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What is the 22nd Amendment?

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Quick Answer

The 22nd Amendment (often written as "Amendment XXII") is part of the United States Constitution which prohibits any president from serving more than two terms in office, and this is considered vital for defending against the establishment of a dictatorial or monarchical style of government. It also states that any nonelected person — typically a vice president — who serves as president for more than 2 years in lieu of the elected president, may not serve more than one full term in office.

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Full Answer

Prior to the 22nd Amendment becoming ratified, most presidents actually limited themselves to only two terms in office anyway, following the example of the founding fathers, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, who both opted to stand down after their second terms. Only three presidents stood for a third term in office prior to the ratification of the 22nd Amendment, and all three of them lost. These were Ulysses S. Grant, Grover Cleveland and Woodrow Wilson.

The Vice President, Theodore Roosevelt, who became President following the assassination of William McKinley, also lost when he tried to run for a second term.

Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected to four terms, which was likely due to Americans' reservations about changing government during World War II. He died during the fourth term and it was after his presidency that the ratification of the 22nd Amendment occurred.

Nevertheless, every administration since Reagan has (at least symbolically, as a show of faith in each president) attempted to eliminate the 22nd Amendment.

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