Monday, November 28, 2016


JFK+50:  Volume 7, No. 2143


Huntsville, Tennessee (JFK+50) Today we received an email from the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation which included a letter from Cissy Baker, the daughter of the late Tennessee Senator Howard H. Baker, Jr.

Miss Baker writes...

"Last year my father was the subject of the winning submission for the Profile In Courage Essay Contest.  He embodied America's spirit of individualism and dissent, but it came at a price."

As minority leader in the U.S. Senate in 1977, Senator Baker "chose to work with Democrats across the aisle" to get the controversial Panama Canal Treaty enacted.  That treaty resulted in the transfer of control of the Canal from the United States to Panama.

Miss Baker says that her father took this potentially career-ending position because "it was the right thing to do."  While it did not end his political career, it did cost him any chance to be elected POTUS.

Senator Howard H. Baker, Jr.,* known as the "Great Conciliator,"  died at his home in Huntsville, Tennessee, June 26, 2014, at the age of 88.

Although he lost in his first attempt for the Senate in 1964, Senator Baker, described by CNN as... "a towering political figure in Washington," won two years later becoming..."the first popularly elected Republican senator from Tennessee in United States history."

A graduate of the University of Tennessee School of Law, Howard Baker was Vice-Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Watergate, Majority Leader 1981-1985, Chief of Staff for President Ronald Reagan 1987-88, and Ambassador to Japan under President George W. Bush.

Current Tennessee Senator Bob Corker said...

"When I think of the ultimate statesman, the very first person who comes to my mind is Howard Baker."

Bust of Senator Howard Baker, Jr.
Howard Baker Center for Public Policy
Knoxville, Tennessee 
Photo by John White (2013)


"A patriot who made Tennesseans proud," by Michael Collins, Knoxville News-Sentinel, June 27, 2014,

"Former Senator Howard Baker Dies," by Paul Steinhauser,

"My father embodied courage," by Cissy Baker, November 28, 2016, John F. Kennedy Library Foundation.

"'The ultimate statesman'", by Fred Brown, Knoxville News-Sentinel, June 27,  2014,

*Howard Henry Baker, Jr. (1925-2014) was born on November 15, 1925 in Huntsville, TN.  He attended McCallie School, served in the US Navy during WWII, and studied electrical engineering at the University of the South in Sewanne, TN. and Tulane University.  

HHB graduated from the University of Tennessee School of Law in 1949.  He served 3 terms in the US Senate from 1967-1985.  He is perhaps best known for his service as Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Watergate during which he asked the question "What did the President (Nixon) know and when did he know it?"


As a Tennessean, I was so proud of Howard Baker, Jr. representing my state in the Senate.  To meet him in June 2005 as one of the teachers in the Baker Center's week long workshop "Teaching Congress and the Presidency" was a great honor.

After lunch on the opening day of the workshop at the University of Tennessee School of Law, I sat beside Senator Baker as we were being shown a video which highlighted the Senator's career.  

At one point something went wrong with the technology and the video stopped. The narrator, Fred Thompson, had just been speaking about Senator Baker's role in the passage of the controversial Panama Canal Treaty.  Mr. Baker turned to me and said quietly, "They would have to stop it right here!" 

Howard Baker, Jr. & John White
University of Tennessee School of Law
Knoxville, TN (2005)