Francis Preston Blair

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Francis Preston Blair, Sr.

Birthdate: (85)
Death: October 18, 1876 (85)
Silver Springs, Montgomery County, Maryland, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of James Blair and Elizabeth Preston Blair (Smith)
Husband of Elizabeth "Eliza" Violet Howard Blair
Father of Montgomery Blair, U.S. Postmaster General; Juliet Blair; Elizabeth Blair Lee; JAMES Blair and Maj. General Francis Preston Blair, Jr., (USA), U.S. Senator
Brother of John Smith Blair; Samuel Durbarrow Blair; William Preston Blair; Susanna Blair; Louis Marshall Blair and 1 other

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About Francis Preston Blair

Francis Preston Blair, Sr. (April 12, 1791 – October 18, 1876) was an American journalist and politician. He helped to organize the new Republican Party, and presided at its preliminary convention at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in February 1856.

After Lincoln's re-election in 1864 Blair thought that his former close personal relations with the Confederate leaders might aid in bringing about a cessation of hostilities, and with Lincoln's consent went unofficially to Richmond and induced President Jefferson Davis to appoint commissioners to confer with representatives of the United States (although this may have been a result of internal pressure). This resulted in the futile "Hampton Roads Conference" of February 3, 1865. After the Civil War Blair became a detractor of President Andrew Johnson's reconstruction policy, and eventually rejoined the Democratic Party. He died at Silver Spring, Maryland.


Blair was born at Abingdon, Virginia. He moved to Kentucky, graduated from Transylvania University in 1811, took to journalism, and was a contributor to Amos Kendall's paper, the Argus, at Frankfort. In 1830, having become an ardent follower of Andrew Jackson, he was made editor of the Washington Globe, the recognized organ of the Jackson party. In this capacity, and as a member of Jackson's "Kitchen Cabinet", he long exerted a powerful influence; the Globe was the administration organ until 1841, and the chief Democratic organ until 1845; Blair ceased to be its editor in 1849. During his time in Washington serving Jackson, Blair acquired in 1836 what later became known as the Blair House.

Even though he held slaves, Blair became convinced after the Mexican War that slavery should not be extended beyond where it was currently allowed. In 1848, he actively supported Martin Van Buren, the Free Soil candidate, for the presidency, and in 1852 he supported Franklin Pierce, but soon afterwards helped to organize the new Republican Party, and presided at its preliminary convention at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in February 1856. He was influential in securing the nomination of John C. Frémont at the June 1856 convention. At the 1860 convention he initially supported the nomination of Edward Bates as president. When it was clear that Bates would not be nominated, Blair supported the nomination of Abraham Lincoln.

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

Francis Preston Blair, Sr. (April 12, 1791 – October 18, 1876) was an American politician. As editor of the Washington Globe, he was a keen supporter of the Democrats, and formed part of President Andrew Jackson’s ‘kitchen cabinet’. After briefly supporting the Free Soil party, he helped to launch the new Republican party in 1854. At the outbreak of the Civil War, he personally conveyed Lincoln’s offer to Robert E. Lee to command all the Union armies, which Lee rejected. After Lincoln’s re-election, Blair organised the abortive Hampton Roads Conference, where peace terms were discussed with the Confederates, but no substantial issues resolved. Two of Blair's three sons were prominent in American politics.

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Francis Preston Blair's Timeline

April 21, 1791
May 10, 1813
Age 22
Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky, United States
February 22, 1816
Age 24
June 30, 1818
Age 27
Lexington, Franklin, Kentucky
October 7, 1819
Age 28
February 19, 1821
Age 29
Lexington, Fayette, KY, USA
October 18, 1876
Age 85
Silver Springs, Montgomery County, Maryland, United States