Bingham and Grant
It’s been nearly five years since I published my biography of John Bingham. Some recent interactions with other scholars doing work on him raised the question of whether anything that’s happened since 2013 would lead me to change what I wrote in the book.
In one respect the answer is yes. Ulysses S Grant’s presidential reputation has gone up markedly in recent years, due in part to Ron Chernow’s terrific biography of Grant last year. Bingham was very much a Grant Republican. When I was writing the book, being a strong Grant supporter did not look like a badge of honor. I did point out that Grant Republicans were more interested in racial justice than the mislabelled “Liberal Republican” faction of the day, but I might have gone further with that thought now.
To some extent, Bingham lost his seat in Congress because of his support of Grant. Grant responded by appointing Bingham Ambassador to Japan. This was not misguided or corrupt on either side–it was noble.