Elbridge Gerry, governor of Massachusetts, redrew the state's boundaries in 1812 giving rise to the word 'gerrymander'; until 1832 Birmingham had no MPs, Dunwich, which had fallen into the sea, returned two; Tammany Hall (HQ of New York Democrats at turn of century) became a byword for patronage, charity, bribery and bullying; Liberia's president was returned with a majority 15.5 times greater than the electorate in 1927; in 1938 the boundaries of Londonderry were drawn to ensure that 9,600 nationalist electors returned eight councillors, while 7,500 unionists returned 12; John F Kennedy's victory in Illinois in the 1960 presidential election was achieved through ballot- box stuffing; in 1987 Westminster City Council sold council flats to ensure Tory votes in key marginal wards.
TODAY is the feast day of the Blessed Ferreolus, Bishop of Grenoble in the seventh century. Once, building a bridge over a river, his labourers wanted wine; fearing they would strike, he prayed and hit the rock with a stick, whereupon excellent wine spouted forth. Short of food, he summoned fish which leapt out of the water for the privilege of being eaten. He used graphic methods to teach the power of the Church's censure and once excommunicated a loaf of bread which turned black.
16 January, 1547: Ivan the Terrible was crowned.
1838: Franz Brentano, German philosopher (above), was born in Marienberg, Germany. He was ordained a Catholic priest but the dogma of papal infallibility and other philosophical doubts led to his resignation from the priesthood. He originated the influential idea of 'intentionality': that mental events involve the direction of the mind to an object. Among his pupils at the University of Vienna were Sigmund Freud and Edmund Husserl.
1920: Prohibition (of alcohol) began in the US
1991: Operation Desert Storm began the Gulf war
BIRTHDAYS: Cliff Thorburn, snooker player, 46; Christine Truman, 53; Lady Marina Vaizey, art critic, 56
DEATHS: Michael Aldridge, actor in Last of the Summer Wine, aged 73; Pierre-Paul Schweitzer, managing director of the IMF, aged 81.Reuse content