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Saturday, January 2, 2016

Armand E. Blackmar

     Armand Edward Blackmar, born in Vermont in 1826, to parents Reuben Harmon and Amanda (Cushman) Blackmar, was, with his brother Henry, the founder of Blackmar Brothers, a music publishing company.  Blackmar was also the same fellow with a gambit named after him.  He was quite an interesting fellow. 
Blackmar's tomb

     Blackmar attended Western Reserve College in Ohio. From 1852 to 1855 he was professor of music at Centenary College in Jackson, Louisiana. In 1858 he and his brother, Henry Clay Blackmar, started a music publishing company in Vicksburg, Mississippi. By 1860 they had moved to New Orleans. It become the most successful publisher of music of the Confederacy during the American Civil War, issuing about half the songs released during that era.  Blackmar himself wrote many of the South's best known patriotic songs.
     Armand and his brother were music teachers before entering the music publishing business. When the Civil War started the former Northerners thought the South should fight and sing songs and dance to their own music.
     After Federal troops commanded by Benjamin Butler occupied New Orleans, Henry moved to Augusta, Georgia behind Confederate lines to run the branch of the business that did most of the printing and distribution. Relying on an accent that confirmed his Northern background, Armand continued to operate the New Orleans store until it was raided. 
     One song, The Bonnie Blue Flag, was such a contentious song that publication brought about his arrest. All copies of the song were ordered destroyed in the city of New Orleans by Union Army Captain Butler who ordered Blackmar arrested. Following imprisonment for publishing this song, Blackmar continued to publish under a variety of names such as Armond and A. Noir. 
     During the Civil War years, he also worked as a lawyer in New Orleans. One of his songs, The White Man’s Banner, contained lyrics that played on racial prejudices, phrases that charged voters to “vindicate our Father’s choice, A White Man’s Government” and satirically saluted “Captain Grant of the Black Marines, the Stupidest man that was ever seen.”
     He remained in New Orleans until the war ended and the songs he wrote were published under a pseudonym and issued by his brother. After the war all their music was re-copyrighted under US law and they became well known music merchants. Blackmar's published works included, among others: Dixie War Song, Maryland! My Maryland!, Southern Marseillaise and The Beauregard Manassas.
     Following the Civil War, in addition to his chess exploits, Armond returned to New Orleans and reopened a music store there. Additionally, Henry operated an a music store of his own that was also located in New Orleans. 
     Armand popularized the Backmar Gambit during the years 1881 and 1882. Blackmar was also a very good violinist and pianist and a charter member of the Chess, Checkers and Whist Club of New Orleans. 
     As a citizen of New Orleans, Blackmar was a founding member of the Episcopal Church of New Orleans. The church was known for it's conversion of slaves to Christianity and for it's ministerial charity programs for those living in the local asylum. He was married to Margaret B. Meara in 1861. Blackmar's first child, born in 1861, was named Louisiana Rebel "Lulu" Blackmar. Further descendants were sisters Dorothy Blackmar, Margaret Mary Blackmar, and Mrs. Alicia Blackmar Anderson. All made their homes in New Orleans. The descendants of the Blackmar family maintained homes and properties in New Orleans into the late twentieth century.
     The following game shows why the Blackmar in its original form was not very effective. 

1 comment:

  1. Wow! Blackmar was a racist and Confederate sympathizer, and Diemer was an Ardent Nazi. I knew there was something toxic about that gambit!

    In his book "Understanding Chess Openings," IM Sam Collins has this to say about the Blackmar-Diemer, "Nobody who plays good chess plays this line, and nobody who plays good chess ever will." A ringing endorsement!