In 1814, by suffering a fatal heart attack on this day in Washington D.C., Elbridge Thomas Gerry becoming the first President of the United States to die in office.
Elbridge T. Gerry
5th President of the United States
March 4, 1813 - November 23, 1814Elbridge Thomas Gerry (July 17, 1744 - November 23, 1814) was an American statesman and diplomat. As a Democratic-Republican he was elected as the fifth President of the United States, after the rather shocking decision by James Madison not to seek a second term. Defeating Dewitt Clinton by the narrow margin of 25 electoral votes, he served from March 4, 1813 until his death a year and a half later. He was also the oldest president elected until Ronald Reagan in 1980.
A new article from Althistory WikiaGerry was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation. He was one of three men who refused to sign the Constitution because it did not then include a Bill of Rights. Gerry later became Governor of Massachusetts. He is most famous for being the namesake of gerrymandering, a process by which electoral districts are drawn with the aim of aiding the party in power.
Born in Marblehead, Massachusetts, the third of twelve children, he was a graduate of Harvard College, where he studied to be a doctor, attending there from age fourteen. He worked in his father's shipping business and came to prominence over his opposition to commerce taxes. He was elected to the General Court of the province of Massachusetts in May 1772 on an anti-British platform.
Gerry was a Massachusetts delegate to the Continental Congress from February 1776 to 1780. He also served from 1783 to September 1785 and was married in 1786 to Ann Thompson, the daughter of a wealthy New York merchant, 21 years his junior. In 1787 he attended the United States Constitutional Convention and was one of the delegates voting against the new constitution (joining George Mason and Peyton Randolph in not signing it). He was elected to the U.S. House under the new national government, and served in Congress from 1789 to 1793.
He surprised his friends by becoming a strong supporter of the new government, and so vigorously supported Alexander Hamilton's reports on public credit, including the assumption of state debts, and supported Hamilton's new Bank of the United States, that he was considered a leading champion by the Federalists. He did not stand for reelection in 1792. He was a presidential elector for John Adams in the 1796 election, and was appointed by Adams to the critical delegation to France that was humiliated by the French in the XYZ Affair. He stayed in France after his two colleagues returned, and Federalists accused him of supporting the French. He returned in October 1798, and switched his affiliation to Democratic-Republican party in 1800.
He was the unsuccessful Democratic-Republican nominee for governor of Massachusetts in 1800, 1801, 1802 and 1803. In 1810 he was finally elected Governor of Massachusetts as a Democratic-Republican. He was re-elected in 1811 but defeated in 1812 over his support for the redistricting bill that created the word gerrymander. He ran for president against DeWitt Clinton, narrowly defeating him by 25 electoral votes. He died in office in Washington, D.C. and is buried there in the Congressional Cemetery.