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    James Madison Autograph Letter Signed as secretary of state. One page, 7.75" x 9", Washington, August 18, 1804. Writing to an unknown recipient, but most likely to President Thomas Jefferson, Secretary Madison explains the delay in the ratification of the Twelfth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. He writes, in full:

    "It being understood that the Legislation of Georgia has ratified the proposed amendment to the Constitution of the U. States, concerning the election of President and vice President, and the requisite number of States, including Georgia, having concurred in that proposition, I take the liberty of intimating to you that as exemplification of the ratifying act of her Legislaures [sic] has yet been recd. and that the official notification required by law from the Department of State, awaits that formality only. Not doubting ... whether the failure has happened from miscarriage or otherwise as time will be lost in forwarding the necessary document."

    Pursuant to the ratification of the Twelfth Amendment, ratified in 1804, the House of Representatives chose the President "from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President" with the votes "taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote." This created problems in the elections of 1796 and 1800. The new amendment would not change the makeup of the Electoral College, but the way in which it voted for the president and vice president. No longer would the vice president be the second runner-up for president, assuring that the two positions would be cooperative.

    Scattered areas of fading, though the text remains wholly legible. Slight smudging of ink near Madison's signature, which remains unaffected.

    W.C. Putnam Collection for the benefit of the Acquisition and Conservation Fund of the Putnam Museum.

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