Monday, January 07, 2008
Elbridge Gerry was a Creative Politician

Today while reading my James Madison book, I learned that the term gerrymandering was a press-coined term in response to congressman Elbridge Gerry's redistricting of the state of Massachusetts in order to win reelection. Here's a bit more on this, courtesty of Yahoo Answers:

"Gerrymandering, the redrawing of congressional districts to ensure that elections favor a particular political or ethnic group, has been around almost as long as the Constitution itself. The term was coined when Eldridge [sic] Gerry, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, sought to engineer his reelection as governor of Massachusetts in 1811 by rearranging voting districts so crudely that one resembled a salamander."


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Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Madison's treasonous act

Yesterday I spent a few hours at the beach, where I learned that James Madison committed an act of treason by attempting to rescind the Articles of Confederation and ratify his newly drafted Constitution. The ducks in the water at Little Dix Bay didn't seem quite as impressed by Madison as I was, but then, I don't really value the opinion of ducks much on issues pertaining to our our fourth president. If I was reading a book called "Sticking My Head in the Water and Catching Fish with My Mouth, a Duck's Manifesto," then perhaps I'd take the opinion of the ducks more seriously. But I digress...

Madison needed to gather a group of leading Americans in order to drum up support for changing the Articles. While we now call this the Second Constitutional Convention, it was at the time actually an anti-Constitutional Convention, since the Articles of Confederation were the Constitution. The act, therefore, of rewriting the Articles was therefore tantamount to treason. So Madison had his men meet in secrecy and with great controversy and debate. That they eventually passed was a triumph in dealmaking and compromise, and was Madison's greatest work to date.


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One post a day

In an effort to re-find my blogging voice now that I'm out of the woods from GMAT-land, my early New Year's resolution is to write one post a day. I'll begin with my journey into the life of James Madison, a founding father about whom I know very little.

I finished The Accidental Investment Banker this afternoon so I've started my James Madison biography that I got from The New York Times. Through 6 pages, I've learned that Madison was short even by standards in those days (he was 5'4, literally about a foot shorter than Washington, for whom he ghostwrote many speeches and letters during our first President's two terms) and that he was terribly shy and not good at public speaking. What I know already is that the guy was maybe the most prolific legislator of his day, if not ever, not to mention the person probably most responsible for the creation of the three branches of government, so I'm eager to find out how he was so effective if he had neither the capacity to speak up nor the ability to be heard should that capacity have been developed. Should be a fun read.


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about me

I'm Blake. I like to learn stuff.

I like to learn about history, art, culture, sports, and politics. I like learning about what happens when you mix Diet Coke and Mentos. I like learning about Britney's latest flameup, Beckham's newest haircut, and how to make little origami gift boxes out a piece of 8.5x11.

I started this blog for me to have a place to write about the things that I've learned. I hope that you enjoy reading.

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