Hamilton and Jay and Madison and Washington

(This blog post was originally written on June 30.)

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Since my last blog post, I have made considerable advances in my research. With the recommendation of my mentor, Geoff McGovern, the Barco Law Library at the University of Pittsburgh has become an invaluable resource for me. As you can probably guess, the library is a pretty empty place during the summer so I usually find myself among only the law professors and the librarians. At times this can be rather usefully since I have a quiet place to peruse different texts on constitutional law. I have even found some go-to texts that I have continuously consulted these past few weeks.

In that period of time, I have dedicated my research to the early days of the American presidency and the federal court system. I naturally began to look at how the framers defined the executive and judicial branches during the days of the Constitutional Convention. Unsurprisingly, there was many conflicting views on how much power should be reserved to an executive and how many people should comprise this branch. From there I began to familiarize myself with different presidencies. So far, I have gained a better sense how a single president can strengthen his power during his term(s) in office. My plan is to ultimately group the presidents by time period to easily show my audience how the executive branch has evolved over time.

Aside from the presidency, I have also looked at the powers of the judiciary. I began with the earliest and most noteworthy cases, such as Marbury v. Madison and McCulloch v. Maryland, to understand how powerful the judiciary was in its early days. I have also gotten into the more procedural aspects of the judiciary’s power and how it chooses the cases it hears. Of course, I delved a little too deeply into this topic and wandered into some areas that will not be relevant for my project as a whole. Now, per the suggestion of Geoff, I will devote more time to presidential powers. By the end of the summer I hope that I can begin writing parts of my thesis.

Learn more about my project.