Letter in opposition to Title IV, Swampscott 1966 (2)

Letter to Congressman Bates in opposition to Title IV, arguing that the legislation will take away homeowners’ rights away. Responding letter from Bates offers his opinion. 

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:

[Postmark 5/4/66]

Dear Representative Bates:

Enough is enough and the attached is too much.

The negro is no longer looking for equal rights but now wants (and in some fields have already secured) special privileges
Their leaders have admitted this publicly and privately.

The crime rate among negros – their ideas of murderice – their sex crimes etc. etc. are grim evidence of the fact that as a group they are not equals –

As a matter of fact, I recall visiting people in Virginia – just outside Washington D.C. – some six years ago our first thought was to visit the capitol. Our friends worried us not to stay there after dark because of the negro situation – that it just wasn’t safe.

I felt then so I do now that the situation was pretty far out of hand when thte captial of thte country was unsafe because the negros could not be controlled.

Now the situation is as bad or worse in every major city
Are those the people you would have us contract with – associate with and work witht? Too, when the Federal government can tell me I must associate with people of poor

character – whatever their race – or that I must contract with them or face charges of discrimination I feel that liberty is indeed dead or dying and that we are holding for a fascist or dictator form of government

Very truly yours

Swampscott, Massachusetts 01907

April 7, 1966


Having lived in Washington for a good many years I can well understand the essence of your recent letter.

It is true, of course, that the negroes have been deprived of certaine legitimate rights in various portions of the country. I do believe, however, that it is necessary to keep all things in [perspective] and to make certain that we do not accord to them rights which are denied to others; for instance, a group of them are presently encamped in Lafayette Park across the street from The White House. This is not a camping area and I believe that they should be removed. I would feel the same way regardless of who might be inclined to do the same thing. Although I have voted [for a] wide range of Civil Rights Bills, I fail to see the justice in coddling people when they deliberately abrogate the law.

With kindest regards,

I am Sincerely yours,

William H. Bates


Letter to Congressman Bates, May 4, 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.