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James Addison Baker, III (born April 28, 1930) is an Americanmarker attorney, politician, political administrator, and political advisor.

He served as the Chief of Staff in President Ronald Reagan's first administration and in the final year of the administration of President George H. W. Bush. Baker also served as Secretary of the Treasury from 1985-1988 in the second Reagan administration, and Secretary of State in the George H. W. Bush administration. He is also the namesake of the James A.marker Baker III Institute for Public Policymarker at Rice University in Houstonmarker, Texasmarker.

Early life and education

James Addison Baker was born in Houston, Texasmarker at 1216 Bissonnet, City of Houston: Procedures for Historic District Designation. - City of Houston. - (Adobe Acrobat *.PDF document). - Retrieved: 2008-07-11 to James Addison Baker Jr. (1892–1973) and Ethel Bonner (born Means) Baker (August 6, 1894–April 26, 1991). His father was a partner of Houston law firm Baker Botts. Baker has a sister, Bonner Baker Moffitt.

Baker attended The Hill Schoolmarker, a boarding school in Pottstown, Pennsylvaniamarker. He graduated from Princeton Universitymarker in 1952. Afterwards, he earned a J.D. (1957) from The University of Texas at Austinmarker and began to practice law in Texas.

Baker served in the United States Marine Corps (1952–1954), attaining the rank of First Lieutenant and later rising to Captain in the United States Marine Corps Reserve.

From 1957 to 1969, and then from 1973 to 1975 he practiced law at the law firm of Andrews & Kurth.

Early political career

Baker's first wife, the former Mary Stuart McHenry, was active in the Republican Party, working on the Congressional campaigns of George H. W. Bush. Originally Baker had been a Democrat, although he had been too busy trying to succeed in a competitive law firm to worry about politics and he considered himself apolitical. His wife's influence and enthusiasm led Baker to both politics as a career and the Republican Party. He was a regular tennis partner with Bush at the Houston Country Club in the late 1950s. When Bush decided to run for the U.S. Senate in 1969, he supported Baker's decision to run for the Congressional seat he was vacating. However, Baker changed his mind about running when his wife was diagnosed with cancer. She died of breast cancer in February 1970.

Bush then encouraged Baker to become active in politics to deal with the grief, something Bush had done when his daughter, Pauline Robinson (1949–1953), died of leukemia. Baker became chairman of Bush's Senate campaign in Harris Countymarker. Though Bush lost to Lloyd Bentsen in the election, Baker continued in politics, becoming the Finance Chairman of the Republican Party in 1971. The following year, he was selected as the Gulf Coast Regional Chairman for the Richard Nixon presidential campaign. In 1973 and 1974, Baker returned to the full time practice of law at Andrews & Kurth.Newhouse, John. - "Profiles: The Tactician". - The New Yorker. - May 7, 1990. - pp.50-82. - Retrieved 2008-07-11 "Biography of James Baker". - Princeton University Library. - (Adobe Acrobat *.PDF document). - Retrieved: 2008-07-11

He served as Undersecretary of Commerce under President Gerald Ford in 1975 and ran Ford's unsuccessful re-election campaign in 1976. In 1978, Baker ran unsuccessfully to become Attorney General of Texas, losing the election to future Governor Mark White.

Reagan administration

After serving as George H.W. Bush's campaign manager in the 1980 Republican primaries, Baker was named White House Chief of Staff by President Ronald Reagan in 1981. He served in that capacity until 1985. Baker is seen as wielding a high degree of influence over the successes and failures of the first Reagan administration, particularly in domestic policy.

Baker managed the president's 1984 re-election campaign in which Reagan won with a record 525 electoral votes total (of 538 possible), and received 58.8% of the popular vote to Walter Mondale's 40.6%. In the new administration Baker "switched roles" with Secretary of the Treasury Donald Regan, who replaced Baker as Chief of Staff. While serving as Treasury Secretary, he organized the Plaza Accord of September 1985 and the Baker Plan to target international debt. He tapped Richard Darman as his Deputy Secretary of the Treasury. Darman would continue in the next administration as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

During the Reagan administration, Baker also served on the Economic Policy Council, where he played an instrumental role in achieving the passage of the administration's tax and budget reform legislation package in 1981.

Baker served on Reagan's National Security Council, and remained Treasury Secretary through 1988, during which time he also served as campaign chairman for Bush's successful presidential bid.

Bush administration

President George H.W. Bush appointed Baker Secretary of State in 1989. Baker served in this role through 1992.From 1992 to 1993, he served as Bush's White House Chief of Staff, the same position that he had held from 1981 to 1985 during the first Reagan administration.

On January 9, 1991, during the Geneva Peace Conference with Tariq Aziz in Geneva, Baker as Secretary of State declared that "If there is any user of (chemical or biological weapons), our objectives won't just be the liberation of Kuwait, but the elimination of the current Iraqi regime...." Baker later acknowledged that the intent of this statement was to threaten a retaliatory nuclear strike on Iraq, and the Iraqis received his messageBaker helped to construct the 34-nation alliance that fought alongside the United States in the Gulf War.

He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1991.

Baker arriving in Kuwait, 1991

Post-cabinet career


In 1993 Baker became the founding chair of the James A.marker Baker III Institute of Public Policymarker at Rice University in Houston, Texas.

In 1995, Baker published his memoirs of service as Secretary of State in a book entitled The Politics of Diplomacy: Revolution, War and Peace, 1989-1992 (ISBN 0-399-14087-5).

In March 1997, Baker became the Personal Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Western Saharamarker. In June 2004 he resigned from this position, frustrated over the lack of progress in reaching a complete settlement acceptable to both the government of Moroccomarker and the pro-independence Polisario Front. He left behind the Baker II plan, accepted as a suitable basis of negotiations by the Polisario and unanimously endorsed by the Security Council, but rejected by Morocco.

In addition to the numerous recognitions received by Baker, he was presented with the prestigious Woodrow Wilson Award for public service on September 13, 2000 in Washington, D.C.marker.


Baker served as chief legal adviser for George W. Bush during the 2000 election campaign and oversaw the Florida recount. A 2008 film Recount was made about the days following the election. During the making of the film Baker was interviewed. Baker was portrayed in the film by British actor Tom Wilkinson.

State of Denial, a book by investigative reporter Bob Woodward, says that White House Chief of Staff, Andrew Card, urged President Bush to replace Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld with Baker following the 2004 election. However, another G. H. W. Bush Administration veteran, Robert Gates, was appointed instead, and only after the 2006 elections.


In December 2003, President George W. Bush appointed Baker as his special envoy to ask various foreign creditor nations to forgive or restructure the approximately $100 billion in international debts owed by the Iraq government which had been incurred during the tenure of Saddam Hussein.

On March 15, 2006, Congress announced the formation of the Iraq Study Group, a high-level panel of prominent former officials charged by members of Congress with taking a fresh look at Americamarker's policy on Iraq. Baker was the Republican co-chair along with Democratic Representative Lee H. Hamilton, to advise Congress on Iraqmarker.Paley, Amit R. - "U.S. and Iraqi Forces Clash With Sadr Militia in South". - Washington Post. - October 9, 2006 Baker also advised George W. Bush on Iraqmarker.

The Iraq Study Group examined a number of ideas, including one that would create a new power-sharing arrangement in Iraq that would give more autonomy to regional factions.Sanger, David E. - "G.O.P.'s Baker Hints Iraq Plan Needs Change". - New York Times. - October 9, 2006 On October 9, 2006, the Washington Post quoted co-chairman Baker as saying "our commission believes that there are alternatives between the stated alternatives, the ones that are out there in the political debate, of 'stay the course' and 'cut and run'".

Other advisory positions

Baker has formal involvement with the country of Azerbaijanmarker as he serves on the Honorary Council of Advisers for the U.S. Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce.

Until 2005 he was senior counsel to the Carlyle Group and is currently a senior partner at the law firm of Baker Botts.

Personal life

Baker met his first wife, the former Mary Stuart McHenry, of Dayton, Ohiomarker, while on spring break in Bermudamarker with the Princeton University rugby team. They married in 1953. Mary Stuart Baker (Mary Stuart was her full first name) died of breast cancer in February 1970.

In 1973, Baker and Susan Garrett Winston, a close friend of Mary Stuart's, were married. 1973. They have six sons and two daughters.

On June 15, 2002, Virginia Graeme Baker, the 7-year-old granddaughter of Baker, daughter of Nancy and James Baker IV, was the victim of suction-pump entrapment in an in-ground spa. To promote greater safety in pools and spas, Nancy Baker gave testimony to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and James Baker helped form an advocacy group, which led to the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool And Spa Safety Act (15 USC 8001).

Further reading

Works by

  • 1995: - The Politics of Diplomacy. with Thomas M DeFrank. - New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons. - ISBN 9780399140877
  • 2006: - 'Work Hard, Study... And Keep Out of Politics!': Adventures and Lessons from an Unexpected Public Life. with Steve Fiffer. - New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons. - ISBN 9780399153778

Works about

  • Bryce, Robert, (2004). - Cronies: Oil, the Bushes, and the Rise of Texas, America's Superstate. - New York: Perseus Books Group. - ISBN 9781586481889


  1. "Mother of Secretary of State Baker dies here at 96". - Houston Chronicle. - April 26, 1991. - Retrieved: 2008-07-11
  2. James A. Baker, 3rd, Current Biography, March 2007. Retrieved December 25, 2007. "Like his father, Jim Baker, as he prefers to be known, attended the Hill School, a college prep school in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, then enrolled at Princeton University."
  3. 1984 National Results - U.S. Election Atlas
  4. NNDB profile.
  5. NNDB, "White House Chief of Staff" list.
  6. Lawrence Freedman and Efraim Karsh, The Gulf conflict: diplomacy and war in the new world order (New Jersey, 1993), 257.
  7. Plague war: Interviews: James Baker. - Frontline. - PBS. - 1995
  8. 2000. - "Sadam's Toxic Arsenal". - Planning the Unthinkable. - ISBN 0801437768
  9. "U.N. ENVOY: Asking Baker to resolve dispute is good choice". - Houston Chronicle. - March 20, 1997
  10. King, John. “Bush appoints Baker envoy on Iraqi debt”, “”, December 3, 2003, retrieved August 11, 2009.
  11. "Baker surfaces as key adviser to Bush on Iraq". - Insight Magazine. - September 12, 2006
  12. Honorary Council of Advisers
  13. U.S. Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce
  14. Dumas, Bob. - "Troubled Waters" - Pool & Spa News. - October 2003
  15. Chow, Shern-Min. - "Former Secretary of state pushes for hot tub safety standards". - Vac-Alert. - June 29, 2007
  16. Press Releases: "Former Secretary of State James Baker speaks in support of legislation intended to prevent accidental drowning". - Safe Kids Worldwide. - May 2, 2006
  17. "Virginia Graeme Baker Pool And Spa Safety Act". - Consumer Product Safety Commission. - | at - Vac-Alert. - (Adobe Acrobat *.PDF document)

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