Today we celebrate the anniversary of the 17th Amendment (ratified April 8, 1913). Here's what you need to know:
The 17th Amendment allowed senators to be directly elected by the people rather than by state legislatures. It also changed the system for filling vacancies in the Senate.
The idea of directly electing senators had been floating around since the Constitutional Convention. The lone supporter of this measure was delegate James Wilson, who reasoned that "no government could long subsist without the confidence of the people." He also said it gave too much power to the state legislatures. About a century later, Populist Party leaders led the way for reform, arguing that the election by state legislatures led to corruption and gridlock.