BLAIR, Austin, a Representative from Michigan; born in Caroline, Tompkins County, N.Y., February 8, 1818; attended the common schools, Cazenovia Seminary, and Hamilton College, Clinton, N.Y.; was graduated from Union College, Schenectady, N.Y., in 1837; studied law in Oswego; was admitted to the bar in Tioga County, N.Y., in 1841; moved to Michigan and settled in Eaton Rapids, where he commenced the practice of his profession in 1842; county clerk of Eaton County; moved to Jackson, Mich., in 1844; elected to the State house of representatives in 1845; delegate to the Free-Soil National Convention at Buffalo, N.Y., in 1848; elected prosecuting attorney of Jackson County in 1852; elected to the State senate in 1854; was present at the organization of the Republican Party in Jackson, Mich., on July 6, 1854, and was a member of the platform committee; delegate to the Republican National Convention at Chicago in 1860; Governor of Michigan from January 1, 1861, to January 1, 1865; elected as a Republican to the Fortieth, Forty-first, and Forty-second Congresses (March 4, 1867-March 3, 1873); chairman, Committee on Private Land Claims (Forty-first and Forty-second Congresses); was not a candidate for renomination in 1872, but was an unsuccessful Liberal Republican candidate for Governor; resumed the practice of law in Jackson, Mich., and died there August 6, 1894; interment in Mount Evergreen Cemetery.
“Blair, Austin,” Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774 to Present, http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=B000521.
In 1854, at the close of his first two-year term as prosecuting attorney of Jackson County, Blair rejoined the vanguard of third-party politics when he helped form the Republican party. He was a key participant in the party's organizational meetings in Jackson, Kalamazoo, and Detroit, and he helped draft the party's first platform. Fittingly, he was elected to the state senate later that year. As a member of the legislature's newly elected Republican majority, he worked on a litany of reform issues, including a temperance measure, a bill to establish an endowment for a women's college, and an act to establish property rights for married women. He also cowrote Michigan's personal liberty law, which obstructed federal enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.
Robert W. Burg, "Blair, Austin," American National Biography Online, February 2000, http://www.anb.org/articles/04/04-00109.html.