Edward Baker

Edward Baker

Edward Baker was born in London, England in 1811. When he was a child his family emigrated to the United States. Baker worked in a cotton mill before moving in 1825 to New Harmony, Indiana, a socialist community founded by Robert Owen, Robert Dale Owen and Fanny Wright.

Baker studied law in Carrollton, Illinois. He later moved to Springfield where he opened a law office. A member of the Whig Party, Baker became a close friend of Abraham Lincoln. Together they served in the Illinois Senate. In 1843 Baker and Lincoln both competed to be the Whig's candidate for the Sangamon County seat in the House of Representative. Baker won the nomination and the seat but the two men remained friends and in 1846 he named his son, Edward Baker Lincoln, after him.

In 1852 Baker moved to San Francisco where he joined the Free Soil Party. Three years later he failed to win election to the Senate. In 1859 he ran as a member of the Republican Party but still failed to win a seat in Congress. The Democratic Party was too strong in this area so he moved to Oregon where he won in 1860. When Abraham Lincoln became president Baker rode in his friend's carriage during the inaugural parade.

On the outbreak of the American Civil War Baker he helped to raise the California Regiment. Given the rank of colonel, Edward Baker was killed in action at the Battle of Ball's Bluff on 22nd October, 1861.

Primary Sources

(1) Edward Baker, speech in Congress on Abraham Lincoln's decision to mobilize for war (10th July, 1861)

I propose to ratify whatever needs ratification. I propose to render my clear and distinct approval not only of the measure but of the motive which promoted it. I propose to lend the whole power of the country, arms, men, money, and place them in his hands with authority almost unlimited, until the conclusion of this struggle. I want sudden, bold, forward, determined war; and I do not think anybody can conduct war of that kind as well as a dictator.