Edward Dickinson Baker Day is observed annually on February 24 to honour Oregon’s Civil War hero, attorney, and military leader, Edward D. Baker. This day may not be a national holiday, but it is nonetheless a significant commemoration of this famous leader, who is as admired for his oratory skills as he is for his decades-long friendship with Abraham Lincoln. The date February 24 is chosen specifically because Baker was born on the same day in 1811.
The background of Edward Dickinson Baker Day
Edward Baker’s parents accompanied him to the United States when he was a young child. Baker’s actions and future records demonstrate how much he loved his adopted country. The newly-minted attorney was thriving. Part-time preaching contributed to the spread of his well-deserved reputation as a skilled orator. In addition, he had made a new friend, Abraham Lincoln, with whom he shared a strong bond despite their political and geographical differences. Baker helped Lincoln win his election in 1860, and after Lincoln’s first inauguration, he formally introduced him to “Congress.”
Baker became involved in local politics around the time he met Lincoln, eventually being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in Illinois in 1837 and serving for four years in the Illinois Senate. While both Baker and Lincoln ran against each other in elections, it did not affect their friendship, and Baker was a familiar face in the White House during Lincoln’s presidency.
Lincoln required volunteer soldiers when the Civil War began in April 1861. Baker, who was both anti-slavery and deeply patriotic, was unable to ignore this call to action. Baker offered his services despite being an Oregon city senator at the time. In the same month, he travelled to New York to address a crowd of 100,000, where he received permission to form a California regiment of the Union Army, where he would serve as colonel. On October 20, prior to his departure to war, Baker also visited Lincoln at the White House. He was mortally wounded at the Battle of Ball’s Bluff in Virginia the very next day. In recognition of his contributions to Oregon and the United States, Edward Dickinson Baker Day is celebrated nationally.
5 FASCINATING FACTS ABOUT EDWARD D. BAKER
Abraham Lincoln named his son Edward Baker Lincoln in honour of his close friend Baker.
Baker, a senator from Oregon who died fighting Confederates in 1861, was the only sitting senator to lose their life in a military engagement prior to his death.
The death of Baker resulted in the formation of the Congressional Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War, which investigated issues on both sides during the American Civil War.
Baker’s rousing speech to the State Senate did not go over well with his increasingly enraged audience, prompting Abraham Lincoln to intervene and ask the crowd to allow Baker to finish speaking.
Baker relied on his memory rather than taking notes and carried a stack of papers in his hat; he disliked preparing for legal cases and believed that impromptu speeches were more effective.
EDWARD DICKINSON BAKER DAY DATES