During the formative years of the United States, William Bingham was one of the wealthiest men in America. As the Continental Congress voted for independence, they sent Bingham to Martinico in the Caribbean. While in this French territory he communicated America’s instructions to their delegates in Paris. Forwarding the information from there would limit the British’s ability to intercept his letters.
Upon returning to the States, Bingham’s ships brought much needed arms and supplies to the struggling Continental Army.
After the war, Bingham invested in land in the states of Maine, Pennsylvania and New York. The largest city to arise from his purchases still bears his name: Binghamton.
Bingham represented Pennsylvania in the Continental Congress (1786-88) during its waning years and helped to create the Bank of North America, the country’s first national bank.
As a Federalist, he supported the ratification of the Constitution and was a close adviser to Alexander Hamilton during the creating of the U.S. Treasury Department. When the new state government began in Pennsylvania, Bingham was elected to the state House of Representatives (1791-95) and became that body’s first Speaker.
William would go on to be elected to the United States Senate (1795-1801) where he administered the Vice-Presidential Oath of Office to Thomas Jefferson.
Though little known today, and a fairly small player in the war for independence, William Bingham’s wealth, prestige and economic knowledge had a large roll in the creation of the Treasury Department which is still the basis of how the American financial system works today.
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