Legislative Branch

April Feature:
17th Amendment

Americans did not directly vote for senators for the first 125 years of the Federal Government. The Constitution, as it was adopted in 1788, stated that senators would be elected by state legislatures. The first proposal to amend the Constitution to elect senators by popular vote was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1826, but the idea did not gain considerable support until the late 19th century when several problems related to Senate elections had become evident. Several state legislatures deadlocked over the election of senators, which led to Senate vacancies lasting months and even years. In other cases, political machines gained control over state legislatures, and the Senators elected with their support were dismissed as puppets.

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Researching Congressional Records

While congressional publications can be found nationwide, the Center's combination of publications and unpublished committee records make our holdings unique.

Visit our Research Portal to get started with your congressional research.

Educational Resources

Our lesson plans are designed to assist teachers with using primary source materials to integrate Congress into history, government, and civics classes.

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  700 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
  Washington, DC 20408
  legislative.archives@nara.gov

  Phone:   (202) 357-5350
  Fax:   (202) 357-5911


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The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
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