Front Matter The Beginning of the U.S Franklin's Return Troubles After the War The Constitution The First President Washington's Troubles A Wonderful Invention Death of Washington The U.S. Buys Land War With African Pirates Death of Somers The First Steamboat The Gerrymander The War of 1812 "Don't Give Up the Ship" The Star-Spangled Banner Clinton's "Big Ditch" More Land Bought Jackson Stories Jackson's Presidency New Inventions Whitman's Ride The Mormons The First Telegraph The Mexican War The Slavery Quarrel Daniel Webster's Youth Webster's Speeches Early Times in California Discovery of El Dorado Rush to California The Underground Railroad The First World's Fair John Brown's Raid Lincoln's Youth The First Shot The Call to Arms The President's Decision Admiral Farragut The Monitor and Merrimac The Penninsular Campaign Barbara Frietchie Lincoln's Vow The Battle of Gettysburg The Taking of Vicksburg Riots, Raids, and Battles The Burning of Atlanta The March to the Sea Sheridan's Ride The Doings of the Fleet Lee's Surrender Decoration Day Lincoln Stories Lincoln's Rebukes A President's Son A Noble Southerner Hard Times in the South The Atlantic Cable Best Way to Settle Quarrels Our One Hundredth Birthday Gold for Greenbacks A Clever Engineer Death of Garfield The Celebration at Yorktown The Great Statue A Terrible Flood Lynch Law The Great White City The Explosion of the Maine The Battle of Manila Hobson's Brave Deed Surrender of Santiago The Hawaiian Islands The Annexation of Hawaii The Philippine War Assassination of McKinley The Panama Canal Roosevelt's Administration Two Presidents German Views The World War Since the World War

Story of the Great Republic - Helene Guerber

The Gerrymander

In 1808 the time came for a new presidential election; but as Jefferson, like Washington, refused to serve a third term, another man had to be chosen. Of course, different candidates were suggested by the two principal political parties, which, as you know, were then called Federalists and Republicans.

Then there was, as there always is, a time of great excitement, until it was decided that James Madison was to be the fourth President of the United States. He had been, as you may remember, so active in the Constitutional Convention that he had earned the title of "Father of the Constitution." Besides that, he had served his country in many other ways, and had been secretary of state under Jefferson.

A quiet and courteous man, he was so fond of peace that his enemies once said "he could not be kicked into a fight." Still, in spite of the genial nature which won the hearts of all who knew him, Madison soon showed that when war could no longer be avoided, he could be trusted to uphold the honor of the nation. It was on account of his firmness, as well as of his gentleness, that Madison was reelected and allowed to serve as President a second term.

At about this time, Elbridge Gerry, governor of Massachusetts, helped in changing the voting districts of his state in such a way as to make sure that most of the state senators would continue to be Republicans. To do this, some of the Federalist districts were cut in two and added to others, where Republican voters were found in large numbers.

The map of one of these newly arranged districts was hung up in the office of a newspaper editor, and the changed parts were brightly colored, to call people's attention to what had been done. One day, an American painter, Gilbert Stuart, came into this office. He saw the map, and laughed at the queer shape of the new district. Being an artist, he quickly saw that it looked like a monster, and, seizing a pencil, he added a head, wings, claws, and a tail.



Turning to the editor, he then exclaimed: "There, that will do for a salamander!" The editor, who disliked Gerry, and knew the unfair change was his work, quickly answered, "Salamander! Call it Gerrymander!"  This queer word struck people's fancy, and ever since then gerrymandering has been used to express any change in district boundaries which is made to help one party unfairly. As for the picture, copies of it were sent everywhere, and when the voters saw what had been done, and heard that Gerry had allowed it, they ceased to respect him as much as before. Although one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and once Vice President of the United States, Gerry is now best known for this one unjust deed.

It was during President Madison's first term that war broke out. Ever since the beginning of the Revolutionary War, the British had secretly excited the Indians against the Americans. This was easy to do, because the Indians were already angry at the rapid advance of the settlers. In 1800, so many Americans had gone to live in the Northwest Territory that it was cut in two. Three years later, one part of it became the state of Ohio, while the rest was called Indiana Territory. Although the white men had paid the Indians for part of this land, the red men would not give it up. They were encouraged in behaving so by the British, and, led by their chief, Tecumseh, they prepared for war. But the governor of Indiana Territory was William Henry Harrison, son of one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. He was very brave, and, meeting the Indians at Tippecanoe, in 1811, he won a great victory over them.