Blair, Francis P., Sr.

Born: 1791-04-21 Abington, Virginia

Died: 1876-10-18 Silver Spring, Maryland

Blair settled in Kentucky with his family in 1800. In 1811, he graduated with honors from Transylvania University in Lexington. In 1812, he married Eliza Violet Gist, who was his partner for sixty-four years. Together, the couple raised four children including Francis P. Blair Jr. and Montgomery Blair. Blair studied law, served as circuit court clerk in Franklin County, Kentucky, and edited The Argus. His early politics were as a Henry Clay Whig, but he later became a member of Andrew Jackson's "Kitchen Cabinet," moving to Washington to found and edit The Globe, a pro-Jackson newspaper. In 1834, he and business partner John C. Rives launched the Congressional Globe. In 1854, when Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act repealing the Missouri Compromise, Blair left the Democratic Party. He helped to launch the new Republican Party, supporting John C. Fremont in 1856 and Abraham Lincoln in 1860. In 1864, at Lincoln's behest, Blair traveled to Richmond in a failed attempt to convince Jefferson Davis to accept abolition and peace. The effort led to Lincoln's meeting with Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens in Hampton Roads in February 1865. Blair was heartbroken over the death of his son Frank in 1875, and died a year later.

Elbert B. Smith, "Blair, Francis Preston," American National Biography (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 2:910-11; Olive Hoogenboom, "Rives, John Cook," American National Biography (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 18:571-72.