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The 22nd Amendment


The original United States Constitution did not limit a president to serving only two terms. George Washington set that precedent when he resigned after serving for eight years. Washington’s voluntary two-term limit was the unwritten rule until 1940 when Franklin D. Roosevelt began a third term. In 1944, he was elected to a fourth term. Following Roosevelt’s death in 1945, Republicans sought passage of the 22nd Amendment, which would limit presidents to two terms.

The Amendment was passed by Congress in 1947. It then had to be ratified by three-fourths of the states. On this date in 1949, the Fargo Forum and Daily Republican reported that the 22nd Amendment had been passed by the North Dakota Senate in a 28 to 19 vote.

There had been a very sharp debate. Senator Harry O’Brien called it shameful, and said it limited freedom of choice. He said it was motivated by Roosevelt’s success, and noted that Republicans had been having a hard time electing a president to even one term. Senator R.M. Streibel, a member of the Nonpartisan League, took issue with Wells’ statement. He said that without the constitutional limitation, a president might stay in office indefinitely.

The vote closely followed party lines. Most of the members of the Republican Organizing Committee voted for ratification, along with a few members of the Nonpartisan League, though most of the Nonpartisan League voted against it.

The amendment also passed in the House, becoming ratified by North Dakota on February 25, 1949. It was officially incorporated into the Constitution in 1951. Dwight D. Eisenhower was the first president to serve with the two-term limitation, and he was not happy with the term limit. He said it put an artificial restriction on a president’s ability to complete his programs. Eisenhower said the voters could impose term limits by not reelecting a president.

Numerous attempts have been made to repeal this amendment. At least twenty-five proposals have been introduced by both Republicans and Democrats, but not one has made it to a vote.

Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher


Fargo Forum and Daily Republican. “Senate Okays Amendment Limiting President to 2 Terms.” 19 January, 1949.

The Constitution Center. “Two-Term Limit on Presidency.” "http://constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constitution/amendments/" http://constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constitution/amendments/ Accessed 30 November, 2015.