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H.J. Res. 27, Joint Resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution . . . relating to the terms of office of the President (Twenty-second Amendment), March 24, 1947

President Franklin D. Roosevelt died suddenly in 1945, only five months after his election to a fourth term. Two years later, Congress passed a joint resolution proposing a constitutional amendment, limiting individuals from serving more than two terms as president. After three-fourths of the states ratified it, it was adopted as the Twenty-second Amendment to the Constitution in 1951.

Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives and Records Administration

H.J. Res. 27, Joint Resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution . . . relating to the terms of office of the President (Twenty-second Amendment), March 24, 1947

Congress Limits Presidential Terms

President George Washington set a precedent for peaceful turnover of executive power by declining to serve a third term. The tradition of a two-term presidency held for nearly 150 years, even as Congress—seeking a safeguard against dictatorship—made many unsuccessful attempts to legislate presidential term limits. After President Franklin D. Roosevelt was re-elected to third and fourth terms in the 1940s, Congress proposed the Twenty-Second Amendment constitutionally limiting the president to two terms.

When he refused nomination for a third term, George Washington warned the people that they might again be subjected to the tyranny of monarchy if they permitted any individual to become too firmly entrenched as Chief Executive.

Representative Leo E. Allen of Illinois, Speech to the U.S. House of Representatives, February 6, 1947