Elbridge Gerry

Elbridge Thomas Gerry was an American politician and diplomat. As a Democratic-Republican he served as the fifth vice president of the United States under President James Madison from March 1813 until his death in November 1814; the phenomenon of gerrymandering was named after him. Born into a wealthy merchant family, Gerry vocally opposed British colonial policy in the 1760s, was active in the early stages of organizing the resistance in the American Revolutionary War. Elected to the Second Continental Congress, Gerry signed both the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation, he was one of three men who attended the Constitutional Convention in 1787 who refused to sign the United States Constitution because it did not include a Bill of Rights. After its ratification he was elected to the inaugural United States Congress, where he was involved in drafting and passage of the Bill of Rights as an advocate of individual and state liberties. Gerry was at first opposed to the idea of political parties, cultivated enduring friendships on both sides of the political divide between Federalists and Democratic-Republicans.

He was a member of a diplomatic delegation to France, treated poorly in the XYZ Affair, in which Federalists held him responsible for a breakdown in negotiations. Gerry thereafter became a Democratic-Republican, running unsuccessfully for Governor of Massachusetts several times before winning the office in 1810. During his second term, the legislature approved new state senate districts that led to the coining of the word "gerrymander". Chosen by Madison as his vice presidential candidate in 1812, Gerry was elected, but died a year and a half into his term, he is the only signer of the Declaration of Independence, buried in Washington, DC. Elbridge Gerry was born on July 1744, in Marblehead, Massachusetts, his father, Thomas Gerry, was a merchant operating ships out of Marblehead, his mother, Elizabeth Gerry, was the daughter of a successful Boston merchant. Gerry's first name came from one of his mother's ancestors. Gerry's parents had eleven children in all. Of these, Elbridge was the third, he was first educated by private tutors, entered Harvard College shortly before turning fourteen.

After receiving an AB in 1762 and an AM in 1765, he entered his father's merchant business. By the 1770s the Gerrys numbered among the wealthiest Massachusetts merchants, with trading connections in Spain, the West Indies, along the North American coast. Gerry's father, who had emigrated from England in 1730, was active in local politics and had a leading role in the local militia. Gerry was from an early time a vocal opponent of Parliamentary efforts to tax the colonies after the French and Indian War ended in 1763. In 1770 he sat on a Marblehead committee that sought to enforce importation bans on taxed British goods, he communicated with other Massachusetts opponents of British policy, including Samuel Adams, John Adams, Mercy Otis Warren, others. In May 1772 he won election to the General Court of the Province of Massachusetts Bay. There he worked with Samuel Adams to advance colonial opposition to Parliamentary colonial policies, he was responsible for establishing Marblehead's committee of correspondence, one of the first to be set up after that of Boston.

However, an incident of mob action prompted him to resign from the committee the next year. Gerry and other prominent Marbleheaders had established a hospital for performing smallpox inoculations on Cat Island. Gerry reentered politics after the Boston Port Act closed that city's port in 1774, Marblehead became an alternative port to which relief supplies from other colonies could be delivered; as one of the town's leading merchants and Patriots, Gerry played a major role in ensuring the storage and delivery of supplies from Marblehead to Boston, interrupting those activities only to care for his dying father. He was elected as a representative to the First Continental Congress in September 1774, but declined, still grieving the loss of his father. Gerry was elected to the provincial assembly, which reconstituted itself as the Massachusetts Provincial Congress after British Governor Thomas Gage dissolved the body in October 1774, he was assigned to its committee of safety, responsible for assuring that the province's limited supplies of weapons and gunpowder remained out of British Army hands.

His actions were responsible for the storage of weapons and ammunition in Concord. During the Siege of Boston that followed, Gerry continued to take a leading role in supplying the nascent Continental Army, something he would continue to do as the war progressed, he leveraged business contacts in France and Spain to acquire not just munitions, but supplies of all types, was involved in the transfer of financial subsidies from Spain to Congress. He sent ships to ports all along the American coast, dabbled in financing privateering operations against British shipping. Unlike some other merchants, there is no evidence that Gerry profiteered direc

Almanach de Li├Ęge

The Almanach de Liège or Almanach Matthieu Lansbert was an almanac published annually from the 17th century onwards. This version lasted until 1792, when the tribulations of the Liège Revolution resulted in the abolition of the Prince-Bishopric of Liège; the almanac revealed the stars' influences on human affairs and provided practical and household advice and anecdotes on current affairs. For some of its predictions the Almanach de Liège used a hieroglyphic style to cater for the illiterate but to encode messages at another level, as communications between secret societies, which were booming in that era; this was the era of Galileo – some new ideas and ancient knowledge was circulated under this cloak. The Rosicrucians, for example, were well established in the Prince-Bishopric among the clergy – a cleric attached to the prince-bishop's court lay behind the pseudonym'Matthieu Lansbert'. Bizarrely, despite its esoteric contents and content of trivia, the Almanach received the assent of the religious and civil authorities, which would explain its success.

In the 18th century, Sébastien Mercier estimated its circulation at 60,000. Some of these were specially bound copies sent by the Prince-Bishopric as diplomatic gifts to major figures in foreign courts, it was cited as an emanation of obscurantism by many Enlightenment philosophers, including Voltaire and Alexandre Dumas. In chapter 31 of his Philosophie de l'histoire, Voltaire wrote: Even so, Enlightenment philosophers wanted to take advantage of the publication's wide circulation: The Dictionnaire universel des sciences morale, économique, politique et diplomatique begun at Liège in 1777, called on the Almanach to transform itself into "a sort of practical encyclopaedia which would inform the people of their rights and duties and contribute to their moral liberation". During the reign of William I of the Netherlands, in the run up to the Belgian Revolution, the Matthieu Lansbergh became a daily newspaper spreading the liberal unionist ideas of Paul Devaux, Joseph Lebeau and Charles Rogier – in this form, it was renamed Le Politique.

In the present day an Almanach de Liège is published annually by Casterman. Quotations on the almanach on Liège découverte

Grace Evangelical and Reformed Church

Grace Church is one of the oldest churches in North Carolina, having been organized about 1745 as a Reformed congregation. The current church building dates from 1795. Grace Church began with the influx of German settlers into Piedmont North Carolina from Pennsylvania during the 1740s and 50s. Many of the Germans were of the Lutheran persuasion, but the settlers who began Grace Church were of the Reformed tradition and were called the Calvin or "Presbyterian Congregation on Second Creek in the Dutch Settlement." The present church building dates from 1795, having replaced an earlier wooden structure known as the "Hickory Church", shared with the Lutherans on another property. The earliest documented evidence of the location of a "Meeting House" on Grace's present property is a deed on record in the Rowan County Court House dated February, 1774, by which Lorentz Lingel conveyed sixteen acres of a larger land grant from the Earl of Granville to Andrew Holtshouser and John Lippard "for the use of the Calvin congregation adjacent or belonging to the Meeting House on the following land..."

The land described is that on which the present Grace Lower Stone Church is located, the deed indicates beyond question that a log "meeting house" had been built on this land prior to February, 1774. The church is built of local granite with a 12-foot gable roof; the dimensions of the church are 51 feet long and 40 feet 9 inches wide. The walls are 27 feet high and massive in width, measuring 32 inches thick at ground level,27 inches thick at floor level, 21 inches thick at gallery level. Grace Lower Stone Reformed Church and Organ Lutheran Church, which had their origins together, are nearly the same size and are built of the same type of rock and on the same general architectural plan. "The floor of the church was on the ground level and was laid of smooth stones, which remained in place until 1871, when the present floor was installed. The original seats were wooden benches without backs; the pulpit was of the wine glass design, mounted on a pedestal, with steps leading to it, with an overhead sounding board.

It was used until 1876, when during the pastorate of the Rev. R. F. Crooks, a new pulpit and altar pieces were made by members of the congregation. There were galleries on three sides, which provided additional seating space, until 1937, when alterations were made to provide classrooms for the Sunday School." The partitions have since been removed, the galleries look as they might have in an earlier time. Over the north and west doorways are stone tablets with inscriptions written in German. On the south wall is a smaller inset tablet with a clock face and a German inscription reading: "In the year of Christ, 1795: with God's help" indicating the date the walls were finished. In a church document written in 1798, we find the following statement regarding the name of the church. "This house shall be called Gnaden Kirch because the eternal life and the means of grace for the same, are gifts from God, through our Lord Jesus Christ."Although the church was early completed, it was not dedicated until November, 1811, during the pastorate of the Rev. George Boger.

The Rev. Andrew Loretz preached the sermon, the Rev. Dr. John Robinson, pastor of Poplar Trent Presbyterian Church, was present and took part in the service; the church is of Georgian colonial architecture typical of similar stone structures in Pennsylvania. The somewhat plain, whitewashed interior is indicative of the Reformed tradition. In 1901, a bell tower was added to the roof of the church. Grace Church is listed on the National Register of Historic Places; the church is in a pastoral setting surrounded by many graves in the old churchyard. In the graveyard are buried some of the earliest families in Rowan County with stones bearing the names Barringer, Berger, Bost, Casper, Fisher, Holshouser, Klutts, Klutz, Lippard, Miller, Moose, Rinehart, Shuping, Troutman and Yost may be found throughout the cemetery. Many descendants of these early settlers continue as members of the congregation. Grace Lower Stone Church has been the mother church for the formation of other Reformed churches in the area.

Throughout its long history, many of members who grew up in the church have gone into the service of the larger Church and community. Grace Church became a full member of the United Church of Christ, formed in 1957 by the merger of the Evangelical and Reformed Church with the Congregational Christian Church. However, in 2005, due to a conflict over doctrine, Grace pulled out of the United Church of Christ, moving closer to the earlier Reformed tradition. Lower Stone Church website Historic American Buildings Survey No. NC-258, "Grace Lower Stone Church, State Routes 1221 & 2335, Rowan County, NC", 4 photos