Gerry was a prominent and controversial Massachusetts politician best known today for being the eponym of the term, Gerrymander, which refers to the division of a political unit in such a way as to give one group special and unfair advantage over another. The term arose in response to actions taken in early 1812 by the Republicans in the Massachusetts state legislature who redistricted the state to ensure the election of Republican state senators well in excess of that party's strength. Opponents soon noted that one of the districts looked very much like a salamander, and it was soon renamed in honor of the state's stridently partisan Republican governor, Elbridge Gerry.