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There is not any doubt about it in my mind, and as one of those citizens, a native Washingtonian who has lived here all of my 54 years, who has raised his family here, who has never as much as seen an official ballot, I am for it wholeheartedly, and that has been the principal reason why I have fought for suffrage for the District of Columbia.
I remember there was a former Member of the Congress, now gone to his eternal reward—I hope he is being rewarded—who was reputed to have said that he would never vote for suffrage for the people of the District of Columbia as long as there was one Negro living in the District who would qualify as a voter.
Well, I would like to turn that statement around a little bit, Mr. Chairman, if I may, and say that if there is one person in the District of Columbia who by reason of his residence here is not allowed to vote, then that would justify the passage by Congress of a bill which would give him his rights as an American citizen.
If I were the only one here, I would say that this bill would be so justified, the passage of this bill would be justified, because no American citizen is to be deprived of his birthright: that of governing himself through officials chosen by him.
And so I say as a parting remainder here so far as I am concerned, that regardless of how the people of the District of Columbia feel—and I am sure they want this bill—about the question of suffrage, they should be made to accept their responsibilities. After all, the Government of the United States is the people of the United States. It is something that we overlook quite a bit. The Government is the people. Without the people, without the ballot box, we could have no Government. We would have no Congress, we would have no Senate, we would have no President, and so on.
You can see what it would mean if we eliminated the ballot box from the United States as a means of choosing those who are to govern us. And so I say that while it is considered normally a privilege to be able to vote, it is at the same time a basic responsibility of every American citizen, and so I say that even those who do not want the right to vote should be made to accept that responsibility. And I sincerely hope, Mr. Chairman, that with all of the hearings that you have available to you, you will make these hearings very short and will quickly get this bill on the floor of the Senate and have it passed, I hope as easily as the Senate passed it in 1948.
I want to thank you for the privilege of coming here, Mr. Chairman, and if there is anything else, any questions you would like to ask me, I would be very glad to answer them.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Finch, for your encouraging statements. .
(There was a discussion off the record.)
The CHAIRMAN. This hearing will be resumed in this room tomorrow at 2:30 p. m. Please let all concerned be sure to be here on time.
(Whereupon, at 12 o'clock noon, the hearing was adjourned, to reconvene on Wednesday, February 21, 1951, at 2:30 p. m.)
HOME RULE AND REORGANIZATION FOR THE DISTRICT
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 1951
UNITED STATES SENATE,
Also present: Robert H. Mollohan, clerk; Gerhard P. Van Arkel, committee counsel; and William P. Gulledge, assistant committee counsel. :
The CHAIRMAN. The committee will be in order.
STATEMENT OF HON. ROBERT C. HENDRICKSON, UNITED STATES
SENATOR FROM THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY Senator HENDRICKSON. Mr. Chairman, I want to say this: It is a real treat to be back with this committee again, because I really enjoyed my 2 years of service on the District Committee, and I really miss the presence of my old colleagues.
The CHAIRMAN. All those you left behind are sorry that you no longer are with us.
Senator HENDRICKSON. Mr. Chairman, my position on the present bill, present home rule bill, presently before the committee, is well known.
In the last session I was one of its cosponsors, and I deemed it a privilege to be one of its cosponsors, and I deem it a privilege again to be sponsoring—cosponsoring—this measure this year.
I am here today to make a very brief statement in support of this bill, in support of the cosponsorship of this bill.
As a member of the District Committee for 2 years, I learned at first hand of the many problems that beset the people of the city of Washington. Although I am not at present a member of the committee, my interest in the affairs of the District has not waned nor will it wane as long as I am a Member of the Senate of the United States.
The doctrine of home rule, it seems to me, is one of the principal .supports of our democratic way of life. It is a little hard for me
to understand why anyone cannot see that, as it applies to the District of Columbia. It seems to me the citizens of the District of Columbia are no less entitled to elect their representatives than are the millions of other people throughout our land. .
I have said many times, and I say again, that it is outrageous that home rule for the District has been made a political football. How much longer are the people, the good people of Washington going to have to wait to govern themselves? I do not know how long that will be, but I think it is high time that we helped them attain the right to govern themselves, and quickly.
I urge my colleagues on this committee and in the Senate, with all the sincerity I possess, to favorably report this bill out of the committee, to pass it in the Senate, with the least possible delay, and I hope in this committee-I hope it will be reported out with a unanimous vote.
Mr. Chairman, that is all I have to say on the subject. I could have a lot more to say, because I feel very deeply about this whole situation.
The CHAIRMAN. Senator, your statement is very deeply appreciated by the Chair. .
It is encouraging to me to know that you apparently believe that our political party platform promises on the subject of home rule should be redeemed. [Applause.]
Senator HENDRICKSON. I am glad you raised that question, Mr. Chairman, because I cannot understand either of our parties on this issue. The language in both parties is just crystal clear.
The CHAIRMAN. That is true.
Senator HENDRICKSON. And how we could hedge and duck down here just because we are able to, I just do not understand it.
I think some of this hedging is going to catch up with some of. our colleagues one of these days.
The CHAIRMAN. Let us live in hope that it will. (Discussion off the record.)
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you, Senator Hendrickson. We are glad to have heard you. [Applause.]
Senator HENDRICKSON. Thank you for the privilege.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Harry Wender is the next on our list. STATEMENT OF HARRY S. WENDER, CHAIRMAN, DISTRICT OF
COLUMBIA RECREATION BOARD Mr. WENDER. Mr. Chairman, my name is Harry S. Wender. I have been an attorney, practicing law in the District of Columbia for the past 19 years, with offices in the Woodward Building. For the past 9 years Ï have been chairman of the District of Columbia Recreation Board ever since its creation by act of Congress.
I come here in that capacity, and will give you some brief comments on the views of the Recreation Board at the end of my testimony; but, first, I should like to continue to represent, as I have for the past 19 years, the Southwest Citizens Association, for whom I have been legislative chairman for that period of time.
During that period of time, I have been before this committee and the other committees of Congress on every legislative proposal which
would give some measure of suffrage of one kind or another to the residents of the District of Columbia, so that I think I have some knowledge of the subject.
I brought with me some copies of hearings at which I have testified in the past few years in reference to them. I should like to have them placed in the record at the proper time.
The CHAIRMAN. On the occasions of your former appearances you advocated home rule?
Mr. WENDER. I am about to say that, sir. I have here, as I have been in the past, a statement that I am a firm advocate of home rule, and, to date, particularly of this bill S. 656.
I think this hearing, Mr. Chairman, is held at a most propitious time. This is Brotherhood Week, and it occurs between the birth dates of our two great Presidents, Lincoln and Washington.
We all know of the great work which you have done in the field of brotherhood, and your sponsorship of human-rights legislation, which we hope will, in time, be passed by this committee, and by the Congress.
(Discussion off the record.) Mr. WENDER. We all too well recognize that what is proposed by this bill will only be a partial answer to the problem that confronts us.
As I was saying, this is Brotherhood Week, and this is a problem that deals with brotherhood in the large sense.
However, I have another aspect to it that I should like to present to you.
You will recall that some months ago I appeared before a committee of which you were a member, a committee to which you have devoted a tremendous amount of time, and a field of activity in which you have devoted a lifetime of activity; namely, assistance for physically handicapped.
I served for some time as general counsel to the American Federation of Physically Handicapped, and the American Foundation of Physically Handicapped. This was on a voluntary basis. During the course of the hearings before that committee, you will recali that Senator Pepper's bill had been introduced to alleviate conditions at Carville, for the benefit of victims of what has been known as leprosy, but is today known as Hansen's disease, or Hansenitis. . At the invitation of the patients of Carville, I went down there at my own expense, and had an opportunity to survey that institution, and became somewhat intimately acquainted with the problems of a person who suffers from that terrible disease.
I had occasion to compare the conditions under which a Hansenite victim lives, and the citizens of the District of Columbia, and I think it is rather shocking to compare those conditions with conditions here.
The disease is one which is progressive. For thousands of years there was no cure, there was no solution whatever. A person who suffers from the disease eventually grows blind, his extremities atrophy, and eventually disappear, change shape; he has nerve reactions that are very painful. In short, it is a progressive disease which we, at one time, thought was most communicable; we now find that it is not; but, more important, many thousands of people in this country suffer from it, they know they have it, they do not want treatment for it; they are not willing to go to the proper sources