An Quaker Englishman by birth, Edward D. Baker immigrated to the United States with his family in 1816 at the age of 5. As a young man Baker studied law, and was admitted to the Illinois bar in 1830. He and Abraham Lincoln became acquainted sometime around 1835, at the same time both were becoming involved in local politics. Baker even defeated Lincoln for the Whig nomination from their district in Springfield in 1844. Baker and Lincoln were such close friends that the Lincolns’ second son was named Edward Baker Lincoln.
Edward Baker and his family moved to San Francisco, California, in 1852, where he again worked as a lawyer. He attempted to enter California politics, but with little success. After Oregon was admitted to the Union in 1859, Baker moved there to run for the US Senate. He was elected by the Oregon legislature in October, 1860.