Categories: US Vice Presidents | American Founding Fathers | Signers of the Articles of Confederation | Signers of the United States Declaration of Independence | Congressional Cemetery, Washington, District of Columbia | US Representatives from Massachusetts | Massachusetts Governors.
4th Vice President
5th Vice President of the United States
Elbridge Gerry is best remembered for the creation of oddly shaped and highly partisan electoral districts, known as gerrymandering, his refusal to sign the United States Constitution, and for his role in the XYZ Affair.
One of Gerry’s own statements was “I hold it to be the duty of every citizen, though he may have but one day to live, to devote the day to the good of his country.”
The name of Elbridge Gerry was obtained from a relative. His great-grand mother Elizabeth Elbridge (born June 19, 1653), married Samuel Russell (born in 1645). Their daughter Rebecca Russell married Enoch Greenleaf, and their daughter Elizabeth married Thomas Gerry. The Elbridge family belonged in Bristol, England, where an uncle John Elbridge, a merchant of that place, died and left them a large property, and in memory of this family, Elbridge Gerry derived his name.
Elbridge Gerry was born in Marblehead, Massachusetts, on July 17, 1744, the third son of Thomas Gerry and Elizabeth Greenleaf. Elbridge’s father, Captain Thomas Gerry, was born in 1702 and came to America in 1730 from Newton Abbott, Devonshire, England.His father was a merchant in extensive business, and he resolved to give his son an excellent education. Elbridge entered Harvard College, and graduated with the title of A.B. in 1762. Little is known about the childhood of Elbridge Gerry.
After leaving congress, Elbridge Gerry married Ann Thompson on January 12, 1786 and they had nine children. Ann was the daughter of a New York merchant James Thompson and Catherine Walton. Ann Thompson lived until 1849, becoming the oldest surviving widow of a signer of the Declaration of Independence. She is buried in the Old cemetery in New Haven, Connecticut.
Elbridge was on the US Envoy to France, was a Delegate to the Constitution Convention and also a Delegate to the Continental Convention. He was a Governor of Massachusetts, the Fifth Vice President of the United States, and a Signer of the Declaration of Independence
He attended Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, graduating artium magister (M.A.) in 1762, and legum doctor (LL. D) in 1810
Marbleheaders today will tell you it’s too bad Elbridge Gerry is best remembered for the creation of oddly shaped and highly partisan electoral districts, known as gerrymandering.
When he was governor of Massachusetts in 1812, the General Court sent him a plan to redraw political districts. Gerry thought the plan unfairly favored politicians who were already elected, but he signed it anyway. He didn’t know that single act would seal his reputation for political chicanery. Elbridge Gerry didn’t deserve to have his name forever linked with political chicanery. During his lifetime he had a reputation for integrity. He stood on principle even if it cost him. His shrewd business sense and logistical acumen was indispensable to the Revolutionary cause. He was a master at figuring out how to keep New Englanders and the military supplied – an oft-overlooked key to American victory.
One district in Essex County was shaped like a salamander. The editor of an opposition newspaper hung the map over his desk. The story goes that the artist Gilbert Stuart came into the editor’s office one day and saw the map. Stuart grabbed his pencil and drew a head, claws and wings onto the map and said, “That will do for a salamander.” The editor retorted, “Better say a gerrymander.”
Elbridge Gerry resided in his Georgian style Cambridge home , from 1786 to his death in 1814. It stands today at the end of a newly-created dead-end road, a half mile from the Harvard campus.
The house was built in 1767 by Andrew Oliver, Harvard class of 1753, a former stamp-collector then serving as royal secretary of Massachusetts. It was in this very home that Oliver was surrounded by an angry crowd in 1774. Oliver resigned his office and soon after left for England. Oliver’s home was confiscated during the revolution and served as a field hospital for Washington’s troops and then the command post of Benedict Arnold.
Gerry purchased the house in 1787 and moved his family there from Marblehead. Not long after Gerry’s death in 1814, Harvard graduate James Russell Lowell, who would become a distinguished man of letters and an accomplished diplomat, was born in the house and it became his lifelong home. He named it Elmwood and it became a National Historic Landmark. Harvard University acquired Elmwood in 1962. Since 1971 the house has been the home of Harvard graduates, professors and presidents.
There is a memorial park to the signers near the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C., and the name of Elbridge Gerry is engraved on one of the 56 granite blocks. In the famous painting by John Trumbull in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol, “The Declaration of Independence”, Gerry is seated at a table with 10 delegates, the seventh figure to the left of the figure of John Adams. In 1892 a bust of Elbridge Gerry was placed in the Senate Chamber of the U.S. Capitol.
While on his way to his seat in Congress, he died suddenly. Although Congress paid for his burial expenses, they refused to pay a salary to his widow. They feared it would set a precedence.
Gerry’s monument in the Congressional Cemetery at Washington, D.C. bears this inscription:
The Tomb of
Vice President of the United States
Who died suddenly in this city on his
way to the Capitol, as President of the Senate
November 23, 1814,
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On 26 Jul 2014 at 01:43 GMT Michael Stills wrote:
On 25 Nov 2013 at 07:25 GMT Robin (Felch) Wedertz wrote:
Elbridge is 32 degrees from Jelena Eckstädt, 10 degrees from Theodore Roosevelt and 15 degrees from Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.