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Foundation Fathers and How They Served Our Country – Elbridge Gerry

By David Streater, PhD

Burke Countyfounding fathers Elbridge Gerry


This is an American history educational moment about our Founding Fathers and how they served our Country.

In 1744, Elbridge Gerry was born the third of 12 children in Massachusetts, into a wealthy business family that was also active in politics.  While 14, Elbridge entered Harvard, completing a master’s degree in 1762.  His graduate thesis supported the American resistance to the British Stamp Act.

After college, Elbridge worked in his family’s business and was elected to the Massachusetts legislature.  Being inclined to the rebellion, Gerry became more of a revolutionary after meeting and associating with Samuel Adams and John Hancock.  Gerry further supported the Revolution effort by helping to purchase, store, and distribute military matériel.

After a Patriot’s meeting on April 18, 1775, Gerry and friends slept in a local Arlington tavern.  During the night, British forces invaded the town, causing Gerry and allies to hide and avoid capture.  This invasion was the opening Revolution event for Lexington and Concord.  In September 1776, Gerry signed the Declaration of Independence, proclaiming that to be his life’s crowning achievement.

Over the years, Gerry held many political positions and was part of noted historical events.  Even though he was James Madison’s vice president, he is better known for lending his name to the terminology of Gerrymandering.  This moniker came from Gerry drawing odd-shaped geopolitical boundaries, one in the shape of a salamander, to garner votes for his political party.  The jargon of Gerrymander is still common political terminology.

Please visit your Charters of Freedom setting in most western North Carolina counties.  A Charters of Freedom setting consists of the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.  They are on permanent display analogous to the Charters of Freedom in the National Archives, Washington, DC.  Please visit our website ( to learn more about our existing settings.

Teachers are encouraged to contact Dr. Streater for information and complementary student education materials to enhance experiential field trips to a Charter of Freedom settings.  Everyone is welcome and urged to obtain a personalized engraved legacy paver for placement at their Charters of Freedom setting.  Please contact Dr. Streater ( for an engraved legacy paver and free educational materials.


Dr. David Streater is the director of education for Foundation Forward.  He is a retired college instructor and administrator, and a retired probation and parole officer/administrator.  David is a criminologist who has an acute history interest, served in the Navy, and is a resident of Burke County, NC.

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