Newton D. Baker

Know Your State
By Phil Conley
President, Education Foundation, Inc.

Number 32
Release Date:
December 8, 1962

Two Cabinet Members

Woodrow Wilson selected two West Virginians as members of his Cabinet - Newton Diehl Baker, Secretary of War, and. John Barton Payne, Secretary of the Interior.

Mr. Baker was born at Martinsburg, West Virginia, on December 3, 1871. He grad.uated. from Johns Hopkins University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1892. Two years later he received, a Bachelor of Laws degree from Washington and Lee University.

He served as private secretary to William L. Wilson who was Postmaster General under President Cleveland. Wilson was also a West Virginian who was born in Jefferson County.

Mr. Baker began the practice of law at Martinsburg in 1897. He moved to Cleveland and became city solicitor of that city, and later was elected mayor.

President Wilson appointed Mr. Baker Secretary of War on March 7, 1916, and he served in that office throughout World War I until 1921.

President Coolidge appointed Mr. Baker as a member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague. President Hoover appointed him a member of the Law Enforcement Commission. He served also as a member of the advisory council of the National Economy League.

In The Memoirs of Herbert Hoover, he has this sentence: "Secretary of War Newton D. Baker was modest, courageous, methodical and helpful. He surrounded himself with able men, irrespective of party, and left a name high in the annals of American public service."

After leaving government service he returned to Cleveland, where he was the senior member of a large law firm. He was a director of several large corporations. He was awarded a medal by the National Institute of Social Sciences "for services to humanity." He died on December 25, 1937.

John Barton Payne, who served as Secretary of the Interior in President Wilson's Cabinet, was born at Pruntytown, West Virginia, on January 26, 1855. He attended private schools. He was admitted to the bar in 1876 and practiced law at Kingwood, West Virginia, and served as special judge of the Circuit Court of Tucker County. He also served a term as mayor of Kingwood.

Mr. Payne went to Chicago, where he practiced law and served a term as judge of the Superior Court of Cook County, Illinois. He became senior member of a large law firm in Chicago. He served as counsel to the United States Shipping Board, U. S. Railroad Administration, and chairman of the Shipping Board.

He was appointed chairman of the American Red Cross in 1921. He served this organization without salary.

He received a number of decorations including Commander Legion of Honor of France, Grand Order of Leopold II of Belgium, Grand Cross of the Order of King George I of Greece, and the Order of the Rising Sun of Japan.

Judge Payne died in Washington on January 24, 1935.

Government and Politics

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