Francis Preston Blair was the father of Frank and Montgomery Blair. We find him advising President Lincoln. The alert reader wonders why this fellow is advising Lincoln and looks to the historian for a clue. The writer feels the need to give a clue and offers one very brief biographical note.
The purpose of this quiz is to see if that note registered with you as with me.
Question for you: Relying only on your memory of past readings, Who was Francis Preston Blair? Aside from father of his sons, what one thing comes to mind?
Please take a moment to consider this before reading further.
If you had asked me any time in the past 30 years, I would have said (as so many historians have said) "an advisor to Andrew Jackson." The reason I remember this is from frustration: why is a Jackson man advising a super-Whig?
Lately I've been reading Frank Blair, Lincoln's Conservative, where the Preston information startled me. Looking into other sources, I see that old man Blair was
* Founder and co-organizer of the national Republican Party
* Chairman of the 1856 Republican Party Convention
* Co-organizer of the Maryland and Missouri Republican Parties
* Sponsor/patron of Gov./AG Edward Bates and Charles Fremont
* Foe and counterweight within the Party to the Seward/Weed faction.
This is my list - I built it from multiple sources. Historians being very stingy with facts and information, I had to gather these crumbs over the period of a week.
Now I ask you, if an historian was going to say just one thing about old Preston Blair, it seems that ANY of my points would take precedence over "an advisor to Andrew Jackson." Advisor to Old Hickory would appear near the bottom of the list. Not relevant but more colorful than party founder and leader.
Is it my bad memory, is it a handful of bad reading experiences, or could this be a more general problem? Perhaps the secret identity of Francis Preston Blair is another indicator that we are ill served by ACW historians.