The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 66, July 1962 - April, 1963

Notes and Documents

then overland by train the remainder of the way home. Tarrying
in Richmond only a few months, Blair soon rejoined the govern-
mental service, this time as clerk to the engineer superintendent
of lighthouses on the Great Lakes, at a salary of $12o a month.
From there, Blair returned to Richmond in time to volunteer for
artillery service with the Confederacy, where the contacts he had
made in Texas paid off, and ere long, as a private, he was doing
headquarters and adjutant work normally assigned to officers.
Entering the army as a private, he emerged as one, in spite of his
high-placed contacts-a moot tribute to his dislike for authority
and penchant for engaging in camp fights, which more than once
led to his acquaintance with the interior of a stockade.
Blair returned to an almost destroyed Richmond in 1865, as
financially bereft as that city, and opened a small retail business
in nearby Amelia County on faith and a shoestring. Within four
years he had amassed sufficient capital to return to Richmond and
enter the wholesale grocery business. From there, he branched
into shoe manufacturing and also amassed large real estate hold-
ings. He became one of Richmond's leading citizens in civic
and philanthropic enterprises.
A reformer and a liberal at heart, and a non-conformist by na-
ture, Blair took up the pen to condemn high protective tariffs
in Unwise Laws (New York, 1886), and to champion the rights
of the South's Negro population in The Prosperity of the South
Dependent Upon the Elevation of the Negro (Richmond, 1889).
The basis of his argument for Negroes' rights was, that it was to
the advantage of the entire South, black and white, to elevate the
Negro. Only by elevating the Negro, he said, would the South
ever know prosperity. Richmond and nearly all of white Virginia
regarded him as an apostate, but they could not bring themselves
to disown him, for resurrected Richmond had to look to him in
gratitude for much of her restoration.
Blair lived until 1916, dying at the age of eighty-two. His first
wife, Alice Wayles Harrison, by whom he had seven children, died
in 1894. Nearly five years later he married Martha Redd Feild,
who survives him at age ninety-five as the mother of four of
his children. Mrs. Blair and her daughter, Mrs. Pierre Daura, both


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 66, July 1962 - April, 1963. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed October 13, 2015.