Americans did not directly vote for senators for the first 125 years of the Federal Government. The Constitution, as it was adopted in 1788, stated that senators would be elected by state legislatures. The first proposal, shown above, to amend the Constitution to elect senators by popular vote was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1826, but the idea did not gain considerable support until the late 19th century when several problems related to Senate elections had become evident.
In 1911, the House of Representatives passed House Joint Resolution 39 proposing a constitutional amendment for direct election of senators. An amended Joint Resolution was adopted by the Senate in May of 1911. Over a year later, the House accepted the change, and the amendment was sent to the states for ratification. On April 8, 1913, three-quarters of the states had ratified the proposed amendment, and it was officially included as the 17th Amendment.
House Resolution to Amend the Constitution, 2/14/1826, HR19A-B4, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives (1943384)