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Joint Resolution Proposing the Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution, passed by Congress on May 13, 1912

The seventeenth amendment provided for the direct election of Senators.

The Constitution specifies that state legislatures are to elect senators, while the population is eligible to elect members of the House.  Senatorial elections, however, often led to deadlock and left some states without their full Senate representation for months at a time.  Citizens also feared that well-funded special interests and political machines were inappropriately influencing election outcomes.  Reform finally came in 1913 when the necessary three-fourths of the states ratified the seventeenth amendment.

General Records of the U.S. Government, National Archives and Records Administration

Joint Resolution Proposing the Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution

Legislative Highlights

The U.S. Constitution states that “The Congress shall have Power…To make all Laws.” The original laws enacted by Congress are preserved at the National Archives. This page highlights some of the most historically significant laws Congress has passed throughout the nation’s history.