Augustus O. Bacon, U.S. Senator

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Augustus Octavius Bacon, II

Birthplace: Bryan County, Georgia, United States
Death: Died in Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Augustus Octavius Bacon and Mary Louise Bacon
Husband of Sarah Virginia Bacon
Father of Mary Louisa Sparks and Augusta Lamar Curry

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Augustus O. Bacon, U.S. Senator

Augustus Octavius Bacon (October 20, 1839 – February 14, 1914) was a U.S. politician. He served as a Democratic Party senator from Georgia.


Augustus Octavius Bacon was born in Bryan County, Georgia. He graduated in 1859 from the University of Georgia (UGA) in Athens, Georgia, and from the University of Georgia School of Law in its inaugural class of graduates in 1860. While at UGA, he was a member of the Phi Kappa Literary Society. He once remarked "all the blood in me comes from English ancestors". He considered himself an Anglophile but did not want America to become an Imperial Power along the same lines as Great Britain and was opposed to the Spanish-American War and the subsequent occupation of the Philippines.

He was a soldier in the army of the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War, and then, after Georgia returned to the United States, he served in the Georgia State House of Representatives from 1871 to 1886, for much of that time as House speaker.

Bacon was elected as one of Georgia's United States Senators in 1894 and was re-elected to three subsequent terms. Bacon held several committee chairmanships (Committee on Engrossed Bills, Committee on Private Land Claims, Committee on Foreign Relations). He served as the President pro tempore of the United States Senate from 1911 to 1913.

While in the Senate, Bacon was one of a number of members of Congress who tried to get "better" streets in Washington, D.C., named after their home states. Although most of these efforts failed, in 1908 Bacon succeeded in having Brightwood Avenue (or Brookeville Pike) renamed Georgia Avenue. The old Georgia Avenue became Potomac Avenue.

Bacon died in Washington, D.C. at the age of 74 and was buried at Rose Hill Cemetery in Macon, Georgia.


After his death, Senator Bacon’s 1911 will established a “whites only” park in Macon which was to be held in trust by the city. During the Civil Rights Movement, the use of Bacon’s park was the subject of a Supreme Court Case entitled Evans v. Newton which was decided in 1966. The Court held that the use of the park for “whites only” was invalid under the Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection Clause. Because the park was held in trust by a public entity, the Court held that it could not exclude non-white persons. Although the city tried to maintain the segregationist intentions of Senator Bacon by transferring the trust to private trustees, Justice Douglas’ majority opinion explained that a park is public in nature and may not exclude non-white persons from using the park for recreation.

The park was the subject of a subsequent Supreme Court case, Evans v. Abney, which was decided in 1970. After the Court held that Senator Bacon’s park was unable to perform a segregationist function, the state court held that “Senator Bacon’s intention to provide a park for whites only had become impossible to fulfill and that accordingly the trust had failed and the parkland and other trust property had reverted by operation of Georgia law to the heirs of the Senator.” The decision involved the doctrine of cy pres, and it was necessary for the court to determine Senator Bacon's probable intention in the matter. The Court concluded that, if Senator Bacon had been able to know that his objective was impossible or illegal, he would have preferred that the land revert to his heirs. The Supreme Court of the United States affirmed the decision of the Supreme Court of Georgia, holding that refusing to apply the doctrine of cy pres did not violate the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Note: Augustus O. Bacon, United States Senator-elect of Georgia, is a native of Bryan County, and was born there Oct. 20, 1839. His parents were, however, residents of Liberty County, and he was born when his mother was on a visit to Bryan County. His father was the Rev. Augustus O. Bacon, a Baptist minister, and on his mother's side he is a grandnephew of the late Judge William Law, of Savannah, one of Georgia's most distinguished men. By the death of his parents the boy was left an orphan at an early age, but under the care of a grandmother he spent his boyhood, and at the age of 16 he entered the University of Georgia, graduating in the collegiate course in 1859, and the law school in 1860. In October of that year he began the practice of his profession in Atlanta, but in May, 1861, he joined the forces under the starry flag of the Confederacy, and enlisted as adjutant of the Ninth Georgia regiment. In 1864 he was wedded to Miss Virginia Lamar, of Macon, and when hostilities were ended Maj. Bacon returned to Macon, and has since practiced his profession there. His success in his profession was immediate, and he quickly assumed a ranking place in the Bibb County bar. In the summer of 1868, he made his debut in politics, being nominated by the Democratic state convention as presidential elector for the then Fourth Congressional district. The compliment can be better appreciated when it is known it was made on the same day the great Bush Arbor mass-meeting, at Atlanta, was held, and was for the purpose of invoking the highest oratorical ability. The masterly way in which he handled the questions agitating the public, to the satisfaction of the party, marked him then as one of the coming men of Georgia. Two years later--1870--he was elected to the legislature of 1871-72. He was re-elected to the next legislature, and in January, 1873, was chosen its speaker. In the fall of 1876, he was again elected, and this time was unanimously elected speaker. Under the new constitution he was re-elected in December, 1877, for two years, and on the organization of the House, was again unanimously elected speaker. In 1880, he was again elected to the House from Bibb, and chosen speaker. Maj. Bacon's record, under the circumstances, could hardly be other than a brilliant one. His knowledge of law, fine executive ability and parliamentary experience and learning, and fine personality, made him a model speaker. In 1883 he was a candidate for governor, and in that famous convention he had a large plurality. After a three-days' deadlock a committee was named to suggest a candidate to the convention, and, by a majority of only one vote, they agreed upon Hon. Henry McDaniel over Mr. Bacon. Two years later he was again a candidate for governor, being defeated Hon. J. B. Gordon. The contest was a close one, and though Gen. Gordon won, there was only a difference of about 1,500 in the popular vote, several of the counties being carried by shoe-string pluralities. He was chosen United States Senator in 1894, after an exciting campaign and a canvass on the part of Mr. Bacon, remarkable for its organization and execution.

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Augustus O. Bacon, U.S. Senator's Timeline

Bryan County, Georgia, United States
January 21, 1865
Age 26
Chatham County, Georgia, United States
July 31, 1868
Age 29
Bibb County, Georgia, United States
Age 75
Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia, United States