|SSHL Reference Display - Baffling Boundaries: the Politics of Gerrymandering|
known as “redistricting” or negatively as “gerrymandering”--has
a long and storied history in US political history. Redistricting occurs
at the federal, state, and local levels every ten years on the basis of
the decennial population census. The basis for this process is the concept
of “one-person, one-vote” framed in the US Constitution and
further enhanced by the Voting
Rights Act of 1965 and its extensions in 1970, 1975, and 1982. Despite
its importance to the political process, redistricting draws little interest
from the general public. It is, however, a procedure historically filled
with political finagling and outright abuse as politicians vie to draw districts
favorable to themselves and/or their political parties.
Triggered by an article on redistricting and development in San Diego County in a recent San Diego Citybeat article, James R. Jacobs, Government Information Librarian and Dan Henderson, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Coordinator, decided to look into the issue. This website is an extension of their findings that are currently being shown in the Social Science and Humanities Library Reference Area. Read on for some interesting and thought-provoking information and historical background on the topic of redistricting.
|Private Parts: Redistricting lawsuit peeks under the covers|
|Maps of San Diego County Redistricting|
|Where do we get the word "Gerrymandering?"|
|Electronic Information on Redistricting|
Parts: Redistricting lawsuit peeks under the covers
By John R. Lamb
San Diego City Beat Issue 11, 10/30/2002
|Where do we get the word "Gerrymandering?"|
Elbridge Gerry was signer of the American Declaration of Independence and fifth vice president of the United States (1813–14) in the second term of President James Madison. From his name the term gerrymander later was derived.
Gerry was the son of Thomas Gerry, a merchant, and Elizabeth Greenleaf. He graduated from Harvard in 1762 and entered his father's business. He was a member of the Massachusetts legislature and General Court (1772–73), served on a Committee of Correspondence, was a member of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress (1774–75), and was a delegate to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia (1776–81), where he was an early advocate of independence. He was also a member of Congress (1783–85) under the Articles of Confederation and a delegate to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia (1787). He was an outspoken opponent of ratification of the United States Constitution, fearing that it might give way to aristocratic or monarchical rule. However, he gave it his full support after its ratification, helping to draft the Bill of Rights and serving as a representative in Congress for two terms (1789–93).
In 1797 President John Adams sent Gerry, John Marshall, and Charles Cotesworth Pinckney to France on the mission that resulted in the XYZ Affair. The mission, an unsuccessful attempt to negotiate a treaty to settle several long-standing disputes, ended early because of the duplicitous treatment of the American negotiators by the French foreign minister, Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand, and his subordinates. After the French agents demanded bribes, Marshall and Pinckney departed in disgust; however, Gerry remained in Paris in the vain hope that Talleyrand might offer him, a known friend of France, terms that had been refused to Marshall and Pinckney. This action brought a storm of abuse and censure from Federalist partisans, from which Gerry never fully cleared himself.
After four attempts to win election as governor of Massachusetts, Gerry succeeded in 1810 and was reelected in 1811. His administration was notable for its use of what became known as gerrymandering, the division of electoral districts for partisan political advantage.
In 1812 Gerry, an ardent supporter of war with Great Britain in the War of 1812, was elected vice president of the United States on the Jeffersonian Republican ticket with Madison. In 1813, while presiding over the Senate, Gerry, who along with Madison was in ill health, refused to yield his chair at the close of the legislative session, thus preventing William Giles, a senator from Virginia and an advocate of peace with Britain, from becoming president pro tempore of the Senate and thereby second in line (after the vice president) to succeed the president under the Presidential Succession Act of 1792. Gerry suffered a hemorrhage of the lungs on his way to the Senate and died in 1814.
"Gerry, Elbridge" Encyclopædia Britannica
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