The Gerrymander: A Gift from the Founding Fathers

Massachusetts Governor and U.S. Vice President Elbridge Gerry

Lately, the term “gerrymandering” is getting thrown around as some sort of new illness that afflicts the republic.  The process essentially involves drawing electoral district boundaries in ways that benefit one political party or the other and dates back to 1812 Massachusetts, when Governor Elbridge Gerry, a member in good standing of the founding generation, signed legislation radically redrawing electoral districts in the state to favor the Democratic-Republican Party.

Born in 1744, Gerry was a Massachusetts merchant and vocal opponent of British policy in the colonies who served in the Second Continental Congress, signed the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and attended the Constitutional Convention.   Like a few of his contemporaries, notably George Mason and Patrick Henry of Virginia, he refused to sign the Constitution due to its lack of an explicit Bill of Rights. Nonetheless, he went on to serve as an envoy to France in the Adams administration, then was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, as Governor of Massachusetts, and then was Vice President under James Madison.  Only a few men had a better claim on the term “founding father.”

Continue reading “The Gerrymander: A Gift from the Founding Fathers”

Northwest Territory: Setting a Precedent

A precedent was set in early July for the young and aspiring American republic. A date other than July 4th and in fact, nine days and eleven years later.

July 13, 1787.

Northwest Ordinance (courtesy of

On that date, the United States Congress enacted the Northwest Ordinance which set in motion the precedent for how new states would enter the burgeoning United States of America. In 1784 the groundwork for the Northwest Ordinance was laid, rejecting a proposal that new territories, carved from ceded land of current states, would enter as colonies. Congress set up the following parameters.  Continue reading “Northwest Territory: Setting a Precedent”