Hiram Bingham III

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Hiram Bingham III, born in Honolulu, Hawai'i, served as Governor of Connecticut and United States Senator.
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Hiram Bingham III, born in Honolulu, Hawai'i, served as Governor of Connecticut and United States Senator.

Hiram Bingham, formally Hiram Bingham III, (19 November 18756 June 1956) was an American explorer and politician. A teacher at Yale, he rediscovered the Inca settlement of Machu Picchu in 1911. Later, Bingham served as Governor of Connecticut and a member of the United States Senate.

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Early life

Bingham was born in Honolulu, Hawai'i, the son and grandson of early Protestant missionaries to the Kingdom of Hawai'i. He attended Punahou School and O'ahu College in Hawai'i from 1882 to 1892. He returned to the United States in his teens in order to complete his education, entering Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, from which he graduated in 1894. He obtained a degree from Yale University in 1898, a degree from the University of California at Berkeley in 1900 and a degree from Harvard University in 1905. He taught history and politics at Harvard and then served as preceptor under Woodrow Wilson at Princeton University. In 1907, Yale University appointed Bingham as a lecturer in South American history.

Archaeology

It was during Bingham's time as a lecturer--later professor--at Yale that he rediscovered the Incan city of Machu Picchu. In 1908, he had served as delegate to the First Pan American Scientific Congress at Santiago, Chile. On his way home via Peru, a local prefect gave him a tour of the pre-Columbian city of Ollantaytambo. Bingham was thrilled by the prospect of unexplored Incan cities, and in 1911 returned to the Andes with the Yale Peruvian Expedition of 1911. On 24 July 1911 a mestizo guide led Bingham to Machu Picchu, and the young explorer had his "lost city." Bingham returned to Peru in 1912 and 1915 with the support of Yale and the National Geographic Society.

An article in the Los Angeles Times weekly insert stated that Bingham's life as a professor and explorer was used as the basis for the 'Indiana Jones' character.

Military

Bingham achieved the rank of captain of the Connecticut National Guard in 1916. In 1917, he became an aviator and organized the United States Schools of Military Aeronautics. He served the Aviation Section of the United States Army Signal Corps and attained the rank of lieutenant colonel. In Issoudun, France, Bingham commanded a flying school.

Politics

In 1922, Bingham was elected Lieutenant Governor of Connecticut, an office he held until 1924. In November 1924, he was elected Governor. On December 16, Bingham was elected as a Republican to serve in the United States Senate to fill a vacancy created by the suicide of Frank Bosworth Brandegee. Now both Governor-elect and Senator-elect, Bingham served as Governor for one day, the shortest term of any Connecticut Governor. He then served in the Senate until 1933. He failed in a re-election effort. Senator Bingham was Chairman of the Committee on Printing and then Chairman of the Committee on Territories and Insular Posessions. In 1929, Bingham was censured by the Senate on charges that he placed a lobbyist on his payroll.

President Calvin Coolidge appointed Bingham to the President's Aircraft Board during his first term in the Senate; the press quickly dubbed the ex-explorer "The Flying Senator." During World War II, Bingham lectured at several United States Navy training schools. In 1951, Bingham was appointed Chairman of the Civil Service Commission Loyalty Review Board, an assignment he kept through 1953.

Death

On June 6, 1956, Bingham died at his Washington, DC home. He was interred at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. His son Hiram Bingham IV was a diplomat and World War II hero while another son, Jonathan Brewster Bingham served as a Democrat in Congress.

External links

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