January 3, 1935 – First time Congress Convened Pursuant to Requirements of the 20th Amendment to the Constitution

On this day in history, the 74th Congress (1935-1937) became the first to convene at noon on January 3, as provided for in the 20th Amendment. As a House of Representatives History webpage points out:

Since the First Federal Congress (1789–1791), the official start date of the new Congress was March 4, a tradition dating back to the Articles of Confederation. The late winter date accommodated 18th and 19th-century Members who relied on primitive means of transportation to reach the capital city. . . . Reformers eventually sought an amendment to push back the start date to early January in order to shorten the “lame duck” session in election years (November to the following March). In 1923, Senator George Norris of Nebraska authored the initial resolution that provided the basis for the 20th Amendment. Nearly a decade later, Congress approved the amendment and the states swiftly ratified it.”

The Amendment also stipulated that the terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January.

You can read the text of the 20th Amendment here.

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