Blair, Francis Preston

Blair, Francis Preston, 1821–75, American political leader and Union general in the Civil War, b. Lexington, Ky., son of Francis Preston Blair (1791–1876). A St. Louis lawyer, Blair led the Free-Soil party in Missouri in 1848, served as state legislator (1852–56), and as Congressman (1857–59; June, 1860; 1861–62). In Congress he attacked slavery as harmful to the interests of poor whites and became an energetic Lincoln supporter in 1860. Instrumental in keeping Missouri loyal to the Union by seizing, with Nathaniel Lyon, secessionist Camp Jackson and the U.S. arsenal early in 1861, he was appointed major general of volunteers (Nov., 1862) and served in the Vicksburg, Chattanooga, and Atlanta campaigns. After the Civil War, Blair was denied political preferment by the radical Republicans and in 1868 ran for Vice President on the unsuccessful Democratic ticket with Horatio Seymour. He helped overthrow the radicals in Missouri in 1870 and was elected to the state legislature, which, in turn, sent him to the U.S. Senate (1871–73).

See W. E. Smith, The Francis Preston Blair Family in Politics (1933); B. J. Hendrick, Lincoln's War Cabinet (1946).

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