Letter in support of Civil Rights legislation, Hamilton 1968

Letter written by a resident of Hamilton in 1968 urging Bates to support Civil Rights legislation.

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:


The Honorable William Bates

1317 New House Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20515

My dear Mr. Bates:

I am sure you must know what has to be done with the pending Civil Rights legislation. I am not sure a white person can feel pride legitimately these days or in long days to come – but prompt​ ​full​ action on your part now will arrest my shame.



Letter to Congressman Bates, 1968. William Henry Bates Papers, 1941-1973. North Shore Political Archives 98-02, Folder: “Legislative Files-Judiciary-Civil Rights Act (1966) Box 3-4. Salem State College Archives.