John Armor Bingham - Facts

January 21, 1815–March 19, 1900

Key facts about John A. Bingham, an influential congressman during the American Civil War and Reconstruction eras, who drafted the first section of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Portrait of John A. Bingham

During the Civil War, John Bingham staunchly defended the Union cause and drifted toward the Radical element of the Republican Party. [Wikimedia Commons]

Full Name:

  • John Armor Bingham

Birth Date:

  • January 21, 1815

Birth Location:

  • Mercer, Pennsylvania


  • Hugh and Ester (Bailey) Bingham


  • Franklin College (2 years)


  • Lawyer
  • Politician
  • Military officer

Career Summary:

  • U.S. Congressman
  • Major (USVA)
  • United States Minister to Japan


  • Amanda Bingham (1844)

Place of Death:

  • Cadiz, Ohio

Date of Death:

  • March 19, 1900

Place of Burial:

  • Union Cemetery in Cadiz, Ohio


  • John Bingham’s mother died when he was twelve years old and for unknown reasons, the boy moved to Cadiz, Ohio to live with his uncle, Thomas Bingham.
  • During his youth, John Bingham served as a printer’s apprentice for the Luminary, an Anti-Masonic newspaper in Mercer, Pennsylvania.
  • John Bingham attended Mercer Academy and then Franklin College in New Athens, Ohio, for two years.
  • John Bingham studied law under two prominent Pennsylvania lawyers, John J. Pierson and William Stuart.
  • John Bingham was admitted to the bar in Ohio on October 14, 1841.
  • In 1844, John Bingham married his first cousin, Thomas Bingham’s daughter Amanda Bingham.
  • Their marriage lasted forty-seven years until Mrs. Bingham’s death in 1891, and it produced three children.
  • While living in Cadiz, Ohio, John Bingham became active in politics as a member of the Whig Party.
  • In 1846, Tuscarawas County voters elected John Bingham to the office of prosecuting attorney, a position he held until 1849.
  • In 1854, voters from Ohio’s Twenty-first Congressional District elected John Bingham to the United States House of Representatives. Reelected to three more successive terms, Bingham served in the Thirty-fourth through the Thirty-seventh Congresses from March 1857 to March 1863.
  • During his early years in Congress, John Bingham consistently supported anti-slavery legislation.
  • During the Civil War, John Bingham staunchly defended the Union cause and drifted toward the Radical element of the Republican Party.
  • Joseph W. White defeated John Bingham in his bid to return to Congress in the 1862 elections.
  • In 1864, President Abraham Lincoln appointed John Bingham as a major in the Union Army, where he served briefly as a judge advocate.
  • In 1864, John Bingham defeated incumbent Democratic Representative Joseph W. White in the fall Congressional elections.
  • John Bingham represented Ohio’s Sixteenth Congressional District in the Fortieth through Forty-second Congresses from March 1865 to March 1873.
  • In 1865, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton appointed John Bingham to serve on the government’s three-person team that prosecuted assassin John Wilkes Booth’s co-conspirators.
  • During John Bingham’s second tenure in Congress, he generally aligned himself with Moderate Republicans over issues regarding Reconstruction.
  • In December 1865, Republican leaders selected John Bingham as one of nine Congressmen to represent the House of Representatives on the influential Joint Committee on Reconstruction.
  • On Friday, January 12, 1866, John Bingham introduced a proposal that the U.S. 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.
  • John Bingham opposed early efforts by Radical Republicans, to impeach President Andrew Johnson.
  • On February 24, 1868, John Bingham voted with the majority of Republicans in the House of Representatives to impeach the President Andrew Johnson.
  • John Bingham served on the committee of seven members of the U.S. House of Representatives that drafted formal impeachment charges against President Andrew Johnson.
  • On March 2, 1868, members of the U.S. House of Representatives selected John Bingham as one of seven “managers to conduct the impeachment against Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, on the part of the House.”
  • John Bingham supported enactment of the Fifteenth Amendment.
  • In the November 1872 election, Republican candidate Lorenzo Danford unseated John Bingham in his bid to continue to represent Ohio’s Sixteenth District in Congress.
  • John Bingham served as United States Minister to Japan from May 31, 1873 until July 2, 1885, when he was recalled by newly-elected Democratic President Grover Cleveland.
  • When John Bingham’s health began to fail in 1898, Congress granted him a pension for his military service during the Civil War.
  • In 1901, the citizens of Harrison County, Ohio erected a bronze statue honoring John Bingham in Cadiz, Ohio.

Citation Information

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  • Article Title John Armor Bingham - Facts
  • Date January 21, 1815–March 19, 1900
  • Author
  • Keywords John Armor Bingham
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date June 14, 2024
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update March 16, 2024