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Edward Dickinson Baker: A Featured Biography

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The only sitting United States senator ever to die in combat, Edward Dickinson Baker of Oregon was killed on October 21, 1861, in the Battle of Ball’s Bluff. He led the regiment he had helped to raise when the Civil War began in the spring of 1861. Baker had practiced law in Springfield, Illinois, before being elected to the House of Representatives in 1845, defeating his friend Abraham Lincoln for the Whig nomination. In 1846, he resigned from the House of Representatives to command a brigade in the Mexican War. Baker moved to Oregon in 1860 and was elected to the Senate that same year. A skilled orator, he made a lasting impression upon the Senate when, dressed in military uniform, he delivered his famous call to arms on August 1, 1861. “We will rally the people, the loyal people, of the whole country,” he exclaimed, “they will pour forth their treasure, their money, their men, without stint, without measure.” Senator Baker’s tragic death prompted the creation of the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War.

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