Newton Diehl Baker - Encyclopedia


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"NEWTON DIEHL BAKER (1871-), American politician, was born at Martinsburg, W. Va., Dec. 3 1871. He was educated at Johns Hopkins (A.B. 1892) and Washington and Lee (LL.B. 1894). In 1896 he became private secretary to Postmaster-General Wilson, but the following year opened a law office in his native town. Later he moved to Cleveland, 0., where in 1902 he was made city solicitor and in 1912 mayor. The latter office he had held for two terms when in 1916 he was appointed U.S. Secretary of War by President Wilson. He had declined the Secretaryship of the Interior in 1912. After the outbreak of the World War he endorsed the Administration's peace policy, supported the League to Enforce Peace, and urged that the national guard be tried fully before compulsory service be decided upon. After America entered the war he recommended moderation towards conscientious objectors and forbade men in uniform to interfere with anti-conscription meetings. The charge of pacifism was often brought against him, and his career generally as Secretary was widely condemned throughout the United States as lacking in energy, foresight and ability, and especially for his failure to prepare adequately in the months immediately preceding the American declaration of war.

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