Edward Dickinson Baker Day on February 24 every year marks the annual celebration of Oregon’s Civil War hero, lawyer, and military leader — Edward D. Baker. It might not be a public holiday, but this day is an important event to commemorate this famous leader, who is just as revered for his oratory skills as he is known for his decades-long friendship with Abraham Lincoln. February 24 is specially chosen because Baker was born on the same day in 1811.
History of Edward Dickinson Baker Day
An England native, Edward Baker’s parents moved with him to America when he was just a little boy. Future records, and his own actions, show just how much Baker loved his adoptive country. The newly-minted lawyer was doing well. He’d engaged in part-time preaching, which helped spread his well-deserved reputation as a skilled orator. He had also made a new friend — Abraham Lincoln — with whom he shared a very strong bond despite political and distance-related differences. Baker helped Lincoln win his 1860 election and even formally introduced him to “Congress” after Lincoln’s first inauguration.
Around the time Baker met Lincoln, he also became involved in local politics, eventually being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in Illinois in 1837 and later serving on the Illinois Senate for four years. While both Baker and Lincoln competed in elections against each other, neither let it affect their friendship, and Baker was even a familiar face in the White House during Lincoln’s term.
When the Civil War began in April 1861, Lincoln needed volunteers to fight. Baker— who not only was anti-slavery but also deeply loved his country — could not ignore this call to action. Despite being a sitting Senator of Oregon city at the time, Baker offered his services. He traveled to New York that same month to address a crowd of 100,000, getting authorization to form a California regiment of the Union Army — where he would be a colonel. Before he went off to war, Baker also made time to visit Lincoln at the White House on October 20. He was mortally wounded the very next at the Battle of Ball’s Bluff in Virginia. His memory lives on in the nationwide Edward Dickinson Baker Day, to honor his contributions to Oregon state and the U.S.
Edward Dickinson Baker Day timeline
Baker makes a new friend by the name of Abraham Lincoln while they’re both living in Illinois.
Baker apprehends a mob of murderous fugitives while acting as a colonel in the local militia in Illinois.
One of the 36 cities in Oregon, Baker County, is named after Edward Baker — 12 years later, a city in Baker County is also named after this famous figure.
Upon urging from local members of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber officially says February 24 will now be celebrated as Edward Dickinson Baker Day in the state.
Edward Dickinson Baker Day FAQs
What happened to Lincoln's son, Eddie?
Abraham Lincoln’s son, Edward —named after the president’s dear friend Edward Dickinson Baker — passed away in 1850 from what most people believe to be tuberculosis.
What happened to Edward Baker?
Edward Baker died in battle during the American Civil War while leading a Union Army regiment. He was 50 years old at the time.
Who was Abraham Lincoln's second son?
Abe Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln’s second son was named Edward Baker Lincoln.
How to Observe Edward Dickinson Baker Day
Read about him
Find out all you can about this senator. Search for books about Baker at the local library. Look for various types of literature — articles, research papers, blogs, e.t.c. — online.
Watch a feature on Baker
Check out feature films, shows, and documentaries made on Baker's life. If these are not easily accessible, you could even watch ones featuring Lincoln — some of which might mention Baker.
Keep his memory alive
Check out events featuring Baker, and invite others to go with you. Alternatively, you can simply share what you've learned about Baker with others to increase awareness of this day.
5 Fascinating Facts About Edward D. Baker
Another Edward Baker
Abraham Lincoln named his son Edward Baker Lincoln after his friend, Baker.
Making a grim record
At the time of his death, Baker was the only sitting senator — an Oregon senator who died fighting Confederates in 1861 — to ever lose their life in a military engagement.
A silver lining
Baker's death led to the formation of the Congressional Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War, which investigated issues surrounding both sides in the American Civil War.
Lincoln once rescued Baker
Baker's rousing speech for the State Senate didn't go down well with his increasingly furious audience, prompting Lincoln to interfere and ask the crowd to let Baker say his piece.
His lawyering style was unique
Baker relied on his memory instead of writing notes and carried a bundle of papers in his hat; he also didn’t like preparing for legal cases and thought spur-of-the-moment speeches were more effective.
Why Edward Dickinson Baker Day is Important
It's a little history lesson
Learning about a famous figure from the past, his influences, and the impact he has on future politicians is like getting a small glimpse into our past. We like to think that every drop of additional knowledge — especially if it concerns our past — goes a long way towards making us smarter and better as a society.
We learn about Abraham Lincoln too
The more we learn about Baker, the more we gain insight into the kind of person Lincoln was to his friends. And who can say no to understanding more about that great man?
We've also learned about a great friendship
Baker's name rarely comes up without Lincoln — that's how intertwined the two people were. To us, this relationship reveals how people across political and geographical boundaries can maintain bonds through thick and thin, making this an inspiring tale for today's world.
Edward Dickinson Baker Day dates