The Twenty-second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads:
Section 1. No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once. But this Article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President when this Article was proposed by the Congress, and shall not prevent any person who may be holding the office of President, or acting as President, during the term within which this Article becomes operative from holding the office of President or acting as President during the remainder of such term.
Section 2. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission to the States by the Congress.
The Twenty-second Amendment was proposed on March 24, 1947, and ratified on February 27, 1951. The amendment imposed term limits on the office of president of the United States.
The Framers of the Constitution vested power in a single executive, elected for a term of four years. Participants at the Constitutional Convention discussed the wisdom of limiting presidential terms, but in the end the convention refused to limit the number of terms. The Framers believed a four-year term and an independent ELECTORAL COLLEGE would prevent a president from seeking more than two terms.
President GEORGE WASHINGTON declined the offer of a third term, as did THOMAS JEFFERSON. Once the tradition of serving no more than two terms had been established in the early 1800s, it became a canon of U.S. politics. President FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT ignored the tradition in 1940, however, when he chose to run for a third term. He did so in the belief that U.S. involvement in WORLD WAR II was imminent. In making his bid for a third term, Roosevelt ignored the advice of some members of the DEMOCRATIC PARTY. In 1944, with the war raging, Roosevelt was elected to an unprecedented fourth term. In declining health when elected, he died in 1945.
After the 1946 election, which produced Republican majorities in both houses of Congress, the Republicans sought to prevent a repetition of Roosevelt's actions. The Twenty-second Amendment was introduced in 1947 and adopted in 1951. The amendment prohibits a person from serving more than two four-year terms. A person who serves more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected president may be elected only for one full term. For example, if a president dies in the first year of the term, the vice president who becomes president may be elected to only one four-year term. If, however, the president dies in the third year of the term, the vice president would be eligible to serve a maximum of ten years.