Author: Charles E. Wynes


Lewis H. Blair (1834–1916)

Lewis H. Blair, a Richmond businessman and economics expert, authored The Prosperity of the South Dependent upon the Elevation of the Negro (1889), a book that called on white southerners to treat African Americans with respect and offer them quality education. Blair hailed from a prominent family and worked as an army clerk in Texas and Michigan and a dry goods clerk in Richmond. His record during the American Civil War (1861–1865) was undistinguished, but after the conflict he excelled in business. Blair started a grocery business in Richmond and owned one of the largest real-estate businesses in the city. In addition, he became a respected writer on economic issues and was outspoken on the question of race relations. In Blair’s mind, the two were related: the fair treatment and education of African Americans would improve the economic outlook of the South. Such views were more well received nationally than in Richmond, and in later years Blair reversed his stance, arguing that blacks should be subordinate to whites. He wrote privately that this change was the result of “experience and observation.” Blair married twice and died in Richmond in 1916. He is buried in Hollywood Cemetery.