Harry F. Byrd's Hampton Roads Speech

  • Date: May 9, 1957
  • Creator: Harry F. Byrd
  • Archive: Albert H. and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia

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In this address to the Maritime Association in Norfolk, Byrd denounced "evils" of the pending civil rights legislation that he believed was simply an effort to punish the South. Byrd feared that the 1957 Civil Rights Bill would lead to the creation of a "special bureau which would send its agents into the South and originate suits against Southerners, [further] they would be tried in Federal courts without jury subject to contempt of court proceedings." To combat this, Sen. Byrd along with other members proposed a bill, S 1735, which would guarantee a trial by jury. Many, including Assistant Attorney General Warren Olney III, openly criticized the bill as nothing more than an attempt to circumvent the President's attempt to enforce civil rights.