Independence and Control
John G. Stewart
At the conclusion of his doctoral dissertation, John Stewart sought to relate the successful passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to the tradition of "independence" among members of the United States Senate. He notes that Senate leaders must somehow find a way to exercise "control" over a group of individuals who, by the very nature of their elected office, are entitled to operate in a highly "independent" manner. Stewart concludes that it was only by respecting the traditional "independence" of their Senate colleagues that the pro-civil rights Senate leadership was able to overcome the filibuster and produce such significant, far-reaching legislation. 1
The Senate passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 on Friday, June 19,1964. After the roll call on final passage, the victorious team of bipartisan leaders gathered in Majority leader Mansfield's office for a round of hand shaking, press statements, and photographs. In spite of the fact that he was the top party leader in the Senate, Mike Mansfield's dislike of personal publicity caused him, even in this great victory for the party leadership, to avoid being included in any of the press photographs. 2
One hour later a crowd of several thousand persons still ringed the approaches to the Senate wing of the Capitol, waiting to congratulate and applaud the senators who had led the successful battle. Responding to natural instincts, a number of the leaders left the majority leader's office and walked down the Senate steps to acknowledge the cheers of their joyous supporters.