: This photographic reproduction of an engraving is a portrait of John A. Bingham, who served as a U.S. Representative from Ohio from 1855 to 1863 and again from 1865 to 1873. The image appears to be one of several portraits of government officials; portions of oval frames are visible to the lower right and left of Bingham’s portrait. Header text on the page reads: “Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the United States, for the Southern District…” The caption underneath Bingham’s portrait identifies him as “Bingham, Ohio.” Likely the portraits are included in an official government directory or record.
Bingham, an early advocate of emancipation, is credited with drafting the first section of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. He also served as a prosecutor during the trial of the individuals charged with conspiring to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln. Members of the U.S. House of Representatives chose Bingham as one of seven “managers” to lead impeachment proceedings against President Andrew Johnson in 1868.
Bingham was born in Mercer County, Pennsylvania, the son of Hugh Bingham and Ester Bailey Bingham. The elder Bingham was a prosperous artisan who was active in local politics. When John Bingham was twelve years old, his mother died, and he went to live with his uncle, Thomas Bingham, in Cadiz, Ohio. He worked as a printer’s apprentice for two years, then attended Franklin College (New Athens, Ohio), studied law, and was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1840. He established a law practice in New Philadelphia, Tuscarawas County, Ohio, but later returned to Cadiz, where he married his first cousin, Amanda Bingham, in 1844.
Active in local politics, Bingham originally was a member of the Whig Party. In 1846, Tuscarawas County voters elected him to the office of prosecuting attorney, a position he held until 1849. Five years later he won election to the U.S. House of Representatives as a Whig and was re-elected as a Republican for three more consecutive terms (serving from 1855 to 1863). He unsuccessfully ran for re-election to the House in 1862. In 1864, President Abraham Lincoln appointed him judge-advocate of the Union Army with the rank of major in 1864. That fall Bingham defeated incumbent U.S. Representative Joseph White, a Democrat, in the Congressional elections. Bingham began his second tenure in the House in March 1865, just weeks before Lincoln’s assassination. Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton appointed Bingham to a three-member team that prosecuted the defendants on trial for conspiring to assassinate Lincoln.
In December 1865, Republican leaders selected Bingham as one of nine congressmen to represent the House on the Joint Committee on Reconstruction. In January 1866, Bingham introduced a proposal that the United States Constitution be amended to establish that "The Congress shall have the power to make all laws necessary and proper to secure to all persons in every state within this Union equal protection in their rights of life, liberty and property." Bingham's proposal subsequently became the basis for the first section of the Fourteenth Amendment, which was approved by Congress in June 1866 and ratified by the states in July 1868.
On March 2, 1868, House members selected Bingham as one of seven "managers to conduct the impeachment against Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, on the part of the House" Bingham chaired the committee of managers and presented the prosecution's closing, three-day summation in Johnson's trial before the Senate.
In 1872 Bingham lost his bid for re-election to the House. In 1873, President Ulysses S. Grant appointed him as U.S. minister to Japan, a post he held until 1885. Bingham returned to Cadiz, Oho, where he was a vocal opponent of Jim Crow laws that were being enacted in the South. He died on March 19, 1900.
View on Ohio Memory.
: AL05833 Subjects
: Bingham, John Armor, 1815-1900; United States--Politics and government--1861-1865; United States--Politics and government--1865-1883; United States--Foreign relations--Japan; Ohio History--Presidents and Politics Places
: John A. Bingham portrait