Elbridge Gerry’s Monstrous Salamander


Gilbert Stuart's cartoon of a Massachusetts electoral district twisted into what came to be called the "Gerry-mander." Bettmann/Getty Images

Elbridge Gerry signed both the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation. Gerrymandering is the drawing of political districts to give a particular party or group an advantage or disadvantage, and it's named after him.

Tracy's Research:

  • Senate Historical Office. “Elbridge Gerry, 5th Vice President (1813-1814).” https://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/common/generic/VP_Elbridge_Gerry.htm
  • Davis, Jennifer. “Elbridge Gerry and the Monstrous Gerrymander.” In Custodia Legis: Law Librarians of Congress. 2/10/2017. https://blogs.loc.gov/law/2017/02/elbridge-gerry-and-the-monstrous-gerrymander/
  • Mass Moments. “"Gerrymander" Born in Massachusetts” https://www.massmoments.org/moment-details/gerrymander-born-in-massachusetts.html
  • Bradsher, Greg. “A Founding Father in Dissent: Elbridge Gerry Helped Inspire Bill of Rights in His Opposition to the Constitution.” Vol. 38, No. 2. Summer 2006. https://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2006/spring/gerry.html
  • U.S. Census Bureau. “The Apportionment Machine.” 12/8/2010. https://www.census.gov/library/video/census_apportionment_machine.html
  • U.S. Census Bureau. “Historical Perspective: Apportionment of the U.S. House of Representatives.” https://www.census.gov/population/apportionment/about/history.html
  • Transcript of Voting Rights Act (1965). Via OurDocuments.gov, a project of National History Day, The National Archives and Records Administration, and USA Freedom Corps. https://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=false&doc=100&page=transcript
  • Barash, Emily. “The Twisted History of Gerrymandering in American Politics.” The Atlantic. 9/19/2012. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/09/the-twisted-history-of-gerrymandering-in-american-politics/262369/
  • Trickey, Erick. “Where Did the Term “Gerrymander” Come From?” AskSmithsonian. 7/20/2017. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/where-did-term-gerrymander-come-180964118/#eHutLkZ3Ri7VoJvo.99
  • Austin, James Trecothick. “The life of Elbridge Gerry. With contemporary letters. To the close of the American revolution.” 1828. https://archive.org/details/lifeelbridgegerry02austrich
  • Sloan, Cliff and Michael Waldman. “History frowns on partisan gerrymandering.” The Washington Post. 10/1/2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/history-frowns-on-partisan-gerrymandering/2017/10/01/a6795fca-a491-11e7-ade1-76d061d56efa_story.html?utm_term=.71053a8a80ed
  • Hunter, Thomas Rogers. “The First Gerrymander? Patrick Henry, James Madison, James Monroe, and Virginia's 1788 Congressional Districting.” Early American Studies. Vol. 9, No. 3. Via JSTOR. http://www.jstor.org/stable/23546676
  • Hunter, Thomas Rogers. “Hastening the Demise of Federalism in the Low Country: South Carolina’s Congressional Gerrymander of 1802.” Vol. 113, No. 3 July 2012. Via JSTOR. http://proxy.bostonathenaeum.org:2071/stable/41698115

Topics in this Podcast: Political History, Politics, voting, U.S. history, 18th century, 19th century