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House Speaker Biographies

Photo credit:

Stuart, Gilbert. William Bingham. 1795.  The Golden Voyage: The Life and Times of William Bingham, 1752-1804, Robert C. Alberts, Houghton Mifflin Company, cover.


Photo credit:

Stuart, Gilbert. William Bingham. 1795.  The Golden Voyage: The Life and Times of William Bingham, 1752-1804, Robert C. Alberts, Houghton Mifflin Company, cover.

 

William Bingham

Born: March 8, 1752, Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, PA.  Died: February 7, 1804, Bath, Somerset, England. Member of the House: Philadelphia City, 1790-1792. Affiliation: Federalist.

William Bingham was born on March 8, 1752, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  He graduated with an A.B. in 1768 and an A.M in 1771 from the College of Philadelphia (now the University of Pennsylvania).  Following his formal studies, Bingham served as an apprentice under Philadelphia merchant Thomas Warton.  At the beginning of the Revolutionary War, he served the British as Consul in St. Pierre, Martinique, from 1770-1776.  However, he transferred his loyalties to the colonists, and in 1775 he became the Secretary of the Committee of Secret Correspondence of the Second Continental Congress.  Bingham served the Continental Congress as a propagandist, spied on British movements, and facilitated the smuggling of weapons to the Revolutionaries back in the Colonies.  He remained in Martinique until 1780, amassing a large fortune from intercepted British cargo.  Later that year he married the former Anne Willing, and the couple had 3 children: William, Ann Baring, and Maria Matilda Baring

Upon return to Pennsylvania, Bingham used his increased wealth to found and direct the first bank in the United States, the Pennsylvania Bank.  He also invested extensively in land in the states of Maine and New York, as well as Pennsylvania. Binghamton, in Broome County, New York, is named in honor of him.  From 1786-1788 Bingham served as a representative in the Continental Congress.  He supported territorial expansion and acted as president of the Philadelphia and Lancaster Turnpike Company in 1791.  He was a member of the American Philosophical Society and a patron of the arts, possibly most famously of Gilbert Stuart, portraitist of George Washington

Bingham was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives as a Federalist for the 1790-1791 and 1791-1792 terms. Bingham was elected the 37th Speaker of the House on December 8, 1790.  He was the first Speaker of the House after the 1790 Constitutional Convention created a bicameral legislature, where both the House and Senate comprised the General Assembly.  He was re-elected Speaker on December 7, 1791.

Bingham was elected to the Pennsylvania Senate in 1794.  He served as Speaker of the Pennsylvania Senate from 1794-1795. He was elected to represent Pennsylvania in the United States Senate, and served from March 4, 1795, to March 3, 1801. Bingham served as President Pro Tempore of the Senate during the Fourth Congress.  He did not seek re-election to Congress at the close of the 1801 session in order to tend to his private business interests.  In 1801 he relocated to Bath, Somerset, England, to live with his daughter.

William Bingham died on February 7, 1804, in Bath, England.  He is interred at Bath Abbey in Bath, Somerset, England.