Oregon Historical Quarterly/Volume 9/Edward Dickinson Baker
Oregon Historical Society.
[The Quarterly disavows responsibility for the positions taken by contributors to its pages.]
EDWARD DICKINSON BAKER.
By William D. Fenton.
Edward Dickinson Baker was born in London, February 24, 1811, and was the son of a school teacher. His family removed from England and settled in Philadelphia when the boy was about five years old. While residing there he was apprenticed to a weaver. In 1825 the family removed to Indiana, and a year later to Illinois.
His boyhood was that of the ordinary Western boy. The family lived at New Harmony, Indiana, a year or two, and finally located in Belleville, St. Clair County, Illinois. It is said that the young man, then about sixteen years of age, preceded the family on foot. About this time he went to St. Louis in search of employment, and here drove a dray one season, later returning to Carrollton, Greene County, Illinois, where he entered the office of Judge Caverly and began the study of law. On the 27th day of April, 1831, Mr. Baker, at twenty years of age, was married to Mrs. Mary A. Lee, a widow with two children, and to them were born four children, Edward D., Jr., Alfred W., Caroline C. Stevens and Lucy Hopkins. His mother's maiden name was Lucy Dickinson, sister of Thomas Dickinson, a distinguished officer in the British Navy. He had three brothers, Alfred C, a physician who lived in Barry, Illinois; Thomas B., who lived in Carrollton, Illinois, and Samuel B., who lived 2 William D. Fenton. in Pekin, Illinois, and one sister, Mrs. Thomas Jerome, born in Philadelphia, and who lived at Sausalito, California. In 1832, Baker enlisted as a private soldier in the Black Hawk War, and before the eonclnsion of the war attained the rank of major. He was admitted to the bar in Greene County, Illinois, where he commenced the practice of his profession, and later removed to Springfield, in the year 1835. At that time Springfield had a population of about fifteen hundred people, and Baker was under twenty-five years of age. Mr. Joseph Wallace, in his Sketch of the Life and Public Services of Edward Dickinson Baker, ' ' pub- lished at Springfield, Illinois, in 1870, speaking of Mr. Baker, at this time, says: "At this time he was in the twenty-fifth year of his age, and in appearance not remarkably prepossessing; his dress comported well with the straightened condition of his fi- nances. He wore a dilapidated hat of an antique pattern, and a suit of homespun jeans loosely and carelessly thrown about him; the pants being some inches too short, exposed to view a pair of coarse, woolen socks, whilst his pedal appendages were encased in broad, heavy brogans, such as were commonly worn by the stalwart backwoodsmen of the day. Nevertheless, his step was elastic, his figure neat and trim, and the features of his face regular and pleasing to the eye/' His career began under influences calculated to develop all his natural talents. He was the associate of Stephen T. Lo- gan, Albert T, Bledsoe, Abraham Lincoln, Stephen A. Doug- las, Lyman Trumbull, and other men, all of whom in later years achieved national distinction. His career began and ended in the public service. He was a member of the House of Representatives of the State of Illinois in 1837 ; of the State Senate in 1840-1844; was elected a Representative to the twenty-ninth Congress from Illinois as a Whig, serving from December 1, 1845, until December 30, 1846, when he resigned to accept a commission as Colonel of the Fourth Regiment of Illinois Volunteers in the war with Mexico. He participated in the siege of Vera Cruz, was the commander 740612 Edward Dickinson Baker. 3 of a brigade at Cerro Gordo, and at the close of the war removed to Galena, Illinois, and was elected to the thirty- first Congress, serving from December 3, 1849, to March 31, 1851, when he declined a re-election. While he was a Whig, and his party as such opposed the prosecution of the war. Baker was in favor of its vigorous prosecution. As a slight token of the esteem in which he was held by the people of his state, and as showing approval of his conduct and position in favoring the war with Mexico, the State of Illinois presented him with a sword. As some evidence of the natural bent of his genius, and as a forecast of the fervid patriotism which distinguished his life, it must be noted that his first public career began in the volunteer service in the defense of the pioneer-settlers of his adopted state, and for the protection of the homes of its people from savage warfare ; and that his next decisive step indicating his willingness to serve his country first in the perils of war, was his resignation as a member of Congress that he might raise a regiment in his state for the Mexican War. On the 4th of July, 1837, Mr. Baker delivered the oration at the laying of the cornerstone of the old State House in Springfield, and on this occasion his remarkable powers as an orator first came to public notice. In 1843 it is recorded that Lincoln and Baker were com- petitors for the Congressional nomination from the Spring- field district; both resided in Sangamon County, both were self-made, earnest and able men. After a close contest Baker finally secured an instructed delegation in his behalf, and Mr. Lincoln was one of the delegates to nominate his com- petitor. Neither, however, was successful, for John J. Hardin was nominated and elected. Baker, however, was elected to succeed Hardin, and Lincoln to succeed Baker. He was the only Whig representative from the State of Illinois at the time, and Stephen A. Douglas was one of his Democratic colleagues. At that time the question of national importance claiming the attention of Great Britain and the 4 William D. Fenton. United States was the boundary of what was then known as the Oregon Country. Baker, although a Whig, ardently supported the policy of President Polk, and was willing to justify our claims, if necessary, by an appeal to arms. On January 16, 1846, he offered a resolution in the House of Representatives by which it was declared that in the opinion of the House the President of the United States could not consistently, with a just regard for the honor of the nation, offer to surrender to any foreign power any territory to which in his opinion we had a clear and unquestioned title. On the 29th day of January, 1846, speaking upon the res- oluiion reported by the Committee on Foreign Affairs re- questing the President to notify Great Britain of the inten- tion of the Uniled States to terminate the joint occupation of Oregon, and to abrogate the convention of 1827, Baker made his first great speech, in favor of its adoption. After stating the cause with clearness, and realizing the weighty issues involved in the contest between the two countries, he said: ' ' I admit the power of England ; it is a moral as well as a physical supremacy. It is not merely her fleets and her armies; it is not merely her colonies and her fortresses— it is more than these. There is a power in her history which compels our admiration and excites our wonder. It presents to us the field of Agincourt, the glory of Blenheim, the for- titude of 'fatal Fontenoy,' and the fortunes of Waterloo. It reminds us how she ruled the empire of the wave, from the destruction of the Armada to the glories of Trafalgar. Nor is her glory confined to arms alone. In arts, in science, in literature, in credit, and in commerce, she sits superior. Hers are the princes of the mind. She gives laws to learning and limits to taste. The wa ch-fires of her battle fields yet flash warning and defiance to her enemies, and her dead heroes and s atesmen stand as sentinels upon immortal heights, to guard the glory of the living. * * * She has considered her honor and her essential interests as identical, and she has been able to maintain them. Sir, I would profit by her example. I would not desire to rest upon light and trivial grounds. I would be careful about committing the national Edward Dickinson Baker. 5 honor upon slight controversies. But when we have made a deliberate claim in the eyes of the world ; when we persist that it is clear and unquestioned; when compromise has been offered and refused; when territory on the American con- tinent is at stake; and when our opponent does not even claim title in herself, I would poise myself upon the mag- nanimity of the nation, and abide the issue." Aware of the fact that he was out of harmony with the policy of his party, as a Whig, in his support of President Polk, he said: I desire to treat this as an American question, and I shall not be driven from that course. I am not one of those who supported Mr. Polk. I used the utmost of my abilit}^ to prevent his election; and when Mr. Clay was beaten, I confess, I felt as the friends of Aristides may be supposed to have felt when he was driven from Athens.
- * * Sir, the West will be true to her convictions. I
believe that portion of the West which sustained Mr. Polk will still be for the whole of Oregon." In reply to the charge that the controversy was caused by the restless spirit of Western men pressing into this new country, he replied: "Sir, it is to the spirit which prompts these settlers that we are indebted for the settlement of the Western states. The men who are going to beat down roads and level moun- tains—to brave and overcome the terrors of the wilderness —are our brethren and our kinsmen. It is a bold and free spirit; it has in it the elements of grandeur. They will march, not Like some poor exile, bending with his woe, To stop too fearful, and too faint to go; But they will go with free steps; they will bear with them all the arts of civilization, and they will found a Western Empire. Sir, it is possible they may not receive protection, but, at least, they should be shielded from reproach." In June, 1852, Baker arrived in San Francisco, California, and became a citizen of the Golden State. Here he became known as an able criminal lawyer and skillful debater in public life. He was the Republican candidate for Congress 6 William D. Fenton. in 1859, but suffered defeat. It is said that disappointment in some of his political ambitions influenced him to remove from Illinois to California. He did not come directly to California, but in 1851 undertook some work on the Panama Railway, contracted the fever, and was compelled to seek a northern climate on that account. After his defeat for Con- gress in California, in 1859, Baker removed to Oregon. It will be remembered that in April, 1860, Geo. K. Shiel was nominated as the Democratic candidate for Congress, from Oregon, and David Logan, the son of Baker's old associate. Judge Logan, of Springfield, became the Republican nom- inee. Baker canvassed the state in support of the Republi- can ticket, but Shiel was elected, receiving a majority of 104 votes over Logan. Oregon at that time was divided into three political factions; the friends and supporters of Sen- ator Douglas were led by James W. Nesmith, and those op- posed to Douglas and who favored John C. Breckenridge and Joseph Lane were in the ascendency. Abraham Lin- coln meantime had been nominated for President by the Re- publican Convention at Chicago. In this situation and under these influences, the Legislative Assembly, elected in June, 1860, in the State of Oregon, convened September 10 at the State Capital at Salem. After a somewhat prolonged and bitter contest, James W. Nesmith and E. D. Baker were chosen, the one a Douglas Democrat, the other a Republi- can, and their election was brought about by a fusion of these two parties. Delazon Smith and Joseph Lane were the Democratic candidates, and Geo. H. Williams and James W. Nesmith were the independent candidates, or, more prop- erly speaking, the candidates of the Douglas wing of the party, and E. D. Baker was the candidate of the Republicans. Senator Baker was elected for the term commencing March 4, 1859. His credentials were presented by Senator Latham, of California, on December 5, 1860, and immediately upon taking the oath of office Senator Baker entered upon his public duty. Edward Dickinson Baker. 7 On February 18, 1861, Senator Baker presented the cre- dentials of James W. Nesmith, who was elected as Senator at the same time with him, and for the term of six years, from the 4th of March, 1861. From this time forward Ba- ker's record is the record of his country, until his death at Ball's Bluff, October 21, 1861. His election to the Senate from the State of Oregon was criticised by his contempor- aries in this, that it was claimed he was a resident of the State of California, and was not identified by residence, ac- quaintance or property in the State of Oregon. It must be admitted that there was some foundation for this criticism, although it is not questioned that he came to the state with the intention of making it his permanent home. His ambi- tion, of course, was to be elected to the United States Senate from the State of Oregon. Under the Constitution he was eligible; he was an American citizen, of national standing, and of an honorable career, who had seen honorable service, both in office and in war. He was the life-long friend of Abraham Lincoln, who was then a candidate for President of the United States. He had served the State of Illinois as a member of Congress; he had been a distinguished sol- dier in the Mexican War; he had defended the title of the Oregon Country, and in doing so had risen above his party leadership and platform. He was avowed and outspoken in his defense of the Union, and in support of the policy for which Mr. Lincoln stood. He did not deceive the people of Oregon by any false pretensions. While his election was only possible as a Republican by votes of Douglas Demo- crats, it must be remembered that at that time political par- ties were in a state of reorganization and re-alignment. At this point in the career of this distinguished man it may be of interest to make some estimate of him as an orator. It may be admitted that the work of the historian is one of difficulty and embarrassment. Macaulay says: "History, it has been said, is philosophy, teaching by examples. Unhappily, what philosophy gains in soundness and depth, the examples generally lose in vividness. A per8 William D. Fenton. feet historian must possess an imagination sufficiently pow- erful to make his narrative effective and picturesque. Yet he must control it so absolutely as to content himself with the materials which he finds, and to refrain from supplying deficiencies by additions of his own. He must be a pro- found and ingenious reasoner. Yet he must possess suffi- cient self-command to abstain from casting his facts in the mould of his hypothesis. Those who can justly estimate these almost insuperable difficulties will not think it strange that every writer should have failed either in the narrative or in the speculative department of history." The record of the orator is most difficult to review, and an estimate of his talents cannot be made without danger from mere panegyric. Baker had the fervor and emotion necessary to every great orator. He had fluency of speech, richness of diction, accu- rate memory, and impressed his audience with a sense of that reserve power which in its last analysis is the secret of all great orators. On September 27, 1858, in San Francisco, California, Baker delivered an address in commemoration of the laying of the Atlantic cable. Among other expressions of beautiful sentiments so well expressed, he said : ' ' We repeat here today the names of Franklin, Morse and Field; we echo the sentiment of generous pride most felt in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts at the associated glory of her sons, but we know that this renown will spread wherever their deeds shall bless their kind; that, like their works, it will extend beyond ocean and deserts, and remain to latest generations." His concluding sentence was: "Our pride is for humanity; our joy is for the world; and amid all the wonders of past achievement, and all the splen- dors of present success, we turn with swelling hearts to gaze into the boundless future, with the earnest conviction that it will develop a universal brotherhood of man." In this address he stated that the Atlantic cable was but one link in a line of thought which was to bind the world, and that the next link would connect the Atlantic and the Edward Dickinson Baker. 9 Pacific. It is recorded that when this union was effected three years later, the second message sent over the wires was the announcement of the fall of Colonel Baker at Ball's Blufi:*. On September 16, 1859, David C. Broderick, United States Senator from California, and the leader of the Douglas forces in that state, was mortally wounded in a duel with Judge Terry. Baker delivered the funeral eulogy, which is charged with feeling and eloquence. This remarkable ad- dress electrified the nation, and did much to destroy a resort to the code of honor, and to unify those who believed in restriction and limitation of the slave power. Terry rep- resented in his life and conduct, the thoughts, habits and wishes of the Southern wing of his party. Broderick was a strong and aggressive representative of those who believed in limitation of further political influence in this direction. There was, therefore, more involved than a mere personal quarrel. They represented the hot blood and temper of con- tending and bitter factions, and in a large sense they rep- resented the forces that were soon to feel the shock of battle. Speaking of this oration, Mr. George Wilkes, of New York, has said: "At the foot of the coffin stood the priest; at its head, and so he could gaze fully on the face of his dead friend, stood the fine figure of the orator. Both of them, the living and the dead, were self-made men; and the son of the stone- cutter, lying in mute grandeur, wi.h a record floating- round the coffin which bowed the heads of the surrounding thou- sands down in silent respect, might have been proud of the tribute which the weaver's apprentice was about to lay upon his breast. For minutes after the vast audience had settled itself to hear his words, the orator did not speak. He did not look into the coffin— nay, neither to the right nor left; but the gaze of his fixed eye was turned within his mind, and the tear was upon his cheek. Then, when the silence was the most intense, his tremulous voice rose like a wail and with an uninterrupted stream of lofty, burning and pathetic words, he so penetrated and possessed the hearts of 10 William D. Fenton. the sorrowing multitude that there was not one cheek less moistened than his own." On October 26, 1860, at the American Theater, in San Francisco, Senator Baker, en route from Oregon to Wash- ington City, there to take his seat as a Senator of the United States, delivered a remarkable political address. He began by saying: "I owe more thanks than my life can repay, and I wish all Oregon were here tonight. We are a quiet, earnest, pas- toral people, but by the banks of the Willamette there are many whose hearts would beat high as yours if they were here. I owe you much, but I owe more to Oregon." It will be remembered that John C. Fremont with his family was present, and that the address was delivered but a few days preceding the November election which was to result in the election of his friend Abraham Lincoln as Pres- ident. He spoke two and a half hours, and moved his aud- ience with the skill and ease of a master. His appeal was fervid, brilliant and powerful. On January 2, 1861, he made the first of his two remarka- ble and celebrated replies to Senator Benjamin. This is be- lieved by all of his critics to be his ablest effort in the Senate of the United States. Senator Judah P. Benjamin, of Louisiana, was perhaps at that time the greatest debater and orator of the South. He was a finished scholar, an able advocate, and a man of great personal magnetism. Benja- min had undertaken to establish the proposition that the states could rightfully secede from the Federal Union, and in the course of his argument emphasized the righteousness of the Southern cause. Replying to this. Baker said: "Right and duty are always majestic ideas. They march, an invisible guard, in the van of all true progress ; they ani- mate the loftiest spirit in the public assemblies; they nerve the arm of the warrior; they kindle the soul of the states- man, and the imagination of the poet; they sweeten every reward, they console every defeat." Baker therefore accepted the challenge that in the discus- sion of the question it was right and proper to argue the Edward Dickinson Baker. 11 right and justice of the cause. It must be remembered that this great reply to Benjamin occupied two days in its de- livery, and that he had been a member of the Senate only twenty-seven days at the time. Baker at that time was fifty years of age. He had been known on the hustings as "The Old Gray Eagle." He was of striking, military appearance; he was five feet ten and a half inches high, weighed one hundred and ninety pounds. On April 19, 1861, in Union Square, New York City, Baker addressed a great mass meeting. His first sentence in that great speech is: "The majesty of the people is here today to sustain the majesty of the Constitution, and I come, a wanderer from the far Pacific, to record my oath along with yours of the great Empire State. The hour for conciliation is past; the gathering for battle is at hand, and the country requires that every man shall do his duty." He concluded: "The national banners leaning from ten thousand win- dows today proclaim your reverence and affection for the Union. You will gather in battalions, and as you gather every omen of ultimate peace will surround you. Ministers of religion, priests of literature, the historians of the past, the illustrators of the present, capital, science, art, invention, discoveries, and works of genius; all those will attend us, and we will conquer; and if, from the far Pacific, a voice feebler than the feeblest murmur upon its shore may be heard to give you courage and hope in the contest, that voice is yours today, and if a man whose hair is gray, who is well- nigh worn out in the battle and toil of life, may pledge him- self on such an occasion and in such an audience, let me say as my last word, that when, amid sheeted fire and flame I saw and led the hosts of New York as they charged in contest on a foreign soil for the honor of the flag, so again, if Providence shall will it, this feeble hand shall draw a sword never yet dishonored, not to fight for honor on a foreign field, but for Country, for Home, for Law, for Cov- ernment, for Constitution, for Right, for Freedom, for Hu- manity, and in the hope that the banner of my country may advance, and wheresoever that banner waves, there glory may pursue, and freedom be established." 12 William D. Fenton. On August 2, 1861, Baker, in the Senate of the United States, made his reply to Breckenridge, then a Senator from Kentucky. Speaking of this discussion, Mr. Blaine says: "He (Baker) laid his sword upon his desk, and sat for some time listening to the debate. He was undoubtedly im- pressed by the scene of which he himself was a conspicuous feature. Breckenridge took the floor shortly after Baker appeared, and made a speech of which it is a fair criticism to say that it reflected in all respects the view held by the members of the Confederate Congress then in session at Richmond. Colonel Baker evidently grew restive under the words of Mr. Breckenridge. His face was aglow with ex- citement and he sprang to the floor when the Senator from Kentucky took his seat. His reply, abounding in denuncia- tion and invective, was not lacking in the more solid and convincing argument. * * * It is impossible to realize the effect of the words so eloquently pronounced by the Oregon Senator. In the history of the Senate, no more thrill- ing speech was ever delivered. The striking appearance of the speaker in the uniform of a soldier, his superb voice, his graceful manner, all united to give the occasion an ex- traordinary interest and attraction." Baker's words were fired with the military spirit. He had been, up to that time, willing to make concessions; he had gone beyond the majority of his political associates in his desire to conciliate the South. Breckenridge had strongly argued that Lincoln was prosecuting a war of aggression in violation of the Constitution; that it was a war of con- quest, waged against a peaceful and law-abiding people. At this late day, remote from the immediate conflict, it is the judgment of posterity that Breckenridge was wrong, and that Baker was right. This was Baker's last public address. It was five days before the adjournment of the Senate, in the darkest period of the war, when the South was apparently triumphant, and had just reason to be hopeful. Baker soon quitted the cham- ber of the Senate for the fortunes of war. Baker had the confidence of President Lincoln. Lincoln knew him, be- lieved in him, and gave him his commission as an officer in Edward Dickinson Baker. 13 the army. He was present at his first inaugural, and intro- duced him upon that memorable occasion. It is said that at one time a California delegation called upon the President in Congress, to present a nominee for a local office, and they disputed the right of Senator Baker of Oregon to be consulted respecting the patronage of the Pacific Coast. One of them, it is said, made some remark reflecting upon the private character and morals of Senator Baker; he had forgotten that Baker was one of Lincoln's oldest and closest friends in Illinois, and Lincoln was always loyal to the men with whom he was associated in his early days. He never forgot Stephen A. Douglas, David Davis, Edward D. Baker, John M. Palmer and Lyman Trumbull, nor did they ever fail in loyalty to him. On March 4, 1861, when President Buchanan escorted the President-elect from the executive mansion to the capitol, where he was to take the oath of office to be administered to him by Chief Justice Taney, it was fitting that he should be introduced by Baker, and that Stephen A. Douglas, who had been his opponent for the Presidency, should stand by his side. The oratory of Baker has been the subject of some crit- icism, and his contemporaries, under the immediate influ- ence of his patriotic addresses, were perhaps not altogether free from bias in his behalf. His political opponents were expected to and did criticise him as an orator. His friends may have erred, on the other side, but at this distance, free from the influence of his time, it can be safely affirmed that his speeches rank with the greatest of their kind. It seems to me from a critical and somewhat careful examination of the subject matter, the occasion and circumstances under which each was delivered, that his reply to Benjamin is worthy of a place alongside of Webster's reply to Hayne. It is full of power, and of the loftiest diction ; its sentiments are those of a man whose whole life had been devoted and consecrated to the service of his country. Other speeches were more ephemeral in their nature, and were delivered 14 William D. Fenton. under circumstances calculated to have immediate influence upon those who heard them. They were the inspiration of the times, and while here and there in each and in all of them are burning passages of eloquence of transcendent power and beauty, they do not survive as permanent con- tributions to the world's greatest and best orations. It is difficult, of course, to place a just and proper estimate upon the productions of men in this great field of human endeavor, Thomas Jefferson, in 1814, said: "I consider the speeches of Aram and Carnot, and that of Logan, as worthily standing in a line with those of Scipio and Hannibal in Livy, and of Cato and Caesar in Sallust." It depends, however, upon the model which the critic ad- mires. Jefferson, speaking of this subject in his letter to Mr. Eppes, says: "The models for that oratory which is to produce the greatest effect by securing the attention of hearers and read- ers, are to be found in Livy, Tacitus, Sallust, and most as- suredly not in Cicero. I doubt if there is a man in the world who can now read one of his orations through, but as a piece of task work." Scholarly as the sage of Monticello was, he criticized the great Cicero, and speaking of a man now forgotten, said: "The finest thing, in my opinion, which the English lan- guage has produced, is the defense of Eugene Aram, spoken by himself at the bar of the York Assizes in 1759." But who would at this date remember Eugene Aram as an orator? Doubtless Mr. Jefferson was influenced by the remarkable defense made by the prisoner to his indictment for murder. It is said that on his trial for the murder of Daniel Clark in 1745, Eugene Aram defended himself with unusual ability. But no man now remembers what he said, and it is difficult to find a record of the address which Jef- ferson so much admired. Victor Cousin, the great French orator, speaking upon this subject, says: Edward Dickinson Baker. 15
- ' The two great types of political and religious eloquence,
Demosthenes in antiquity, Bossuet among the moderns, think only of the interest of the cause confided to their genius, the sacred cause of country and that of religion, whilst at bottom, Phidias and Raphael work to make beau- tiful things. Let us hasten to say what the names of De- mosthenes and Bossuet command us to say, that true elo- quence, very different from that of rhetoric, disdains cer- tain means of success. It asks no more than to please, but Avithout SLuy sacrifice unworthy of it ; every foreign ornament degrades it. Its proper character is simplicity, earnestness. I do not mean affected earnestness, a designed and artful gravity, the worst of all deceptions; I mean true earnest- ness, that springs from sincere and profound conviction. This is what Socrates understood by true eloquence. ' ' It is difficult if not impossible to divorce the orator from the occasion. In fact, it is sometimes said that true elo- quence consists in the occasion more than in what is said. Dr. William Matthews, in his work entitled, ' ' Oratory and Orators, ' ' has said that ' ' the greatest speech made in Amer- ica this century was made by Daniel Webster in reply to Hayne. The greatest orator of this country— Patrick Henry, perhaps, excepted— we think was Henry Clay." Emerson has said that eloquence is "the appropriate or- gan of the highest personal energy." It must not be for- gotten that the spoken word of the orator loses its power and influence when reduced to writing. Dr. Matthews, illustrating this, says: "The picture from the great master's hand may improve with age; every year may add to the mellowness of its tints, the delicacy of its colors. The Cupid of Praxiteles, the Mercury of Thorwaldsen, are as perfect as when they came from the sculptor's chisel. The dome of Saint Peter's, the self -poised roof of King's Chapel, 'scooped into ten thousand cells,' the facade and sky-piercing spire of Stras- bourg Cathedral, are a perpetual memorial of the genius of their builders. Even music, so far as it is a creation of the composer, may live forever. The aria or cavatina may have successive resurrections from it^ dead signs. The delicious melodies of Schubert, and even Handel's 'seven-fold chorus 16 William D. Fenton. of hallelujahs and harping symphonies' may be reproduced by new artists from age to age. But oratory, in its grand- est or most bewitching manifestations— the 'deivotes' of Demosthenes, contending for the crown— the white heat of Cicero inveighing against Antony— the glaring eye and thunder tones of Chatham denouncing the employment of Indians in war— the winged flame of Curran blasting the pimps and informers that would rob Orr of his life— the nest of singing-birds in Prentiss's throat, as he holds spell- bound the thousands in Fanueil Hall — the look, port and voice of Webster, as he hurls his thunderbolts at Hayne— all these can no more be reproduced than the song of the sirens." How difficult, then, it is to estimate correctly the funeral oration over the dead body of Broderick. It is true that the text has been preserved, but the great audience, stilled and filled with feeling, the great events which surrounded the tragedy, the magic presence of the great orator, all these are gone, Mr. Rhodes, in his history of the United States, speaking of ihis great oration, says: "The funeral oration was pathetic and caused profound emo ion; at its close orator and people wept in sympathy. It was calculated to stir up men's hearts, and it impressed in glowing words the conviction that Broderick had been hunted o the death by his antagonists. Baker, in 1861, met an heroic #nd at the bat.le of Ball's Bluff, but before he fell, the martyrdom of Broderick had borne fruit. It pro- duced a mighty revolution in public opinion." It must not be forgotten that Senator Baker, after he had received his commission from the President, organized a regiment in the State of Pennsylvania, called at first the California Regiment" and later the "71st Pennsylvania," and that he was leading these men when he fell at Ball's Bluff. How much of glory and fame this tragic end may have added to his name it is impossible to judge. At the time. General Charles P. Stone, who was in immediate com- mand, was severely criticized, put in prison, and although asser ing his innocence and demanding a trial. Stone was Edward Dickinson Baker. 17 released without explanation or vindication. The affair at Ball's Bluff was a disastrous defeat of great moral effect at the time. The death of Baker, under the circumstances, tended to magnify the national loss, and added lustre to his memory. He may have been rash and impetuous; his personal bravery was not questioned, but universally con- ceded; the fiery genius of the orator, the enthusiasm and earnestness with which he pressed a solution of every great question, may have led him into risks which a more phleg- matic man would have avoided. As a soldier Baker was brave beyond discretion. That there was mismanagement of the Union forces at Ball's Bluff is the sober judgment of history. While the casualties were not large, measured in numbers, the loss of Baker amounted to a national calam- ity. In the light, therefore, of his tragic death, his work as an orator must be considered. The fame of Robert Emmett rests upon his eloquent de- fense before his sentence ; the occasion, the circumstances, the cause in which he sacrificed his life, all these things make his memorable words immortal. Lincoln was not an orator, and yet his second inaugural address, delivered March 4, 1865, had a permanent influ- ence upon his countrymen, and is justly regarded as an ex- ample of the genius and intellectual greatness of its au- thor. From that time forth the world gave, amoag its ora- tors and statesmen, a high place to Abraham Lincoln. On the 19th of November, 1863, at Gettysburg, Edward Everett delivered his great oration to dedicate the battlefield as a burial place for those who had yielded up their lives in defense of their country. Mr. Lincoln followed him in an address of twenty-seven printed lines, which, for simple eloquence, is not surpassed in the English language. What was it, what is it, that has made Lincoln's address immortal, while that of Everett is scarcely remembered? One was a polished and gifted orator, the other was a simple, earnest and impressive man, burdened with the responsibilities of power and standing in the performance of duty. His words 18 William D. Fenton. filled the aching hearts of a waitin^g people; they were ut- tered in a great cause, and in memory of those who had sacrificed their lives that the "nation might live." His power of statement, the simplicity of his language, the ear- nestness with which his words were uttered, all these things make the address a classic and model. The influence of Baker as an orator rested largely upon his simplicity of statement, his earnestness of purpose, and the apparent reserve power behind the man. There was, also, in his delivery the fervor and animation which riveted attention, in his diction, words, that pleased the ear, and in his rushing flood of passion a current that hurried men into flood-tide of patriotism. The severe critic and writer, Dr. Colton, said: "When the Roman people had listened to the diffuse and polished discourses of Cicero, they departed, saying one to another, 'What a splendid speech our orator has made.' But when the Athenians heard Demosthenes, he so filled them with the subject matter of his oration that they quite forgot the orator and left him at the finish of his harangue, breath- ing revenge and exclaiming, 'Let us go and fight against Philip.' " When that great speech delivered by Baker at Union Park, New York, April 19, 1861, had been finished, new ar- mies of the republic leaped to the defense of the nation. But why longer speak of him as an orator, or statesman, or soldier? Nearly a half century has passed since Baker gave his life to his country, upon the battlefield, and the words of his comrades then spoken most fitly record his virtues, his glories and his fame. Of him McClellan, in com- mand of the Army of the Potomac, in a general order is- sued within twenty-four hours after Baker's death, said: "The gallant dead had many titles to_^honor. At the time of his death he was a member of the United States Senate from Oregon; and it is no injustice to any surviv®>r to say that one of the most eloquent voices in that illustrious body has been silenced by his fall. As a patriot, zealous for the honor and interests of his adopted country, he has been disEdward Dickinson Baker. 19 tinguished in two wars, and has now sealed with his blood his devotedness to the national flag. Cut off in the fullness of his powers as a statesman, and in the course of a bril- liant career as a soldier, while the country mourns his loss, his brothers in arms will envy while they lament his fate. He died as a soldier would wish to die, amid the shock of battle, by voice and example animating his men to brave deeds." Edward Dickinson Baker was buried in Lone Mountain Cemetery, San Francisco, California, on December 11, 1861. Thomas Starr King, who preached the funeral oration, there said: "We have borne him now to the home of the dead; to the cemetery which, after fit services of prayer, he devoted in a tender and thrilling speech to its hallowed purposes." Some seven years before that time Baker had, on May 30, 1854, delivered the address at the dedication of this cemetery. On Wednesday, December 11, 1861, memorial services in memory of Senator Baker were held in the Senate Chamber at Washington. On that day the President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, entered the Senate Chamber, sup- ported by Hon. Lyman Trumbull and Hon. 0. H. Browning, Senators from the State of Illinois. He was introduced to the Vice-President, and took his seat beside him, while his private secretaries, John G. Nicolay and John Hay, were seated near the central entrance. Senator Nesmith, of Ore- gon, speaking of the death of his colleague, said: "As an orator Baker ranks high, and was peculiarly fas- cinating in his manner and diction. As a soldier he was possessed of a rare aptitude for the profession of arms, com- bined with that cool, unflinching courage which enabled him to perform the most arduous duties under trying cir- cumstances, and to look upon the most fearful peril with composure. It is but a few short months since, in the presence of this body, he took upon himself a solemn oath to support the Constitution of the United States; that cov- enant has been sealed with his heart's blood. Death has silenced his eloquence forever, and his manly form has been 20 William D. Fenton. consigned to its last resting place on the shores of the distant Pacific." At that time McDougall and Latham were the California Senators, and Senator McDougall delivered an extended and finished address. He said: "He was a many-sided man. Will, mind, power, radiated from one center within him in all directions; and while the making of that circle, which, according to the dreams of old philosophy, would constitute a perfect being, is not within human hope, he may be regarded as one who at least il- lustrated the thought. His great powers cannot be attributed to the work of laborious years. They were not his achieve- ments. They were gifts, God-given. His sensations, m.em- ory, thought and action went hand in hand together with a velocity and power, which, if not always exciting admiration, compelled astonishment. * * * He was skilled in met- aphysics, logic and law. He might be called a master of history, and of all the literature of our own language.
- * * He was an orator — not an orator trained to the
model of the Greek or Roman school, but one far better suited to our age and people. He was a master of dialectics, and possessed a power and skill in words which would have confounded the rhetoric of Gorgias, and demanded of the great master of dialectics himself the exact use of all his materials of wordy warfare." Senator Browning, of Hlinois, said: "Baker fell— as I think he would have preferred to fall, had he had the choice of the mode of death— in the storm of battle, cheering his brave followers on to duty in the service of his adopted country, to which he felt that he owed much; which he loved well, and had served long and faithfully. * * * He was a true, immovable, incorrupt- ible and unshrinking patriot. * * * Tq Senators who were his contemporaries here, and who have heard the melody of his voice, who have witnessed his powerful and impassioned bursts of eloquence, and felt the witchery of the spell that he has thrown upon them, it were vain for me to speak of his displays in this chamber. It is no disparage- ment to his survivors to say that he stood the peer of any gentleman on this floor in all that constitutes the able and skillful debater, and the classical, persuasive and enchanting orator." Edward Dickinson Baker. 21 Senator Cowan, of Pennsylvania, said: "Mr. President. Pennsylvania also droops her head among the states that monrn on this occasion. She, too, sheds her tears and utters her wail of lamentation over the fall of the senator and soldier. She was his foster mother. A na- tional orphan, in his infancy and youth, she was his guardian for nur.ure. Perhaps he had no recollection of any Ocher country he could call his native land but Pennsylvania, and she loved him as though he had been actually to her 'manor born.' He died under her regimental flag, bearing her commission and leading her soldiers in the deadly strife. She therefore laments his heroic and untimely death with a grief that yields to that of none else in its depth and in- tensity. Let Oregon, his last and fondest love, steep herself in sorrow as she may. Pennsylvania still claims an equal place at her side in this national manifestation of distress at his loss. She can hardly now realize that in his life he was not all her own, since he died so near her, and was car- ried from the battlefield borne upon her shield. He was also a man of intellect, cool, clear, sharp and ready : his cul- ture was large without being bookish, he was learned with- out being a scholar, and studious without being a student.
- * * He was a true orator because he confined himself
to his subject, and expressing himself with such ease that all understood him, he was effective. * * He had a fine personal appearance, and his manners were self-poised and easy, as actual contact with all ranks of men could make them. * * * jj^ ig gone, and his name and char- acter henceforth belong to history. His children will glory in both, and be known to men because of him, the proudest legacy he could leave them. His country, too, will honor his memory, and when the roll of her dead heroes is called, his name will resound through the American Valhalla among the proudest and most heroic." Charles Sumner, then Senator from Massachusetts, said: ' ' There are two forms of eminent talent which are kindred in their eft'ect. each producing an instant present impres- sion: each holding crowds in suspense, and each kindling enthusiastic admiration: I mean that of the orator and that of the soldier. Each of these when successful wins imme- diate honor and reads his praise in a nation's eyes. Baker was orator and soldier. To him belongs the rare renown of this double character. Perhaps he carried into war some22 William D. Fenton. thing of the confidence inspired by the conscious sway of great multitudes, as he surely brought into speech something of the ardor of war. Call him, if you please, the Prince Rupert of battle; he was also the Prince Rupert of debate.
- * * In the Senate he at once took the place of orator.
His voice was not full or sonorous, but it was sharp and clear. It was penetrating rather than commanding, and yet when touched by his ardent nature it became sympathetic and even musical. His countenance, body and gesture, all showed the unconscious inspiration of his voice, and he went on, master of his audience, master also of himself. All his faculties were completely at his command. Ideas, illustra- tions, words, seemed to come unbidden and to range them- selves in harmonious forms, as in the walls of ancient Thebes, each stone took its proper place of its own accord, moved only by the music of a lyre. His fame as a speaker was so peculiar, even before he appeared among us, that it was sometimes supposed he might lack those solid powers with- out which the oratorical faculty itself can exercise only a transient influence. But his speech on this floor in reply to a slave-holding conspirator, now an open rebel, showed that his matter was as good as his manner, and that while he was a master of fence, he was also a master of ordnance. His controversy was graceful, sharp and flashing, like a cimeter ; but his argument was powerful and sweeping like a battery." Thus California, Illinois and Pennsylvania mingled their words of praise and expressed their common grief in mem- ory of the distinguished dead. Pennsylvania was his adopted state, and the home of his childhood. Illinois was the scene of his first active endeavor. California, his introduction to the great "West, and Oregon crowned him with the toga of a United States Senator. While he held a commission as United States Senator from the people of the State of Ore- gon, he was essentially a Senator of the United States. Edward Dickinson Baker lived in a great era of his coun- try. He was by nature and training a soldier and orator, and a statesman. Born to poverty and almost dependent upon his own exertions for advancement, his record is that of other great self-made men. His environment early led Edward Dickinson Baker. 23 him into political debate and conflict, and lie will be known in history as one of the great figures of the Civil War. The central thought of his public life seems to have been a sin- cere devotion to his country. A man of deep emotion, his heart was touched and stirred by any apparent or real as- sault upon the integrity of his adopted country. He served his country best in his great work as an orator. His de- fense of the prosecution of the war, his justification of the course of the government in his replies to Benjamin and Breckenridge, constitute a sufficient passport to his immor- tal fame. His occasional addresses which so stirred the hearts of the people prove his genius as a master and his ability to influence the emotions and minds of men. His death ended a brilliant and useful life; but, measured by the work which he has left behind, it is not too much to say of Edward Dickinson Baker that he was a great orator, a noble patriot and a distinguished American.