Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

Robert Bacon (1909–1909): Secretary of State

Robert Bacon was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on July 5, 1860. A product of Massachusetts private schools, Bacon was a classmate of Theodore Roosevelt at Harvard, from which he graduated in 1880. Bacon went into banking, becoming a partner at J.P. Morgan and helping to relieve government debt, thereby mollifying the effects of the 1895 economic panic.

Bacon later used Morgan money to help establish the U.S. Steel Corporation. He would spend three years as assistant secretary of state to Elihu Root during the presidential administration of Theodore Roosevelt. Prior to becoming a cabinet secretary, Bacon helped quell an insurrection in Cuba by aiding President Tomas Estrada Palma.

Bacon became secretary of state during the final days of the Roosevelt administration in 1909, pressing the Senate to ratify treaties with Columbia and Panama. After his time in the cabinet, Bacon served as ambassador to France from 1910 to 1912.

He toured South America in 1913 for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, writing For Better Relations with Our South American Relations: A Journey to South America upon his return. Bacon would mount an unsuccessful bid for a U.S. Senate seat from New York, but he would later become a war hero during the First World War. He served in France under General Pershing and was named chief liaison officer of the American Expeditionary Force to the British General Headquarters. Robert Bacon died on May 29, 1919, in New York City, following complications from surgery.