William Bingham: Forgotten Supplier of the American Revolution


June 7, 2017
by Richard J. Werther Also by this Author


Journal of the American Revolution is the leading source of knowledge about the American Revolution and Founding Era. We feature smart, groundbreaking research and well-written narratives from expert writers. Our work has been featured by the New York Times, TIME magazine, History Channel, Discovery Channel, Smithsonian, Mental Floss, NPR, and more. Journal of the American Revolution also produces annual hardcover volumes, a branded book series, and the podcast, Dispatches

William Bingham. Does the name sound familiar to you? Some of the readers of this journal will recognize it. For many others, including myself, who have read extensively about the American Revolution it may be a name they have either never encountered or may vaguely recall from a footnote someplace.   In this era of “Founders Chic”[1]where it seems everything remotely connected to the founding has been covered ad infinitum, Bingham remains remarkably obscure. The last biography of him (and the only one I could find) was published in 1969. [2]

Yet Bingham played a pivotal role in the success of the Revolution at a young age and more than merely rubbed elbows with the key figures of the Revolution and later the founding era. He had a record of achievement that is worth recalling.

William Bingham was born April 8, 1752 in Philadelphia. He was enrolled in the College of Philadelphia (now the University of Pennsylvania) at age 6(!),[3] started there in 1765, and graduated cum laude in 1768. Following the death of his father in 1769, he resumed his education there and earned a Master of Arts degree in 1771. He initially developed his business acumen managing his father’s business interests in the Caribbean, and in 1770 at the age of eighteen (living in America but still a British colonial subject) he was named British consul to Martinique.   In early 1773, he travelled to Europe, furthering his business connections and experience.[4]  He returned to Philadelphia to find a city and country embroiled in conflict with the British. The fever was stoked as the blows came one after the other – the Stamp Act, the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party, the resulting Boston Port Bill, and eventually Lexington and Concord.

These events led to the convening of the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia in September, 1774 and in 1775, shortly after the Lexington and Concord news rocked the city, the Second Continental Congress. In November of that year, the Congress formed the committee from which Bingham was to take his direction, the Committee of Secret Correspondence (later to become the Committee for Foreign Affairs). The Committee was chaired by Benjamin Franklin, with other members being John Jay, John Dickinson, Thomas Johnson, Benjamin Harrison, and soon thereafter banker Robert Morris.[5]

The Committee had authority to retain agents to engage in its mission, which was to supply the military and recruit foreign allies, particularly the French. It appointed Silas Deane as its agent in France (posing as a merchant) in March 1776.   Soon thereafter, Bingham was assigned a similar role, his based in the French island of Martinique (often referred to in correspondence as “Martinico”). Bingham’s previous experience in Europe and as British consul to Martinique, a position he resigned when the Revolution broke out, made him an ideal choice for the assignment. He set sail to the Caribbean aboard the sloop Reprisal (the vessel originally assigned, the Hornet, proving unseaworthy) on July 3, 1776, the day before independence was declared.

As with Deane, Bingham would have a dual role, acting as an agent for the Committee to promote American interests but doing it under the cover of a merchant transacting personal business. This was not without some controversy as to the mixing of personal and public business (and in fact Bingham did return to Philadelphia a rich man). On the other hand, there were many times Bingham would have to spend personal funds or borrow against not yet existing loans that Franklin and others were desperately trying to obtain in Europe to assist the cash depleted United States. At the same time the fledgling country and army would also receive huge benefits from his activities in the form of arms and supplies.   The instructions given to the twenty-four year old Bingham by the Committee can be summarized as follows:

  1. To secure military supplies: They began: “You are earnestly to endeavor to procure from him (the French governor there) Ten Thousand good Musquets,” but this was only the start – much more was needed.
  2. To encourage privateering against British targets, particularly to obtain the aforementioned military supplies, but also to stir up conflict between the French and British in the vicinity. He came armed with a fistful of blank privateering commissions.
  3. To pass intelligence findings to and from both the Committee and Silas Deane in France.
  4. To cultivate a strong relationship with the French and get them to do as much as they could, within the bounds of their official stance of neutrality, to help the Americans: “You are to continue at Martinico untill we recall you and are to cultivate an intimate and friendly Correspondence with the General and other Persons of Distinction there, that you may be enabled to procure all the usefull Intelligence you can … you will take proper opportunities of sounding the Genl., and learn from him whether he could admit Prizes made by our Cruizers to be sent in and protected there until proper Opportunities offered for bringing them to the Continent …”[6]

Bingham’s arrival in Martinique proved auspicious. The Reprisal reached the Port of St. Pierre late Saturday afternoon on July 27 to find the British sloop Shark stationed in the harbor. It was there to register a complaint to the French command. Reprisal captain Lambert Wickes, shorthanded due to crew sent away with three prizes captured en route, nonetheless decided to engage. Before going into battle, the captain of Reprisal ensured his prized cargo, Bingham, was rowed safely to shore. The ensuing battle was eventually ended by the firing of French shore batteries on the Shark, causing it to flee to open waters. As Bingham reported:

I was a Spectator of the whole of it from on shore. And to the honor of America, the Reprisal damaged the Shark so much, that She was forced to sheer off in order to refit, when the Fort fired upon her & put an End to the Engagement. Never did I feel the Sensation of Joy in a more lively Degree, than upon viewing the different Treatment which the two Commanders met with from the Inhabitants of St Pierre; Capt [Lambert] Wickes was complimented & caressed beyond measure, whereas Capt [John] Chapman was under the necessity of procuring a Guard of Six Men to protect him from the Insults of the Mob …[7]

This early support from the French boded well for the future. Now that he was safely ensconced in Martinique came the hard part – delivering on his assigned tasks.

In letters to the Committee, Bingham laid out what he thought was the best method of conducting goods from Europe to America, which was transshipment through the West Indies with the last leg being carried to the mainland by French vessels. In a letter from Willing, Morris & Co., they agreed with Bingham’s approach, however expressing concern as to the funding difficulties which would plague not only Bingham’s mission but the entire war effort:

 The observations you make on the different modes of Conducting a Commerce between Europe & this Continent through the Islands of Martinico & St Lucia are very proper, they are what have frequently occurred to us, but do not remove the only difficulty we have to encounter, which is the establishing proper Funds in Europe as a foundation to Trade on …[8]

He would end up utilizing credit that was predicated on loans from France, Spain, and other European countries, that were only hoped for at the time. He made frequent draws against Franklin, who was in Paris.

The French were more than predisposed to participate in activities against their ancient enemy, making Bingham’s job of establishing a strong relationship with the governor there, Compte Robert D’Argout, much easier. Indications from the Shark encounter were positive, with D’Argout stating, “If the American cruisers should bring prizes into our ports, we will not prevent their selling or disposing of them as they should think proper.” The commander of the Shark was ordered to never again “engage battle in our roads or under our forts … an act of hostility which I will never tolerate … I again assure you, Sir, of my entire neutrality in this affair.[9]

Bingham’s fleet of privateers undertook further activities against the British, with French support in sheltering prizes in their harbors and helping escort supply ships and prizes to American ports. Per one British intelligence report:

Property belonging to Philadelphia upon going out of the Bay saluted a Sloop of War then lying there who instantly returned the Salute. This happened about the 1st of May. Mr Bingham a Native of Philadelphia has for some time been there, the professed and publick Agent of the Congress and resides publickly at No 252 Rue du Petit Versailles, from whence he deals out Commissions against the English to all such as apply for them. He had access whenever he pleased to Comte D’Argout & was upon the best terms with him.[10]

Also funneled through Martinique (some went directly to American ports) were the supplies received from a certain Roderique Hortalez & Co. in France. This was the cover name for the operation run by the French playwright and polymath Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais, author of The Barber of Seville. Bingham worked with Franklin and Deane in France to help arrange this.

The Bingham-sponsored privateering activities brought many British protests, indicating how successful he was at egging on these two foes. A letter from Thomas Shirley, British Colonial Governor in the Bahamas, provides but one example from what became a steady stream of complaints. Addressing D’Argout, it stated:

It is with concern Sir that I am obliged to take this oppertunity to acquaint your Excellency that I am informed… that Vessells are fitted out Armed and Commissioned from the Port of St Pierre’s in Order to make Piratical Depradations upon the Coasts of this Island; This I am told is done by one of His Britannick Majesty’s Rebellious Subjects now residing at St Pierre’s in the Character of an Agent (here he refers to Bingham)… from a Number of my Masters Rebellious Subjects in America who Stile themselves the Congress; This proceeding…is matter of great concern and Alarm to His Majesty’s Loyal Subjects here, looking upon this Piratical kind of War never made use of even at times when there was an open Rupture between the Two Nations, which is by no means the Case at present.[11]

Maybe Bingham was a little too successful at stirring things up, because eventually even the French admitted D’Argout had overstepped his bounds. The Marquis de Bouille arrived in early May 1777 to take his place. He tightened the rules, at least for a time. As Beaumarchais noted in a letter to French Foreign Minister Count de Vergennes:

I Am very sorry to receive confirmation of the troublesome announcement that the Marquis de Bouille made at Martinique on arriving there. It seems certain that France has conceded to England, the right of stopping and seizing any French vessel, coming from the Islands, which Will be loaded with produce for the mainland – what distress can have induced us to make such an agreement?[12] 

With time, Bingham was able to cultivate a close relationship with de Bouille and win back a good measure of the operating freedom he had with D’Argout.[13]

The goal was to edge the French toward outright support of the U.S. cause. This depended heavily on demonstrating success in the war, thus bad news from the States was often soft-pedaled to both Bingham then in turn to the French. For example, this highly optimistic portrayal of the outcome of the battle of New York:

They have been ten or twelve weeks with a powerfull Fleet and a [i.e., are] well provided and appointed with every thing necessary and what have they done? They have got possession of three small Islands on the Coast of America, these were hardly disputed with them and yet if every Acre of American teritory is to cost them in the same proportion the Conquest woud ruin all Europe. Our Army are now collected to a point and are strongly entrenched on New York Island and at Kingsbridge, so that in fact Mr. Howe is hemmed in as he was at Boston, except that he has more Elbow Room and a powerfull Fleet commanding an extensive Inland Navigation.[14]

After the war yielded nearly constant setbacks the American victory at Saratoga tipped the balance, and the French abandoned all pretense of neutrality. Thanks to the hard work of Franklin and others in Paris they signed a treaty of alliance with the Americans. Bingham was not informed about the treaty and its contents and, somewhat embarrassingly, had to learn them from de Bouille. After the French officially joined the war, Bingham’s role diminished. He was relegated to more administrative tasks, and he requested to return home.   He received no response for nineteen months, part of a general blackout on information that was likely due to miscarried correspondence. Still without an official recall he nonetheless boarded the Confederacy on March 12, 1779 to sail for Philadelphia, armed with a lengthy account of his time in Martinique (“A Clear and Succinct Account of My Agency”)[15] and a letter of commendation from de Bouille. The coda to his time in Martinique was in Latin at the end of his account: “Quod, potui, feci; – facient meliora potentes”: “I’ve done my best – let abler men do more.”[16]

Bingham’s postwar life continued his chain of success, though it was to be somewhat abbreviated. In 1779, he returned to Philadelphia a rich man from his private dealings during his stay in Martinique, as well as from inheritance.[17] On the other side of the ledger, he was saddled with debts to settle for credit he used to perform some of his official duties. These included a lawsuit that had placed a lien against the property at home, originating from a dispute over ownership of a privateering prize.[18] This case would plague him the rest of his life and was not settled until after he died. With help, he was eventually able to resolve the other debt issues, and for much of the 1780’s he was generally regarded as one of, if not the richest man in America until his departure in the early 1800s.[19]

As to military activities, in August, 1780 he is recorded as a private in the Second Company of the Fourth Battalion of Philadelphia Association.[20] Later, in 1788, he would organize his own military unit, the Second Troop of the Philadelphia Light Horse, of which he was the captain. The company was largely ceremonial; its primary claim to fame was its role in escorting George Washington through the area on his way to New York to assume the presidency.[21]

Anne Willing Bingham, attributed to Gilbert Stuart (Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. LXI, 1937)

The early 1780s brought much personal happiness as he courted and married Anne Willing on October 26, 1780 at Christ Church in Philadelphia.[22] Anne, only age sixteen at the time, though with beauty and grace beyond her years, was the eldest child of Thomas Willing, in his own right a powerful merchant and banker of the Revolution and the early Federal period. They would become in modern day terms a “power couple” in Philadelphia.

A few days after the wedding another Philadelphia girl wrote to her mother about Anne (note the small jab about her husband!):

Speaking of handsome women brings Nancy Willing to my mind. She might set for the Queen of Beauty, and is lately married to Bingham, who returned from the West Indies with an immense fortune. They have set out in highest style; nobody here will be able to make the figure they do; equipage, house, cloathes, are all the newest taste,—and yet some people wonder at the match. She but sixteen and such a perfect form. His appearance is less amiable.[23]

As to politics, views differed as to Bingham’s ambitions, and these are perhaps driven by his strong Federalist affiliation. Writing later, in 1787, Thomas Jefferson took a decidedly dim view:

He will make you believe he was on the most intimate footing with the first characters in Europe & versed in the secrets of every cabinet. Not a word of this is true. He had a rage for being presented to great men & had no modesty in the methods by which he could effect it. If he obtained access afterwards, it was with such as who were susceptible of impression from the beauty of his wife.[24]

Jefferson might have added that he was one of those people charmed with Mrs. Bingham, though he was far from alone on that score!

Others were more favorable in their views of Bingham’s value in the political arena. Upon his failed bid for election to Congress in 1782, fellow Federalist James Wilson provided some consolation:

I was much disappointed and indeed mortified to find that you are not in the Delegation to Congress: I lose a particular Pleasure, which I should have enjoyed in serving with you. However, you must still direct your Attention to public Life: Your Country will soon call for you; and you must, as others have done, obey the Call, notwithstanding previous unhandsome Treatment[25]

According to Bingham’s thinking, politics were only a part of the picture. Commerce came first, but “the Interests of Commerce, as connected with Politics, are So Striking, that it is difficult to Separate one from the other.”[26]

William and Anne departed the U.S. in 1783 for a three year stint in Great Britain:

where they established friendships with French and English nobility, especially Lord Lansdowne, as well as with visiting Americans such as Thomas Jefferson. Anne quickly adopted French manners and fashions and dazzled the French and English courts. She became a public figure in England and an engraving of her was sold in London shops. Abigail Adams arranged that Anne be presented at court and recorded that Anne was very much admired.[27]

They returned in 1786, and this time Bingham was elected to the Continental Congress, representing Pennsylvania. During that period, he was also elected to the prestigious American Philosophical Society (in 1787).[28] This was of course around the time of the Constitutional Convention. Some disagreement exists as to whether Bingham wanted to preserve the union, having observed first hand its initial dysfunction during his time in the Continental Congress. In his notes on the debate about holding the convention, James Madison reported that the feeling was unanimous that the existing government could not long continue, but that “Mr. Bingham alone wishes that the Confederacy might be divided into several distinct confederacies, its great extent and various interests being incompatible with a single government …”[29]

Perhaps Madison identified the wrong person or was taking a partisan shot at a Federalist, as Bingham’s thinking did not appear to support this interpretation. Less than two weeks after Madison made his note, Bingham in a letter to former British Prime Minister Lord Shelburne about conditions in America, indicated:

There must be Power lodged Somewhere, to form Commercial Regulations, whose Effects must be general & pervade every Part of the Union …. [America] wants nothing now but a strong efficient Government, which will command Respect & Confidence abroad, & act with Vigor & Energy at home … I was very active in promoting this Measure [the Federal Convention], as I am convinced that all our political Misfortunes flow from the Weakness of our foederal Government.[30]

Bingham exerted his efforts at both getting Pennsylvania (and other states) to approve the proposed constitution and to have the seat of government established in Philadelphia. The former effort was successful, the latter not (other than as the temporary capital while the capital city was being constructed).

He would eventually assume a role in the new government, but this was preceded by work at the state level with a term in the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives, 1790-1791, serving as speaker in 1791.[31] This was followed by a term in the Pennsylvania state senate (1794-1795). His principal work here was the formation of a company to build the Lancaster Pike, an important internal improvement that facilitated commerce with the interior of the state.[32]

The theme of commerce and his role as one of the country’s leading businessmen and bankers would come into play in his next assignment. Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton, in the process of building the new nation’s financial system, asked Bingham as a leading banker in the states for his input. Bingham had been a founder and large contributor to the Bank of Pennsylvania, established to fund the supplying of the army.[33] In 1781, this became the Bank of North America, the first bank in the country where he was a one of twelve directors and also a large stock subscriber.[34] He and Hamilton, probably the two greatest financial minds in the country, generally saw eye-to-eye on banking and financial systems.

As to Hamilton’s request, he responded with a 5,000 word document (not known to historians until 141 years later when it was found amidst the papers of Hamilton’s successor as Treasury Secretary, Oliver Wolcott, Jr.).[35] These were passed to Hamilton in a letter in late 1789,[36] and to a large extent they were of the same mind on the plan, though some changes recommended by Bingham were made.[37] Following a stormy debate, Congress in February 1791 passed the banking bill establishing the Bank of the United States, the first national bank. Bingham was elected one of its twenty-five directors.[38]

The outbreak of hostilities between France and Great Britain would help provide the opportunity Bingham needed to assume a formal political role in the new government. In 1793, a meeting was held in Philadelphia, headed by Federalists Bingham and Thomas Fitzsimons, for the purpose of protesting against any action being taken by Congress against England. This was successful, and put both in the mix for future Senate consideration.[39] Bingham was selected to run, and won a seat in the Fourth Congress in 1795, eventually rising to President pro tempore.[40]

The tumultuous 1790’s represented the apex of his role in national politics.   According to accounts of the time when Philadelphia was temporarily the nation’s capital, the Bingham’s played host to the so-called Federalist court. He used his large, extremely elegant Philadelphia mansion to entertain the political and social elites of the new country.[41]

Bingham was also a statesman with considerable political power. Washington, Franklin, Hamilton, and Lord Lansdowne, England’s prime minister were counted among his friends both politically and socially. They, along with business acquaintances, foreign visitors, relatives and friends, were frequent guests at the Bingham mansion in Philadelphia, where he and his wife, the former Anne Willing, were the social leaders of the nation’s first capital.[42]

This 1796 portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart was commissioned by the Binghams as a gift from them to Lord Lansdowne of England (Smithsonian)

And speaking of Washington and Lansdowne, it was the Binghams who commissioned Gilbert Stuart to pain the iconic Lansdowne portrait of the General.   The portrait was a gift from the Binghams to Lansdowne. A copy of this painting was rescued from the White House as it burned in the War of 1812.

Then things slowly started to turn. His finances began to suffer due to the financial panic of 1796-1797. Investments in land speculations in Maine, Pennsylvania and New York caused Bingham to be land rich but cash poor. Unlike many others (the eminent Robert Morris, for one, ended up in debtor’s prison) he was able to survive.

As the century turned the decline in Bingham’s fortunes, political and personal, accelerated. On the political front, the election of Jefferson largely ended the Federalist reign. The expiration of his Senate term (he did not seek re-election) coincided with Jefferson’s inauguration. More tragically, Anne came down with tuberculosis. The Binghams made a desperate trip to Bermuda in an attempt to get a better climate for her recovery, but she succumbed there to the disease on May 11, 1801.[43]  Among others Jefferson, a widower himself, offered his condolences:

I had before felt a sincere concern for the circumstance which has made you wish for a change of scene, having myself entertained a very high esteem for the character which has left us and learnt from experience the indelible effects of such a loss. time is the only medicine & but an imperfect one.[44]

From here, Bingham moved to England, where his two daughters resided. He was reportedly never the same after Anne’s death. The ensuing health problems eventually led to his death there at age fifty-one on February 6, 1804, possibly of a stroke.[45] He is interred in the abbey in Bath, England.   In more than one way, he lived on: his estate, placed into a complex trust, was not settled until 1964 ($838,000 divided among 315 heirs, some British).[46] Oh, and Binghamton, N.Y.? Yes, that’s named for him, on one of his many landholdings, though he never set foot there.[47]

So, with this sparkling array of accomplishments and posts held, where in the pantheon does William Bingham rate? He probably does not merit founder status, which I would reserve for a limited list of the most influential players in the drama that created America. He was nonetheless a prodigy and a man of diverse talents. During his life he served his country in multiple ways, many of which were crucial to the establishment and eventual viability of the nation. Regardless of where one ranks him among the actors of the period, he clearly deserves to be remembered more than he has been.


[1] Michael D. Hattem, “The Historiography of the American Revolution”, Journal of the American Revolution, August 27, 2013, accessed April 20, 2017, https://allthingsliberty.com/2013/08/historiography-of-american-revolution/

[2] Robert C. Alberts, The Golden Voyage: The Life and Times of William Bingham (Boston, Houghton Mifflin Company: 1969.

[3] Ibid., 12

[4] Pennsylvania State Senate webpage biography, accessed April 24, 2017, http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/BiosHistory/MemBio.cfm?ID=5072&body=S

[5] Secret Committee of Correspondence/ Committee for Foreign Affairs, 1775–1777, U.S. Department of State, Office of the Historian website, accessed April 20, 2017, https://history.state.gov/milestones/1776-1783/secret-committee

[6] The Committee of Secret Correspondence: Instructions to William Bingham, June 3, 1776, U. S. National Archives, The Founders Online, accessed April 20, 2017, https://founders.archives.gov/?q=william%20bingham%20Recipient%3A%22Bingham%2C%20William%22%20Author%3A%22Committee%20of%20Secret%20Correspondence%22&s=1111311112&r=1

[7] William Bingham to Silas Deane, August 5, 1776, in William Bell Clark, et al., eds, Naval Documents of the American Revolution, 12 Volumes (Washington, DC: The Naval History and Heritage Command, 1964-2013), 6:77, accessed April 20, 2017, https://www.history.navy.mil/content/dam/nhhc/research/publications/naval-documents-of-the-american-revolution/NDARVolume6.pdf

[8] Willing, Morris & Co. to Bingham, Martinique, September 14, 1776, in Naval Documents, 6:824, accessed April 20, 2017.

[9] Alberts, The Golden Voyage, 29-30.

[10] Intelligence Regarding Martinique Received From Arthur Piggott, in Naval Documents, 9:460, accessed April 20, 2017.

[11] Governor Thomas Shirley to Count D’Argout, January 8, 1777, in William Bell Clark, et al., eds, Naval Documents, 7:902, accessed April 18, 2017.

[12] Beaumarchais to Vergennes, July 1, 1777, in Naval Documents, 9:451, accessed April 19, 2017.

[13] Alberts, The Golden Voyage, 70.

[14] Committee of Secret Correspondence of The Continental Congress to William Bingham, Martinique, September 21, 1776, January 8, 1777, in Naval Documents, 6:938, accessed April 20, 2017.

[15] Alberts, The Golden Voyage, 454-463 has the complete text of this document, which provides a fascinating account of Bingham’s time in Martinique.

[16] Ibid., 80-82.

[17] Margaret L. Brown, “William Bingham, Eighteenth Century Magnate,The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, volume LXI, Issue 4, October 1937, published by The Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Google Books edition. Page 387, accessed April 20, 2017, journals.psu.edu/pmhb/article/download/29420/29175

[18] Alberts, The Golden Voyage, 78-79.

[19] University of Virginia: Social Networks and Archival Content (SNAC) Online, accessed April 19, 2017, http://socialarchive.iath.virginia.edu/ark:/99166/w6w37zvc

[20] W. A. Newman Dorland, “The Second Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry,” Chapter V, The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, volume XLVI, Issue 4, October 1922, free e-Book, aage 57, accessed April 18, 2017, link

[21] Alberts, The Golden Voyage, 195.

[22] Anne Bingham, American National Biography Online, accessed April 20, 2017, http://www.anb.org/articles/20/20-00070.html

[23] Margaret L. Brown, “Mr. and Mrs. William Bingham of Philadelphia: Rulers of the Republican Court,” The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, volume LXI, Issue 3, July 1937, page 286, accessed April 20, 2017, journals.psu.edu/pmhb/article/download/29408/29163

[24] Jefferson to James Madison, January 30, 1787. U. S. National Archives, The Founders Online, accessed April 19, 2017, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Madison/01-09-02-0126

[25] Margaret L. Brown, “William Bingham, Eighteenth Century Magnate,” The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, volume LXI, Issue 4, October 1937, Google Books edition, page 388, accessed April 20, 2017, journals.psu.edu/pmhb/article/download/29420/29175

[26] Ibid.

[27] Anne Bingham, American National Biography Online, accessed April 20, 2017, http://www.anb.org/articles/20/20-00070.html

[28] Member History, American Philosophical Society, accessed April 10, 2017, http://www.amphilsoc.org/memhist/search?creator=William+Bingham&title=&subject=&subdiv=&mem=&year=&year-max=&dead=&keyword=&smode=advanced

[29] Brown, “William Bingham, Eighteenth Century Magnate, 389.

[30] Ibid.

[31] University of Pennsylvania Biographies, University of Pennsylvania website, accessed April 17, 2017,   http://www.archives.upenn.edu/people/1700s/bingham_wm.html

[32] Brown, “William Bingham, Eighteenth Century Magnate, 410.

[33] Bingham, W, MSS, Lilly Library Manuscript Collections website, University of Indiana, accessed April 25, 2017, http://www.indiana.edu/~liblilly/lilly/mss/index.php?p=binghamw

[34] Brown, “William Bingham, Eighteenth Century Magnate, 403.

[35] Alberts, The Golden Voyage, 202.

[36] Bingham to Alexander Hamilton, November 25, 1789. U. S. National Archives, The Founders Online, accessed April 25, 2017, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Hamilton/01-05-02-0344-0001

[37] Alberts, The Golden Voyage, 202.

[38] Bingham, W, MSS, Lilly Library Manuscript Collections website, University of Indiana, accessed April 25, 2017, http://www.indiana.edu/~liblilly/lilly/mss/index.php?p=binghamw

[39] Brown, “William Bingham, Eighteenth Century Magnate, 392.

[40] William Bingham, University of Pennsylvania Biographies, University of Pennsylvania website, accessed April 17, 2017,   http://www.archives.upenn.edu/people/1700s/bingham_wm.html

[41] Brown, “William Bingham, Eighteenth Century Magnate, 392.

[42] University of Virginia: Social Networks and Archival Content (SNAC) Online, accessed April 19, 2017, http://socialarchive.iath.virginia.edu/ark:/99166/w6w37zvc

[43] Anne Bingham, American National Biography Online, accessed April 20, 2017, http://www.anb.org/articles/20/20-00070.html

[44] Jefferson to Bingham, July 29, 1801, U. S. National Archives, The Founders Online, accessed April 20, 2017, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/01-34-02-0508

[45] University of Pennsylvania Biographies, University of Pennsylvania website, accessed April 17, 2017,   http://www.archives.upenn.edu/people/1700s/bingham_wm.html

[46] New York Times website archives; article appeared on November 15, 1964, accessed April 20, 2017, http://www.nytimes.com/1964/11/15/heirs-of-1804-trust-to-divide-838000.html

[47] Binghamton New York – A Brief History, City of Binghamton website, accessed April 20, 2017, http://www.binghamton-ny.gov/history



  • An outstanding article! Bingham is certainly an interesting person. This is another example of how important privateering was to the Rebel finances.

    That must have been a very complex estate to be in probate for 160 years!

  • Richard,
    Excellent research and pulling together a very interesting topic. Not bad for a CPA!. More, more!

    1. Gary –

      I’d just like to say thanks for the kind words from you and the others. I’d also like to get it on the record that you were instrumental in encouraging me to write an article, despite my initial hesitancy. Further, your guidance on process throughout helped me complete this piece; I couldn’t have done it otherwise. I had fun learning how to do research and was glad in the end that I undertook this project. While I’m thanking people I’d also like to throw shout outs to Don Hagist, who green-lighted the idea and provided me with help on formatting and the submission process, and to William E Davidson, who got in touch with me through my comments on an earlier article and was the guy who first brought Bingham to my attention.

      I hope to be able to write more in the future and am tossing around ideas now. Thanks again to you and the others who helped me through my first venture into academic research.

  • Thanks, Richard, glad to help out. It is a gratifying experience to identify a hole in the historiography and to then search out obscure facts that allow you to fill it in. Keep up the great work (by the way, you did a much better job with history than anything I could ever do as a CPA!)

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