John Bingham on the Joint Committee on Reconstruction
David Upham, a political scientist at the University of Dallas who is doing terrific work, sent me an interview of Bingham conducted by the Chicago Tribune in 1886. I had not seen this article before, and it contains some interesting stuff. (It could always go in the next edition of my book.) In it Bingham denies that he’s interested in running for Congress again, talks about his tenure as Japanese Ambassador, and reflects on his role in Reconstruction:
“I do not regret the part I took on the side of the Government in its hour of danger, and never will. I’m rather proud of it. I may have committed some errors of judgment, but never an intentional error. The fact is, my friend, that no man need be ashamed of his patriotism.”
He also said that he felt bound to keep some aspects of the Joint Committee’s work secret because its deliberations were confidential (much like the Constitutional Convention). This might explain his reluctance to talk about his own view of the Fourteenth Amendment after he left Congress in 1873, which is still a source of frustration for me.