Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Blair mss., 1843-1881, consist of letters and papers of Montgomery Blair, 1813-1883, lawyer and postmaster general in President Lincoln's cabinet.

Career: born, May 10, 1813; eldest son of Francis Preston Blair, Sr.; reared in Franklin County, Kentucky; graduated from U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York, 1835; served in Seminole War; resigned his commission to study law at Transylvania University, 1836; settled in St. Louis as protege of Thomas Hart Benton, 1837; mayor of St. Louis, 1842-1843, delegate to Democratic National Convention, 1844, 1848, 1852; judge of Court of Common Pleas, St. Louis, 1845-1849; resigned to resume law practice, 1849; moved to Maryland, 1853, and practiced chiefly before U.S. Supreme Court; appointed first solicitor-general for U.S. Court of Claims, 1855; dismissed by Buchanan because of pronounced views on slavery; presided at Maryland state Republican convention and was delegate to National Convention at Chicago, 1860; postmaster general in Lincoln's cabinet, 1861-1864; supported Democratic party, 1868, 1872, 1876; established newspaper, the Union (Washington, D.C.) to support Tilden, 1876; elected to Maryland House of Delegates, 1878; ran unsuccessfully for Congress, 1882, married first Miss Buckner of Virginia, d. 1844, second Mary E. Woodbury, daughter of Judge Levi Woodbury of New Hampshire; died, July 27, 1883.

The letters in the collection may be divided into three periods:

1) 1843-1855, personal letters to Mrs. Montgomery Blair from her father, Levi Woodbury, and from her husband. The Montgomery Blair letters contain a few references to President Franklin Pierce and to the Court of Claims of which Montgomery Blair was solicitor-general.

2) 1860-1865, letters dealing with the 1860 election; cabinet changes; the economic effects of the war; an Indian claim case; admitting Mrs. Richard Stoddert Ewell, wife of a Confederate general, to the benefits of the amnesty proclamation; Lee's surrender; and Lincoln's assassination.

3) 1866-1881, letters relating to General George Brinton McClellan's removal and other miscellaneous letters and papers.

Correspondents represented in the collection include: Francis Preston Blair, Montgomery Blair, Joshua M. Bosley, Samuel Miller Breckinridge, George Ticknor Curtis, Garrett Davis, Frederick Theodore Frelinghuysen, Thomas Tasker Gantt, William Lloyd Garrison, Ransom Hooker Gillet, William Starke Rosecrans, Henry Warner Slocum, Gideon Welles, Charles Levi Woodbury, Levi Woodbury, and Richard Yates.

Collection size: 64 items

For more information about this collection and any related materials contact the Public Services Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Call (812) 855-2452 or send an email using our Ask a Question form.