Thursday, April 28, 2011

gerrymander, salamander....

I was curious about the word gerrymander....thought it a bit strange and that somehow it had been derived from the salamander. True enough, it was.

According to my trusty reference for all things I would otherwise have been too lazy to go find out, Wikipedia, the word derives from a certain Gov Elbridge Gerry of the USA who, in 1812, redrew the district of Essex in Massachusetts to benefit the Democratic-Republican party in the elections. And as the shape of district was so bizarre, the press mis-characterized the cartoon creature as a salamander. Thus was born the word Gerrymander.

"First printed in March 1812, this political cartoon was drawn in reaction to the state senate electoral districts drawn by the Massachusetts legislature to favour the Democratic-Republican Party candidates of Governor Elbridge Gerry over the Federalists. The caricature satirises the bizarre shape of a district in Essex County, Massachusetts as a dragon. Federalist newspapers editors and others at the time likened the district shape to a salamander, and the word gerrymander was a blend of that word and Governor Gerry's last name."

Can you spot the salamander here?

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