Francis Preston Blair

From Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
An elderly Blair in circa 1870
Blair's signature

Francis Preston Blair, Sr. (April 12, 1791 – October 18, 1876) or Preston Blair was an American journalist and politician, before and during the American Civil War. Blair wanted to reunite the North and the South during the war. Blair helped to create the Republican Party. He supported many Democrats, but was mostly the ally of Republican President Abraham Lincoln. He is nicknamed The Father of the Republican Party since he was one of the men who started the Republican Party.

Early life[change | change source]

Blair was born at Abingdon, Virginia on April 12, 1791.[1] He moved to Kentucky and later graduated from Transylvania University in 1811. Blair became a journalist in Frankfort, Kentucky and Washington D.C., and a prominent leader of the Democrats. He was married to Eliza Violet Gist from 1812 until his death in 1876. They had five children. He founded Silver Spring, the second largest city in Maryland, in 1840.

Political career[change | change source]

Blair in 1845

Blair helped create the Republican Party and supported the first nominee of the party, Abraham Lincoln. Although he had slaves, Blair was said that after the Mexican War that slavery should not be extended beyond where it was allowed. In 1848 he actively supported Martin Van Buren, the Free Soil Party candidate for the presidency. Later, he supported Franklin Pierce, but then went on to help organize the new Republican Party in supporting Anti-Slavery reforms at a convention at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in February 1856.[2]

Abraham Lincoln[change | change source]

Blair wanted John C. Frémont for president and supported him at the June 1856 convention. At the 1860 convention he supported the nomination of Edward Bates as president.[3] When it was clear that Bates would not be nominated, Blair then supported the nomination of Abraham Lincoln.[4] Blair helped many democratic politicians to vote yes on making slavery illegal and becoming the 13th Amendment.

Blair asked President Lincoln that once Savannah, Georgia fell, he should travel to the capital of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia to talk to President Jefferson Davis, whom he knew. He organized a peace conference that failed.

In 1862, Blair had told his slaves that they could "go when they wished."[5] He said that "all but one declined the privilege," choosing to stay on as servants.[5]

Death[change | change source]

Blair died on October 18, 1876 in Silver Spring, Maryland from natural causes, aged 85.[5] He was later buried at Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington, D.C. His wife, Eliza, died on July 5, 1877, a year after his death.

Culture[change | change source]

In Steven Spielberg's 2012 biography movie Lincoln, Blair was played by actor Hal Holbrook.

Legacy[change | change source]

A town is named after him in Georgia, Blairville, Georgia.

His great-great grandson is American actor Montgomery Clift.

References[change | change source]

  1. Goodwin, 2005, Chapter 1.
  2. Francis Preston Blair Archived 2014-10-18 at the Wayback Machine at
  3. Goodwin, 2005, Chapter 8.
  4. "Blair and Lincoln". Archived from the original on 2013-12-30. Retrieved 2012-11-16.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Goodwin, 2005, Chapter 17.

Other websites[change | change source]

Media related to Francis Preston Blair, Sr. at Wikimedia Commons