John Armor Bingham (January 21, 1815 – March 19, 1900) was a Republican congressman from Ohio, America, judge in the trial of the Abraham Lincoln assassination and a prosecutor in the impeachment trials of Andrew Johnson. He is also the principal framer of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
During the Civil War, he strongly supported the Union and became a Radical Republican. President Abraham Lincoln appointed him Judge Advocate of the Union Army with the rank of Major in 1864, and he became Solicitor of the United States Court of Claims in 1865. He was also elected to the Thirty-ninth Congress, which first met on March 4, 1865.
On June 29, 1865, the eight were found guilty for their involvement in the conspiracy to kill the President. Spangler was sentenced to six years in prison; Arnold, O'Laughlen and Mudd where sentenced to life in prison; and Atzerodt, Herold, Paine and Surratt were sentenced to hang. They were executed July 7, 1865. Surratt was the first woman in American history to be executed. O'Laughlen died in prison in 1867. Arnold, Spangler and Mudd were pardoned by President Andrew Johnson in early 1869.
In the closing debate in the House, Bingham stated,
"[M]any instances of State injustice and oppression have already occurred in the State legislation of this Union, of flagrant violations of the guarantied privileges of citizens of the United States, for which the national Government furnished and could furnish by law no remedy whatever. Contrary to the express letter of your Constitution, 'cruel and unusual punishments' have been inflicted under State laws within this Union upon citizens, not only for crimes committed, but for sacred duty done, for which and against which the Government of the United States had provided no remedy and could provide none.
It was an opprobrium to the Republic that for fidelity to the United States they could not by national law be protected against the degrading punishment inflicted on slaves and felons by State law. That great want of the citizen and stranger, protection by national law from unconstitutional State enactments, is supplied by the first section of this amendment.
Except for the addition of the first sentence of Section 1, which defined citizenship, the amendment weathered the Senate debate without substantial change. The 14th Amendment was ratified in 1868.
Despite Bingham's intention that the 14th Amendment apply the first eight Amendments of the Bill of Rights to the States, the U.S. Supreme Court subsequently declined to interpret it that way. In the 1947 case of Adamson v. California, Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black argued in his dissent that the framers' intent should control the Court's interpretation of the 14th Amendment, and he attached a lengthy appendix that quoted extensively from Bingham's congressional testimony. Though the Adamson Court declined to adopt Black's interpretation, the Court during the following twenty-five years employed a doctrine of selective incorporation that succeeded in extending to the States almost of all of the protections in the Bill of Rights, as well as other, unenumerated rights. The 14th Amendment has vastly expanded civil rights protections and is cited in more litigation than any other amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Bingham continued his career as a congressman, being reelected to the Fortieth, Forty-first and Forty-second Congresses. He served as Chairman of the Committee on Claims from 1867 to 1869 and a member of the Committee on the Judiciary from 1869 to 1873. In 1868 he was one of the judges involved in the impeachment trials of President Andrew Johnson. In 1872, he was unsuccessful in gaining reelection, this time for the Forty-third Congress. President Ulysses Grant then appointed him a new position as United States Minister to Japan, at which he served from May 31, 1873 to July 2, 1885.