Thomas Jefferson Papers
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From Thomas Jefferson to the Governors of the States, 13 December 1803

To the Governors of the States

Washington Dec. 13. 1803

Sir

At the request of the Senate and H. of Rep. of the US. I transmit to you a copy of an article of amendment proposed by Congress to be added to the constitution of the US.1 respecting the election of President and Vice president to be laid before the legislature of the State over which you preside: and I tender you assurances of my high respect and consideration.

Th: Jefferson

RC (NjMoHP); in Lewis Harvie’s hand, signed by TJ; endorsed by Joseph Bloomfield as received 17 Dec. and answered. RC (De-Ar); in Harvie’s hand, signed by TJ. RC (R-Ar); in Harvie’s hand, signed by TJ. RC (NNFoM); in Harvie’s hand, signed by TJ; added later at foot of text: “Gov’r of North Carolina.” RC (MdAA); in Harvie’s hand, signed by TJ. RC (Vi); in Harvie’s hand, signed by TJ; endorsed. RC (DLC: TJ Papers, Ser. 9); in Harvie’s hand, signed by TJ; endorsed. Dupl (facsimile in Chattanooga Times, 14 Apr. 1963); in Harvie’s hand, signed by TJ; at head of text: “Duplicate”; addressed: “His Excellency The Governor of the State of Georgia Louisville”; franked and postmarked; endorsed. Enclosure: see below.

The proposed Twelfth amendment to the Constitution passed the Senate on 2 Dec. by a vote of 22-10, and the House of Representatives concurred on 9 Dec. by a vote of 84-32. Three days later a joint resolution of Congress called on the president to send copies to the governors of the states. The amendment altered the process for electing the president and vice president, requiring electors to designate their votes specifically for president and vice president (JS description begins Journal of the Senate of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1820-21, 5 vols. description ends , 3:319-20, 322-3; JHR description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1826, 9 vols. description ends , 4:482-4; John Smith to TJ, 12 Dec.).

A State Department memorandum dated 13 Dec. records that the department that day sent TJ’s letter with certified copies of the amendment to the governors of Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire, and by express to the governor of Kentucky. The letter and amendment were sent to the governors of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland, Delaware, New York, Vermont, and Tennessee on 14 Dec., and duplicates to the governors of Ohio, Tennessee, and Georgia on 21 Dec. (DNA: RG 59, DL).

1RC in R-Ar: “United States.”

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