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James Gillpatrick Blunt

Constitutional Delegate. Born: July 21, 1826, Hancock County, Maine. Died: July 25, 1881, Washington, D.C.

James G. BluntA physician who won recognition as Kansas' first major-general during the Civil War, James G. Blunt was born in Trenton, Hancock County, Maine, on July 21, 1826, and eventually received a degree from the Starling Medical College of Columbus, Ohio (established in 1849 in association with St. Francis Hospital, it is said to be the forerunner of Ohio State University College of Medicine). Dr. Blunt established his practice in New Madison, Ohio, married Nancy Carson Putnam, and removed to Kansas Territory in 1856, settling first at Greeley. Dr. Blunt was a member of the Topeka legislature of 1857, was otherwise deeply involved in free-state politics, and chaired the committee on militia at the Wyandotte Convention. He also served on the judicial department and corporation and banking committees and was quite vocal on the convention floor. On the question of "Negro exclusion," Blunt favored action "not because I am in favor of incorporating such a provision in the body of the Constitution, or because I am in favor of the so-called 'black law,' but simply because I think a majority of the people of Kansas-comprising both those for, and against negro exclusion-expect some action of this body relative to this matter, and I believe that it has been generally understood that a distinct proposition would be submitted to the people, by a separate ballot." Blunt opposed excluding "free negroes" as a matter of principle, but was "willing to submit the question to the people for them to pass upon by a direct vote."

The general was actively engaged on the western frontier and the border throughout the Civil War, but his military career was marked by successes and failure, praise and controversy. After practicing medicine in Leavenworth for a few years after the war, Blunt removed to Washington, D.C., in 1869, but more scandal and ill health marred his last years; he was admitted to a government hospital for the insane in February 1879 and died there on July 25, 1881.

Entry: Blunt, James Gillpatrick

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: June 2011

Date Modified: January 2013

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