Closer inspection of Jefferson’s role in the development and promotion of parliamentary law provides new insights on republican governance and a new perspective on Jefferson’s lasting influence on the American legislature. By examining copies of the Manual of Parliamentary Practice annotated in Jefferson’s own hand (including a copy previously unexamined by scholars), and the broader record of his correspondence on the topic, an untold story emerges about Jefferson’s purposes and final word on the Manual and parliamentary law. Close inspection reveals Jefferson’s research and advocacy on the role of the legislature both before and during his presidency, situates it in the broader context of the ‘revolution of 1800,’ and supports a case that the second edition of the Manual from 1812, not the 1801 edition, should form the basis of precedent for the modern Congress. This presentation of Dr. Alexander’s research is part of a book project, made possible with the support of ICJS, intended to direct scholarly and popular attention to this under-examined aspect of Jefferson’s contribution to American government.
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Brian Alexander, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Politics at Washington and Lee University, where he teaches courses in US government and international relations, joining nearly twenty years professional experience in government and politics with research and academic study. In addition, Brian is the director of the W&L Washington Term, an undergraduate living-learning experience in Washington DC, combining full-time internships, college coursework, and a lecture series. Brian’s research is focused on the U.S. Congress and areas such as legislative norms, parliamentary procedure, and bicameral relations. His forthcoming book on legislative norms, to be published by Lexington Books (a Rowman & Littlefield imprint), is titled, A Social Theory of Congress: Legislative Norms in the Twenty-First Century. Brian served as American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow (2015-16) in the office of U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) and he completed his PhD in political science at George Mason University.