William Bingham – Continental Congressman – Pennsylvania


William Bingham (April 8, 1752{spaced ndash}February 6, 1804) was an American statesman from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was a delegate for Pennsylvania to the Continental Congress from 1786 to 1788 and served in the United States Senate from 1795 to 1801.

==Early life==

William Bingham was born on 8 April 1752 in Philadelphia. He graduated from the College of Philadelphia (now the University of Pennsylvania) in 1768.

==Philadelphia Society==

Bingham first travelled to Europe in 1773, and upon returning to America joined the Philadelphia Society. On 3 July 1776, he left America aboard the Reprisal frigate. During this voyage, he captured several British ships, made friends with French merchants at Martinique, and returned in 1777 to America with several full loads of munitions, guns, and other vital goods necessary for the fighting of a war. He was sent on several more diplomatic missions by the American Congress to France, where he met with American informant Silas Deane.

===Business Interests===

By the end of the American Revolution, Bingham was regarded as one of the richest men in Pennsylvania, having made his fortune through joint ownership of privateers and trading. He became a major land developer, purchasing lands in upstate New York and 2 million acres (8,000 km²) in Maine, later known as the Bingham Purchase. With his son-in-law Baring, he helped broker the Louisiana Purchase.

Bingham was director of several other enterprises. He maintained shipping ventures after the Revolutionary war, through his mercantile house called “Bingham, Inglis, and Gilmore”. He was a leading member of the Pennsylvania Society for the Encouragement of Manufactures and Useful Arts, donating a Philadelphia property to be converted into a textile factory.

===Mounted General===

During the 1780s, Bingham marshaled the Second Troop of Philadelphia Light Horse, an outfit of 50 dragoons. They were glamourously clad and saw little action. William Jackson was first major and later became Bingham’s land agent. Bingham escorted President-elect George Washington through Pennsylvania with his troop on his April 1789 journey from Valley Forge to New York City to assume the presidency.


During the provisional government of the United States at Philadelphia, he wrote the by-laws for the national Bank of North America. He saw the national debt as beneficial in that it attracted interest into the affairs of the government. During the first presidency, Treasurer Alexander Hamilton sought Bingham as his mentor in managing taxes, tariffs, and in constructing a national bank.

===Speaker of Pennsylvania House===

In America, he represented Pennsylvania as a delegate to the Continental Congress from 1786 to 1788. In 1790 and 1791 he was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, serving as its first speaker in 1791. He oversaw development of the land during a fledgling period of America as a member of the Society of Roads and Inland Navigation, where he worked closely with Albert Gallatin of western Pennsylvania. He later served in the Pennsylvania State Senate from 1793 through 1794. He built roads and a bridge from Philadelphia to Lancaster, Pennsylvania called the Lancaster Pike.

===American Senator===

By 1795, he was elected to the United States Senate where he served as a Federalist and Nationalist while it was originally at Philadelphia, but he left for England in 1801 when his wife had taken ill. He was an active supporter of John Adams and when Adams was elected President, Bingham served as the Senate’s President pro tem in the Fourth Congress. He was criticized by Jeffersonian politicians for “extravagance, ostentation and dissipation”. In 1813, nearly ten years after his death, John Quincy Adams said that the Presidency, the Capital and the Country had been governed by Bingham and his family connections.

The several Bingham estates were renowned for hosting many prominent aristocrats from Europe as well as Federalist meetings. At the Bingham estate, Federalists agreed to hold preliminary votings before propositions were brought before Congress publicly, thus creating unanimity among party lines.


He was also a land surveyor, and looked to develop areas currently a part of Southern New York, and Northern Pennsylvania. One of his prime prospects was at the confluence of the Chenango River and Susquehanna River. Judge Joshua Whitney Jr., settler and Bingham’s agent, called this town Binghamton to honor him. Furthermore, Binghamton’s resident university Binghamton University recognizes Bingham through the naming of Bingham Hall.


He married Anne Willing, daughter of Thomas Willing, President of the First Bank of the United States, and they had two daughters and a son.

* Ann Louisa Bingham. In 1798, she married Alexander Baring, 1st Baron Ashburton. They were the parents of nine children.
* Maria Matilda Bingham (1783-1849). At the age of 15, she was briefly married to a French aristocrat, Jacques Alexandre, Comte de Tilly. Afterwards she married her sister’s brother-in-law, Henry Baring. They were the parents of five children.
* William Bingham (1800-1852). In 1822, he married Marie-Charlotte Chartier de Lotbiniere (1805-1866), Seigneuresse de Rigaud. She was the second of the three daughters and heiresses of Michel-Eustache-Gaspard-Alain Chartier de Lotbinière, by his second wife Mary, daughter of Captain John Munro. They lived in Montreal, Paris and London; and were the parents of six children.

Although his wife and two daughters factored prominently in the social affairs of American politics, Bingham’s wife Ann died while his only son William was one year old. William Sr. left William Jr. to grow up in America with his grandfather Thomas Willing.

Bingham died on February 6, 1804 in Bath, England and is interred in Bath Abbey. His estate was not settled until 1964.


Source(s): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Bingham