Austin Blair began his political career in Eaton Rapids, where he was elected Eaton County clerk in 1842. As a member of the Michigan House of Representatives (1846-1849), he served in the Judiciary Committee and was a leading supporter or the 1846 law to abolish capital punishment. He also introduced legislation to enfranchise black citizens. He was elected Jackson County prosecutor in 1852 and served in the state senate from 1855 to 1856. Elected governor in 1860 and in 1862, Blair personally raised about $100,000 to organize and equip the 1st Michigan Volunteer Infantry Regiment, which was the first western force to respond to Lincoln's call for troops. During the close of his active political life, Blair was a United States congressman (1867-1873) and a University of Michigan
regent (1882-1890). He died in Jackson in 1894.