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Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 11, Slice 8 "Germany" to "Gibson, William"

GERRYMANDER usually pronounced jerrymander


ground that it was a dangerous

menace to democratic institutions. In 1786 he served in the state House of Representatives. Not favouring the creation of a strong national government he declined to attend the Annapolis Convention in 1786, but in the following year, when the assembling of the Constitutional Convention was an assured fact, although he opposed the purpose for which it was called, he accepted an appointment as one of the Massachusetts delegates, with the idea that he might personally help to check too strong a tendency toward centralization. His exertions in the convention were ceaseless in opposition to what he believed to be the wholly undemocratic character of the instrument, and eventually he refused to sign the completed constitution. Returning to Massachusetts, he spoke and wrote in opposition to its ratification, and although not a member of the convention called to pass upon it, he laid before this convention, by request, his reasons for opposing it, among them being that the constitution contained no bill of rights, that the executive would unduly influence the legislative branch of the government, and that the judiciary would be oppressive. Subsequently he served as an Anti-Federalist in the national House of Representatives in 1789-1793, taking, as always, a prominent part in debates and other legislative concerns. In 1797 he was sent by President John Adams, together with John Marshall and Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, on a mission to France to obtain from the government of the Directory
a treaty embodying a settlement of several long-standing disputes. The discourteous and underhanded treatment of this embassy by Talleyrand and his agents, who attempted to obtain their ends by bribery, threats and duplicity, resulted in the speedy retirement of Marshall and Pinckney. The episode is known in American history as the "X Y Z Affair." Gerry, although despairing of any good results, remained in Paris for some time in the vain hope that Talleyrand might offer to a known friend of France terms that had been refused to envoys whose anti-French views were more than suspected. This action of Gerry's brought down upon him from Federalist partisans a storm of abuse and censure, from which he never wholly cleared himself. In 1810-1812 he was governor of Massachusetts. His administration, which was marked by extreme partisanship, was especially notable for the enactment of a law by which the state was divided into new senatorial districts in such a manner as to consolidate the Federalist vote in a few districts, thus giving the Democratic-Republicans an undue advantage. The outline of one of these districts, which was thought to resemble a salamander, gave rise in 1812, through a popular application of the governor's name, to the term "Gerrymander" (q.v.). In 1812, Gerry, who was an ardent advocate of the war with Great Britain, was elected vice-president of the United States, on the ticket with James Madison. He died in office at Washington on the 23rd of November 1814.

See J. T. Austin, _Life of Elbridge Gerry, with Contemporary Letters_ (2 vols., Boston, 1828-1829).

GERRYMANDER (usually pronounced "jerrymander," but the _g_ was originally pronounced hard), an American expression which has taken root in the English language, meaning to arrange election districts so as to give an unfair advantage to the party in power by means of a redistribution act, and so to manipulate constituencies generally, or arrange any political measure, with a view to an unfair party advantage. The word is derived from the name of the American politician Elbridge Gerry (q.v.). John Fiske, in his _Civil Government in the United States_ (1890), says that in 1812, when Gerry was governor of Massachusetts, the Democratic state


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