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”