Hiram Bingham I

Hiram Bingham, formally Hiram Bingham I (October 30, 1789 – November 11, 1869), was leader of the first group of American Protestant missionaries to introduce Christianity to the Hawaiian islands. Like most of the missionaries, he was from New England.

Hiram Bingham I
Hiram Bingham I
Missionary to Hawaii
BornOctober 30, 1789
DiedNovember 11, 1869 (aged 80)
New Haven, Connecticut, USA
Alma materMiddlebury College
OccupationMissionary, writer, translator, royal advisor
Known forconverting the Kingdom of Hawaii to Christianity and serving as Kawaiahaʻo Church's first pastor
Spouse(s)Sybil Moseley
Naomi E. Morse
ChildrenHiram Bingham II, and six other
Parent(s)Calvin and Lydia Bingham
Signature of Hiram Bingham I
Hiram and Sybil Moseley Bingham, oil on composition board, 1819
Portrait of Hiram and Sybil Moseley Bingham, by Samuel Morse, 1819


Bingham was descended from Deacon Thomas Bingham, who immigrated to the American colonies in 1650 and settled in Connecticut. He was born October 30, 1789, in Bennington, Vermont, one of thirteen children of his mother Lydia and father Calvin Bingham.[1] He attended Middlebury College and the Andover Theological Seminary.[2]

After breaking his first engagement, Bingham found a new bride, Sybil Moseley. He needed to be married to be accepted as a missionary. On October 23, 1819, the young couple sailed out of Boston aboard the brig Thaddeus, along with Asa and Lucy Goodale Thurston, to lead a mission in the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii) for the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.[3]


Bingham and his wife arrived first on the Island of Hawaii in 1820, and sailed on to Honolulu on Oahu on April 19. In 1823, Queen Kaʻahumanu and six high chiefs requested baptism. Soon after, the Hawaiian government banned prostitution and drunkenness, which resulted in the shipping industry and the foreign community resenting Bingham's influence.[4] Bingham wrote extensively about the natives and was critical of their land-holding regime and of their "state of civilization". Bingham supported the introduction of market values along with Christianity. Those writings are now used by historians to illustrate the imperial values that were central to the attitudes of the United States towards Hawaii.[5] Bingham was involved in the creation of the spelling system for writing the Hawaiian Language, and also translated some books of the Bible into Hawaiian.[6]

Bingham designed the Kawaiahaʻo Church in Honolulu on the Hawaiian Island of Oʻahu. The church was constructed between 1836 and 1842 in the New England style typical of the Hawaiian missionaries. It is one of the oldest standing Christian places of worship in Hawaiʻi.

Bingham used his influence with Queen Kaʻahumanu to instigate a strongly anti-Catholic policy in Hawaii, considerably impeding the work of the French Catholic missionary Alexis Bachelot and resulting in decades of persecution of Hawaiians who were converted to Catholicism. This was motivated by opposition to the spread of French influence in Hawaii as well as by the religious Protestant-Catholic rivalry and enmity.

Legacy and honors

  • A math building in Punahou School is named after Bingham.
  • Bingham Tract School was an academically rigorous elementary school named for him that operated on the Bingham lands until the mid-1990s.


The board grew concerned that Bingham was interfering too often in Hawaiian politics and recalled him. The Binghams left August 3, 1840 and reached New England February 4, 1841.[7] It was intended to be a sabbatical due to Sybil's poor health, but the board refused to reappoint Bingham as a missionary, even after Sybil's death on February 27, 1848. He published a memoir, A Residence of Twenty-One Years in the Sandwich Islands in 1847.[8]

Bingham remained in New England, where he served as the pastor of an African-American church. He remarried to Naomi Morse in 1852, who ran a girls' school. He died November 11, 1869 and was buried at Grove Street Cemetery, in New Haven, Connecticut. Leonard Bacon gave the address at his funeral.[1]

Hawaiian bible and hymns

Bingham was the leader of a group of missionaries, that included Asa Thurston, Artemas Bishop and himself, who translated the Christian Bible into the Hawaiian language. The New Testament was published in 1832, and the Old Testament in 1839. The entire NT/OT Bible was revised in 1868, and was re-published as Ka Baibola Hemolele (The Holy Bible) in 2018, in the forms of book and electronic document. [9].

Binamu (Bingham's Hawaiian name) also composed Hawaiian hymns,[10] such as "Himeni Hope" (closing hymn), starting with "Ho'omaika'i i ka Makua Ke Akua o kakou, ...", meaning "Blessings to the Father, the God of us all, ..."), which were typically quiet, reflexive, but powerful. His hymns are still sung in Hawaii at the churches and by the choruses in concert.


Bingham's son, Hiram Bingham II, was also a missionary to the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi. His daughter Lydia married the later Hawaiian missionary Titus Coan.

His grandson Hiram Bingham III was an explorer who brought Machu Picchu to the attention of the west and became a US Senator and Governor of Connecticut.

His great-grandson Hiram Bingham IV was the US Vice Consul in Marseilles, France, during World War II who rescued Jews from the Holocaust. Another great-grandson, Jonathan Brewster Bingham, was a long-time Reform Democratic Congressman from The Bronx from the mid-1960s through the early 1980s.

In World War II, the United States liberty ship SS Hiram Bingham was named in his honor. It was hull number 1726.

Bingham was caricatured as the character Reverend Abner Hale in James Michener's novel Hawaii.[6]

See also


  1. ^ a b "Congregational Necrology". The Congregational quarterly. Volume 13. American Congregational Association. pp. 593–596.
  2. ^ Sarah Johnson and Eileen Moffett (Spring 2006). "Lord, Send Us: A Kaleidoscope of evangelists". Christian History & Biography. 90: 37–38.
  3. ^ Lucy Goodale Thurston (1872). Life and Times of Mrs. Lucy G. Thurston: Wife of Rev. Asa Thurston, Pioneer Missionary to the Sandwich Islands. reprinted by Kessinger Publishing, LLC, 2007. ISBN 978-1-4325-4547-5.
  4. ^ Fortune, Kate. 2000. Hiram Bingham. The Pacific Islands: An Encyclopedia, ed. by Brij V. Lala and Kate Fortune, p. 188. University of Hawai'i Press
  5. ^ Alfred L. Brophy, How Missionaries Thought: About Property Law, For Instance, Hawaii Law Review (2008) 30: 373-99.
  6. ^ a b David Stowe (1999). "Bingham, Hiram". In Gerald H. Anderson (ed.). Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions. William B. Eerdmans Publishing. pp. 63–64. ISBN 978-0-8028-4680-8.
  7. ^ Hawaiian Mission Children's Society (1901). Portraits of American Protestant missionaries to Hawaii. Honolulu: Hawaiian gazette co. p. 2.
  8. ^ Hiram Bingham I (1855) [1848]. A Residence of Twenty-one Years in the Sandwich Islands (Third ed.). H.D. Goodwin.
  9. ^ "No ka Baibala Hemolele: The Making of the Hawaiian Bible1 (Jeffrey Lyon, 2018), p. 124" (PDF). Hawaii.edu. Retrieved April 8, 2019.
  10. ^ "Hiram Bingham - Hymnary.org". Hymnary.org. Retrieved April 8, 2019.

Further reading

  • Hiram Bingham I (1988). Char Miller (ed.). Selected writings of Hiram Bingham, Missionary to the Hawaiian Islands: To Raise the Lord's Banner. E. Mellen Press, Lewiston, NY. ISBN 978-0-88946-675-3.
  • Char Miller (1982). Fathers and sons, the Bingham family and the American mission. Temple University Press. ISBN 978-0-87722-248-4.

External links

1789 in the United States

Events from the year 1789 in the United States. The Articles of Confederation, the agreement under which the nation's government had been operating since 1781, was superseded by the Constitution in March of this year.

1869 in the United States

Events from the year 1869 in the United States.

Daniel Dole

Daniel Dole (September 9, 1808 – August 26, 1878) was a Protestant missionary educator from the United States to the Hawaiian Islands.

Francisco de Paula Marín

Don Francisco de Paula Marín (1774–1837) was a Spaniard who became influential in the early Kingdom of Hawaii. Often called Manini, Marini or other variations, he became a confidant of Hawaiian King Kamehameha I. Marín acted as a jack-of-all-trades, sometimes even acting as a physician, probably without any formal education, and is credited with introducing many agricultural products.

Hawaii (novel)

Hawaii is a novel by James Michener. The novel was published in 1959, the same year Hawaii became the 50th U.S. state. The book has been translated into 32 languages.The historical correctness of the novel is high, although the narrative about the early Polynesian inhabitants is based more on folklore than anthropological and archaeological sources. Written in episodic format like many of Michener's works, the book narrates the story of the original Hawaiians who sailed to the islands from Bora Bora, the early American missionaries (in this case, Calvinist missionaries) and merchants, and the Chinese and Japanese immigrants who traveled to work and seek their fortunes in Hawaii. The story begins with the formation of the islands themselves millions of years ago and ends in the mid-1950s. Each section explores the experiences of different groups of arrivals.


Timoteo or Timothy Kamalehua Haʻalilio (1808–1844) was a royal secretary and first diplomat of the Kingdom of Hawaii. He is best known for helping Hawaii in gaining recognition from Britain, France, and the United States as an independent sovereign nation.

Helio Koaʻeloa

Helio Koa'eloa (ca. 1815–1846), was a Hawaiian Catholic lay missionary called as the "Apostle of Maui" for converting about 4,000 natives to the Catholic faith. Landmarks and memorials were dedicated to him at Maui. A cross (called Hâna cross) was erected in Wailua valley in his memory in 1931.

Hiram Bingham

Hiram Bingham may refer to:

Hiram Bingham I (1789–1869), American missionary to the Kingdom of Hawai'i

Hiram Bingham II (1831–1908), son of Hiram Bingham I, also a missionary to the Kingdom of Hawai'i

Hiram Bingham III (1875–1956), U.S. Senator from Connecticut and explorer best known for uncovering Machu Picchu

Hiram Bingham IV (1903–1988), U.S. Vice Consul in Marseille, France during World War II who rescued Jews from the Holocaust

Harry Payne Bingham (1887–1955), American financier and philanthropist

Hiram Bingham II

Hiram Bingham II (August 16, 1831 – October 25, 1908) was a Protestant Christian missionary to Hawaii and the Gilbert Islands.


Humehume (c. 1798–1826), known by many different names during his time, such as George Prince, George Prince Kaumualiʻi, Tamoree or Kumoree by American writers, was a son of the king of part of the Hawaiian Islands. He traveled widely, served in the U.S. military, and led a failed rebellion on the island of Kauaʻi.


Kalama Hakaleleponi Kapakuhaili (1817–September 20, 1870) was a Queen consort of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi alongside her husband, Kauikeaouli, who reigned as King Kamehameha III. Her second name is Hazelelponi in Hawaiian.


William Pitt Kalanimoku or Kalaimoku (c. 1768 – February 7, 1827) was a High Chief who functioned similarly to a prime minister of the Hawaiian Kingdom during the reigns of Kamehameha I, Kamehameha II and the beginning of the reign of Kamehameha III. He was called The Iron Cable of Hawaiʻi because of his abilities.


Aaron Kealiʻiahonui (1800–1849) was member of the nobility of the Kingdom of Kauaʻi and the Kingdom of Hawaii. He is often called Keliʻiahonui, a contraction of Kealiʻiahonui.

List of missionaries to Hawaii

This is a list of missionaries to Hawaii. Before European exploration, the Hawaiian religion was brought from Tahiti by Paʻao according to oral tradition. Notable missionaries with written records below are generally Christian.

Mokuaikaua Church

Mokuaikaua Church, located on the "Big Island" of Hawaii, is the oldest Christian church in the Hawaiian Islands. The congregation dates to 1820 and the building was completed in 1837.


Naihe-Kukui Kapihe (died 1825), known as "Captain Jack" or "Jack the Pilot" to visitors, served as Honolulu harbor master and admiral of the royal fleet in the early Kingdom of Hawaii. His daughter would become a Queen consort.

Namahana Piʻia

Lydia Nāmāhāna Kekuaipiʻia (c. 1787 – 1829) was a wife of King Kamehameha I of Hawaii. She was the daughter of Keʻeaumoku Pāpaʻiahiahi, and her sisters Kaʻahumanu and Kalākua Kaheiheimālie were also Kamehameha's wives. Kamehameha and Kaʻahumanu later arranged Piʻia to marry Gideon Peleioholani Laʻanui, who was ten years her junior. They were married by Hiram Bingham I in a Christian ceremony.Nāmāhāna Piʻia also served as Governor of Oahu.

Richard Armstrong (Hawaii)

Richard Armstrong (April 13, 1805 – September 23, 1860) was a Presbyterian missionary from Pennsylvania who arrived in Hawaii in 1832. Along with his wife Clarissa, he served in mission fields of the Marquesas Islands and in the Kingdom of Hawaii. He established several churches and schools, and was Kahu (shepherd) of Kawaiahaʻo Church after the departure of Hiram Bingham I. Kamehameha III appointed him Minister of Public Instruction, and his accomplishments established an educational system that earned him the nickname "The father of American education in Hawaii".

Titus Coan

Titus Coan (February 1, 1801 – December 1, 1881) was an American minister from New England who spent most of his life as a Christian missionary to the Hawaiian Islands.

Protestant missions to the Pacific Islands
Missionary agencies
Christianity in Hawaii
Christian groups
in Hawaii
Historic chapels
Native Christians
Other articles
Kawaiahaʻo Church Kahus (pastors)


This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.