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Direct Vote At Primaries by Walter R. Bradford (1872-1925), 3/10/1912

The17th Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified in 1913 and gave the citizens the responsibility of directly electing U.S. Senators. Prior to this amendment, state legislatures chose which candidates would run for the office. This often resulted in undue influence by special interests and corrupt political machines.
Drawn a month before the amendment's passage, this cartoon depicts the demand for direct elections as a hungry alligator or crocodile. It has chased Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Boies Penrose and then President WIlliam Howard Taft up a tree to escape. Both politicians were considered enmeshed in the machine politics that direct elections would not benefit.

Our Documents: 100 Milestone Documents from the National Archives. (n.d.). 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Direct Election of U.S. Senators (1913). Retrieved from:

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