Elbridge Gerry (1744–1814) served in the Massachusetts General Court, the provincial congress, and committee of safety, and as chairman of the state committee of supply before he attended the Continental Congress in 1776–1780 and 1783–1785. A signer of the Declaration of Independence, Gerry refused to sign the Constitution because he feared that it invested too much authority in the central government. He was a member of Congress from 1789 to 1793, a two-term Massachusetts governor, and vice president under James Madison. The eponymous term “gerrymander” stems from a state-redistricting maneuver by the Jeffersonians in an attempt to win Gerry a third term as governor. Referring to Gerry’s staunch advocacy of individual and states’ rights, John Adams once wrote that “If every man here was a Gerry, the liberties of America would be safe against the Gates of Earth and Hell.”

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