Baker | James A.

ALS from James A. Baker III, the Under Secretary of Commerce

Handwritten Letter



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Handwritten letter from James A. Baker III, the Undersecretary of Commerce to Rev. J. Thomas Bagby, the head of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston. Baker was a member of the church, along with President George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush.

Handwritten letter, two pages, includes mailing envelope. The letter reads: “Dear Mary Louise & Tom: Greetings from a foreign world. This is a really fascinating job. Far different, however than the private practice of law, where you make decisions promptly + move on. Here it’s decisions by consensus – if all Departments don’t concur, the President resolves the differences. Probably the way it ought to be but makes for painfully slow decision making – except of course where national security considerations dictate a prompt response. / Really impressed with the caliber of the people in gov’t. from say the Deputy Ass’t Secty. level up. Intelligent, hard-working, motivated, etc. / We work long hours – 8am – 7:30 or 8:00 PM (at least they’re long for me). Spent about an hour and a quarter with the President on Tuesday last re Russian grain & maritime agreement with Russians. Pretty heady stuff for a lawyer from Houston, Texas. I really already miss things at home. Maybe that will ease when the family moves up on the 9th. St. David¬ís Episcopal is only about 3 blocks from the house we’ve rented. Average age of congregation seems way up there. Sort of sad. Got away this weekend – to Clayton, N.Y. for a day and a half (where Mary Stuart ‘s family spends the summer). Nice time with Jamie, my 20 year old who was there. Sort of coming back into the fold, it seems. Back today for the IMF and World Bank meeting here. U.S. does a lot in the area for the underprivileged. / Back this weekend for speech in San Antonio. Hope to see you Sunday. With best to you both- Jim.”

This uniquely personal letter was sent on September 1, 1975, days after James Baker was appointed Undersecretary of Commerce by President Gerald R. Ford. He notes a visit to his late spouse’s family in New York and his strained relationship with his son, James A. Baker IV, known as Jamie. He also discusses his recent meetings with President Gerald R. Ford and the impact his decisions have on world events. An interesting look at the early political career of a future Secretary of State.

Additional information

Location Published

Washington DC


Commerce Department


Handwritten Letter

Date Published





Near Fine


Baker | James A.

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James A. Baker