And that’s the way it was: March 26, 1812

Boston newspaper coins the term "gerrymander"

The word gerrymander, meaning to manipulate the boundaries of an electorate to favor one party or class, originally appeared in the Boston Gazette, a weekly newspaper, on March 26, 1812.

The word (originally written Gerry-mander) was used with a cartoon (below) depicting the bizarre, salamander-like shape of a redrawn state-senate election district in Essex County. Essex was one of the areas in Massachusetts successfully redistricted by then-governor Elbridge Gerry to benefit his Democratic-Republican Party over the Federalists. The term gerrymander is a portmanteau of the governor’s last name and the word salamander.

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