About Robert B. Anderson, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury
Robert Bernard Anderson (June 4, 1910 – August 14, 1989) was an American administrator and businessman. He served as the Secretary of the Navy between February 1953 and March 1954. He also served as the Secretary of the Treasury from 1957 until 1961.
Anderson was born in Burleson, Texas. He was a high school teacher prior to entering the University of Texas Law School, from which he graduated in 1932. He thereafter engaged in political, governmental, law and business activities in the state of Texas.
State government service
Upon leaving the University of Texas School of Law in 1932, Robert B. Anderson soon became an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Texas where he worked in 1933-1934. By 1934, he moved onward to become a State of Texas Tax Commissioner.
By 1939-1940, Robert B. Anderson pursued opportunities within the private sector; he and two other partners purchased the City of Austin, Texas based KTBC Radio Station from the Texas Broadcasting Company. Not able to increase KTBC's broadcasting power from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the three partners then sold KTBC to Lady Bird Johnson in January–February 1943; she was the wife of then U.S. Representative - and future U.S. President - Lyndon B. Johnson.
Federal government service
During his time as Navy Secretary, he ended the last formal vestiges of racial segregation in the Navy and advocated the force levels and technological advances necessary to maintain a flexible defense strategy. In May 1954, Anderson left his Navy post to become Deputy Secretary of Defense. He received the Medal of Freedom in 1955. From 1957 to 1961, he served as President Eisenhower's Secretary of the Treasury.
Eisenhower was particularly impressed by Anderson's abilities, believing him to be more than capable of being president himself, and he named him as one of his leading choices to be his running mate in 1956, should Richard Nixon have accepted Eisenhower's recommendation that he leave the vice-presidency in order to serve as Secretary of Defense. However, Nixon opted to remain on the ticket with Ike. As 1960 approached, Eisenhower acknowledged that Nixon no doubt had the Republican presidential nomination sewn up, but he privately pressed Anderson to enter the primaries and challenge Nixon, but Anderson declined. Once Nixon was nominated, Eisenhower suggested that he select Anderson as his running mate, but Nixon chose Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. instead.
In 1959, as Secretary of the Treasury, Anderson supported the creation of the International Development Association, after the pressure from then Senator Mike Monroney.
After leaving office, he was active in business, investment and banking affairs, and, during the 1960s, carried out diplomatic missions on behalf of President Lyndon B. Johnson.
Anderson's career ended in personal suffering and disgrace. He was hospitalized several times for alcoholism. He illegally operated the Commercial Exchange Bank of Anguilla, British West Indies, which had an unlicensed New York branch office. The bank lost $4.4 million and several investors lost their life savings in the mid 1980s. The bank also laundered large amounts of cash for drug traffickers. In 1987, Anderson pled guilty to criminal violations of the banking laws and to tax evasion, and was sentenced to prison. The Supreme Court of New York Appellate Division, in disbarring Anderson from the practice of law, called his disbarment "a sad but we think necessary end to the legal career of one who has in times less beclouded by poor and corrupt judgment served his country in high office as Secretary of Treasury, Deputy Secretary of the Navy and as Special Ambassador to Panama during the Panama Canal negotiations."
Anderson died in New York City from throat cancer on August 14, 1989, aged 79.