Blair, Francis Preston, Sr.

Life Span
to
Full name
Francis Preston Blair Sr.
Place of Birth
Birth Date Certainty
Exact
Death Date Certainty
Exact
Gender
Male
Race
White
Sectional choice
North
Origins
Slave State
No. of Spouses
1
Family
James Blair (father), Elizabeth Smith (mother), Eliza Violet Gist (wife, 1812), Montgomery Blair (son), Francis Preston Blair, Jr.(son), Elizabeth Blair Lee (daughter)
Education
Transylvania
Occupation
Politician
Journalist
Relation to Slavery
Slaveholder
Political Parties
Democratic
Whig
Free Soil
Republican

Francis Preston Blair, Sr. (American National Biography)

Scholarship
Retiring to his Silver Spring, Maryland, country estate, Blair remained highly influential through his reputation and friendships. In 1848, although he owned a few slaves, he strongly supported Van Buren's Free Soil presidential candidacy. Blair was certain that slavery could not spread to the territories taken from Mexico and believed that southern radicals were misrepresenting the issue to promote disunion. In 1852 he wrote pamphlets supporting the Democratic candidacy of Franklin Pierce but was bitterly disappointed in him when Pierce promoted the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which repealed the Missouri Compromise and opened the western territories legally to slavery. Blair helped organize the new Republican party against slavery in Kansas, and when abolitionist senator Charles Sumner was caned by a congressman from South Carolina, Blair brought him to Silver Spring for recuperation. In 1856 Blair chaired the first Republican National Convention and later was instrumental in securing the nomination of John C. Frémont for president. In a widely distributed pamphlet published in April of that year, A Voice from the Grave of Jackson, Blair worked to convert northwestern Democrats by arguing that Jackson, if alive, would be a Republican.

In Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857), Blair's son Montgomery Blair argued for the plaintiff's freedom, and another son, Frank (Francis Preston Blair, Jr.), a congressman from Missouri, made eloquent speeches advocating abolition and deportation of the freed slaves to Latin America. Blair and his sons were influential delegates at the 1860 Republican convention and were rewarded when Abraham Lincoln appointed Montgomery Blair postmaster general. Throughout Lincoln's presidency, Preston Blair and his son Frank were close friends and confidantes.
Elbert B. Smith, "Blair, Francis Preston," American National Biography Online, February 2000, http://www.anb.org/articles/04/04-00111.html.
How to Cite This Page: "Blair, Francis Preston, Sr.," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, https://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/index.php/node/5115.