The Francis Preston Blair Family in Politics - Vol. 1

By William Ernest Smith | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVI
SILVER SPRING

Home the spot of earth supremely blest,
a dearer, sweeter spot than all the rest.

-- MONTGOMERY.

BLAIR was penniless when he first reached Washington in 1830. He had ridden across the mountains to Philadelphia to fetch a sack of gold dollars to Frankfort, and had handled thousands of dollars printed by the state of Kentucky while he was a state banker, but little of it had passed into his own possession. When he severed his connections with the Globe fifteen years later, he did not know how much he was worth. He informed Van Buren that he believed he was worth one hundred thousand dollars in addition to the amounts which he had spent in setting up his sons in their occupations. The editor of the Madisonian voiced the sentiment of many people when he wrote to Mr. Harris of Nashville that Blair was immensely rich; that all of his wealth was known to have come from the public treasury. It is little wonder that the envious enemies of Blair and Rives cried for the principle of "rotation in office" to be applied to these printers.

President Polk was too much of a compromiser to attempt to force Blair into retirement without the offer of some kind of a compensatory office. He desired Blair's political support, although he confessed in his Diary that he knew Blair had never cared for him, and unjustly accused the ex-editor of having actually snubbed him on more than one occasion. Benton stuck Polk and his friends like a hedge-thorn every time they mentioned Texas in the Senate. He indignantly resented their overtures to Calhoun and the expulsion of Blair. Something had to be done for the editor to quiet Benton. The President offered Blair the mission to Madrid, while Kendall's plea for it went unheeded. Blair wrote to Van Buren, Silas Wright, and to the Hermitage for advice as

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