GERRY, Elbridge

1744–1814

Biography

GERRY, Elbridge, (great–grandfather of Peter Goelet Gerry), a Delegate and a Representative from Massachusetts and a Vice President of the United States; born in Marblehead, Mass., July 17, 1744; pursued classical studies and graduated from Harvard College in 1762; engaged in commercial pursuits; member, colonial house of representatives 1772-1775; Member of the Continental Congress 1776-1780 and 1783-1785; a signer of the Declaration of Independence; delegate to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787; refused to sign the Constitution, but subsequently gave it his support; elected as an Anti-Administration candidate to the First and Second Congresses (March 4, 1789-March 3, 1793); sent to France on a diplomatic mission in 1797; unsuccessful Republican candidate for Governor of Massachusetts in 1801 and again in 1812; Governor of Massachusetts 1810-1811; elected Vice President of the United States on the ticket with James Madison in 1812 and served from March 4, 1813, until his death in Washington, D.C., on November 23, 1814; interment in the Congressional Cemetery.

View Record in the Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

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External Research Collections

Library of Congress
Manuscript Division

Washington, DC
Papers: 1772-1901; 500 items, 4 containers, 1.4 linear feet, 2 microfilm reels. Includes correspondence (1776-1814) to various aspects of Elbridge Gerry's public career, including his memberships in the Massachusetts General Court and Provincial Congress, service in the Continental Congress and the U.S. House of Representatives, governorship of Massachusetts, term as Vice President of the United States, and especially his role in the 1797-1798 mission to France, known as the XYZ Affair. Later papers relate in part to a biography of Elbridge Gerry, written by his son-in-law, James Trecothick Austin. A finding aid is available in the repository and online.

Boston Athenaeum

Boston, MA
Papers: 1790, 1 item. A letter from Elbridge Gerry to Governor John Hancock regarding funding of state and federal debts. The letter is also signed by other Massachusetts representatives to the first Congress.

Copley Press
The J.S. Copley Library

La Jolla, CA
Papers: 1776-1814, approximately 146 pages. Includes extensive correspondence between Elbridge Gerry and others. There is some correspondence with Elbridge Gerry and his wife, Ann Thompson Gerry, comparing social life in Philadelphia with New York, his position against the new Constitution, the Federal Convention, gossip of the capital [Philadelphia], and discussion of political matters while a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Also included is extensive correspondence with John Adams regarding matters of trade, finance, currency, national debt, the army, campaigns in southern states, establishment of a mint, problems with Great Britain regarding commerce and debt from the war, hopes for the abolishment of the Society of the Cincinnati, Elbridge Gerry's retirement from public office, and the impending presidency of John Adams.

Massachusetts Historical Society

Boston, MA
Papers: 1706-1814, 24 boxes and 1 oversized volume, 1 card file box. Various collections of correspondence between Elbridge Gerry and family, including his brothers, wife, and children. Additional correspondence with others concerns shipments of supplies for the American forces in the Revolutionary War, the conduct and promotion of Continental Army officers, the war with France, and reaction to the British blockade of Boston. Also included is correspondence regarding money troubles of the young United States, the Treaty of Paris, debates on the Constitution, a small pox epidemic in Boston, Elbridge Gerry's mission to France, social life in Washington, news about the War of 1812, and politics in Massachusetts and in the nation.

The Morgan Library
Department of Literary and Historical Manuscripts

New York, NY
Papers: 1780-1813, 18 items. Includes correspondence with various persons regarding aid from France, finances of the U.S., encroachments on the eastern boundaries, the power of Congress, voting on the Constitution, and differences between the United States and France. Of particular note is a letter to Thomas Jefferson concerning the election of Elbridge Gerry as Vice President of the United States.

The New York Public Library
Rare Books and Manuscripts Division

New York, NY
Papers: In the Gerry-Townsend Papers, 1675-1846, 1 linear foot. Subjects covered in correspondence include letters relating to Elbridge Gerry's mission to France (1797-1798) regarding the XYZ Affair, national politics, and legal papers and accounts concerning the estate of Elbridge Gerry.

The Rosenbach Museum and Library

Philadelphia, PA
Papers: 1776-1779; 1789; 10 pages. Includes a letter from Elbridge Gerry to John Wendell concerning the military situation of the states and Lord Howe's overtures for peace. Another letter from Elbridge Gerry to Benjamin Lincoln, commander of the American army in the South, including advance intelligence of the sailing of the British fleet to attack Charleston, SC. There is also information of a pursuit at sea by an English vessel whose commander mistook the ship Elbridge Gerry was on for being a French ship.
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Bibliography / Further Reading

Austin, James Trecothick. The Life of Elbridge Gerry, with Contemporary Letters to the Close of the American Revolution. 1828-29. 1828. Reprint, New York: Da Capo Press, 1970.

Billias, George. Elbridge Gerry, Founding Father and Republican Statesman. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1976.

Gerry, Elbridge. Some Letters of Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts, 1784-1804. Brooklyn, N.Y.: Historical Printing Club, 1896.

Kramer, Eugene. "The Public Career of Elbridge Gerry." Ph.D. dissertation, Ohio State University, 1955.

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