Thoughts on the Civil Rights Bill
John G. Stewart
John G. Stewart was the top legislative assistant to Senator Hubert H. Humphrey, the Democratic floor leader for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when it underwent an extended filibuster in the Senate in the spring of 1964. Stewart thus was closer than any Capitol Hill staffer to the inside strategy making that went into gaining the June 10, 1964, cloture vote in the Senate that made passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 possible.
In late April 1964, about a month into the filibuster, John Stewart began dictating his thoughts about the civil rights bill. These dictated thoughts were transcribed later by clerical personnel in Senator Humphrey's office on Capitol Hill and routinely filed with Humphrey's other papers on civil rights. Although one of the most powerful and well-known staff assistants in the Senate at that time, John G. Stewart either did not bother or forgot to sign his name to these dictated materials.
Twenty years later, in the mid- 1980s, the editor found these anonymous "Thoughts" in the Humphrey papers in the Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul, Minnesota. Suspecting they were dictated by John G. Stewart, the editor mailed copies to him and he acknowledged authorship in a letter dated September 14, 1983.
John G. Stewart's dictated "Thoughts" constitute the best first-person account available of the mammoth problems that faced those members of the U.S. Senate who were trying to enact a civil rights bill in the spring of 1964.
At the time Stewart began dictating his notes, the 1963-1964 civil rights bill had passed the House of Representatives, been put directly on the Senate calendar (bypassing the Senate Judiciary