Preston Blair Sr.
newspaper editor, attorney, and presidential advisor, Francis Preston Blair
Sr., better known as Preston Blair, was born in Abingdon,
Virginia, in 1791 and reared in Frankfort, Kentucky.† He graduated with honors from Transylvania University
in 1811 and from 1813 to 1830 was circuit clerk of Franklin County,
edited the Argus, a local newspaper, and was deeply involved in state
President Andrew Jackson asked him to come to Washington to edit the Globe, a newspaper of
the Democratic Party. Many Democratic newspapers throughout the country began
to reprint Blairís editorials.† A turning
point for Preston Blairís editorship came with the election of James K. Polk to
the presidency. Polk sought another editor for the Globe, and Blair retired to
his Silver Springs, Maryland,
country estate in 1845.
Blair continued as a Democrat, but when the Missouri Compromise of 1820 was
repealed in 1854, he left his old party in favor of the new Republican
Party.† Swiftly rising in the new party,
he chaired both the 1856 and the 1860 Republican conventions where he exercised
great influence in the nomination of Abraham Lincoln for president.
hostilities began at Fort Sumter, Preston Blair urged Lincoln
to reinforce the beleaguered South Carolina
outpost, and as the war began, he offered advice to Lincoln on other issues, including military
appointments. He was detailed by Lincoln
to sound out Robert E. Lee on the conflict and on an appointment to command.† In 1864, Blair conducted an unauthorized
meeting with Confederate president Jefferson Davis to see if peace was
obtainable.† After the war and Lincolnís assassination,
he supported the dead presidentís moderate policies of Reconstruction and
eventually left the Republican Party over these issues.
notice published in the Argus of Western America in Frankfort, 1818, concerning delinquent
taxpayers of the federal direct tax on property.
Kentucky Historical Society Collections