Concept

James T. Blair Jr.

Summary
James Thomas Blair Jr. (March 15, 1902 – July 12, 1962) was an American Democratic politician from the state of Missouri. He served as the 44th Governor of Missouri from 1957-1961, as well as the 35th Lieutenant Governor of Missouri from 1949-1957, and a member of the Missouri House of Representatives. Blair was born in Maysville, Missouri to James T. Blair and Grace (Ray) Blair. His father was a prominent lawyer in Springfield, Missouri who would later serve as an assistant attorney general for the state of Missouri and, in 1914, be appointed a judge to the Missouri Supreme Court. Blair Jr. attended the Jefferson City, Missouri public schools and Staunton Military Academy in Virginia before pursuing higher education at Southwest Missouri State Teachers College (now Missouri State University) and the University of Missouri. He earned his law degree in 1924 from Cumberland University in Tennessee. Blair married his wife Emilie Chorn of Kansas City in July 1926. They were the parents of two children: a son, James T. Blair III, and daughter Mary Margaret. During World War II Blair served in the US Army Air Forces in the European Theater. He received the Air Medal, Legion of Merit, and Bronze Star among other awards as he rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel. Blair first entered politics shortly after graduation from law school by running for and winning election as city attorney for Jefferson City in 1925. In 1928, Blair won election to the first of two consecutive terms in Missouri House of Representatives. Following his second term in the General Assembly, Blair left politics to focus on his private law practice until his service in World War II. Blair returned to politics in 1947 with his election as mayor of Jefferson City. His mayoral term was short-lived, however, as in 1948 he was elected Missouri's Lieutenant Governor, a post he held until he assumed the office of governor, winning that race in November 1956. As governor, Blair was known as a civil rights advocate, declaring to the General Assembly Always and everywhere I will identify myself with any victim of oppression or discrimination.
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