Strangers to Us All Lawyers and Poetry

Horace Binney


Hampton L. Carson, Horace Binney
5 The Green Bag 56 (1893)

Horace Binney was born in Philadelphia on January 4, 1780. He graduated from Harvard College in 1797 and studied law in the office of Jared Ingersoll (1749-1822), a member of the Constitutional convention of 1787 and Attorney-General of Pennsylvania (1811-1816). In 1800 Binney was admitted to the bar in Philadelphia and was recognized as a leading lawyer in the United States. He was also reputed to be an accomplished poet. He served in the Pennsylvania legislature in 1806-1807 and in the U.S. Congress (1833-1835). He strongly opposed the policies of President Andrew Jackson.

Binney was opposing counsel, against Daniel Webster, in the Supreme Court case of Bidal v. Girards Executors, which involved the disposition of the estate of Stephen Girard. (qv). Binney's argument in this case greatly influenced the interpretation of the law of charities. Binney made many public addresses, the most noteworthy of which, entitled Life and Character of Chief Justice Marshall, was published in 1835. He also published Leaders of the Old Bar of Philadelphia (1858), and an Inquiry into the Formation of Washington's Farewell Address (1859); and during the Civil War, he issued three pamphlets (1861, 1862 and 1865), discussing the right of habeas corpus under the American Constitution, and justifying President Lincoln in his suspension of the writ.

A portrait of Binney was painted by Stuart Gilbert in 1800 and hangs in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

Horace Binney
University of Pennsylvania Law School

Horace Binney

Legends of the Bar
Philadelphia Bar Association

Horace Binney

Owen Wister, The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
3 The Green Bag 58, 69 (1891)


Horace Binney, American Churches the Bulwark of Slavery (Newburryport: C. Whipple, 2nd ed., 1842)

___________, Opinion of Horace Binney, esq., upon the right of the city councils to subscribe for stock in the Pennsylvania rail-road company. July, 1846 (Philadelphia: C. Sherman, printer, 1846)

___________, Reply to Part of the Report to the Diocesan Convention of New Jersey, on the case of Bishop Doane (Philadelphia: C. Sherman, 1852)

___________, Obituary, Horace Binney Wallace (Philadelphia: C. Sherman, Printer, 1853)

___________, The Case of the Right Rev. Henry U. Onderdonk, D.D.: stated and considered with reference to his continued suspension (Philadelphia: T.K. and P.G. Collins, 1853)

___________, Reply to Bishop Meade's second pamphlet: and to Bishop Hopkins's letter to the clergy and laity, on the case of Bishop H.U. Onderdonk (Philadelphia: C. Sherman, 1854)

___________, A Review of Bishop Meade's Counterstatement of the Case of Bishop H.U. Onderdonk (Philadelphia: Printed by C. Sherman, 1854)

___________, Bushrod Washington (Philadelphia: Printed by C. Sherman & Son, 1858) [online text]

___________, An Inquiry into the Formation of Washington's Farewell Address (Philadelphia: Parry & McMillan, 1859)(New York: Da Capo Press, 1969)

___________, The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus under the Constitution (Philadelphia: C. Sherman & Sons, 1862)

___________, The Leaders of the Old Bar of Philadelphia (Philadelphia: C. Sherman, 1859)(Philadelphia: H.B. Ashmead, 1866)(reprint—Clark, New Jersey: Lawbook Exchange, 2004)

Supreme Court Argument

Horace Binney, Arguments of the Defendants' Counsel, and Judgment of the Supreme Court, U.S., in the case of Vidal and another, complainants and appellants, versus the Mayor, etc., of Philadelphia, the executors of S. Girard, and others, defendants and appellees, January term, 1844: To which is added the will of Stephen Girard (Philadelphia: J. Crissy, 1844)

Law Case Reporter

Horace Binney, Reports of Cases Adjudged in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia: William P. Farrand and Co., 1809-1815)

[Between 1807 and 1814, Binney prepared and published the six volumes of reported decisions of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, each of which bears his name]


Horace Binney, An Eulogium upon the Hon. William Tilghman, late Chief Justice of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia: Mifflin and Parry, 1827)

["Eulogium upon the Hon. William Tilghman," in John Golder (ed.), Life of the Honourable William Tilghman, late chief justice of the state of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, 1828)]

___________, Speech delivered by Horace Binney. Esq. at the anti-Jackson meeting, held in the state house yard, Philadelphia, October 20, 1832 ([Philadelphia]?: s.n., 1832)

___________, Speech of the Hon. Horace Binney on the question of the removal of the deposites delivered in the House of Representatives, January, 1834 (Washington: Printed by Gales and Seaton, 1834)

___________, An Eulogy on the Life and Character of John Marshall: Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, delivered at the request of the councils of Philadelphia, on the 24th September, 1835 (Philadelphia: Printed by J. Crissy and G. Goodman, 1835)

[In honor of "John Marshall Day," February 4, 1901 eulogy on John Marshall delivered at Philadelphia, September 24, 1835 (Chicago: Callaghan, 1900)]

___________, Remarks to the Bar of Philadelphia on the Occasion of the Deaths of Charles Chauncey and John Sergeant (Philadelphia: C. Sherman, 1853)

___________, The Alienigenae of the United States under the Present Naturalization Laws (Philadelphia: C. Sherman, 2nd ed., 1853)


Ode Commemorating the Entrance of the Hon. Horace Binney on His Ninety-third Year, January 4, 1872 (Norfork: Privately printed at the Virginian Office, 1872)(attributed to Hugh Blair Grigsby)

William Strong, An Eulogium on the Life and Character of Horace Binney (Philadelphia: McCalla & Stavely, 1876) [online text]

Charles Chauncey Binney, The Life of Horace Binney, with Selections from his Letters (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1903) [online text] (Freeport, New York: Books for Libraries Press, 1972)

Hampton L. Carson, A Sketch of Horace Binney (Philadelphia, 1907).

"Horace Binney (1780-1875)," in Robert R. Bell, The Philadelphia Lawyer: A History, 1735-1945 145-156 (1992)