Back to top

Benjamin Brown French to Andrew Johnson, February 8, 1866

Benjamin Brown French, detail
Benjamin Brown French was the long-time Commissioner of Public Works in Washington D.C., responsible for all public construction, like the dome on the U.S. Capitol, together with official public affairs, such as the presidential inauguration and state funerals. Appointed first by Franklin Pierce, he had been re-appointed by both Lincoln and Johnson. His relationship with Johnson were more friendly than with Lincoln and in this letter French applauds Johnson's response to the delegation of African-American leaders visiting the White House the day before. He also relates how Johnson had revealed to him earlier his basic views on race, namely, that the white race was superior to the black race and should endeavor to remain so. French goes on to claim that Republican efforts to gain the franchise for African-Americans will go a long way to igniting a race war. Republicans later removed French as Commissioner and he ended his career as a clerk in the Treasury Department. (By John Osborne)


How to Cite This Page: "Benjamin Brown French to Andrew Johnson, February 8, 1866," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College,