The Amendments: Twenty-Two

SECTION 1

No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of President more than once. But this Article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President when this Article was proposed by Congress, and shall not prevent any person who may be holding the office of President, or acting as President, during the term within which this Article becomes operative from holding the office of President or acting as President during the remainder of such term.

SECTION 2

This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission to the States by the Congress.

(Source)

The Twenty-Second Amendment is probably a well known one and was inspired by Franklin D. Roosevelt.  Roosevelt is effectively the first and only president to serve more then 2 terms in office.  Before 1951, however, there was no legal term limit for the presidency.  A president could run as many times as he liked and stay in office for as long as he liked as long as he was reelected by the American People.  Several presidents have attempted to run for a third term but failed to win the nomination and/or election for that third term.  These included Ulysses S. Grant, Grover Cleveland, Theodore Roosevelt,  and Woodrow Wilson.

Also many of the first presidents who set the precidents for future government policies set an unspoken term limit at two.  There was nothing legally demanding that they didn’t have a third term.  Washington retired because of age and because he hadn’t been sure he wanted that second term, let alone a third.  Later presidents commented that they didn’t want the presidency to become like the monarchy and have men in for life.

Until Roosevelt, they really had no cause to worry as even those who wanted a third term hadn’t been elected to it.  Rooselvelt had the unique timing of being president when there was two major socio-economic events.  The first was the Great Depression, and the second was tension filled international scene leading up to WW2. Roosevelt died just prior to the end of the war 0n April 12, 1945. He served 12 years and39 days of the 16 years he was elected for.  Harry Truman, who had been elected Vice President in 1944, completed Roosevelt’s last term and served one elected term himself.

The idea for the amendment might have come from Roosevelt’s opponanent in the 1944 election, Thomas Dewey, who brought up the idea of limiting presidential terms.  He caleld the idea of a fourth term for a president as one of the greatest threats to freedom.  (My personal opinon is he sounded a bit like a sore looser, but the idea wasn’t entirely bad)

In 1947, 2 years after Roosevelt’s death from a cerebral hemmorage in office Congress passed the Amendment, which took an additional five years to ratify.  ANd thus, no president after 1951 is allowed to serve more then 2 terms.

Harry Truman was not effected by this amendment as he was the president at the time of the ratification, and was excused by the amendement.  However, he did only serve two terms.  He was president for most of Roosevelt’s fourth term, and had one elected term from 1949-1953.

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3 thoughts on “The Amendments: Twenty-Two

  1. Pingback: New Series: The Articles of the Constitution | Sokorra’s Blog

  2. Pingback: The Amendments: An Intro | Sokorra’s Blog

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