Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Death Of A Statesman

General Edward Dickinson Baker a Union leader was killed October 21st 1861, the only sitting United States senator to be killed during the Civil War.

Edward Dickinson Baker was born February 24th 1811 in London, England to Edward and Lucy [Dickinson] Baker. The family immigrated to Philadelphia in 1816. The family moved to New Harmony Indiana, and then latter to Belleville Illinois. Given access to the law library of Governor Ninian Edwards, Baker would latter move to Carrollton Illinois where he would be admitted to the bar in 1830. Baker met Abraham Lincoln in 1835. Entering politics he was elected the Illinois House of Representatives in 1837, and the Senate from 1840-44. Baker defeated Lincoln in 1844 for the Whig nomination for the 29th US Congress. Baker and Lincoln remained friends however, with Lincoln naming his second son Eddie after him.

Baker dropped out of politics during the Mexican American War and served as a Colonel in the 4th Regiment of the Illinois Volunteers. After being honorably mustered out he moved to Galena, Illinois, where he was elected to the 31st Congress. When he didn't receive a cabinet appointment from President Franklin Pierce, Baker moved to San Francisco, California, and resumed the practice of law. In 1860 Baker moved to Oregon where he filled a Republican vacancy in the Unites States Senate. While serving in the senate, Baker organized the California Brigade mostly from men living in Philadelphia, and served as their Colonel. He was latter assigned to a command of a brigade in Union General Charles Pomeroy Stone’s division. On October 21st 1861 while leading troops, Baker was killed during the Battle of Ball’s Bluff. He is buried in the San Francisco National Cemetery. Three years after Baker’s death the government granted his widow Mary Ann a pension.

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