Congressman Jacob Beeson Blair (April 11, 1821-February 12, 1901) was the first West Virginian to be told by President Abraham Lincoln of Lincoln’s support of the admission of West Virginia into the United States. Blair was born in Parkersburg. Orphaned at an early age, Blair was apprenticed to be taught carpentry, but in 1842 began to study the law under his uncle, John Jay Jackson Sr. He was admitted to the bar in 1844. Shortly thereafter he was elected prosecuting attorney of Ritchie County. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, Blair was an ardent Unionist. He supported the Reorganized Government of Virginia and was serving in the U.S. House of Representatives when on New Year’s Eve, 1862, he and his two congressional colleagues from the state met at the White House to discuss West Virginia’s admission into the Union with the president. Eager for Lincoln’s answer, Blair entered the White House the next morning through an open window and was informed of his decision.
Blair was reelected to Congress twice before being appointed minister to Costa Rica in 1868. His last 25 years were spent in Wyoming and Utah. He died in Salt Lake City.
This Article was written by Bernard L. Allen
Last Revised on September 25, 2012
Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress. Washington: United States Government Printing Office, 1989.
Conley, Phil. West Virginia Reader. Charleston: Education Foundation, 1970.
Conley, Phil, ed. West Virginia Encyclopedia. Charleston: West Virginia Publishing, 1929.