Baker, Newton Diehl, 1871–1937, U.S. Secretary of War (1916–21), b. Martinsburg, W.Va. He practiced law and politics in Cleveland as a protégé of Tom L. Johnson. As city solicitor (1902–12) he opposed the powerful public utilities; as mayor (1912–16) he instituted notable tax reforms. Woodrow Wilson appointed him Secretary of War in Mar., 1916. An avowed pacifist, Baker suffered merciless criticism of his conduct of the War Dept. during the early months of World War I and was subjected to a congressional investigation in late 1917. His devotion to his task and the achievements of his department were later praised by all. He retired (1921) to private law practice in Cleveland but remained a public figure. An ardent advocate of peace, he urged U.S. entry into the League of Nations as late as 1924; in 1928, Coolidge appointed him to the Permanent Court of Arbitration (Hague Tribunal).
See biographies by F. Palmer (1931, repr. 1969) and C. H. Cramer (1961); study by D. R. Beaver (1966); D. B. Craig, Progressives at War: William G. McAdoo and Newton D. Baker, 1863–1941 (2013).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.