeus Toote thought very little of the junior member for East New Providence.
H. J. Russell was asking why construction of the new electricity building had begun in August and up to October, the contract had not been signed. In fact, it had not been signed until November 2, 1921.
Thaddeus Augustus Toote, the younger.
I refer to Thaddeus Augustus Toote as the younger because in 1921 both father and son sat in the Bahamas House of Assembly together.
Thaddeus Augustus Toote, the elder, represented Watlings Island and Rum Cay. Thaddeus Augustus Toote, the younger, represented San Salvador.
“Mr. T. Toote said that a lot had been said in and out of the House about this matter. The hon. junior member for the East, who came from a district were all educated people come from, was measuring his ability with a man who had been sent to the best institutions in the world.”
“What led up to the matter he did not know, but for and uneducated man to stand before the house to test the competency of a gentleman qualified to hold such a position as Attorney General was a shame and a disgrace.”
“Mr. T. Toote said that the hon. member seemed to think he could do a lot… when he really had no more power than a rat in a trap.”
“He stood up there and tried to make the House believe that he was one of the greatest orators in the world. He hoped the House would compel him to prove his statements. He listened to what anybody said and repeated it whether it was true or not, just as if anybody believed Sandy when he told them on Bay Street that there was “war in Cuba.”
“It was a case of the ignorant wishing to lead the wise. Who were the men who were making these attacks? Men who were born in the bush and grew up eating conchs and sapodillas.”
How the debate went…
H. J. Russell, junior member, Eastern District continued to ask about the contract for the building of the new Power (electricity) House. His continued to ask for clarification because the contract was supposed to have been drawn up and signed well before November 2, 1921.
Thaddeus Augustus Toote told H. J. Russell that if there was wrongdoing, then attack the wrong. It was fruitless, Toote suggested to continue to attack the Attorney General personally, as Russell was an ignorant man and the Attorney General, an educated one.
Toote likened it to the ignorant trying to lead the wise. The ignorant, Toote referred to, were men, supposedly like Russell, who grew up the bush, having nothing to eat but conch and sapodillas.