Newton D Baker
Graduation at West Point Military Academy, New York State, circa 1920. From left to right, Secretary of War Newton D. Baker, General John J. Pershing, General William M. Wright and Brigadier General Douglas MacArthur
Newton D. Baker, Thomas L. Sidlo and Joseph C. Hostetler
"Secretary of War Newton D. Baker trying out a new eight-wheel Ford tractor." T-Rex photo
Newton D. Baker Jr. was born in Martinsburg December 3rd, 1871, eschewed on becoming a doctor like his dad. Wrote one biographer, Newton Jr.:
As a boy Baker was Puck with a book; he was the “angel child” who did not play baseball and seldom visited the swimming hole. . . Newton Jr. was told that an award of Hulme’s History of England would be given if he read the whole of the Britannica; he accepted the challenge and earned the prize. As he grew older Baker was certain that his father, through stimulating conversation and suggestions for reading, had much the greatest influence on his early education. . . . In later life he was to be included in the list of former newsboys who made good. Lawyer Baker denied that he ever carried papers and observed that he had never sold anything “except advice, such as it is.” He was small, dark-haired, and brown-eyed, with, in Brand Whitlock’s phrase, a sensitive face and the ideals of a poet. In manhood he finally achieved a height of five feet six inches, wore a size 14 shirt and collar, and weighed 125 pounds.
He graduated from Johns Hopkins in 1892, received his law degree from Washington and lee University. He went north as he joked “as a carpet bagger in reverse,” advocated progressive policies and became Cleveland’s mayor, continuing his climb into the world of public policy.
Newton Junior became known as a thinker, a powerful orator, and a progressive who fought manifestations of anti-Semitism, and as a result fiercely disputed with car-maker Henry Ford. Baker wrote:
Man seems to me incapable of greatness except when conditioned by beliefs which he has attained so passionately that he subordinates all other considerations to the service of his faith. Of course, the faith does not have to be formally religious, and whether or not if religious it be anthropomorphic, seems to me to make little difference. . . . But I find it very hard to imagine a stable social order or a helpful metaphysical order which does not have some stakes at which men are willing to be burned, and I think there are some stakes of that sort. . . .
When he was appointed and served as the country’s Secretary of War from 1916 to 1921, it was said that Baker was: “A civilian’s civilian, (he) saw the military as a necessity, but he had no awe of people in uniform, no romantic feelings toward them, and no dreams of glory….