Nathaniel B. Baker
Nathaniel Bradley Baker.jpg
24th Governor of New Hampshire
In office
June 8, 1854 – June 7, 1855
Preceded byNoah Martin
Succeeded byRalph Metcalf
Member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives
In office
Personal details
BornSeptember 29, 1818
Henniker, New Hampshire
DiedSeptember 11, 1876 (aged 57)
Des Moines, Iowa
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Lucretia (Lucy) C. Ten Broeck (m. 1843)
Alma materHarvard University
Newspaper publisher
Militia Officer

Nathaniel Bradley Baker (September 29, 1818 – September 11, 1876) was an American politician and military leader who served as the 24th governor of New Hampshire and Adjutant General of the Iowa Militia.

Early life

Nathaniel B. Baker was born in Henniker, New Hampshire, on September 29, 1818, and raised in West Concord. Nathaniel Baker graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy in 1834 and Harvard University. He then studied law under Franklin Pierce, Asa Fowler and Charles H. Peaslee and passed the bar in 1842.[1]

Start of career

Baker was a co-owner of a Democratic newspaper, the New Hampshire Patriot. Originally, a Democrat, he served as Clerk of the Merrimack County Court of Common Pleas in 1845. The following year he became Merrimack County Clerk.[2]

Baker was also active in the New Hampshire Militia, serving as Quartermaster and later Adjutant of the 11th Regiment. He subsequently served as Aide-de-Camp to Governor John H. Steele with the rank of colonel.[3]

In 1851, Baker assumed the position of Chief Fire Engineer for Concord's Fire Department.[4] He also served in the New Hampshire House of Representatives in 1850 and 1851, and was elected Speaker of the House.[5] In 1852 he was a Presidential Elector, and cast his ballot for Franklin Pierce and William R. King.[6]

From 1854 to 1859 Baker was a trustee of Norwich University, and he received an honorary Master of Arts degree from Norwich in 1855.[7][8]

Governor of New Hampshire

In 1854 he was elected governor and served a single one-year term, June 6, 1854 to June 7, 1855.[9] During his term the legislature failed to pass resolutions condemning the Missouri Compromise and the Kansas–Nebraska Act, evidence that New Hampshire was trending away from the Democratic Pierce and Baker and becoming increasingly antislavery.[10] (In fact, after Baker left office, Republicans controlled the governorship for most of the next 100 years.) He was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1855.[11]

Later career

After Baker's term as governor, he moved to Clinton, Iowa, where he continued to practice law.[12] He was elected to the Iowa House of Representatives in 1859 as a Democrat.[13] His increasingly antislavery views later caused him to join the Republican Party.[14]

Baker's work as chairman of the Iowa House's Military Affairs Committee at the start of the American Civil War led to his appointment as adjutant general of the Iowa Militia, and he served until his death.[15][16] By now a resident of Des Moines, during the war he was praised for his efforts to recruit, equip and train soldiers for front line regiments, and to keep track of their service records, including enlistments, promotions, wounds, deaths, and discharges.[17] In addition, at the end of the war, Baker was credited with acquiring from returning Iowa units captured Confederate regimental flags and other memorabilia, and arranging to have it preserved.[18][19]

Death and burial

In 1874 Baker took part in an effort to combat a massive grasshopper infestation in Northwestern Iowa, exposing himself out of doors in harsh weather including sleet, snow and high winds.[20] His health began to decline as a result, and Baker died in Des Moines on September 11, 1876.[21] He was buried at Woodland Cemetery in Des Moines.[22]


  1. ^ Leander Winslow Cogswell, History of the Town of Henniker, Merrimack County, New Hampshire, 1880, page 450
  2. ^ Charles Henry Bell, The Bench and Bar of New Hampshire, 1893, page 164
  3. ^ John Norris McClintock, History of New Hampshire, 1888, page 614
  4. ^ New Hampshire Historical Society, Historical New Hampshire, Volumes 1-8, 1968, page 12
  5. ^ Leander Winslow Cogswell, History of the Town of Henniker, Merrimack County, New Hampshire, 1880, page 450
  6. ^ G. W. Carleton & Co., publisher, Record of the Year: A Reference Scrap Book, Volume 2, 1876, page 263
  7. ^ William Arba Ellis, Norwich University, 1819-1911; Her History, Her Graduates, Her Roll of Honor, Volume 2, 1911, page 1
  8. ^ William ARba Ellis, Norwich University: Her History, Her Graduates, Her Roll of Honor, Volume 1, 1898, page 502
  9. ^ Phillips, Sampson and Company, The American Almanac and Repository of Useful Knowledge, 1855, page 193
  10. ^ William Royal Oake, author, Stacy Dale Allen, editor, On the Skirmish Line Behind a Friendly Tree: The Civil War Memoirs of William Royal Oake, page 341
  11. ^ New Hampshire Secretary of State, The New Hampshire Manual for the General Court with Complete Official Succession, 1891, page 155
  12. ^ New Hampshire Adjutant General, The Military History of the State of New-Hampshire, 1869, page 314
  13. ^ Benjamin F. Gue, Iowa Biography, 1903, page 11
  14. ^ State Historical Society of Iowa, The Iowa Journal of History and Politics, Volumes 51-52, 1953, page 9
  15. ^ Olynthus B. Clark, The Politics of Iowa During the Civil War and Reconstruction, 1911, page 93
  16. ^ Iowa Secretary of State, Iowa Official Register, 1984, page 317
  17. ^ R. P. Clarkson, printer, Legislative Documents Submitted to the Seventeenth General Assembly of the State of Iowa, Volume I, 1877, page 9
  18. ^ Iowa Battle Flag Committee, Report of the Battle Flag Committee, 1894, page 61
  19. ^ Johnson Brigham, Iowa: Its History and Its Foremost Citizens, Volume 1, 1918, page 340
  20. ^ R. P. Clarkson, printer, Legislative Documents Submitted to the Seventeenth General Assembly of the State of Iowa, Volume I, 1877, pages 76-79
  21. ^ Harvard University Association of Graduates, The Harvard Graduates' Magazine, Volume 10, 1902, page 404
  22. ^ Iowa Adjutant General, Annual Report, 1900, page 22

Further reading

Party political offices Preceded byNoah Martin Democratic nominee for Governor of New Hampshire 1854, 1855 Succeeded byJohn S. Wells Political offices Preceded byNoah Martin Governor of New Hampshire 1854–1855 Succeeded byRalph Metcalf