Open main menu

History of Iowa From the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Twentieth Century/4/Thomas Baker

[12]THOMAS BAKER, a notable pioneer of Iowa, was born in Muskingum County, Ohio, in 1810 and was appointed colonel of a regiment of militia when but nineteen years of age. He studied law, was admitted to the bar and, in 1836, came to the “Black Hawk Purchase” and made a claim many miles beyond the nearest settlement in Slaughter County. He was driven out by the Indians and his cabin burned. He returned to his claim in 1838. In August, 1841, he was elected to the House of the Fourth Legislative Assembly and reëlected to the Sixth, serving through one extra and two regular sessions. He moved to Polk County in 1845 and the following year was elected to the Senate of the First General Assembly of the State from the district composed of the counties of Polk, Dallas, Jasper and Marion. Upon the organization of the Senate Mr. Baker was chosen President, becoming the first presiding officer of that body. He was a stanch Democrat and his party had a majority in the Senate, while the Whigs controlled the House. Party feeling was intense as the first United States Senators were to be chosen. Neither party had a clear majority on joint ballot, as there were several independent members. After one ballot without a choice, the Senate refused to meet the House in joint convention and the session ended without electing Senators. During all of the bitter contest Mr. Baker presided with such fairness as to win the respect and confidence of every member of the Senate, which gave him a unanimous vote of approval just before adjournment. He was a Democratic candidate for judge of the Fifth District in 1849, but was defeated. In 1850 Mr. Baker removed to California where he served in the Legislature [13]and was for many years Receiver of the United States Land Office. He died in November, 1872.