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Horace Binney was born January 4, 1780. He graduated from Harvard in 1797 and was admitted to the Philadelphia bar in 1800.
In 1806, Binney became a member of the Pennsylvania legislature, serving until 1807. In 1808 he became a director of the first Bank of the United States, then returned to his political career in 1810 as a member of the Philadelphia Common Council and, from 1816 to 1819, the Philadelphia Select Council.
As a counselor, Binney displayed his legal expertise in cases concerning land titles. He won a famous victory in the Girard Trust Case of 1844, which involved the legality of a charitable legacy left to Philadelphia by philanthropist Stephen Girard. Binney defended the validity of this gift and set a precedent for interpretation of the law in regard to charitable bequests.
Binney was a representative for Pennsylvania in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1833 to 1835. He opposed the views of Andrew Jackson on the Second Bank of the United States: Binney favored the federal bank, while Jackson preferred the use of state banks for federal deposits.
"The Bar is a large and diversified body. Like the web of our life, it is a mingled yarn, good and ill together."
Binney wrote several biographies and case reports, including Leaders of the Old Bar of Philadelphia (1859). He died August 12, 1875, in Philadelphia.