John Bingham was the architect of the rebirth of the United States following the Civil War. A leading antislavery lawyer and congressman from Ohio, Bingham wrote the most important part of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which guarantees fundamental rights and equality to all Americans. He was also at the center of two of the greatest trials in history, giving the closing argument in the military prosecution of John Wilkes Booth’s co-conspirators for the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and in the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson. And more than any other man, Bingham played the key role in shaping the Union’s policy towards the occupied ex-Confederate States, with consequences that still haunt our politics.
American Founding Son provides the most complete portrait yet of this remarkable statesman. Drawing on his personal letters and speeches, the book traces Bingham’s life from his humble roots in Pennsylvania through his career as a leader of the Republican Party. Gerard N. Magliocca argues that Bingham and his congressional colleagues transformed the Constitution that the Founding Fathers created, and did so with the same ingenuity that their forbears used to create a more perfect union in the 1780s. In this book, Magliocca restores Bingham to his rightful place as one of our great leaders.
"Gerard Magliocca has done the country a great service by writing the first biography of one of America's most important but under-appreciated statesmen. John Bingham, the father of the Fourteenth Amendment, helped put a guarantee of individual equality into the U.S. Constitution. In this important book, Magliocca tells the fascinating story of a crucial figure in our country's long struggle to establish justice and create a more perfect union."-Jack M. Balkin,Knight Professor of Constitutional Law and the First Amendment, Yale Law School
"Gerard Magliocca rescues John Bingham from his moment of fame as the author of the Fourteenth Amendment, and presents a nuanced understanding of his life and thought. An important contribution that provides deep insight into our constitutional tradition."-Bruce Ackerman,Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science, Yale University
"Gerard Magliocca makes the most of the sometimes scanty evidence to paint an illuminating portrait of Ohio Congressman John Bingham, the author of Section One of the Fourteenth Amendment and perhaps our most neglected 'framer' of the Constitution. From leading the impeachment prosecution of President Andrew Johnson, to serving as Ambassador to Japan, Bingham's life was fascinating. And so too is this book that every student of our constitutional history should read."-Randy E. Barnett,Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Legal Theory & Director, Georgetown Center for the Constitution