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Edward Dickinson Baker had visited the Lincoln family at the White House the day before he was killed at the battle of Ball's Bluff, Virginia. Lincoln and his son Willie watched him ride away from the Executive Mansion grounds on a beautiful autumn day. News of Baker's death plunged the Lincoln family into grief, and 11-year-old Willie marked his passing with a poem which appeared in the National Republican.
Lincoln QuizOn October 21, 1861, a close friend of Lincoln's was killed in a Civil War battle. Who was this man?
This loss probably reminded the Lincolns of many years of loyal friendship and, more painfully, their second son who was named for him. Edward Baker Lincoln had died in 1850 at nearly four years of age, the only Lincoln child to be named for a friend; the remaining three sons were named for relatives.
Two years younger than Lincoln, Baker was born in London and lived in Philadelphia before moving with his family to Illinois. Like Lincoln, he served in the Black Hawk War, practiced law in Springfield and was elected to the Illinois legislature. Baker was Stephen A. Logan's law partner before Lincoln joined Logan's office. Logan recalled that both Lincoln and Baker "were exceedingly useful to me in getting the good will of juries." He also observed that "Baker was a brilliant man but very negligent; while Lincoln was growing all the time."
Lincoln's law partner, William H. Herndon, saw Lincoln defend Baker during a political squabble. Baker was speaking to a crowd in the courtroom immediately below Lincoln's office. Herndon said he was "hot-headed and impulsive, but brave as a lion." Baker's anti-Democrat remarks angered an opponent, and the crowd became restive. Herndon, who was part of the crowd, said, "Just then a long pair of legs was seen dangling from the aperture above, and instantly the figure of Lincoln dropped on the platform."
Lincoln, it turned out, had been watching through a trap door. "Motioning with his hands for silence and not succeeding, he seized a stone water-pitcher standing nearby, threatening to break it over the head of the first man who laid hands on Baker."
When this incident happened Baker was, like Lincoln, a Whig party man. He worked his way up to a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives before Lincoln did and won election to the U.S. Senate as a Republican in 1860, representing Oregon. In this capacity he introduced President Lincoln to the nation at Lincoln's first inauguration.
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