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.

 

The Editors