Thursday, May 24, 2007

195 Years of Gerrymandering

The Original Gerrymander turned 195 years old this year, and to celebrate that notorious occasion, the Bostonian Society has placed an historical marker at the site where it was concieved. In 1812, then-Governor Elbridge Gerry and state Senator Isreal Thorndike collaborated to redesign a Gerry's own north shore district. The marker's unveiling will take place on Wednesday, May 30th at 11:30am on the corner of Arch and Summer Streets in Boston, where Thorndike's house stood and where the district lines were re-drawn.

Here is the text of the marker:

Near this site stood the home of state senator Israel Thorndike, a merchant and privateer. During a visit here in 1812 by Governor Elbridge Gerry, an electoral district was oddly redrawn to provide advantage to the party in office. Shaped by political intent rather than any natural boundaries, its appearance resembled a salamander. A frustrated member of the opposition party called it a gerrymander, a term still in use today.
For more information on Boston's Historic markers, visit the Boston Historical Society's website. For more information on how to drive the fearsome Gerrymander extinct, see Common Cause's Fair Districts Campaign.

Update: The Boston Globe has an article with details on the unveiling.