The Jeffersonian Revolution and Multiple Modes of Institutional Change in Reconstructive Presidencies
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Using Thomas Jefferson's Presidency as an overarching example, the way Presidents reconstruct and implement lasting institutional change is examined. The idea that the only way presidential reconstruction occurs is in an explosion of entirely new institutions and policy may be suspect. Using Mahoney and Thelen's historical-institutionalist theory of institutional change and the pattern of Curt Nichols' 2014 article Modern Reconstructive Presidential Leadership: Reordering Institutions in a Constrained Environment, this thesis uses Nichols' application of a four part typology of institutional change to examine the Jefferson presidency. More specifically, it analyzes how Jefferson applied each of these change agents—displacement, conversion, layering, and drift—to his relations with a strongly federalist judiciary. It concludes that all four of these types are evident in Jefferson's presidency, and that reveals reconstructive presidents do not merely “shatter” and “create” the current order, but actually use multiple methods to accomplish the reconstructive task.