Theodore A. Bingham

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General Theodore A. Bingham (May 14, 1858 - September 6, 1934) was the New York City Police Commissioner from 1906 to 1909.[1]

Controversial actions[edit]

In 1908, while Police Commissioner of New York, he published an article in North American Review on "Foreign Criminals" in which he asserted that half the criminals in the city were Jews. In the controversy that followed he issued a retraction.[2]

In 1909 Joseph Petrosino, who was a pioneer in the fight against organized crime, made plans to travel to Palermo, Sicily, on a top secret mission. However, because of Bingham's incompetence, the New York Herald published the story of Petrosino's mission on February 20, 1909, just days before his departure. Even though he was aware of the danger, Petrosino headed to Palermo as planned. He wrongly believed that the Sicilian Mafia would behave as they did in America and not kill a policeman. Petrosino was, however, shot to death by Mafia assassins.[3]


Theodore A. Bingham was born at Andover, CT on May 14, 1858 to Joel Foote Bingham, a clergyman, and Susan G. Bingham. He married Lucile Rutherford of St. Louis, who died in 1920. In 1926, he was married in London to Addison Mitchell of New York. She died a year later. Bingham died at his summer home in Chester, Nova Scotia, on September 7, 1934, aged 76. He was buried in Chester according to his wishes. Bingham graduated from West Point Military Academy in 1879, receiving a commission as second lieutenant. Between 1879 and 1890 he served in various capacities as an engineering officer and as a military attaché in Berlin and Rome. He served as superintendent of the public buildings and grounds at Washington from 1897 to 1901 with the rank of colonel. He was transferred to Buffalo, NY on an engineering assignment where he suffered an accident which caused the loss of a leg, forcing his retirement from active service in the Army in 1904 at the rank of brigadier general. He served as police commissioner of New York City from January 1, 1905 to July 1, 1909. In 1911 he served for a few months as chief engineer of the Department of Highways and from 1911 to 1915 was a consulting engineer with the Department of Bridges. In 1917 he was recalled to active service in the Army, in command of the Second Engineering District, New York City. He was discharged from active service and returned to retirement on June 10, 1919.


  1. ^ "Gen. Bingham Dies at Summer Home. Former Police Commissioner of New York Succumbs in Canada at Age of 76. Ruled With Iron Hand. His Rugged Leadership Brought Political Protests. Served in Bridge Department Also". New York Times. September 7, 1934. Retrieved 2011-05-01. Theodore Bingham, former New York City Police Commissioner, died at his summer home here today after a long illness. He was 76 years of age. ... 
  2. ^ Bentwich, Norman (1954) For Zion's Sake. A Biography of Judah L. Magnes. First Chancellor and First President of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The Jewish Publication Society of America, Philadelphia. Library of Congress Number: 54 7440. Page 77.
  3. ^ Lt. Petrosino Murder, (accessed October 16, 2010)