Letter in opposition to the Fair Housing Act, Salem 1966 (3)

Letter to Congressman Bates from a constituent in Salem in opposition to the Fair Housing Act.

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:


July 26, 1966

Cong. William Bates
Washington, D. C.

Dear Congressman:

I am writing this letter to express my opposition to the Federal Fair Housing laws as proposed and as amended. The exemption of the owners of four units or less who live on the premises does not alter the gross injustice that laws of this type perpetrate upon the real estate owners of the nation.

Every citizen is entitled to his civil rights as regards the purchase or rental of property. I am firmly against any law which would [?????] on these rights however no law should deny the freedom of choice to either party to such transactions.

The thoughts, choices and actions of the parties to any sale or rental should be governed by their conscience and not be regulated by the Federal Government.

Yours truly,


Letter to Congressman Bates, July 26, 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.