Home / General / Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 461

Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 461


This is the grave of Montgomery Blair.

Born in Franklin County, Kentucky in 1813, Montgomery Blair’s father Frank (grave shown in this picture as well, but already covered in the series) became one of Andrew Jackson’s leading advisors. He was accepted to West Point and graduated in 1835. After serving for only one year in the Seminole War, he resigned his commission, moved to St. Louis and started a law practice. Her married, was widowed, and then he married the daughter of leading Democratic senator Levi Woodbury, from New Hampshire. Blair rose in the law world, serving as a U.S. District Attorney from 1839-43 as well as a judge with the Court of Common Pleas from 1834-49. Being from such a well-connected family, he decided to move to Maryland in 1852 and take up the law there, arguing several cases before the Supreme Court, including doing some work on the Dred Scott case working for Scott.

Blair was no abolitionists. He was a strong Democrat, sprouting from the Jackson tree. But he was also a nationalist like Jackson and found the Kansas-Nebraska Act disgusting. A lot of Democrats became Republicans after 1854, often on the abolitionist wing. But few of them were from states such as Missouri, where slavery was still legal. Blair was an exception. He actively worked for Lincoln in 1860 and was rewarded with the position of Postmaster General, part of the construction of the Cabinet that had a place for the pro-slavery, conservative Republicans. Blair served in that role from 1861-64. Postmaster General is not the most exciting job, but a critical one. Blair’s biggest accomplishment there was introducing the sale of money orders to the Postal Service in order to reduce robberies of post offices. His estate in Silver Spring, Maryland was also burned by Confederates during the war.

Blair continued to work for Lincoln’s reelection, even after resigning. But Reconstruction outraged conservative Republicans such as Blair. His brother Frank Jr. became Horatio Seymour’s VP candidate on the Democratic ticket in 1868, probably the most race-baiting presidential campaign in U.S. history. Montgomery had returned to the Democratic Party by this point as well. In the aftermath, he remained an important Washington insider, including representing Grant’s corrupt Secretary of War, William Belknap, after he received illegal payments from one of the western posts that he pocketed. Blair also ran for Congress in 1882 in Maryland, but lost. Blair died in 1883.

Montgomery Clift is the great-grandson of Blair and was of course named for him.

Montgomery Blair is buried in Rock Creek Cemetery, Washington, D.C.

If you would like this series to visit other people mentioned in this post, you can donate to cover the required expenses here. Frank Blair, Jr. is in St. Louis and William Belknap is in Arlington National Cemetery. Montgomery Clift is in Brooklyn.Previous posts in this series are archived here.

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