signers of the Declaration

Signers of the Declaration of Independence

Short biographies on each of the 56 Declaration signers

Elbridge Gerry


Representing Massachusetts at the Continental Congress

by Ole Erekson, Engraver, c1876, Library of Congress
Born:Jul. 17, 1744
Birthplace:Marblehead, Mass.
Education:Graduate of Harvard College (Merchant)
Work:Member, General Court of Massachusetts, 1772; Elected to Massachusetts Legislature, 1773; Provincial Congress, 1774; Continental Congress, 1776-81, 1783-85; Envoy to France, 1797; Governor of Massachusetts, 1810, 1811; Vice President of the United States (with Madison), 1812
Died:November 23, 1814

Elbridge Gerry was born in Marblehead, Massachusetts, on July 17, 1744. He studied at Harvard to be a merchant, graduating in 1762. He was elected to the Massachusetts Legislature in 1773 and was selected to attend the Provincial Congress in 1774. He was then appointed to the Continental Congress, where he was engaged in committee work on commercial and naval concerns. He attended the Constitutional Convention in 1787 but was opposed to the new Federal Constitution, refusing to sign it.

Gerrymander cartoon

The Gerrymander

He was elected to the first two Congresses from Massachusetts and, in 1797, was one of several envoys sent to France. He was elected governor of Massachusetts in 1810 and 1811. He was much criticized for redistricting the state to the advantage of his own party (Democratic-Republican). A political cartoon that ran in the Boston Globe showed his strategically devised district map, which was shaped much like a salamander, along with the caption "The Gerrymander." The term is still used today to descibe the unscrupulous practice of political incumbents devising electoral districts in such a way as to virtually assure their re-election. In 1812 he was elected Vice President of the United States. He died in office, on November 23, 1814, at the age of 70.

Benjamin Franklin
Button Gwinnett

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