Elbridge Gerry, an American statesman, fifth vice president of the United States, born in Marblehead, M ass., July 17, 1744, died in Washington, Nov. 13, 1814. He graduated at Harvard college in 1762, and was elected in 1772 representative from Marblehead to the legislature. He at once became a political leader, and an associate of Samuel Adams, Hancock, and Warren. He was placed on the two most important committees, those of safety and supplies, which sat at Cambridge, on the day preceding the battle of Lexington. In January, 1770, he was elected a delegate to the continental congress, signed the Declaration of Independence, was placed on the most important committees, and was generally chairman of the committee of the treasury till the organization of the treasury board in 1780, of which he became presiding officer. He retired from congress in that year, but resumed his seat in 1783. As delegate to the convention which met in Philadelphia in 1787 to revise the articles of confederation, he refused to sign the constitution proposed, but lent it his support as member of congress after it had received the sanction of the people.
He served four successive years in congress, and in 1795 retired to private life, residing in Cambridge, till in 1797 he was appointed to accompany Pinckney and Marshall on a special mission to France. He was invited to remain in Paris, though his associates were ordered to quit France, and he then obtained the evidence and assurances upon which the subsequent commission acted. On his return he was unsuccessfully supported by the democratic party of Massachusetts for the office of governor in 1798, and again in 1801, but was elected after an excited canvas in 1810, and was reelected in 1811. In 1812 he was elected vice president of the United States, but died suddenly in the second year of his term.