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No such case can be made. On the contrary, it was originally intended that the people of Washington run their own municipal affairs. They want to govern themselves, and the rest of the country agrees that they should:

1. The founding fathers specifically contemplated that the District of Columbia would have home rule. In the famous "Federalist Papers,” expounding the Constitution, James Madison was categorical on this point.

2. According to two city-wide polls held since the war, over two-thirds of the residents of Washington desire home rule. One of these polls covered 30 percent of the estimated voting population of the city. The votes against home rule in the board of trade poll amounted to less than one-fourth of 1 percent of the estimated voting population of the city. It was the vote of a small and select economic group.

3. The people of the country feel that Washington should have home rule. The 1948 Democratic and Republican Party platforms promised home rule for the District of Columbia. According to a 1948 Gallup poll, over 77 percent of the American public favors home rule for Washington.

4. On May 31 the Senate voted overwhelmingly. in favor of home rule, in the form of the Kefauver bill now before the House District Committee. there were two record votes in the House in favor of home rule.

The Judiciary Subcommittee of the House District Committee is now considering the Kefauver bill. Some committee members have voiced doubts about home rule--doubts which are apparently not shared by their colleagues in the House as a whole, by the Senate, by the people of the Nation, or by the people of the District.

Some of these doubts are listed below. Many of them are voiced by the board of trade in the adjoining column. All of them are without merit.

Last year


This argument is very difficult to follow. It seems to be based on the theory that representation is desirable, and that home rule without national representation must be bad. National representation would be fine, if we can get it, but it will require a constitutional amendment which will take many years. Meanwhile, we can have self-government now. Why not take it now?

The present western States had to prove as Territories that they could govern themselves at the local level before they were given a voice in national affairs. There is no reason why the District should not be treated in the same way.

The "real home rule" argument resembles the case of a beggar in rags who is offered a new suit and spurns it because it does not have two pairs of pants.


This argument runs that, since Washington is the Capital of the Nation, Congress cannot allow the people who live here to kill their own starlings and control their own weeds. If Little Rock can have its own municipal government and still be a fit place for the Legislature of Arkansas, so can Washington have its own municipal government and still be a fit place for the Congress to meet. Nothing in the Kefauver bill or in the basic idea of home rule would give District residents any control over Federal affairs.


On this question there is hardly any room for argument. In the Federalist Papers, written for the specific purpose of urging the ratification of the Constitution, James Madison said, about the residents of the proposed Federal District:

“A municipal legislature for local purposes, derived from their own suffrages will, of course, be allowed them.”


Under the Kefauver bill anyone residing in the District for the past year can vote for District officials. District residents who have the right to vote in their home States will not lose this right by voting in the District.

Critics of home rule have termed this procedure “dual voting.” This term is a misnomer. Under the Kefauver bill no one can vote in two places for the same official. The vote in the District would be for District officials only. The vote in the home State would be for President, Senators and Congressmen, State officials, and possibly minor local officials of political subdivisions of the State.

Many people who vote in their home States pay taxes here in the District. They live here for periods of several years. They send their children to District schools. Clearly, they should be allowed to vote while they are here, without losing their vote for other officials in their home States.


Some people opposed to home rule have voiced their concern, publicly or privately, about the 28 percent Negro population of Washington and the effect of home rule on segregation policies in the District.

If segregation is regarded as a national problem for the Congress, the District should be treated the same way as the whole country, by comprehensive national legislation, not by withholding home rule. If it is regarded as a local problem, the District should have the same right as any other community to decide the issue at its own polls and in its own way.


The final argument is that the present District Government is efficient (even though it has more departments and bureaus than the Federal Government) and that most popularly elected city governments are not. Hitler's government was probably efficient. Mussolini made the trains run on time. But Americans have always thought that self-government is more important than efficient government.

Moreover, no one can say today how efficient the present District Government is, or whether an elected government would be better or worse.

It is usually the “outs” who expose the inefficiency and corruption of the "ins.” In Washington we have only “ins.” No one has anything to gain by checking them. Until we have elections we are not likely to learn whether the "ins” have violated their trust.


Home rule will not make Washington into a Utopia or solve all local problems at once. But the Kefauver bill provides a workable structure of local selfgovernment in keeping with the American political philosophy. Its enactment will be of real assistance to the Congress and to the people of this community.



The Washington Home Rule Committee in its letter published in today's Star advocates home rule in the abstract as a desirable principle of government and then attempts to prove that the Kefauver bill would give the District of Columbia that brand of government. They completely fail to define “home rule.”

The board of trade objects to the Kefauver bill, just as it objected to the Auchincloss bill, because it does not offer to the citizens of the District of Columbia real home rule and because it would foist upon them a bogus form of home rule which would not in any respect give them as good a municipal government as they have at the present time and have had since 1878.

The present commission form of government of the District of Columbia has been the admiration of many distinguished students of government who have come in contact with it and it has justly merited their approbation. We quote one of them:

"It is generally admitted that for the District of Columbia the present form of government is the best possible. Free from scandal of every sort, successive Boards of Commissioners of ability and character have administered the affairs of the District during the past 27 years more efficiently and economically than the affairs of any other American municipality

To quote the words of an experienced and acute observer, Washington is one of the best governed cities in the world.'' Rufus Rockwell Wilson, "Washington, the Capital City,” volume 2, pages 379–380.




The Washington Home Rule Committee's letter undertakes to refute the board of trade's contention that home rule without national representation would necessarily be an empty shell and a sham. Their contention is not correct, because the District Council offered us in the Kefauver bill could make no complete enactment other than an ordinary municipal ordinance. Moreover, the District Council in that bill would not really be elected by the citizens of the District of Columbia, but the balance of power in the Council would rest with the 1-year temporary residents and with the two appointed members of the Council to be named by the President and confirmed by the United States Senate.

National representation is an absolutely necessary part of franchise granted to the citizens of the District of Columbia. Citizens of the District do not need the mere right to vote for a city council in order to have a say in the writing of policies and other municipal regulations. What they need is the full right of suffrage by participation in the introduction in Congress of any proposed new law, the debates thereon, and the vote for or against its passage. This refers to laws taxing them, laws taking away their property for public use, laws holding them guilty of crime, and any and every other law of a general nature.


The evolution of government in the Western States through the territorial form to statehood is not parallel with our problem. Every Territory was given a Delegate in Congress, a Governor, and a State legislature with power to enact general laws and also a municipal government in every city with power to pass municipal ordinances. The board of trade is unalterably opposed to giving up the present municipal government of the District of Columbia in exchange for anything which purports to give to its citizens the franchise as citizens of the United States of America, but upon examination is found to give nothing but the right to vote for a city council and continues to deprive them of the right to vote for any part of the general government wihch actually governs them.

The Home Rule Committee indulges in levity in likening our "real home rule argument” to the case of a beggar in rags who is offered a new suit and spurns it because it does not have two pairs of pants. Adopting the simile, we spurn the offer of the substitute suit because it is only a flimsy, new-looking suit and we can see that it is not made of as good material as the suit we now wear, which has served us well throughout the years. We refuse to give it up until we know the thing we are offered is better.

The Home Rule Committee states that: “Under the Kefauver bill no one can vote in two places for the same official. The vote in the District would be for District officials only. The vote in the home State would be for President, Senators and Congressmen, State officials, and possibly minor local officials of political subdivisions of the State.”

The provision of the Kefauyer bill on this point is as follows:

“SEC. 1206 (a) To be qualified to vote in the District, it is not intended that a person be required to relinquish his rights in another jurisdiction.”


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There can be no question that the provision above quoted was intended to assure to the 1-year temporary resident of the District of Columbia who would vote for members of the District Council and members of the School Board under the Kefauver bill the right also to vote for similar officials in his home city.

The Home Rule Committee implies that the board of trade has placed too much emphasis upon its contention that the present municipal government is “efficient, and in that connection goes to the extreme of citing Hitler's

government and Mussolini's government as outstanding examples of "efficiency.' The board of trade does not contend that the present municipal government is merely “efficient." We have already mentioned the fine record established by it. During its 71 years of history it has received compliments without number from Senators and Representatives in the debates in Congress and from authors of works on government. It has been demonstrated that the Commissioners are close to the people, in the great number of public hearings held by them which always precede any important official action. There has never been a charge dishonesty or corruption against a member of the Board of Commissioners or against an Assistant Commissioner or any head of a department of the government.

E. F. COLLADAY, General Counsel, Washington Board of Trade.



(By Jesse C. Suter)


Advocates of District home rule at the current hearings by the Judiciary Subcommittee of the House District Committee usually express their support of national representation. They, however, almost invariably undervalue its importance, particularly as to its connection with its application to participation in a local government. Regarding it largely from its national aspect, it seems to be something rather remote, difficult to acquire and of somewhat doubtful value when obtained.

Some of these emphasize that what they seek through an elective local government is to obtain their American birthright. This, as they see it is the “self rule” which they expect to realize through the Kefauver bill (S. 1527) or one of the other similar measures.

To consider local elective government the American birthright is clearly a case of mistaken identity. And to fail to properly evaluate the acquirement by the people of the District of the right to elect their own Senators and Representatives in the Congress indicates that they have missed the $64 question.

Some very able people, in their burning enthusiasm for this will-o'-the-wisp of, so-called, home rule, have overlooked the real fundamentals of Americanship.


“The question has been asked," said Mrs. Milton Dunn, in testifying at the hearing: “Can the District have real home rule without national representation?” She said that the District League of Women Voters had always vigorously supported national representation, but she added: "However desirable it is in itself, we would have little or no more home rule with national representation that without it."

Continuing, she said: "We would have in the Congress two or three Representatives elected on national issues. While that small representation would give us our fair share of voice in the National Government it certainly would not give the citizens of the District opportunity for local self-government."

But one very important thing was overlooked by this very estimable and able lady, that through voting representation of District people in the Congress, they would acquire participation in the exercise of “exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever” over the District of Columbia. The absence of such participation is a most serious handicap. It has always been the very heart of District disabilities on the local government level as well as on the national level.

We should pause, examine and contemplate just what is the real American birthright and what would be the value of its acquisition by citizens of the District.


Were Theodore W. Noyes alive today he would surely have tried to clear up some of the existing confusion regarding the American birthright as well as the lack of a practical evaluation of national representation for the District. As he continues very much with us in spirit through the record of his many arguments, articles and editorials, his testimony should by all means be made available for needed light on questions pending at this time. There follows extracts from the argument he made before the Senate Committee on the District of Columbia in 1922 on Senate Joint Resolution 32:


“The genuine American political birthright is not municipal self-government but national representation through a Delegate in Congress when in the Territorial stage of development and through Senators and Representatives when the population, educational standards, and resources of a State have been attained. If Washingtonians are political slaves now they will still be political slaves after they have the power to elect a voteless Delegate, or even District Commissioners or any other municipal officials if the exclusive power of legislation under the constitutional provision still remains in a Congress not elected by them and in which they are not represented. Their chains may be made a little lighter and may not clank so loudly; they may be granted by kind masters a little greater freedom of movement, but they are not free. The power to take away their property, their freedom, and life itself is in others not chosen by them and to whose rule they have not assented. There is no self-government when the power to tax one, to imprison one, and to send one to war is not in one's self or in those to whom one has voluntarily confided it as one's representatives.

“Clearly the American birthright of which the Washingtonian has been deprived, or which, as alleged, he has sold for a mess of pottage, is not municipal self-government or participation in the municipal government. Such government existed with unsatisfactory results so far as capital upbuilding and popular contentment were concerned, during the first 70 years of the city's life, in which period the community was bemoaning and Congressmen and Presidents were commenting upon the un-American conditions of Washington; and Georgetown, though enjoying municipal ‘self-government,' sought, and Alexandria, though enjoying municipal ‘self-government,' secured retrocession on account of their ‘galling disfranchisement.


"That the real American birthright is not municipal self-government but national representation through a Delegate in Congress when in the Territorial stage of development, and through Senators and Representatives when the population, educational standards, and resources of a State have been attained, is demonstrated by the facts and declarations that constitute Washington's political history.

“The right to vote in the municipal government was possessed by Washington until 1871, when a Territorial form of government was established with the voting privilege in respect to one branch of the local legislature, and for a voteless Delegate in Congress. Since 1874 no voting for any part of the local government and no representation in the National Government have been enjoyed.

The limited privilege of voting for some or all the branches of a municipal government, operating by sufferance of Congress, though enjoyed from 1800 to 1874, was not viewed as constituting in the smallest degree the American political birthright.

“As we have seen, the un-American disfranchisement of the people of the Capital, meaning thereby their exclusion from national representation, was complained of as a grievance from 1800, and from the time of the occupation of the city by the Nation in that year. It was even then proposed that the Constitution should be amended to permit the District to have one Senator and one Representative.

"NEED OF NATIONAL CITIZENSHIP SEEN EARLY “Washington was in existence only a few months when its residents began to bemoan their prospective disfranchisement, their exclusion from participation in national elections. In a pamphlet concerning the 'Government of the Territory of Columbia,' published in 1801 by A. B. Woodward, it is said:

'This body of people is as much entitled to the enjoyment of the rights of citizenship as any other part of the people of the United States. There can exist no necessity for their disfranchisement, no necessity for them to repose on the mere generosity of their countrymen to be protected from tyranny; to mere spontaneous attention for the regulation of their interests. They are entitled to a participation in the general councils on the principles of equity and reciprocity.'

"And a constitutional amendment was urged giving the District one Senator as well as representation in the House. From the beginning of the century, too, Members of Congress who have viewed the condition of the Capital with other emotions than that of indifference have either ‘felt their hearts bleed' over the enslaved condition of the prople or have denounced the disfranchised as selling their republican brithright for a mess of pottage.

“In a debate in the House December, 1800, Representative Smilie said:

'Not a man in the District would be represented in the Government, whereas every man who contributed to the support of a government ought to be represented in it; otherwise his natural rights were subverted and he was left not a citi

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