Edward Dickinson Baker

Edward Dickinson Baker was born in London on February 24, 1811. At the age of four he was brought to Philadelphia where he was apprenticed to a weaver. His family later lived in New Harmony, Indiana, and in Belleville, Illinois. Having little formal education, Baker read law and was admitted to the bar at the age of nineteen. A private soldier in the Black Hawk War, he subsequently moved to Springfield where he became a member of the so-called Lincoln "coterie." (Abraham Lincoln later named his second son after Baker.) He attained stature as an orator and was soon immersed in politics. He was a representative in the Illinois general assembly; defeated Lincoln to become a representative to Congress; served in the Mexican War as colonel of the 4th Illinois Infantry; was again elected to Congress from a district in which he had lived only three weeks; was a presidential elector in 1848; and four years later moved to California where he became a prominent lawyer and public speaker. In 1860 Baker moved to Oregon at the request of the Republican party of the newly admitted state and, in October of that year, was elected to the United States Senate. Having already done much to hold the Pacific Coast to the Union, he did even more by several remarkable speeches, in and out of the Senate. Soon after Lincoln's inauguration Baker assisted in raising a "California" regiment, recruited in New York and Pennsylvania and named the 71st Pennsylvania. He declined the appointment of brigadier general of volunteers in May, 1861, accepted that of colonel in June, and on September 21, 1861, was appointed major general of volunteers. Under the law, acceptance of the latter commission would have required his resignation from the Senate, but he had neither accepted nor declined the appointment at the time he was killed in action while commanding a brigade at the mishandled affair of Ball's Bluff (Leesburg) on October 21, 1861. He was buried at the Presidio, San Francisco.

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Reference:  Generals in Blue.  Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner.  Louisiana State University Press.  Baton Rouge.