The Constitution established the House of Representatives as the branch of government 

most closely attuned to changes in the national mood. James Madison, in “The Federalist 

Papers,” wrote that the House was conceived as a “numerous and changeable body,” where 

smaller districts and two-year terms were sure to generate regular turnover, especially 

compared with the Senate. Of course, the framers also understood the rough-and-tumble of 

politics; even in Madison’s day, the practice of gerrymandering for partisan advantage 

was familiar. In the late seventeen-eighties, there were claims that Patrick Henry had 

tried to gerrymander Madison himself out of the First Congress. The term was coined 

during Madison’s Presidency, to mock Elbridge Gerry, the governor of Massachusetts, who 

in 1811 approved an election district that was said to look like a salamander. But the 

frequency and boldness of contemporary partisan gerrymandering make its 

nineteenth-century antecedents look genteel.