Natural and Political History of the Gerry-Mander!

You might have heard of the political term gerrymander, which is the creation of absurd political districts to ensure that certain candidates will win. An exhibit at the Map Museum of the Boston Public Library reminds us that the first widely recognized act of gerrymandering was performed in 1812 by Governor Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts (God Bless It!). Here’s a newspaper with the first use of the term:

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Here’s how the districts looked in 1812:

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And here’s one of the kludged together districts:

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The text reads:

All that we can learn of the natural history of this remarkable animal, is contained in the following learned treatise, published in the newspapers of March, 1812, embellished by a drawing, which is pronounced by all competent judges, to be a most accurate likeness.

They, really, did, like, their, commas, back, then, didn’t they?

And, please, let’s put to rest the absurd notion that there was a time when U.S. politics was polite and civil. It never was.

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