Ray Stannard Baker was a leading national journalist whose belief
in social reform led to a close personal and professional
Born in 1870 in Lansing, Michigan, Baker came from a pioneer New
England family that had moved west. A graduate of Michigan State
College in 1889, Baker enrolled in law school before turning to
literature and journalism. He began his newspaper career as a
reporter for the Chicago News-Record. During his six years at
the paper, Baker covered
the Pullman strike
and the 1893 march of a group of jobless men known as Coxey's Armyon Washington.
Both events helped push Baker toward an even stronger belief in
In 1897, Baker began working for McClure's Magazine, where
he wrote a series of gripping exposÈs on pressing social issues.
Baker became famous for his muckraking articles, working in the
company of such accomplished investigative journalists as
Ida Tarbell the woman who single-handedly revealed John D.
unethical business tactics . In 1906,
Baker and other McClure staffers purchased the American
Magazine, where he served as an editor. In sharp contrast
to his tabloid writing, Baker also penned books of philosophical
essays and quiet country sketches which he published under the
pseudonym David Grayson.
As a leading member of the progressive movement Baker sought
political allies to support social reform. After visiting with
Princeton president Woodrow Wilson, Baker believed he had found a
political candidate worthy of his movement's support.
After Wilson won
the presidential election of 1912,
Baker joined Wilson's circle of intimate friends. In 1918, Wilson
dispatched Baker to Europe as his special agent to study the war
situation. When the war ended, Baker acted as Wilson's press
secretary during the Paris Peace Conference, and later wrote a
three-volume history of the conference, Woodrow Wilson and World
Settlement. Shortly before Wilsonís death, the former president
designated Baker as his official biographer. Baker went to work on
an eight-volume history of Wilson's life that would be published
from 1927 to 1939. The last two volumes were awarded the Pulitzer
Prize for biography in 1940.
Troubled by heart problems for the last decade of his life, Baker
died of a heart attack in Amherst, Massachusetts in July 1946.