Francis Preston Blair (1791-1876)

Francis Preston Blair (April 12, 1791 - October 18, 1876), American journalist and politician, was born at Abingdon, Virginia.

Blair 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. In 1830, having become an ardent follower of Andrew Jackson, he was made editor of the Washington Globe, the recognized organ of the Jackson party. In this capacity, and as a member of Jackson's "Kitchen Cabinet," he long exerted a powerful influence; the Globe was the administration organ until 1841, and the chief Democratic organ until 1845; Blair ceased to be its editor in 1849.

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, and presided at its preliminary convention at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in February 1856. He was influential in securing the nomination of John C. Frémont at the June 1956 convention, and of Abraham Lincoln at the 1860 convention.

After Lincoln's re-election in 1864 Blair thought that his former close personal relations with the Confederate leaders might aid in bringing about a cessation of hostilities, and with Lincoln's consent went unofficially to Richmond and induced President Jefferson Davis to appoint commissioners to confer with representatives of the United States. This resulted in the futile "Hampton Roads Conference" of February 3, 1865. After the Civil War Blair became a supporter of President Andrew Johnson's reconstruction policy, and eventually rejoined the Democratic Party. He died at Silver Spring, Maryland, on the 18th of October 1876.

Blair had two sons, Montgomery Blair (1813-1883), and Francis Preston Blair, Jr. (1821-1875), who were also prominent in American politics.