Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

James A. Baker (1989–1992): Secretary of State

James Addison Baker III was born on April 28, 1930, in Houston, Texas. He graduated from Princeton University in 1952 and served for two years in the Marine Corps. Thereafter, he earned a law degree, with honors, from the University of Texas in 1957, moving on to practice law in Houston with firm of Andrews and Kurth (1957-1975).

Baker ran George H. W. Bush's unsuccessful campaign for the Senate in 1970 but later become undersecretary of commerce in Ford administration. He headed Gerald Ford's failed presidential campaign in 1976 as well as George H. W. Bush's run for the Republican presidential nomination in 1980.

President Ronald Reagan appointed him chief of staff, a position Baker held from 1981 to 1985. During Reagan's second term as President, Baker was secretary of the treasury (1985-1988), serving as chairman of the President's Economic Policy Council. He resigned prior to the end of Reagan's second term to run the presidential campaign of Vice President George H. W. Bush.

Following Bush's election, the President appointed Baker secretary of state, where he oversaw events such as the fall of the Berlin Wall, the reunification of Germany, the Persian Gulf War, the START talks with the USSR, and the renewed peace talks in the Middle East. Baker resigned his position in August 1992 to focus on the reelection campaign, becoming the President's chief of staff and senior counselor until January 1993. He then returned to the law as senior partner with Baker Botts and continues to serve as senior counselor for the Carlyle Group, the merchant banking firm based in Washington, D.C.

Baker continues to sit on various boards, and was highly involved on behalf of George W. Bush in resolving the presidential election of 2000.