President Lincoln’s wartime Cabinet included many of his opponents from the Republican National Convention where each had the goal of becoming President of the United States. His appointment for Postmaster General was Montgomery Blair.
Blair was born in Franklin County, KY on May 10, 1813. His father was a prominent Democrat.
Blair was a West Point graduate (Class of 1835) and served as 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army in the Seminole War. As an attorney, Blair was a U.S. District Attorney, Judge of the Court of Common Pleas, Mayor of St. Louis, and following his moved to Maryland, practiced exclusively to practice in the Supreme Court. He served as counsel for Dred Scot, representing him as a free man, in the famous Dred Scot decision before the United States Supreme Court in 1857.
When the Kansas-Nebraska Act was passed, Blair left the Democratic Party and helped found the Republican Party.
While Postmaster General, Montgomery Blair set up a uniform postage rate and developed free delivery in the cities. He also established the sale of money orders at post offices and used mail cars for the delivery of the mails.
Very early, Blair was the lone member of the Cabinet who supported Lincoln’s reinforcement of Fort Sumter. He also as very vocal against the Emancipation Proclamation and the Radical Republicans in Congress.
Upon his dismissal as Postmaster General in September 1864, Blair continued to support President Lincoln, but returned to the Democratic Party.
Blair died on July 27, 1883 at Age 70. Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, MD is named after him.
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