Letter in opposition to Civil Rights legislation, Swampscott 1966 (1)

Letter to Congressman Bates in strong opposition to Civil Rights legislation. Also included, “The Worst Bill to Ever be Seriously Considered in Congress in 177 Years: The 1966 Civil Rights Bill!”

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 Representatives from 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:


Dear Congressman Bates

While I know nothing about the organization publishing the attached article I must admit that the points they make are good ones.

It is my personal opinion that the Congress has already gone overboard in giving someone else’s civil rights and money to the negro.

As with most give away programs

  1. It is never enough
  2. Demands, threats, physical violence and destruction of life and property seem to the way to get more.
  3. The government cannot give rights or money to a group without first taking it from someone else.
  4. White people have civil rights too.

I will say to you quite frankly that before the Congress, the Supreme Court and the negro started denying me my rights I had negro friends and I did something about trying to help them.

Now I have no negro friends and I couldn’t care less about what happens to them. Until I regain my civil rights the negro is my enemy. I submit too, that statistics are ample evidence that the negros, as a group, are not equal morally, socially or mentally. Saying that they are doesn’t make them so.

If you really want to know the effect of the negros push for special privileges regard the vote Mrs. Hicks gets, regard Regan ini Calif., regard how whites move out of Washington as the negro moves in etc etc etc.

One day “Whitey” will discover that he too can be heard at the ballot box.

Very truly yours

Swampscott, Mass.



P. O. Box 2042

Wilmington 99, Delaware June 27, 1966

– – – – URGENT – – – – – – – PERSONAL – – – –


You know the riots, bloodshed and turmoil, not to mention the direct assaults on the Constitution, which followed the 1964 Civil Rights and 1965 Voting Rights bills.  Now comes the 1966 knockout punch!

This is the final assault on the right of everyone’s private ownership of property and freedom of speech — the objectives of the current civil rights legislative “package” now pending before Congress.  It jeopardizes the rights of all races.  This time, if passed, your own home and your right of free speech is on the block.

Fines: Up to $10,000 (plus court costs) –or more

Imprisonment: Up to TEN (10) years

Legal Aspects: Government will prosecute for complainant.

You hire defense lawyers at your expense.

You can be forced to pay complainant’s costs, and punitive damages, and damages for “humiliation,” “mental pain” —without limit!

Your recourse for harassment/false claims —none.

One judgement against you can take your home, your savings, your job — and imprison you.  You decide: is this what you’re ready for?


  1. Housing.

Prohibits choosing of tenants or purchasers (by race, religion, etc.) for a private home, rest home, apartments, dormitories — including shared rooms.  Invalidates all state/local subject laws permitting free choice.

  1. State Juries.

My negate present protections in selecting grand juries and power of the people to establish juror qualifications.

  1. Federal Juries.

Forbids discrimination due to race, religion, etc. — but requires prospective jurors to give information on race, religion, etc. (Thus, juries could be “packed.”)

  1. Schools

Katzenbach can institute suits against those he accuses of interfering with school integration — in any state — any time he chooses.

This bill can be defeated – by you – and not “George.”


Write Senator(s)  James O. Eastland Senate Office Blding.

     J. Caleb Boggs Washington, D.C.

     John J. Williams 20105


Representative Harris B. McDowell

House Office Bldg.

Washington, D.C.


Send copy of each letter to Judge Howard Smith

         Chairman, Rules Committee

         Rm. H313
        Capitol Building

         Washington, D.C.

The subject bills: “Civil Rights Act of 1966,” HR-14765 and S-3296

Use your telephone, use your influence.  It counts!

If you choose to do nothing – It’s your home, your rights and your freedom, but you’ll not slide by if this bill passes.


Letter to Congressman Bates, July 5, 1966. 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.