Picture 2

Picture 2

Jul 2, 2017

A Scoudrel and Direct Election of Senators

 Prior to 1913, US Senators were elected by state legislators, not state voters.  This procedure gave state governments a lot of direct input into federal government decisions.  Many political theorists believe restoring the power to elect US Senators to state legislatures is a necessary step to restoring the balance of power between the states and the federal government.  So why did it change?

We probaby owe the direct election of Senators to the efforts of one man, William A. Clark.  Mr. Clark was a Montana Copper Baron who wanted to be a Senator.  In 1899, Mr. Clark bought the entire Montana State legislature.  For him, it was relatively cheap.  The scandal caused the US Senate not to seat him until another election was held a year later.  The Montana State Legislature stayed bought.  Senator William A. Clark served one term, 1901 to 1909.  The scandal was a big reason for the 17th Amendment, which changed the election of Senators to be a direct election from the voters of a state in 1913.  Sometimes, one scoundrel can change history.

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