Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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BAKER, Edward Dickenson, soldier, born in London, England, 24 February 1811 ; killed at the battle of Ball's Bluff, 21 October 1861. He came to the United States at the age of five with his father, who died in Philadelphia while Edward was yet a youth. The boy supported himself and his younger brother by working as a weaver, and occupied his leisure hours in study, Impelled to seek his fortune in the far west, he removed with his brother to Springfield, Illinois, where he studied and soon began the practice of law. His genius for oratory rapidly gained him distinction and popularity, and, entering the political field as a Whig , he was elected a member of the legislature in 1837, of the state senate in 1840, and representative in congress in 1844. When the Mexican war began he raised a regiment in Illinois and marched to the Rio Grande. Taking a furlough to speak and vote in favor of the war in the House of Representatives, he returned and overtook his regiment on the march from Vera Cruz. He fought with distinction in every action on the route to Mexico, and after the wounding of General Shields at Cerro Gordo commanded the brigade and led it during the rest of the war. On his return to Galena, Illinois, he was again elected to congress, serving from 3 December 1849, till 3 March 1851 ; but, becoming interested in the Panama railroad, he declined a renomination in 1850. In 1851 he settled in San Francisco, where he took rank as the leader of the California bar and the most eloquent orator in the state. The death of Senator Broderick, who fell in a duel in 1859, was the occasion of a fiery oration in the public square of San Francisco. He received are publican nomination to congress, but failed of election. Removing to Oregon, he was elected to the United States senate in 1860 by a coalition of republicans and Douglas democrats. The firing upon Fort Sumter prompted him to deliver a passionate address in Union square, New York, in which he pledged his life and his declining strength to the service of the union, lie raised the California regiment in New York and Philadelphia, but declined a commission as general of brigade. In the disastrous assault at Ball's Bluff he commanded a brigade, and, exposing himself to the hottest fire, fell mortally wounded while leading a charge.
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