Elbridge Gerry

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Complex a businessman, complex to the end

In matters of finance and military, Elbridge---the "soldiers' friend."

 

        Elbridge Gerry was an Episcopalian according to A Worthy Company: Brief Lives of the Framers of the United States Constitution by M. E. Bradford.  Ian Dorion, "Table of the Religious Affiliations of American Founders," 1997.  Political Graveyard website http://politicalgraveyard.com/bio/gerry.html#R9M0IXWKX

        He was the third of 12 children.  His mother was the daughter of a Boston merchant; his father, a politically active merchant-shipper who had once been a sea captain.  Upon studying medicine and graduating from Harvard, Gerry joined his father and two brothers in the family business, exporting dried codfish to Barbados and Spain.  Though Gerry had earned good money from the family business and had also inherited a large fortune from his father, he ended up in sacrificing most of his money to America's efforts toward independence. 

        He entered the colonial legislature (1772-74) as one of its youngest members, where he came under the influence of Samuel Adams; and he took part in the Marblehead and Massachusetts committees of correspondence.  In 1775, Gerry proposed to the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts a law for having armed vessels, which at the time was considered a step of treason.  Therefore, it was opposed by some.  Gerry became chairman of the committee to compose the Act and to establish admiralty courts.  After it passed, the Massachusetts cruisers proceeded to capture enemy vessels and used the cargo for their war effort.  John Adams pronounced the Act to be one of the most important measures to help the Revolution.     

       In regard to the separation of church and state, he proposed, "No religious doctrine shall be established by law" to be used as the religion clause of the First Amendment, but the clause was instead adopted as we find it today.*  As Governor of Massachusetts, he pushed hard with success for the passage of that state's Religious Freedoms Act.    http://www.geocities.com/peterroberts.geo/Relig-Politics/EGerry.html#rlg

    Article III.  And every denomination of Christians, demeaning themselves peaceably and as good subjects of the commonwealth, shall be equally under the protection of the law; and no subordination of any one sect or denomination to another shall ever be established by law.

*Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

From National Archives and Records Administration The Founding Fathers Page for From Revolution to Reconstruction - an .HTML project.

Peter Roberts, "Elbridge Gerry" page in "God and Country" section of "Science Resources on the Net" website  http://www.geocities.com/peterroberts.geo/Relig-Politics/EGerry.html

http://www.nndb.com/people/640/000050490/   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elbridge_Gerry  Above picture by Ole Erekson, Engraver, c1876, Library of Congress http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/signers/gerry.htm

Letter from James Lovell to Elbridge Gerry, Jul 1781 & Aug 1781

 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

  John 14:27