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Featured Documents: Petitions From the State Legislatures


In the 1890s Congress received large numbers of petitions demanding direct election. When several House bills to amend the Constitution failed in the Senate, state legislatures petitioned for a constitutional convention. As the number of state petitions grew, and more and more senators backed reform, the Senate bowed to public pressure and approved the Seventeenth Amendment in 1911, paving the way for establishing direct popular election of U.S. senators.

Colorado State Legislature Resolution for Direct Election
Application of the Colorado State Legislature for a convention to propose a constitutional amendment for direct election of senators (page 1), April 1, 1901; Petitions referred to the Committee on Privileges and Elections (SEN 57A-J59); 57th Congress, Records of the United States Senate, Record Group 46, National Archives Building, Washington, DC.
Application of the Colorado State Legislature for a convention to propose a constitutional amendment for direct election of senators, April 1, 1901; Petitions referred to the Committee on Privileges and Elections (SEN 57A-J59); 57th Congress, Records of the United States Senate, Record Group 46, National Archives Building, Washington, DC.


Louisiana State Legislature Resolution for Direct Election
Application of the Louisiana State Legislature and Governor for a convention to propose a constitutional amendment for direct election of senators (page1), November 25, 1907; Petitions referred to the Committee on Privileges and Elections (SEN 60A-J119); 60th Congress, Records of the United States Senate, Record Group 46, National Archives Building, Washington, DC.
Application of the Louisiana State Legislature and Governor for a convention to propose a constitutional amendment for direct election of senators, November 25, 1907; Petitions referred to the Committee on Privileges and Elections (SEN 60A-J119); 60th Congress, Records of the United States Senate, Record Group 46, National Archives Building, Washington, DC.


Oregon State Legislature Resolution for Direct Election
Resolutions of the Oregon State Legislature in support of direct election of senators (page 1), January 19, 1899; 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.
Resolutions of the Oregon State Legislature in support of direct election of senators, January 19, 1899; 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.


Utah State Legislature Resolution for Direct Election
Resolutions of the Utah State Legislature and Governor in support of direct election of senators (page 1), March 6, 1897; 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.
Resolutions of the Utah State Legislature and Governor in support of direct election of senators, March 6, 1897; 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.


Washington State Legislature Resolution for Direct Election
Resolutions of the Washington State Legislature in support of direct election of senators (Page 1), February 18, 1899; Petitions referred to the Committee on Privileges and Elections (SEN 56A-J33); 56th Congress, Records of the United States Senate, Record Group 46, National Archives Building, Washington, DC.
Resolutions of the Washington State Legislature in support of direct election of senators, February 18, 1899; Petitions referred to the Committee on Privileges and Elections (SEN 56A-J33); 56th Congress, Records of the United States Senate, Record Group 46, National Archives Building, Washington, DC.