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Representative Ben Johnson

Ben Johnson (20 May 1858 - 4 June 1950) was an American lawyer and politician; Democrat, United States House of Representatives from 4 March 1907 to 3 March 1927.

Born near Bardstown in Nelson County, Kentucky. His father was William Johnson, who was state senator and a lieutenant governor of Kentucky. His mother, Nancy, was a member of the committee that selected the design of the Confederate flag; they chose a design submitted by Nicola Marschall. After prep school he went to St. Mary’s College, in Marion County, Kentucky, and graduated in June 1878. He then transferred to the Louisville Law University and graduated in 1882. That same year he was admitted to the bar and he began practicing law in Bardstown.

He was elected to the Kentucky State House of Representatives in 1885 and again in 1887. Johnson served as Kentucky speaker of the house in 1887. On 10 July 1893 he was appointed as a collector of internal revenue for the fifth district of Kentucky by President Grover Cleveland, he served this post until 10 August 1897.

Johnson was elected in 1905 as a member of the Kentucky State senate and served until he resigned, 5 November 1906, upon his election the U.S. House of Representatives. He served as a Representative from Kentucky, as a Democrat, to 10 straight congresses, Sixtieth through Sixty-ninth. Johnson served as chairman for the Committee on District of Columbia (62d - 65th Congresses), and served as a delegate at large to the Democratic National Conventions in 1912 and 1920.

In 1926 he decided to return to Bardstown and practice law again, he refused to be a candidate for the nomination that year. The following March he returned home after 20-years in Washington D.C. Johnson died at the age of 92, in 1950, in Bardstown and is interred in St. Joseph’s Cemetery.

His House, the Ben Johnson House, is on the National Register of Historic Places.


  • Klotter, James C., and John W. Muir. “Boss Ben Johnson, the Highway Commission, and Kentucky Politics, 1927-1937.” Register of the Kentucky Historical Society 84 (Winter 1986): 18-50.

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