The Robinson LibraryTHE ROBINSON LIBRARY
The Robinson Library >> American History >> United States: General History and Description >> Late 20th Century, 1961-2001 > Biography, A-Z
James Baker

White House Chief of Staff, Secretary of the Treasury, Secretary of State

James Addison Baker III

James Addison Baker III was born in Houston, Texas, on April 28, 1930. He was educated at The Hill School, and received his Bachelor's from Princeton University in 1952. He then served two years as a Lieutenant in the Marine Corps, after which he attended the University of Texas School of Law, from which he received his Law Degree in 1957. From 1957 to 1975 he was employed by the Houston law firm of Andrews & Kurth.

Originally a Democrat, Baker became a Republican and managed George H. W. Bush's unsuccessful Senate campaign in 1970. He served as Undersecretary of Commerce under President Gerald R. Ford in 1975, and then ran Ford's unsuccessful election campaign in 1976. In 1978 he was an unsuccessful candidate for Attorney General of Texas.

After serving as George H. W. Bush's campaign manager during the 1980 Republican primaries, Baker was named White House Chief of Staff by President Ronald Reagan, and served in that capacity from 1981 to 1985. While serving in this position, Baker also served on the Economic Policy Council, where he was instrumental in achieving passage of the administration's tax and budget reform legislation package in 1981.

After managing President Reagan's re-election campaign, Baker was appointed Secretary of the Treasury, a post he held from 1985 to 1988. During this tenure, Baker also served as Chairman of the President's Economic Policy Council.

After managing George H. W. Bush's successful presidential campaign, Baker was appointed Secretary of State, a position he held from 1989 to 1992. During this period he was credited as a leading architect of the peaceful transition from communism to democracy in Europe, beginning in 1989, and was one of the inspirators of German re-unification.

From 1992 to 1993, Baker served as Bush's White House Chief of Staff. He left public service after Bush was defeated for re-election by Bill Clinton.

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

In 1995, Baker published The Politics of Diplomacy: Revolution, War and Peace, 1989-1992, his memoirs of service as Secretary of State.

In 1997, Baker became the Personal Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Western Sahara, a position created in the hopes of crafting a peaceful settlement between the government of Morocco and the pro-independence Polisario Front. Frustration over the lack of progress led to his resigning from this position in 2004.

Baker served as chief legal advisor for George W. Bush during the 2000 election campaign, and oversaw the Florida recount.

In 2003, President George W. Bush called upon Baker to assist in the operations of the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq. He was also named a special envoy to the President to persuade other countries to relieve Iraqi debts.

As of 2004, Baker was a senior partner at the law firm of Baker Botts and senior counsel to the Carlyle Group, a merchant banking firm in Washington, D.C. He is also Honorary Chairman of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University, and serves on the boards of Rice University and Princeton University, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in the Smithsonian, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

James A. Baker III has received a number of honors and awards, including:
the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1991
Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson Award
The American Institute for Public Service's Jefferson Award
Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government Award
The Hans J. Morgenthau Award
The George F. Kennan Award
The Department of the Treasury's Alexander Hamilton Award
The Department of State's Distinguished Service Award
and numerous honorary academic degree

SEE ALSO
President Gerald R. Ford
President Ronald Reagan
Secretary of the Treasury
Secretary of State

Questions or comments about this page?

The Robinson Library >> American History >> United States: General History and Description >> Late 20th Century, 1961-2001 > Biography, A-Z

This page was last updated on May 31, 2017.