New Orleans Public Library
|Administrations of the Mayors of New Orleans|
Benjamin Franklin Flanders (1816-1896)
Benjamin Franklin Flanders was born January 26, 1816, at Bridgewater, New Hampshire, the son of Joseph and Relief (Brown) Flanders. He settled in New Orleans in 1842 and studied for the bar. Later he became editor of the “Tropic,” a local newspaper, and was also for many years, a teacher in the city’s public schools being principal of one until devoting all his attention to journalism and politics.|
Between the years of 1848 and 1851 he became politically active and was a prominent member of the council of the Third Municipality. During the military occupation of the city he filled the position of City Treasurer and when he retired from that office, left a surplus of approximately half a million dollars in the city’s strong box. He was elected to Congress the following November and in 1866 served as president of the First National Bank of New Orleans.
In June 1867, B. F. Flanders was appointed Military Governor of Louisiana, by General Sheridan who had summarily removed J. Madison Wells from that office. He resigned the Governor’s seat after an occupancy of only six months and was succeeded by Governor Baker, appointee of General Hancock.
In 1870 he was appointed Mayor of the City of New Orleans by Governor Warmoth. It was during his first administration that St. Charles Street was changed to St. Charles Avenue from Tivoli (now Lee) Circle up. Wood as a paving material was also tried during his administration but proved to be a failure.
Flander’s first term ended November 7, 1870 when, in accordance with the new charter, an election took place. He was re-elected over L. A. Wiltz, Democratic candidate, with a majority of nearly 7,000 votes. His second term showed no great change, extravagance in the management of the city’s affairs continued. The purchase of the upper City Park (now known as Audubon Park) by act of legislature, for the sum of $800,000 was one of the outstanding events of his term. This park today is one of the most beautiful pleasure places of the city, comprising about 280 acres. – In 1871 the city engineer, W. H. Bell, presented to the council a plan for a complete drainage system, with protection levees above and below the city. The water within these limits was to be carried by wide deep canals to Lake Pontchartrain and then pumped into the Lake.
Flanders was for many years connected with the administration of the Opelousas Railroad Company and displayed great tact and skill in the management of that road.
In 1873 President Grant appointed the United States Treasurer at New Orleans, which office he held for many years. The Government thought much of his services and experience in financial matters and his remaining in office so long a time proved his capability and uprightness.
It may be of interest to mention that Flanders experienced the same difficulties in taking possession of the Mayoralty as his predecessor, Mayor Conway had in obtaining possession from Mayor Heath. The following is an excerpt from the Daily Picayune of April 5, 1870:
“Mayor Conway, with a desperation which only the fear of losing office can lend, determined to cling to the Mayoralty while there was a shadow to grasp at. At 1:30 o’clock appeared the representatives of the new municipal government, headed by Mayor Flanders, the party entered the Mayor’s parlors and the doors were closed upon the anxious crowd. Mayor Flanders read to Mayor Conway his appointment from Governor Warmoth and requested that the office be turned over to him. Mr. Conway replied that he did not recognize Mr. Flanders as Mayor; that his appointment was made only Saturday last and that under the new charter he could not take his seat until Monday next. Mr. Conway’s argument was a mere quibble which could not for a moment interfere with the inauguration of the new government. He (Mayor Flanders) held the appointment which had been declined by Mr. Oglesby and with the intent and meaning of the law it was fully competent for him to assume the office. Mr. Conway was therefore virtually ignored and Mayor Flanders proceeded to read from the new charter that portion relative to their organization. Immediately after the adjournment, the administration proceeded to their offices, the keys and records of which were turned over with the greatest courtesy.”
Mr. Flanders was married September 20th, 1847 to Susan H., daughter of Alvah Sawyer, of Bristol, New Hampshire. He died at his home, “Benalva” Plantation, Lafayette Parish, March 13, 1896 at the advanced age of 80 years.
|Members of the Flanders Administration|
April 4, 1870-November 29, 1872
Back to the Introduction