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F. Preston Blair

AKA Francis Preston Blair

Born: 12-Apr-1791
Birthplace: Abingdon, VA
Died: 18-Apr-1876
Location of death: Silver Springs, MD
Cause of death: unspecified
Remains: Buried, Rock Creek Cemetery, Washington, DC

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Journalist, Spy
Party Affiliation: Democratic

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Blair House

F. Preston Blair worked as a law clerk and banker, while editing Argus of Western America, a Kentucky newspaper friendly to Democratic Party issues. Blair and Argus supported Andrew Jackson in the Presidential campaign of 1828, and when Jackson won he invited Blair to come to Washington DC and help edit the Congressional Globe, which editorially backed Jackson's administration and the Democratic Party. He was among the first prominent Americans to explicitly describe US democracy as "a beacon to the world", and may have coined the term. During his time with the Globe, Blair was part of Jackson's informal "kitchen cabinet", and authored numerous editorials idealizing American principles of government, which were widely reprinted in other newspapers across the nation.

Staunchly opposed to slavery, Blair was one of the founders of the Republican Party, and chaired the Republicans' first convention in 1856. He published an influential pamphlet eleven years after Jackson's death, arguing that Jackson's Democrats should join the new Republican Party. During the Civil War, Blair was a confidant of President Abraham Lincoln, and in 1864 he was sent behind enemy lines by Lincoln to meet with Confederate President Jefferson Davis, to try to convince him to accept defeat and end the war. While unsuccessful, their meeting led to preliminary peace talks between Lincoln and Confederate Vice President Alexander Hamilton Stephens in 1865. After the war's end, however, Blair broke with the Republican Party over Reconstruction issues, and became again a Democrat.

The Blair family is well represented in American history: Blair's father, James Blair, was a prominent lawyer and Attorney General of Kentucky from 1797-1820. His son, Montgomery Blair, was one of Dred Scott's attorneys in his infamous court case before the US Supreme Court. His other son, Francis "Frank" Preston Blair, Jr., was a US Congressman before the American Civil War, a Union General during and a US Senator after that conflict. F. Preston Blair's daughter, Elizabeth Blair, was one of Mary Todd Lincoln's closest friends, and married US Rear Admiral Samuel Phillips Lee, grandson of Tenth Amendment author Richard Henry Lee and third cousin of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Blair's nephew, B. Gratz Brown, was a US Senator, Governor of Missouri, and Horace Greeley's Vice Presidential running mate in the Presidential election of 1872, losing to Ulysses S. Grant and Henry Wilson. Long after his death, Blair's stylish Washington mansion near Lafayette Park was purchased by the federal government and, now called "Blair House", it has been the official guest residence for visiting foreign dignitaries since 1942.

Father: James Blair (Attorney General of Kentucky, b. 22-Dec-1762, d. 7-Jan-1789)
Mother: Elizabeth Preston Smith Blair
Wife: Eliza Violet Gist Blair (b. 10-Nov-1794, m. 21-Jun-1812, d. 5-Jul-1877)
Daughter: Elizabeth Blair Lee (b. 20-Jun-1818, d. 13-Sep-1906)
Son: Francis Preston Blair, Jr. ("Frank", US Senator, b. 19-Feb-1821, d. 9-Jul-1875)
Daughter: Juliet Blair (b. 22-Feb-1816, d. 30-Oct-1819)
Son: Montgomery Blair (Postmaster General, b. 10-May-1813, d. 27-Jul-1883)
Son: James Blair (US Naval officer, b. 7-Oct-1819, d. 15-Dec-1852)

    University: BS, Transylvania University (1811)

    Scottish Ancestry


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