Would-Be Bridegroom Takes Oath He Is Negro

Would-Be Bridegroom Takes Oath He Is Negro

The San Francisco Call
Volume 104, Number 70 (1908-08-09)
Page 31, Column 4
(Source: California Digital Newspaper Collection)

Cannot Get License to Wed Mulatto Until He Proves His Race

ST. LOUIS, Aug. 8.— “You can’t get a marriage license here,” said Leon G. Smith of East St. Louis yesterday when William Hawkins and a mulatto woman named Fanny F. Austin of East St. Louis came into the marriage license clerk’s office and asked for a license.

Hawkins inquired what the reason was for refusing him a license, and was told that licenses would not be issued for mixed marriages, whites and negroes. Then he laughed and told Smith that while he generally passed for a white man and very few people ever imagined he had negro blood, that he really was a negro. To prove this Hawkins opened his shirt collar and showed that below his throat he was somewhat darker than his face appeared. He also showed his finger nails to prove his negro blood, and finally made an affidavit that he was a negro. Then the license was issued. Hawkins told Smith that he has three sisters married to white men who do not suspect their wives of having negro blood.

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