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Featured Documents: Petitions From the State Legislatures

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.

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.