The Tracy Family History
Montgomery Blair of the
powerful Blair family
We start with the father, Francis Preston
Blair (1791-1876), born in Abingdon, Virginia, 200 miles south of our people. He
was educated at Transylvania University; was a Democratic Party leader; and an
adviser to Presidents Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, and Abraham Lincoln. He
also started the Washington Globe newspaper and the Congressional Globe, which
became the Congressional Record. He was in the anti-slave movement, and one of
the founders of the Republican Party that nominated our cousin John Fremont. He
was instructed by Abraham Lincoln to make the famous offer to Robert E. Lee, on
the eve of the Civil War, to command the Union army. He had two equally famous
sons. First was Montgomery Blair, a graduate of the US Military Academy and
Transylvania College; and the powerful Postmaster General in President Lincoln’s
Montgomery Blair was most famous for arguing the Dred Scott case before the US Supreme Court.
Dred Scott on the front page of Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, 1857
Scott was a slave who sued for his freedom in
1847, and watched the case go through different lawyers and appeals until the
decision was finally rendered against him by the US Supreme Court in 1857.
In the beginning, no one in the country paid any attention to the case. By the end, the whole country was riveted to the newspaper accounts. This case would be a precursor to the Civil War.
Everyone in the country took sides.
Dred Scotts comment, “I didn’t think it would take so long.”
The second son, Francis Preston Blair, who has the same name as the father.
Research is confusing because I have rarely
seen them referred to as Sr. or Jr. Frances was educated at Princeton University
and also Transylvania University. After college he goes to the Rocky Mountains
with a group of trappers hoping to restore poor health. He ended his trip by
fighting in the Mexican War. All in this family are in the anti-slave movement,
believing that the slaves should be freed, and every one of them sent back to
Africa. He served in the Missouri legislature; was Attorney General for the
State of Missouri; and editor of the Globe newspaper (It should be noted that a
way to political power was through editing newspapers.). He began “The
Wideawakes," a powerful political campaign organization; he served in the US
Congress; was the vice-presidential candidate of the Democratic party in 1868;
also US Senator from Missouri. He raised seven Missouri regiments for the Union
army in the Civil War, and served as a Major General.
Today the family is known for the famous “Blair House” that sits across the street from the White House. This was the official guest house for dignitaries visiting the president. It even became the temporary White House for Harry S Truman while renovations were being done at the White House (1948-1952).
This was a wealthy, powerful family in American history. Yet...I can’t find very much written about the family itself.
Much has been written about their political involvement's, both during their lifetimes and in modern times. However, I cannot find a book written about their private, family lives, no biographies, or even an autobiography. I have not been able to find any articles of any extent written about their personal lives.
There is quite a bit on the Blair House, but mostly on the Blair House. You can find out the history of the building and what pretty curtains it has, but not much on the Blairs themselves.
The reason I believe our families are connected is that Andrew Wallace married Jane Blair in 1812. They lived in Lexington, Virginia, and Ruth Petracek has found their graves recorded at the famous Stonewall Jackson Cemetery in Lexington.
Jane Blair Wallace was the mother of "Big Foot Wallace."
It is interesting to note that according to George Seldon Wallace, page 165, Andrew Wallace marries a second time to Mary C. (Blair) Poague.
The Blair's are from a very old Scotch family. There was Chief Justice John Blair (of Blair Park, our Mountain Plain plantation); John I. Blair, “the noted railway manager, of New Jersey;" and James Blair the founder of William and Mary College of Virginia. All of these Blairs were related.
The Reverend John Blair, who founded our Timber Ridge Presbyterian Church, is also in this distinguished family. Reverend John Blair is in the area of our people. However, he does not stay there long. Historians estimate that he leaves the Valley of Virginia around 1755, due to the “Indian incursions.” He ends his life at the young age of 52 in New York, in 1771. Reverend Blair would have 12 children.
Keep in mind that the Blairs were intermarried with the Prestons, who at the the very beginning were from the Augusta County settlements...who were intermarried with the McDowells.
Note of interest: Montgomery Blair was the great grandfather to the famous actor Montgomery Clift.
My family history web site has 79 chapters. If you would like to know more about the other chapters then go to my
Home Page www.thetracyfamilyhistory.net