Elbridge Gerry

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Elbridge Thomas Gerry (pronounced /ˈɛlbrɪdʒ ˈɡɛri/) (July 17, 1744 – November 23, 1814) was an American statesman and diplomat. As a Democratic-Republican he was selected as the fifth Vice President of the United States, serving under James Madison, from March 4, 1813, until his death a year and a half later.[1] He was the first Vice President not to run for President of the United States, although this was due to his death rather than being a political decision.

Gerry was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation. He was one of three men who refused to sign the Constitution because it did not then include a Bill of Rights. Gerry later became the ninth Governor of Massachusetts. He is known best for being the namesake of gerrymandering, a process by which electoral districts are drawn with the aim of aiding the party in power, although its initial ‹g› has softened to // from the hard /ɡ/ of his name.


Early life

Born in Marblehead, Massachusetts, the third of twelve children, he was a graduate of Harvard College, where he studied to be a doctor, attending there from age fourteen. He worked in his father's shipping business and came to prominence over his opposition to commerce taxes. He was elected to the General Court of the province of Massachusetts in May 1772 on an anti-British platform.


Gerry was a Massachusetts delegate to the Continental Congress from February 1776 to 1780. He also served from 1783 to September 1785 and was married in 1786 to Ann Thompson, the daughter of a wealthy New York merchant, 21 years his junior. In 1787 he attended the United States Constitutional Convention and was one of the delegates voting against the new constitution (joining George Mason and Edmund Randolph in not signing it). He was elected to the U.S. House under the new national government, and served in Congress from 1789 to 1793.

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