Elbridge Gerry - More Than Just Gerrymandering
The name Elbridge Gerry is today associated with the term gerrymander. Gerrymandering is when electoral districts are drawn in strange shapes for politicians to get their party reelected. It is a shady practice that, unfortunately, is still used today.
But the real unfortunate thing is that this term is named after Elbridge Gerry at all.
Gerry himself was against this type of partisan politics. It just so happens that he was governor of Massachusetts when his party (the Democratic-Republicans) drew up these districts.
The truth is by the time this scandal arose, Gerry had 30 years of service to the Revolutionary Cause.
Before the Scandal
When unrest began in Boston, Elbridge Gerry worked for the Committee of Safety. He was important for getting supplies to the soldiers.
He was sent to the Continental Congress where he was a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
Gerry went to the Constitutional Convention where he was a major player in creating the Connecticut Compromise. However, he was one of the few delegates who refused to sign the document. He argued the Constitution did not protect enough of the rights of the states and the individual.
His article in local papers almost kept Massachusetts from ratifying the Constitution.
Despite his opposition, Gerry was sent to the House of Representatives. His tireless work helped form the Bill of Rights.
Gerry had a notable contribution to two rights:
-Freedom of Assembly being part of the First Amendment.
-The creation of the Fourth Amendment against unlawful search and seizure.
Elbridge was sent by President Adams on a diplomatic mission to France. In what became known as the XYZ Affair, France tried to bribe him and two other ministers.
Gerry, a man of honor, refused the bribe. This led to a 'Quasi War' which consisted of a few minor skirmishes at sea.
Elbridge Gerry would be elected as the Fifth Vice President of the United States. He shared the ticket with James Madison.
It was the culmination of 40 years of service to his country.
Gerry dedicated his life to the creation of America. It is a sad fact 'gerrymandering' is what he is know for and not his dedication to his country.
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