Hiram “Harry” Bingham IV was an American diplomat. He served as a Vice Consul in Marseilles, France, during World War II. During that time, he helped 2,500 refugees escape the Nazi Regime by writing visas and planning escapes, most notably for many renowned artists and intellectuals on Hitler’s most wanted list.
Specifically, he assisted author Lion Feuchtwanger, painter Marc Chagall and Nobel scientist Otto Meyerhof.
In 2006, the U.S. Postal Service issued a postage stamp honoring the statesman as a Distinguished American Diplomat for his “constructive dissent” for saving lives in defiance of his government’s restrictive immigration policies.
Harry lived in New Haven during his youth in the Professor Hiram Bingham House at the top of Prospect Hill. He attended Hamden Hall along with two of his brothers and was one of the original 17 students who were enrolled under the pines during the school’s first year of existence in 1912.
He was the son of Hiram III and Alfreda (granddaughter of jeweler Charles L. Tiffany) Bingham. Hiram III was a descendent of Deacon Thomas Bingham, a 17th century American colonist, and in 1911 discovered the ancient Incan city if Machu Picchu as a Yale University professor. He later served as both lieutenant governor of Connecticut and U.S. senator.
Between 1912 and 1924, all seven Bingham boys attended Hamden Hall and went on to varied and distinguished careers: Woodbridge was a college professor; Alfred was a lawyer and author; Charles was a doctor; Brewster became a minister; Mitchell was an artist; and Jonathan a Democratic congressman.
Harry was the second eldest of the Bingham boys and attended the Groton School in Massachusetts following his tenure at Hamden Hall (at that time, Hamden Hall graduated students at age 14). After graduating from Yale University in 1925, he went to China as a civilian U.S. Embassy employee, attended Harvard Law School and then joined the State Department, which posted him to Japan, London (where he met Rose Morrison, a Georgia debutante, whom he soon married) and Warsaw before transferring him, at age 34, to Marseille in 1937. At the age of 42, after more than ten years in the Foreign Service, Harry moved with his wife and growing family to the farm they owned in Salem, Connecticut. Harry died in 1988 at age 84.
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