Montgomery Blair

Montgomery Blair

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Montgomery Blair the son of Francis Preston Blair
Francis Preston Blair
Francis Preston Blair, Sr. was an American journalist and politician.-Biography:Blair was born at Abingdon, Virginia. He moved to Kentucky, graduated from Transylvania University in 1811, took to journalism, and was a contributor to Amos Kendall's paper, the Argus, at Frankfort...

, elder brother of Francis Preston Blair, Jr.
Francis Preston Blair, Jr.
Francis Preston Blair, Jr. was an American politician and Union Army general during the American Civil War. He represented Missouri in 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...

 and cousin of B. Gratz Brown
B. Gratz Brown
Benjamin Gratz Brown was an American politician. He was a Senator, the 20th Governor of Missouri, and the Liberal Republican and Democratic Party Vice presidential candidate in the presidential election of 1872.-Early life:...

, was a politician and lawyer from Maryland
Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

. Despite belonging to a prominent slaveholding family, Blair was an abolitionist and a loyal member of the Cabinet
United States Cabinet
The Cabinet of the United States is composed of the most senior appointed officers of the executive branch of the federal government of the United States, which are generally the heads of the federal executive departments...

 of Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

 during the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

.
Blair was hot-tempered, and in 1864 he launched an all-out attack against Republican liberals.

Life


Blair was born in Franklin County, Kentucky
Franklin County, Kentucky
As of the census of 2000, there were 47,687 people, 19,907 households, and 12,840 families residing in the county. The population density was . There were 21,409 housing units at an average density of...

. His father, Francis P. Blair, Sr.
Francis Preston Blair
Francis Preston Blair, Sr. was an American journalist and politician.-Biography:Blair was born at Abingdon, Virginia. He moved to Kentucky, graduated from Transylvania University in 1811, took to journalism, and was a contributor to Amos Kendall's paper, the Argus, at Frankfort...

, was, as editor of the Washington Globe, a prominent figure in the Democratic Party during the Jacksonian era, and as a boy Montgomery "often listened to the talk of his father and Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson was the seventh President of the United States . Based in frontier Tennessee, Jackson was a politician and army general who defeated the Creek Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend , and the British at the Battle of New Orleans...

." Blair graduated from the United States Military Academy
United States Military Academy
The United States Military Academy at West Point is a four-year coeducational federal service academy located at West Point, New York. The academy sits on scenic high ground overlooking the Hudson River, north of New York City...

 in 1835, but after a year's service in the Seminole War, he left the Army, studied law, and began practice at St Louis, Missouri. After serving as United States district attorney (1839–43) and as judge of the court of common pleas (1834–1849), he moved to Maryland in 1852 and devoted himself to law practice principally in the United States Supreme Court. He was United States Solicitor in the Court of Claims (1855–58) and was associated with George T. Curtis as counsel for the plaintiff in the Dred Scott v. Sandford
Dred Scott v. Sandford
Dred Scott v. Sandford, , also known as the Dred Scott Decision, was a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that people of African descent brought into the United States and held as slaves were not protected by the Constitution and could never be U.S...

case of 1857.
The Blairs, like many other nationalist Democrats, but unusually for politicians from the border states, had abandoned the Democratic Party in the wake of the Kansas-Nebraska Act
Kansas-Nebraska Act
The Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854 created the territories of Kansas and Nebraska, opening new lands for settlement, and had the effect of repealing the Missouri Compromise of 1820 by allowing settlers in those territories to determine through Popular Sovereignty if they would allow slavery within...

 and had been among the founding leaders of the new Republican Party. In 1860 Montgomery Blair took an active part in the presidential campaign on behalf of Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

. After his election, Lincoln invited Blair to be part of his cabinet as Postmaster-General
United States Postmaster General
The United States Postmaster General is the Chief Executive Officer of the United States Postal Service. The office, in one form or another, is older than both the United States Constitution and the United States Declaration of Independence...

. Lincoln expected Blair, who advocated taking a firm stance with the southern states, to help balance more conciliatory members of his cabinet. Blair served as Postmaster-General from 1861 until September 1864, when Lincoln accepted an earlier offer by Blair to resign. Lincoln's action may have been a response to the hostility of the Radical Republican faction, who stipulated that Blair's retirement should follow the withdrawal of John C. Frémont
John C. Frémont
John Charles Frémont , was an American military officer, explorer, and the first candidate of the anti-slavery Republican Party for the office of President of the United States. During the 1840s, that era's penny press accorded Frémont the sobriquet The Pathfinder...

's name as a candidate for the presidential nomination in that year. Regarding Lincoln's action, Blair told his wife that the president had acted "from the best motives" and that "it is for the best all around." After he left the cabinet, Blair still campaigned for Lincoln's re-election and Lincoln and the Blair family retained close ties.

Under Blair's administration, such reforms and improvements as the establishment of free city delivery, the adoption of a money order system, and the use of railway mail cars were instituted — the last having been suggested by George B. Armstrong (d. 1871), of Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

, who from 1869 until his death was general superintendent of the United States railway mail service.

Differing from the Republican Party on the Reconstruction policy, Blair gave his adherence to the Democratic Party after the Civil War, along with his brother, who was the Democratic vice presidential candidate in 1868.

His manor in present-day Silver Spring, Maryland
Silver Spring, Maryland
Silver Spring is an unincorporated area and census-designated place in Montgomery County, Maryland, United States. It had a population of 71,452 at the 2010 census, making it the fourth most populous place in Maryland, after Baltimore, Columbia, and Germantown.The urbanized, oldest, and...

 was named Falkland. It was burned by Confederate
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

 troops during their thrust towards Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

 He died at Silver Spring. Montgomery Blair's wife was Mary Woodbury, a daughter of Levi Woodbury
Levi Woodbury
Levi Woodbury was an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, a U.S. Senator, Governor of New Hampshire and cabinet member in three administrations. He was the first Justice to have attended law school....

. Together, they were the great-grandparents of actor Montgomery Clift
Montgomery Clift
Edward Montgomery Clift was an American film and stage actor. The New York Times’ obituary noted his portrayal of "moody, sensitive young men"....

.

Publications

  • Croly
    David Goodman Croly
    David Goodman Croly was an American journalist, born in New York and educated at New York University. He was associated with the Evening Post and the Herald , and then became an editor and subsequently the managing editor of the World. He married Jane Cunningham, known as "Jennie June", in 1856...

    , Seymour
    Horatio Seymour
    Horatio Seymour was an American politician. He was the 18th Governor of New York from 1853 to 1854 and from 1863 to 1864. He was the Democratic Party nominee for president of the United States in the presidential election of 1868, but lost the election to Republican and former Union General of...

     and Blair: Their Lives and Services
    (1868)

External links