Antedating of "Gerrymander"

Fred Shapiro fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Wed Apr 6 01:21:55 UTC 2005

This is an antedating of only a few days, but it is highly important in
view of the fact that this is one of the most celebrated Americanisms.

gerrymander (OED 1812 [23 May], DA 1912 [2 Apr.])

1812 _Salem Gazette_ 27 Mar. 2 (Early American Newspapers)  The
Gerrymander District.  The Legislature having left their
illegally-begotten child (our Senatorial district) without a name, people
have been puzzled how or what to call it; till at length a name is fixed
to it by the discovery in the county of Essex of a horrid monster, which
the learned Dr. Watergruel is of opinion belongs to the Salamander tribe;
... as it is not a perfect Salamander in all its members, he has decreed,
in compliment to his Excellency, that its name shall be the _Gerrymander_;
and this furnishes a name for our district, which will henceforth be known
as the _Gerrymander District_.  The Boston Gazette contains a drawing of
this hideous monster.

Fred Shapiro

Fred R. Shapiro                             Editor
Associate Librarian for Collections and     YALE DICTIONARY OF QUOTATIONS
  Access and Lecturer in Legal Research     Yale University Press,
Yale Law School                             forthcoming
e-mail: fred.shapiro at     

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