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17th Amendment: Direct Election of U.S. Senators

Petition of the State Grange of Illinois

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Ten years after sending a petition to Congress stating their support for direct election, the State Grange of Illinois sent another petition with decidedly stronger language. Referring to the reputation the Senate had obtained for being a “millionaire’s club,” and to the expensive campaigns waged to obtain the votes of state legislators for a senate seat, the Illinois Grange demanded direct election to make the Senate “more directly accountable to the people.”

Petition of the State Grange of Illinois in support of direct election of senators, January 1, 1898; Petitions referred to the Committee on Privileges and Elections (SEN 55A-J29); 55th Congress, Records of the United States Senate, Record Group 46, National Archives Building, Washington, DC; NAID 25466385

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