James Baker Biography

(10th and 16th White House Chief of Staff)

Birthday: April 28, 1930 (Taurus)

Born In: Houston, Texas, United States

James Baker is an American politician who held important official positions during the Ronald Reagan and the George H.W. Bush administrations. Baker was born into a family of lawyers and public servants. He was good in studies and graduated with honours from Princeton. He then served in the Marine Corps. After completing his commission, he studied for a degree in Law and became a lawyer. During this time, he considered himself apolitical leaning more towards the Democrats. It was his wife who was an active Republican. It was because of her influence and also the fact that Baker was a long-time friend of George H.W. Bush that Baker’s entry into politics happened. Starting with the Senate campaign of Bush, in his illustrious political life Baker worked in the campaigns of as many as five US Presidents. However, he himself was never inclined to run for the most coveted job in the world. Instead, he worked as Chief of Staff, Secretary of State, Secretary of Treasury in the Reagan and Bush administrations. He was an important player in many of the world affairs during his time at the White House including the unification of Germany, the Gulf War and the Israel-Palestinian conflict. After leaving the White House, James Baker remained active politically, serving in many councils. He also worked as the UN envoy trying to find a solution to the West-Saharan autonomy problem. During the Trump administration, he was one of the elderly Republicans who proposed a tax solution to curb carbon emissions.

Quick Facts

Also Known As: James Addison Baker III

Age: 94 Years, 94 Year Old Males


Spouse/Ex-: Susan Baker (m. 1973), Mary Stuart McHenry (m. 1953–1970)

father: James A. Baker Jr.

mother: Ethel Bonner (née Means) Baker

siblings: Bonner Baker Moffitt

children: James Baker IV, Mary Bonner Baker

Born Country: United States

Political Leaders American Men

Notable Alumni: The University Of Texas At Austin, University Of Texas School Of Law

City: Houston, Texas

U.S. State: Texas

More Facts

education: Princeton University, The University Of Texas At Austin, University Of Texas School Of Law

Childhood & Early Life

James Baker was born on April 28, 1930, in a well-to-do family in Houston. His father, James A. Baker Jr., was a lawyer and partner at the Houston firm ‘Baker Botts’. His mother’s name was Ethel Bonner Baker and he had a sister Bonner Baker Moffitt.

Baker’s family had a long legacy of being in the law profession. His grandfather was an attorney while his great-grandfather was a judge and a state legislator.

James Baker did his schooling from the ‘The Kinkaid School’ in Texas, Houston and ‘The Hill School’ in Pennsylvania. He went on to study in ‘Princeton University’ and graduated with a major in History in 1952.

From 1952 to 1954, James Baker served in the U.S. Marine Corps. He worked on the ‘USS Monrovia’ in the Mediterranean and became first lieutenant.

After his navy commission, he studied law at the ‘University of Texas’ at Austin earning his Bachelor’s degree in Law in 1957.

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In 1957, James Baker started practising law at the international law firm ‘Andrews & Kurth’. He worked in this firm till 1969 and then again from 1973 to 1975 and also became a partner in the firm.

James Baker was too busy in his law career to dabble in politics. His wife, Mary Stuart McHenry ,on the other hand, was an active Republican and involved in the Congressional campaign of George H.W. Bush. Baker himself was a tennis partner of Bush and when Bush decided to run for the U.S. Senate he asked Baker to run his campaign in 1970.

After Bush lost the election, Baker continued to remain in politics. In 1971, the Republican Party made him the Finance Chairman of the Party in Texas. At the same time, he started working for President Nixon’s re-election campaign.

In 1975, James Baker was appointed the Undersecretary of Commerce by President Gerald Ford. He also aided President Ford to secure a nomination for re-election.

James Baker was the campaign manager for President Gerald Ford in 1976 presidential elections, which Ford lost.

In 1978, James Baker unsuccessfully sought election as the Attorney General of Texas.

James Baker got involved in Geroge H.W. Bush’s campaign to seek presidential nomination in the Republican party primaries for 1980 presidential elections. After Bush was nominated as the vice-presidential candidate, Baker became a senior advisor for the presidential campaign of Ronald Reagan.

On becoming the US President, Reagan appointed James Baker as Chief of Staff in 1981. In this position, he was a major influence in the administration. During his tenure, there were efforts to dismiss him based on the fact that he had been a Democrat before and was close to George Bush.

In the 1984, re-election campaign of Ronald Reagan, James Baker was the campaign manager. President Reagan won this election by a huge margin.

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In 1985 Reagan had to give in to pressure and do an exchange whereby the Treasury Secretary Donald T. Regan was made Chief of Staff and James Baker became the Secretary of the Treasury.

As Secretary of Treasury, James Baker signed the ‘Plaza Accord’ along with West Germany, France and Japan to bring down the value of the dollar in comparison to the Japanese Yen and the Deutsche Mark by intervening in the exchange markets.

Baker served in the ‘Economic Policy Council’ and the ‘National Security Council’ during the Reagan administration. During this time he made significant contributions in the development and release of the official bullion coins the ‘American Silver Eagle’ and ‘American Gold Eagle’.

For the 1988 Presidential election, James Baker served as George H.W Bush’s campaign manager. After Bush became president, he appointed Baker as the Secretary of State. In this role, he helped the United States and the Soviet Union reach an agreement in 1990 on the German reunification.

James Baker officially negotiated with the Palestinians in the peace conference held in Madrid in 1991. becoming the first US statesman to do so.

In 1991, James Baker successfully rallied 34 nations to build a coalition which opposed Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait to fight together in the Gulf War.

In 1992, he resigned as the Secretary of State and became President Bush’s Chief of Staff. At the same time, he started managing the President Bush’s election campaign for 1992 presidential election which Bush eventually lost.

In 1993 after leaving White House, James Baker was hired by the Enron corporation to help the company develop natural gas projects around the world. As part of the deal, Baker could invest in any project that he developed.

In 1997, Baker became the diplomatic envoy for Western Sahara for the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. He drafted the ‘Baker Plan’ I and II. He resigned in 2004 as a mark of protest after Morocco refused to get on board with the plan.

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James Baker was the legal advisor in the 2000 presidential election of George W. Bush. He played a key role in tackling the legal challenges filed by the opposition. He also was the overseer in the vote recounting in Florida.

In 2006, the US Congress formed the Iraq Study Group to reevaluate US’s policy on Iraq. Baker was made the Co-Chairman of the Group.

Baker heads the ‘Climate Leadership Council’ which in 2017 proposed a tax to combat climate change by taxing carbon emissions being produced by burning fossil fuels.

Books Written By James Baker

In 1995, James Baker published a book titled The Politics of Diplomacy: Revolution, War and Peace 1989-1992 in which he recalls his time as Secretary of State.

In his 2006 book, Work Hard, Study … and Keep Out of Politics, Baker tells the story of the 35 years that he spent in US politics.

Awards & Recognitions

James Baker was given the ‘U.S.Senator John Heinz Award’ in 1985 by ‘Jefferson Awards’, an award given for “greatest public service by an Elected or Appointed official’.

In 1991 James Baker was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his contribution to the national interests of the United States.

On September 13, 2000, Baker received the ‘Woodrow Wilson Award’ for his outstanding work in public service

Family & Personal Life

James Baker met his first wife, Mary Stuart McHenry, when he was visiting the Bermuda’s with his rugby team from Princeton. They were married in 1953 and had four children. She passed away due to breast cancer in February 1970.

In 1973, James Baker married Susan Garrett Winston who had been a close friend of his wife. She had three children from her previous marriage. She and Baker have a daughter together.

See the events in life of James Baker in Chronological Order

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- James Baker Biography
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