My father’s side of the family arrived on the the Mayflower.
They were Howlands.
My Irish Nana sailed on a ship a deck above steerage in the Year of the Crow. She was 14.
In 1966 my parents enrolled my name in the ranks of The Sons of Colonial Wars and Mayflower Descendants. As an anti-status quo hippie I never attended a single gathering of either association, despite our rumored family ties to Hannibal Hamlin, Abraham Lincoln’s first vice president.
While my Yankee side was from Maine, my grandmother’s last name was Hamlin. I recalled her saying that she was related to the great man and I have mentioned this to many of my friends over the years.
A few have backed up this claim.
My father compiled a family genealogy. I can only guess at our past, so I researched the family connection on the Internet.
The first page of websites blatantly accused my supposed ancestor of having been a mulatto, citing his dark complexion.
“Hamlin is what we call a Mulatto…they design to place over the South a man who has Negro blood in his veins.”
His Vice-Presidency added another incendiary flame to the secessionists and his political opponents in Maine further scandalized by untruths as to his heritage.
“That black Penobscot Indian.”
Of course no one was really white back then. Artists painted presidents as white when in truth they were men of color, because white women died in droves during childbirth. Faced with extinction white males impregnated black women to save the race, plus sex with white women was an obligation instead of a pleasure, however the darkest of the dark were thrown out of the big house same as Abraham banished his concubine Hagar and his son Ishmael into the desert.
As for me, I walked like the Mothers of Invention sang on FREAK OUT, “I’m not black,but there’s a lot of times I don’t feel white.”
It’s in my blood.
And everyone else’s too.