Roger Nash Baldwin was born in Wellesley, Massachusetts, on 21st January, 1884. After graduating from Harvard University in 1905, Baldwin taught sociology at Washington University in St. Louis (1906-09).
Soon after the outbreak of the First World War, Baldwin, Crystal Eastman, Jane Addams, Lillian Wald, Paul U. Kellogg and Oswald Garrison Villard established the American Union Against Militarism (AUAM). Wald became the AUAM's president and Eastman its executive director. Over the next couple of years the AUAM lobbied against America's possible involvement in the war. It also campaigned against conscription, the arms trade and American imperialism in Latin America and the Caribbean. Baldwin replaced Crystal Eastman as the AUAM's executive director in 1916. The following year Baldwin, Eastman and Norman Thomas established the National Civil Liberties Bureau (NCLB).
In 1918 Baldwin was imprisoned for his public support of conscientious objectors. While in prison he met fellow radicals, Agnes Smedley and Mollie Steimer. Smedley had charged with diseminating birth control information. Steiner had been imprisoned for circulating leaflets in opposition to United States intervention in the Russian Civil War.
After his release in 1919 Baldwin joined the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). Baldwin later recalled: "I was a member of it for a very brief period in which I tried to earn an honest living with my hands. I was experimenting with manual labor, as a preparation, I thought, for a possible role in the labor movement. I lasted about four months. I came to the conclusion that I was better suited for something else. Clarence Darrow once said that it's a lot easier to be a friend of the working man than a working man. I found that out."
In 1920 he joined with Norman Thomas, Jane Addams, Chrystal Eastman, Clarence Darrow, John Dewey, Abraham Muste, Rex Stout, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn and Upton Sinclair to form the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
Baldwin was appointed as the first director of the ACLU and over the next thirty five years was involved in the campaign against the Palmer Raids, the Espionage Act, the Tennessee Anti-Evolution Law, Jim Crow, McCarthyism and Racial Segregation.
Roger Nash Baldwin died on 26th August, 1981.