sloan, I believe that the technology was developed by engineers in France. The French are noted for producing engineers skilled in the technology of hydraulics. I imagine that the technology used in draining soils was developed in France, so the technology is called a “French Drain.”
Now that I have answered your question, please allow me to expand on my reply. On June 16, 1775, the US Congress established the US Army Corps of Engineers, and since that time American Military Engineers were educated at West Point Military Academy. France was an ally of the United States during the Revolutionary War with England, and contributed militarily for many years after the War for Independence was won. The engineering courses at the Academy were taught by French Military Engineers.
The General Survey Act of 1824 allowed for the Corps to act in a non-military role, and this civil role is centered on serving the American people in dealing with the water resources of the country. This information was obtained from an excellent book written by John McPhee, titled “The Control of Nature.” McPhee presents a very balanced discussion of the wisdom, or lack thereof, in man’s feeble attempt to “Control Nature”. JWA