Peter G. Gerry

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Peter G. Gerry
US Senator Peter G. Gerry (1920).jpg
United States Senator
from Rhode Island
In office
January 3, 1935 – January 3, 1947
Preceded by Felix Hebert
Succeeded by James Howard McGrath
In office
March 4, 1917 – March 3, 1929
Preceded by Henry Frederick Lippitt
Succeeded by Felix Hebert
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Rhode Island's 2nd district
In office
March 4, 1913 – March 3, 1915
Preceded by George Herbert Utter
Succeeded by Walter Russell Stiness
Personal details
Born (1879-09-18)September 18, 1879
New York City, New York
Died October 31, 1957(1957-10-31) (aged 78)
Providence, Rhode Island
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Mathilde Townsend
(m. 1910; divorce 1925)

Edith Stuyvesant Vanderbilt
(m. 1925; his death 1957)
Alma mater Harvard University (1901)
Profession Attorney

Peter Goelet Gerry (September 18, 1879 – October 31, 1957) was an American lawyer and politician who served in the United States House of Representatives and later, as a U.S. Senator from Rhode Island. He holds the distinction of being the only U.S. Senator to reclaim a Senate seat after losing re-election.[1]

Early life[edit]

Gerry was born in New York City, the son of Elbridge Thomas Gerry (1837–1927) and Louisa Matilda Livingston Gerry (1836–1920), and the great grandson of Elbridge Gerry (1744–1814), the fifth Vice President of the United States (who had given his name to the term gerrymandering).

In the summer of 1899, Gerry and his brother Robert were tutored by William Lyon Mackenzie King, who later became the Prime Minister of Canada[2] In 1901, Gerry graduated from Harvard University. He studied law and was admitted to the Rhode Island bar in 1906.

Political career[edit]

Gerry was elected to the United States House of Representatives for Rhode Island's 2nd District as a Democrat from 1913 to 1915. He was an unsuccessful candidate for re-election in 1914 but he was elected to the United States Senate in 1916 and served from 1917 to 1929. He was the first United States senator from Rhode Island elected by popular vote rather than by the state senate. He was also the first Rhode Island Democrat United States senator to serve since 1859.

From 1919 to 1929, Gerry was the Democratic Whip. He has been described as a Wilsonian Moralist. In 1928 he was an unsuccessful candidate for re-election, but in 1934 he was again elected to the U.S Senate over the man who had defeated him six years earlier and served until 1947. He was not a candidate for re-election in 1946.

Personal life[edit]

Mathilde Townsend, painted by John Singer Sargent in 1907

Gerry married Mathilde Townsend, a wealthy Washington society woman, in 1910. They divorced in 1925. Gerry later married Edith Stuyvesant Dresser (1873–1958), the widow of George Washington Vanderbilt II (1862–1914).

Gerry died on October 31, 1957 and was buried at St James Cemetery, Hyde Park, New York.



External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
George H. Utter
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Rhode Island's 2nd congressional district

Succeeded by
Walter Russell Stiness
United States Senate
Preceded by
Henry F. Lippitt
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Rhode Island
Served alongside: LeBaron B. Colt, Jesse H. Metcalf
Succeeded by
Felix Hebert
Preceded by
Felix Hebert
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Rhode Island
Served alongside: Jesse H. Metcalf, Theodore F. Green
Succeeded by
James H. McGrath