Letter in opposition to the Civil Rights Bill, Lynn 1966

Letter from a resident of Lynn to Congressman Bates in opposition to the Fair Housing section of the 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 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 25 – 1966

Cong. W. H. Bates

Washington D. C.

Dear Sir:

I wish to register my opposition to the “Fair Housing Section” of the new Civil Rights Bill now in discussion. To me the Bill is an invasion of privacy and comes awfully close to a dictatorship. The Federal Govt. in no way should be allowed to enter this feud, this is purely a matter for the individual. The Government didn’t assist in the purchase and should not enter into a sale or rental. Keep them out.

Sincerely yours

Lynn Mass


Letter to Congressman Bates, July 25, 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.