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Canadian Review ofAmerican Studies/Revue canadienne d'etudes amerlcaines Volume 29, Number 3, 1999, pp. 133-148 133 Opposition to the 22nd Amendment: The National Committee Against Limiting the Presidency and its Activities, 1949-1951 Bernard Lemelin On March 24, 1947, as a posthumous slap at Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his unprecedented four terms in the White House, the Republicans of the 80th Congress passed the Twenty-second Amendment to the Constitution limiting presidents to two terms. With the ratification by a 36th state (Nevada ), it finally became law on February 26, 1951. According to Massachusetts Congressman Joseph Martin of the Grand Old Party, this landmark event represented nothing less than a "victory for the people and their republican form of Government [and] a defeat for totalitarianism and the enemies of freedom" (New York Times, February 28, 1951). For his part, Harry S. Truman, after his presidency, vehemently opposed such an amendment, describing it as "bad" (H. Truman 1959), "stupid" (M. Truman 1989, 237), and "one of the worst that has been put into the Constitution, except for the Prohibition Amendment" (H. Truman 1960, 44).1 In his view, "there are clearly times when more than two terms are both necessary and wise" (M. Truman 1989, 5). Among the organizations also critical of this measure, the National Committee Against Limiting the Presidency, founded in 1949, was ce1tainly the most active. 134 Canadian Review ofAmerican Studies Revue canadienne d'etudes americaines Surprisingly, there are no secondary sources concerning this pressure group. Even Frederick Zucker's doctoral dissertation of 1958 entitled "The Adoption of the Twenty-Second Amendment", clearly the most exhaustive study on the adoption of this measure, ignored this committee. Zucker contended that no pressure or interest groups "were closely involved in the process by which the 22nd Amendment found its way into the Constitution" (Zucker 1958, 129).2 As he tried to explain: "Perhaps interested groups that might have backed the measure saw it was certain to pass and did not waste resources on it. The same would apply to potential opposing groups" (Zucker 1958, 129). This article particularly seeks to examine the arguments of this private organization and to explain why the activities of such a pressure group did not prevent the enactment of the Twenty-second Amendment. Interestingly enough, such a study as this article of the National Committee Against Limiting the Presidency is not without addressing some concerns that are pressing today. Suffice it to say that Senate Democrats only recently killed a proposal for congressional term limits (Washington Post, April 24, 1996)3 and that the now former House Speaker Newt Gingrich had promised to make term limits for Capitol Hill's members a top priority as a subject of discussion in 1997.4 The "only organized opposition to the amendment" Although one cannot provide an exact birthdate for the National Committee Against Limiting the Presidency, we know at least that its founding occurred near the beginning of 1949. Illustrative of this is a letter dated February 12, written by Daniel Francis Clancy, founder of the committee, in which he declared that "in an effort to prevent ratification of the 22nd Amendment ... I am forming a National Committee against Limiting the Presidency" (Records of the National Committee Against Limiting the Presidency [NCALP hereafter ], Daniel Francis Clancy to Senator Scott Lucas, 1949). Information on Clancy is limited. A review of the records of this organization only reveals that this former Logansport, Indiana, newspaperman, supporter of the Democratic party and member of the American Academy of Political and Social Science (NCALP, Daniel Francis Clancy to Hon. Harry S. Truman, 1951; U.S. Congress, Congressional Record, 1951, v. 97, A4895), lived in Springfield, Ohio, and that he Bernard Lemelin I 135 obtained several national awards for journalistic achievements (NCALP, Statement , 1951). Another source indicates that this journalist, born in 1918, respectively worked for the SpringfieldDaily News (1946-47) and the Springfield Sun (1947-56) during the Truman and Eisenhower years. Incidentally, Clancy would move in 1956 to the Columbus Dispatch and work there as reporter until his retirement in 1980 (Who's Who in the Midwest 1982, 122). More information is available on Clancy's arguments as director...


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