Spatial History Blog

Blog #5

Spatial History looks at how maps change over time to understand history better, maps are a large indicator of change over time. Maps can help us see the past in a clear way. Maps are used for research and presentation purposes as they are a great visual aid that show change clearly. They’re easy to understand and compare to other maps from different times. Text cannot provide the same visual aid of change over time or history as maps can.

Gerrymandering is a frequently used political tactic where electoral boundaries are shifted to benefit one political party over the others. It involves strategically redrawing district lines to disperse or move voters in a way that favors the stronger of the parties. This practice can result in uneven representation and unfair election outcomes. It can also make one party have more power than others. Usually, the party that does the gerrymandering continues to win in that area.

I personally would argue that gerrymandering is an unfair action that disregards the principle of fair representation in democracy. Allowing political representatives to shift or change boundaries to their advantage is simply unfair. It distorts true voting and can lead to uneven political power. This practice weakens the integrity of elections and can encourage political inequality, ultimately eroding trust in the democratic process.

The two maps above show how voting in New York changed during the 7th and 8th congressional sessions. In each of the maps, green will represent votes for the Federalist party, while purple will stand for the Democratic-Republican party. Gerrymandering quickly shifts areas to favor the Democratic-Republicans, turning the state mostly purple as seen on the map. This is one of the many examples of gerrymandering. I chose New York as it is a large headquarter for politics as it is home to a large city with high population.

In the 7th session or the one on the left, New York elected 4 Federalists and 6 Democratic-Republicans. In the next session, there were 5 Federalists and 12 Democratic-Republicans, having more representatives to choose from. These numbers are far more significant compared to close elections. Both of these maps show how gerrymandering and other early election practices affect American elections as time progresses on. Gerrymandering remains in use today, influencing election outcomes.


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