Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

James Baker (1985–1988): Secretary of the Treasury

James Addison Baker 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 would run George Bush's unsuccessful campaign for the Senate in 1970 but would later become undersecretary of commerce in Ford administration. Baker would also head Gerald Ford's failed presidential campaign in 1976 and George Bush's run for the Republican presidential nomination in 1980.

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

Following Bush's election, the President appointed Baker secretary of state, where Baker oversaw events such as the fall of the Berlin Wall, the reunification of Germany, the Persian Gulf War, the START talks with the U.S.S.R., 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 returned to the law as senior partner with Baker Botts and serves as senior counselor for the Carlyle Group, the merchant banking firm based in Washington, D.C. He continues to serve on various coporate boards and was highly involved, on behalf of George W. Bush, in resolving the disputed presidential election of 2000.