Letter in opposition to Title IV, Wenham 1966

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:


June 24, 1966

The Honorable William H. Bates,

House Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Sir: –

I am opposed to “Title IV” of the so called Civil Rights Bill – H.R. 14765 and S 3296.

It seems to me that this bill would remove an important part of any home owner’s Civil Rights.

Home owners have bought property and have paid taxes on it with ​their​ money. Why should they give up their rights to rent or sell to whom they please?

Will you please vote for the defeat of this bill. Thank you.



Letter to Congressman Bates, June 24, 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.