Appointed by President George H. W. Bush
James Addison Baker III served as the 61st Secretary of State under Republican President George H. W. Bush. A distinguishing characteristic of Baker is that he had spent many years in politics and election campaigns prior to his tenure as the president's chief diplomat. The Baker years coincided with a dramatic change in the international system. The Cold War ended and with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the world went from bipolarity to unipolarity in a surprisingly short period of time. Baker worked to maintain stability and to protect U.S. interests during this transition.
Baker was born on April 28, 1930, in Houston, Texas. He earned his undergraduate degree from Princeton and then served in the Marine Corps from 1952 to 1954. Baker earned his law degree from the University of Texas Law School and began practicing law in Houston in 1957 with the firm Andrews, Kurth, Campbell and Jones. He practiced law until his appointment as Undersecretary of Commerce in 1975.
A defining element in Baker's public career has been his friendship with George H. W. Bush. Their friendship dates back to the late 1950s and their Houston Country Club days as tennis partners. Baker worked on his first Bush campaign when the latter ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 1970. In 1972 Baker was the leader of the Republican presidential campaign in 14 Texas counties. Baker served as Undersecretary in the Commerce Department in 1975 and was the National Chair of President Gerald Ford's unsuccessful presidential campaign in 1976. Following Ford's unsuccessful effort, Baker ran for Texas Attorney General in 1978 and lost.
In 1979 Baker worked on Bush's presidential nomination effort and encouraged Bush to pull out of the race as Ronald Reagan's victory became assured. Following Reagan's nomination for president in the summer of 1980, Baker became a senior aide in that campaign. After Reagan's win over Jimmy Carter in the presidential election, Baker accepted the job of White House chief of staff. Baker was also given