Benjamin Loan

Benjamin Loan was born in Hardinsburg, Breckinridge County, Kentucky, on 4th October, 1819. After studying law he was admitted to the bar in 1840 and practiced in St. Joseph, Missouri.

An opponent of slavery, on the outbreak of the American Civil War Loan joined the Union Army. Commissioned as a brigadier general he served until being elected to Congress in 1863.

In 1867 Loan joined, James Ashby and Benjamin Butler, in claiming in Congress that Andrew Johnson had been involved in the conspiracy to murder Abraham Lincoln. Butler asked the question: "Who it was that could profit by assassination (of Lincoln) who could not profit by capture and abduction? He followed this with: "Who it was expected by the conspirators would succeed to Lincoln, if the knife made a vacancy?" He also implied that Johnson had been involved in tampering with the diary of John Wilkes Booth. "Who spoliated that book? Who suppressed that evidence?"

Much was made of the fact that John Wilkes Booth had visited Johnson's house on the day of the assassination and left his card with the message: "Don't wish to disturb you. Are you at home?" Some people claimed that Booth was trying to undermine Johnson in his future role as president by implying he was involved in the plot. However, as his critics pointed out, this was unnecessary as it was Booth's plan to have Johnson killed by George Atzerodt at the same time that Abraham Lincoln was being assassinated.

Loan lost his seat in 1868 and returned to St. Joseph, Missouri and resumed work as a lawyer. Benjamin Franklin Loan died on 30th March, 1881.

Primary Sources

(1) Benjamin Loan, letter to Charles Sumner (1st June, 1865)

Shall we acquiesce in the policy of the administration or shall we adhere to our former views that Congress alone is authorized to deal with the subject of reconstruction and that our safety and the peace of the country requires us to disenfranchise the rebels and to enfranchise the colored citizens in the revolted states and thereby confide the political power therein to local and therefore safe hands.

(2) Benjamin Loan, speech in the House of Representatives about the consequences of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln (24th January, 1867)

In the beginning the assassination of Lincoln had been thought the deed "of a reckless young man. But subsequent developments have shown it to have been the result of deliberate plans adopted in the interests of the Rebellion." An assassin's bullet wielded and directed by Rebel hands and paid for by Rebel gold made Andrew Johnson President. The price that he was to pay for his promotion was treachery.