Johnson, Lyndon B.


Former President Johnson on securing full citizenship rights for District of Columbia citizens!


Type: Letter
Description: (1908-1973) Texas US Senator & Senate Majority Leader, VP 1961-63, succeeded to presidency on assassination of JFK; US President 1961-69. Noted for Vietnam War and “Great Society” domestic programs.

Very good DC content TLS “LBJ”  on 9 x 7 gilt “LBJ” letterhead with gilt presidential seal,Austin, Texas, October 22 1o71,  to Carlton J. Corliss, Tallahassee, Florida. The former president is grateful for Corliss’ “…kind words about my efforts to secure the full rights of citizenship for the residents of the District of Columbia. It is one of the deep disappointments of my time in office that I was unsuccessful in convincing Congress to pass the legislation I recommended.” He salutes Corliss’ “fighting the good fight” and enjoyed his article very much.

For most of its history, citizens of Washington, DC, lacked representation in Congress and the ability to participate in elections for President. This was partially rectified in 1961 with the 23rd Amendment which gave DC residents participation in the Electoral College. However, allocation of votes was limited to the same number of electoral votes as the least populous state, not based on DC’s population. The Amendment did not address DC home rule or representation in Congress. In 1967, President Johnson changed DC government’s form to a mayor and city council appointed by the President. In 1970, Congress gave DC a nonvoting Delegate to the House of Representatives. Congress further addressed disenfranchisement of DC residents in 1973 with the District of Columbia Home Rule Act, which established an elected mayor and an elected 13-member council, although Congress retained ultimate authority over DC’s laws. In 1978, Congress adopted “The District of Columbia Voting Rights Amendment,” which provided for the District of Columbia to “be treated as though it were a State.” The proposed amendment would have given the District seats in the House of Representatives and the Senate. Only 16 of 38 states needed for ratification approved the proposed Amendment before the 7-year period open for ratification expired.

Carlton J. Corliss (1888-1978) worked for the Illinois Central Railroad in the engineering and public relations departments. He later joined the Association of American Railroads (founded 1934), wrote several books on railroading and served as the Association’s  president in Washington. He was a member of the Columbia Historical Association, now the Historical Society of Washington DC. His research collection at the Association comprises binders, notes, and research compiled by Corliss on various District topics. It includes “Washington, D.C. Who-What-When-Where: A Thousand Questions and Answers about our Nation’s Capital”. He wrote an undated 8pp pamphlet, “When will the District of Columbia be admitted to the Union?” on DC voting representation and home rule to which perhaps LBJ refers.

Condition: Very Good

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