Frank (Francis) P. Blair

Francis Preston Blair, Jr., the son of an advisor to Andrew Jackson and brother of Montgomery Blair, Lincoln's first postmaster-general, was born at Lexington, Kentucky, on February 19, 1821. Blair attended school in Washington, where he contributed to his father's paper, the Globe. He was graduated from Princeton, studied law at Transylvania, and began practicing with his brother Montgomery, in St. Louis in 1842. In the Southwest at the outbreak of the Mexican War, he served briefly as attorney general of New Mexico Territory, then returned to St. Louis to fight the extension of slavery into the territories (even though he owned slaves). He was elected to Congress in 1856 on the Free-Soil ticket, was defeated for reelection two years later, but won again in 1860. Blair's formation of the Union party in Missouri, his capacity as an orator, his efforts for Lincoln during and after the Chicago convention of 1860, his organization of the "Wide Awakes" and "Home Guards" to combat the secession activities of Governor Claiborne Jackson, and the influence of other members of his family, were instrumental in saving Missouri for the Union. He declined a brigadier generalcy in 1861 to avoid political complications at home. In the Thirty-seventh Congress he distinguished himself as chairman of the Committee on Military Defense, where he persistently advocated an all-out war effort. In 1862 Blair enlisted seven regiments for the war, and was appointed a brigadier general of volunteers on August 7 and a major general on November 29. His military career began as a brigade commander in the Yazoo expedition during the campaign against Vicksburg and terminated with his successive direction of the XV Corps and XVII Corps in the march through Georgia and into the Carolinas. He was an intimate friend of W. T. Sherman who, together with U. S. Grant, repeatedly praised his leadership. Blair resigned from service in November, 1865, virtually a pauper, having expended his fortune for the Union cause. After an unsuccessful venture in a Mississippi cotton plantation he reentered Missouri politics on a moderate platform and was twice nominated for lucrative positions by President Johnson, only to have the Radical-controlled Senate refuse confirmation. He ran as vice-presidential candidate in 1868 on Horatio Sey-maus's ticket, but became increasingly unpopular with the Radical Republicans because of his desire to restore the ex-Confederate States to the Union on easy terms. Chosen United States Senator from Missouri in 1871 to fill an unexpired term, he served until 1873, when he retired because of ill health. He died in St. Louis on July 8, 1875, and was buried in Bellefontaine Cemetery.

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Reference:  Generals in Blue.  Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner.  Louisiana State University Press.  Baton Rouge.