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Binger Hermann

Binger Hermann
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Oregon's 1st district
In office
Preceded by Position created
Thomas H. Tongue
Succeeded by Thomas H. Tongue
Willis C. Hawley
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Oregon's At-large district
In office
Preceded by Melvin Clark George
Succeeded by Position replaced
Personal details
Born (1843-02-19)February 19, 1843
Lonaconing, Maryland
Died April 15, 1926(1926-04-15)
Roseburg, Oregon
Political party Republican

Binger Hermann (February 19, 1843 – April 15, 1926) was an American attorney and politician in Oregon. A native of Maryland, he immigrated to the Oregon Territory with his parents as part of the Baltimore Colony. Hermann would serve in both houses of the Oregon Legislative Assembly and as a Republican in the United States Congress. Due to involvement in land deals, he was caught up in the Oregon land fraud scandal, but found not guilty and later exonerated.

Early life

Hermann was born the eldest of eleven children in Lonaconing, Maryland, in 1843 to immigrant parents: Henry Hermann, a German-born physician, and Elizabeth Hopkins, an English immigrant.[1][2] He graduated from the Independent Academy (later called Irving College) in Baltimore.[3]

Baltimore Colony

In the late 1850s, a group of Baltimore citizens, including Hermann's father, began to make plans to start a new life in the Oregon Territory.[2] Dr. Hermann and his son met with Oregon's territorial delegate Joseph Lane to obtain letters addressed to prominent people already in Oregon who would assist the settlers.[1][2] The younger Hermann wrote in his diary that he was fascinated by the politics and politicians his father brought him in contact with during that trip.[1]

In April 1859, led by Dr. Hermann, seven families and several single men, known as the Baltimore Colony, left to build a new life in Oregon's Coquille Valley.[2] The Hermanns chose a homestead on the South Fork of the Coquille River where Broadbent is now located, growing tobacco, sugar beets, flax seed, and raising honeybees.[1] As Dr. Hermann found out information on Oregon's resources, he wrote articles for East Coast newspapers to inform other interested settlers.[1]

Shortly after arriving, Binger Hermann nearly drowned trying to save a drowning child, before being saved himself by his father.[2] He also witnessed a man accidentally shoot himself.[1][2] Hermann later wrote in The Story of a Busy Life: "Discouraging as the accidents were, they only tended the more to inspire each one with new zeal and more determination to face the future."[2]

Hermann would eventually open the first school in the Coquille Valley in 1860, and also taught in Yoncalla and in Canyonville.[1]

Political career

Hermann studied law and was admitted to the Oregon State Bar in 1866.[3] That same year, he was elected to the Oregon House of Representatives. He served one term in the Oregon House, and then served one term in the Oregon State Senate from 1868 to 1870. Hermann also served as deputy collector of internal revenue for southern Oregon from 1868 to 1871 and receiver of public moneys at the United States land office in Roseburg from 1871 to 1873 and was a colonel in the Oregon State Militia from 1882 to 1884. He was instrumental in area river and harbor appropriations and for the establishment of lighthouses along the Oregon Coast and was the author of the Indian Depredation law, which provided payment for property damage committed by hostile Indians during the Indian Wars.[1]

In 1884, Hermann was elected to the United States House of Representatives for Oregon's At-large congressional district. The Republican defeated Democrat Robert A. Miller in the 1890 election to win another term,[4] meanwhile Democrats picked up 78 seats in the U.S. House in that election.[5] In 1893, after Oregon was granted another congressional district based on the 1890 census, Hermann continued to serve in Congress, representing Oregon's 1st congressional district.

Hermann did not seek reelection in 1896, and was appointed by President McKinley as Commissioner of the General Land Office in Washington, D.C. He soon clashed with Secretary of the Interior Ethan A. Hitchcock over land matters.[6] When Hermann's successor in Congress, Thomas H. Tongue, died in 1903, Hermann resigned his post and returned to run for Tongue's seat.[6] He won the special election to complete Tongue's term, and was reelected to another term in 1905.

Oregon land fraud scandal

During Hermann’s final term, Hermann was accused by Hitchcock of fraud against the government, claiming that information on land fraud in Oregon had been sent to Hermann and had been ignored, and that Hermann might have removed or disposed of several files and letters from the General Land Office concerning certain fraud investigations. This scandal, which included nearly all of Oregon's congressional delegation, came to be known as the Oregon land fraud scandal.

Hermann was found not guilty of destroying public documents in 1907, but remained under indictment for collusion of a land deal in the Blue Mountain Forest Reserve in Oregon.[6] A trial was held on that charge in 1910 and ended in a hung jury. U.S. District Attorney Francis J. Heney declined to refile charges.[6] In 1932, Franklin Roosevelt's Interior Secretary Harold L. Ickes, exonerated Hermann of any wrongdoing.[7]

After Congress

Hermann returned to Roseburg, where he resumed his law practice and engaged in literary pursuits until his death in 1926.[3]


External links

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