Socializing Statecra…ft: Wining and Dining Congress in the Jefferson Presidency

54 Pages Posted: 16 Jun 2016 Last revised: 21 Jun 2016

See all articles by William Massengill

William Massengill

Ohio State University (OSU), College of Social & Behavioral Sciences, Department of Political Science, Students

Gregory A. Caldeira

Ohio State University (OSU) - Michael E. Moritz College of Law

William Minozzi

Ohio State University (OSU) - Department of Political Science

Date Written: June 15, 2016

Abstract

Political leaders expend considerable time and effort planning, conducting, and attending social events such as cocktail parties, dinners, receptions, and rounds of golf. These encounters often bring elites together with their political allies and adversaries, and therefore offer opportune occasions for social statecraft. Despite the ubiquity and potential of these events, political scientists have paid little or no attention to social statecraft. Here, we examine a preeminent case of this art: Thomas Jefferson's use of frequent, intimate dinner parties to bring together members of Congress. Further, we present three theoretical frameworks for understanding Jefferson's strategy and goals. In addition to the familiar aims of bargaining and persuasion, we introduce a third possibility, "social knitting." We define social knitting as the art of designing social networks with qualities that are unlikely to emerge naturally, such as networks with relatively low levels of clustering, which thereby have the potential to bridge existing divides and eliminate structural holes. By analyzing patterns in Jefferson's invitations, measuring the effects of dinner invitation on future roll call votes, and exploring the qualities of the social networks that Jefferson curated, we ultimately conclude that Jefferson used these dinners to knit the Congress together rather than to bargain with or persuade members.

Suggested Citation

Massengill, William and Caldeira, Gregory A. and Minozzi, William, Socializing Statecra…ft: Wining and Dining Congress in the Jefferson Presidency (June 15, 2016). Prepared for Presentation at the Annual Political Networks Conference, Washington University in Saint Louis, 2016. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2796308

William Massengill (Contact Author)

Ohio State University (OSU), College of Social & Behavioral Sciences, Department of Political Science, Students ( email )

Columbus, OH 43210
United States

Gregory A. Caldeira

Ohio State University (OSU) - Michael E. Moritz College of Law ( email )

55 West 12th Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210
United States
614-292-2880 (Phone)
614-292-1146 (Fax)

William Minozzi

Ohio State University (OSU) - Department of Political Science ( email )

Columbus, OH 43210
United States

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