Letter in opposition to Title IV, Hamilton 1966

Letter from a constituent in Hamilton to Congressman Bates in opposition to Title IV. 

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 28, 1966.
S. Hamilton, Mass 01982

Rep. Wm H. Bates,
Washington D.C.

Title IV of H.R. 14765

Dear Representative:

Please defeat any attempt by Federal law to limit my right as a citizen to contract freely with persons of my choice in the sale or rental of property. Neither I now any member of my family should be subjected to Federal civil and criminal penalties or harassment because of any complaint of discrimination by reason of race or religion in the sale of living quarters. Furthermore brokers should not be prevented from serving clients because of any preference on their parts.

Thank you,

P.S. Is it not time to stop the inflationary spending of the Great Society?

[Civil Rights]

August 1, 1966

South Hamilton, Massachusetts 01982


I appreciate your letter of July 26th expressing your opposition to the “Fair Housing Section” of the Civil Rights Bill.

I intend to vote for certain changes in Title IV but just what amendments will be offered I am not certain at this time. However, I do not intend to vote for any legislation which is more stringent than we presently have in Massachusetts.

With kindest regards, I am

Sincerely yours,
William H. Bates


Letter to Congressman Bates, July 28, 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.