1898 : Austin Blair Statue Dedicated

October 12, 2021 all-day

Dedicated on October 12, 1898, this bronze statue commemorates Michigan’s Civil War Governor, who served the state from 1861 to 1864.

Source: A Walking Tour of Capitol Square. Provided by: Capitol Tour Guide Services

Gov. Austin Blair is known as Michigan’s “Civil War governor.” But history reveals, he was much more than that.

He was the 13th governor of Michigan from 1861 to 1864, during the height of the Civil War. Like President Abraham Lincoln, he was a member of the Republican Party.

Blair was a staunch supporter of the Union, personally raising about $100,000 to equip the 1st Michigan Volunteer Infantry Regiment. But historians note, he will be remembered most for being a champion of human rights.

As a state representative, Blair was a key supporter in passing legislation in 1847 to outlaw capital punishment, making Michigan the first in the nation to do so.

Blair will also be remembered for being a staunch abolitionist, and fought the expansion of slavery in the U.S. He later led efforts to give women and black citizens the right to vote.

Blair died in 1894. The next year, in 1895, the Michigan Legislature directed a statue honoring Blair be placed on the east side of the Capitol building.

Source : Matt Barbour, “Remembering Michigan’s ‘Civil War governor’ who led a push for human rights”, ABC 12 News (Flint), June 22, 2020.