Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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BLAIR, Francis Preston, statesman, born in Abingdon, Virginia, 12 April 1791 ; died in Silver Spring, Maryland, 18 October 1876. He was educated at Transylvania University, Kentucky, and studied law, but never practiced, he early took part in politics, and in 1824 supported Henry Clay for the presidency. He dissented, however, from Clay's views in relation to the United States Bank, and in 1828 became an ardent Jackson man. In 1829 an article in a Kentucky paper by Mr. Blair against the nullification movement attracted the president's attention, and he invited the writer to establish journal at Washington to support the union. This led to the establishment of the " Globe," which was the recognized organ of the Democratic Party until 1845, when President Polk, against General Jackson's published protest, removed Mr. Blair from the management. This action signified the triumph of Calhoun and his adherents over the Jackson or national democracy. President Polk offered Mr. Blair the Spanish mission, which was declined. He supported Mr. Van Buren in 1848, and promoted the reunion of the party, by which Pierce's election was secured in 1852. After the repeal of the Missouri compromise in 1854, Mr. Blair was active in the organization of the republican party, presiding over the Pittsburghh convention of 1856 and drawing up the platform adopted there. After peremptorily refusing to allow his own name to be used, he favored the nomination of Colonel Fremont for the presidency. Mr. Blair was also one 9f the leaders in the Chicago convention of 1860, which nominated Lincoln, and, after the election of the latter, had much influence with his administration. In 1864 Mr. Blair conceived the idea that, through his personal acquaintance with many of the confederate leaders, he might be able to effect a peace. Without telling the president of his intention, he asked for a pass to the south, and had several interviews with Jefferson Davis and others. His efforts finally led to the unsatisfactory "peace conference" of 3 February 1865. After Lincoln's death, Mr. Blair's opposition to the reconstruction measures and to the general policy of the republicans led to his co-operation with the Democratic Party, though his counsels were disregarded by its leaders till 1876. when Mr. Tilden was nominated for the presidency.
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