Wednesday, August 24, 2011

ANOTHER SIGNER – Elbridge Gerry

Abigail Adams wrote of him, “Faction may rave and party spirit slander . . . but an honester man has not left behind.” This was Elbridge Gerry, who at the age of fourteen entered Harvard College. Upon graduation he returned to Marblehead and entered his father’s mercantile and shipping business.

Mercy Otis Warren, in 1774, mentions Gerry in reference to the newly organized provincial congress. She referred to the formation of a committee of supplies to provide ammunition, provisions and warlike stores, and to deposit them in some place of safety, ready for use, if they should be obliged to take up arms in defence of their rights. Mercy wrote – “This business required talents and energy to make arrangements for exigencies, new and untried. Fortunately Elbridge Gerry, Esq,, was placed at the head of this commission, who executed it with his usual punctuality and indefatigable industry. This gentleman entered from principle, early in the opposition to British encroachments, and continued one of the most uniform republicans to the end of the contest, He was chose a delegate to the continental congress. Firm, exact, perspicuous [clear in expression and statement], and tenacious of public and private honor, he rendered essential service to the union for the many years that he continued to be a member of that honorable body.”

Gerry assumed that Washington would be the first President. But that did not prevent him from calling for impeachment provisions. "A good magistrate," he maintained, "will not fear them," and "a bad one ought to be kept in fear of them." He also expressed his hope that "maxim would never be adopted here that the chief magistrate can do no wrong." Agreeing, the Convention adopted an impeachment provision.

His rise in office, following his term as Governor of Massachusetts 1810-1811, was to culminate in his election as Vice President of the United States under Madison in 1812.

While attending his duties in Washington, he was suddenly summoned from the scene of his earthly labors. His tomb in the Congressional Cemetery bears the following inscription:
The Tomb of Elbridge Gerry
Vice President of the United States
Died suddenly, in this city,
on his way to the Capitol as president of the Senate
November 23rd, 1814
Aged 70
So passed into history – Elbridge Gerry, man of courage and integrity, Signer of the Declaration of Independence.