Madison's role in 17th amendment
Thursday, May 08, 2014 11:00 AM
To the editor:
The recent effort by the tea party and Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller to repeal the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution should make Madison take notice. It was one of Madison's own who was responsible for its passage.
David Graham Phillips was born in 1867 on the corner of First and East streets. He graduated from Madison High School. His father worked at the National Bank on Main Street and the family moved to live above the bank. David became a newspaper reporter in Cincinnati and then moved on to New York City.
He was known for his hard work and thorough research. He was successful as a newspaper reporter for Pulitzer and also wrote 26 best- selling novels, some set in Madison.
In 1906, he was asked to research and write a series for Cosmopolitan magazine on the United States Senate.
In those days the Senate was known as the Millionaires' Club and ordinary citizens were frustrated by the corruption and special interests controlling the upper house - which was elected by state legislatures.
Phillips' articles, published as THE TREASON OF THE SENATE named names and showed which senators were bought by which corporations. Across the country, ordinary citizens were furious that their government was for sale and that their vote didn't matter.
In 1911, as a result of the work of Madison's David Graham Phillips - an honest, hard-working reporter - the 17th amendment was adopted, allowing the people to choose their senators directly.
If we know our history, we would object to an Indiana Attorney General wanting to repeal such an important amendment. Democracy may be messy but voting is the only opportunity ordinary people have to say how their government should behave.