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Francis Preston Blair

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Blair in c. 1870
Blair's signature

Francis Preston Blair, Sr. (April 12, 1791 – October 18, 1876) or Preston Blair was an American journalist, politician, and a spy during the American Civil War for the North. Blair wanted to reunite the North and the South during the war. Blair helped to create the Republican Party. He supported many Democrats, but was mostly the ally of Republican President Abraham Lincoln. He is nicknamed The Father of the Republican Party since he founded the Republican Party.

Early life

Blair was born at Abingdon, Virginia on April 12, 1791.[1] He moved to Kentucky. He later graduated from Transylvania University in 1811. Blair took to journalism in Frankfort, Kentucky. He was married to Eliza Violet Gist from 1812 until his death in 1876. They had five children. He founded Silver Springs, Kentucky, the largest city in Maryland in 1840.

Political career

Blair in 1845

Blair helped create the Republican Party and supported the first nominee of the party, Abraham Lincoln. All though he had slaves, Blair was said that after the Mexican War that slavery should not be extended beyond where it was allowed. In 1848, he actively supported Martin Van Buren, the Free Soil candidate, for the presidency, and in 1852 he supported Franklin Pierce, but soon afterwards helped to organize the new Republican Party for Anti-Slavery purposes, and went to a convention at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in February 1856.[2]

Abraham Lincoln

Blair wanted John C. Frémont for president and supported him at the June 1856 convention. At the 1860 convention he supported the nomination of Edward Bates as president.[3] When it was clear that Bates would not be nominated, so then Blair supported the nomination of Abraham Lincoln.[4] Blair helped many democratic politicians to vote yes on making slavery illegal and becoming the 13th amendment.


Many people knew that is they wanted something from Blair, that Blair himself wanted something back in return. He asked President Lincoln that once Savannah, Georgia fell that he can travel to the capital of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia so that he can talk to President Jefferson Davis to negotiate peace.


Blair died on October 18, 1876 in Silver Spring, Maryland from natural causes, aged 85.[5] He was later buried at Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington, D.C. His wife, Eliza, died on July 5, 1877, a year after his death.


In Steven Spielberg's 2012 biography movie Lincoln, Blair was played by actor Hal Holbrook.


A town is named after him in Georgia, Blairville, Georgia.


His great-great grandson is American actor Montgomery Clift.


  1. Goodwin, 2005, Chapter 1.
  2. Francis Preston Blair at
  3. Goodwin, 2005, Chapter 8.
  4. Blair and Lincoln
  5. Goodwin, 2005, Chapter 17.

Other websites

Media related to Francis Preston Blair, Sr. at Wikimedia Commons