- Francis Preston Blair, Jr.
name=Francis Preston Blair, Jr.
jr/sr=United States Senator
party=Free Soiler, Democrat, Unconditional Unionist
January 20, 1871– March 3, 1873
Daniel T. Jewett
Lewis V. Bogy
date of birth=
February 19, 1821
place of birth=
date of death=
July 9, 1875
place of death=
St. Louis, Missouri
spouse=Appoline Alexander Blair
Francis Preston Blair, Jr. (
February 19, 1821– July 9, 1875) was an American politician and Union Armygeneral during the American Civil War. He represented Missouriin both the House of Representatives and the Senate, and he was the Democratic Party's nominee for Vice President in 1868.
Early life and career
Blair was born in
Lexington, Kentucky. He was the son of Francis Preston Blairand the brother of Montgomery Blair. He was also the cousin of B. Gratz Brown. He attended schools in Washington, D.C., graduated from Princeton Universityin 1841, and studied law at Transylvania University. After his admission to the bar in Lexington, he went on to practice in St. Louis in 1842.
Blair participated in the
Mexican-American Warand was appointed attorney generalfor the New Mexico Territoryafter it was secured by General Stephen W. Kearny. A personal and political friend of Thomas Hart Benton, he became known for his views opposing slavery. He also was an outspoken Free-Soiler and was elected to the United States House of Representativesin 1852. He was defeated in 1858 but reelected in 1860. In Congress, he served as chairman of the important Military Affairs Committee.
South Carolina's secession in December 1860, Blair, believing that the southern leaders were planning to carry neutral Missouri into the movement, began active efforts to prevent it and personally organized and equipped a secret body of 1000 men formed out of the paramilitary Wide Awakesorganization to be ready for the emergency. When hostilities became inevitable, acting in conjunction with Captain (later General) Nathaniel Lyon, he suddenly transferred the arms in the Federal arsenal at St Louis to Alton, Illinois. A few days later (May 10, 1861), Federal troops surrounded and captured a force of state guards which had been stationed at Camp Jackson in the suburbs of St Louis with the intention of seizing the arsenal. This action gave the Federal cause a decisive initial advantage in Missouri but also inflamed secessionist sentiments in the state due to the subsequent St. Louis Massacre.
Blair was promoted brigadier general of volunteers in August 1862 and then to major general in November. He commanded the 1st Brigade, which consisted of the 13th Illinois Infantry, the 29th, 30th, 31st, and 32nd Missouri Infantries, the 58th Ohio Infantry, 4th Company, Ohio Light Artillery, and Company C, 10th Missouri Cavalry.
In the US Army, he commanded a division in the Vicksburg campaign and in the fighting about Chattanooga, and was one of
William T. Sherman's corps commanders in the final campaigns in Georgia and the Carolinas.
At the close of the war, Blair, having spent much of his private fortune in support of the Union, was financially ruined. In 1866 like his father and brother he opposed the Congressional Reconstruction policy, and on that issue left the Republican Party. He was the unsuccessful Democratic candidate for vice president in 1868, running with
Horatio Seymour. In 1871 Blair was chosen by the Missouri Legislatureas a United States Senator, but he was defeated for reelection in 1873. During the same year he was stricken with paralysis, from which he never recovered. Blair died from a fall on July 9, 1875.
In 1899, the state of
Missouridonated a marble statue of Blair to the U.S. Capitol's National Statuary Hall Collection.
CongBio|B000523 Retrieved on
*findagrave|18442 Retrieved on
* [http://www.aoc.gov/cc/art/nsh/blair.cfm Blair in Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capital]
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