Letter in support of the Civil Rights Bill, Boxford 1966

Letter to Congressman Bates from a constituent in Boxford in support of the Civil Rights Bill, only days after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

This document represents one of several materials taken from the papers of Representative William Henry Bates at Salem State College.  Bates was Essex County’s Representative in the United States House of Representativesfrom 1950-1969.  The letters reflect Essex County residents’ opinions on the Fair Housing portion of proposed Civil Rights legislation.  The Fair Housing provisions of various Civil Rights bills prohibited racial discrimination in the sale or rental of all homes.  Many Essex County residents saw this provision as a violation of their property rights.  Homeowners that lived in two- or three-family homes were particularly outraged.  The letters span from President Johnson’s first proposal of Fair Housing legislation in 1966 until 1968 when the bill was finally passed.  The tone of the letters becomes much more sympathetic after the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968.  

Click here for a PDF of the transcription:

Boxford Mass.

July 23, 1966

Dear Congressman Bates,

I wish to express my support of H.R. 14765, and urge its passage withouut weakening amendments. I also wish to stress that the fair housing provision Title IV be passed without crippling amendments.

Thank you, sir, for your indulgence in this vital matter.
And thank you for the admirable job you are doing of representing Massachusetts.


July 25, 1966

Boxford, Massachusetts


I am in receipt of your letter of July 23rd and I appreciate very much your comments in reference to the Civil Rights Bill.

As you know, Title IV was considered to be the primary controversial section of this bill and it has now been amended. I intend to support this Section which is somewhat akin to our Massachusetts law.

There are, as you probably know, some ambiguities in the bill which were discovered after it was reported by the Committee and I believe that these matters should be clarified.

Thanking you for writing to me on this important matter, and with kindest regards, I am

Sincerely yours,

William H. Bates


Letter to Congressman Bates, July 23, 1966. William Henry Bates Papers1941-1973. North Shore Political Archives 98-02, Folder: “Legislative Files-Judiciary-Civil Rights Act (1966) Box 3-4. Salem State College Archives.