Robert Bacon, U.S. Secretary of State

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Robert Bacon, Sr.

Birthdate: (58)
Death: May 29, 1919 (58)
Immediate Family:

Husband of Martha Waldron Bacon
Father of Congressman Robert L. Bacon; Lt. Gov. Gaspar G. Bacon, Sr.; Elliot Cowdin Bacon and Martha Beatrice Whitney

Occupation: banker and diplomat
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Robert Bacon, U.S. Secretary of State

Robert Bacon (July 5, 1860 – May 29, 1919) was an American statesman and diplomat. He served as United States Secretary of State from January to March 1909.


Born in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, to William Benjamin Bacon and Emily Crosby Low, he was graduate of Harvard University, where he was a member of the A.D. Club and Delta Kappa Epsilon. He was married on October 10, 1883 to Martha Waldron Cowdin. They had four children: Robert Low Bacon, Gaspar Griswold Bacon, Elliot Cowdin Bacon, and Martha Beatrix Bacon who married George Whitney (1885-1963). Their son Robert was a United States Congressman and Gaspar was the President of the Massachusetts Senate from 1929–32 and Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts from 1933-1935.

He worked in the business world, including partnership with J.P. Morgan & Co. for many years starting in 1894. He acted as J.P. Morgan's chief lieutenant and participated in the formation of the U.S. Steel Corporation and the Northern Securities Company. The pressure of the job shot his nerves, and he left the company in 1903.

He was named Assistant Secretary of State in 1905, a position which held until 1909— he was acting Secretary while Elihu Root was in South America in 1906. He became full Secretary only for the last 38 days of the term of President Theodore Roosevelt (with whom he was friends at Harvard), from January 27 to March 5, 1909. Bacon obtained the advice and consent of the Senate for the Panama Canal treaties with Colombia and Panama. He served as United States Ambassador to France from 1909 until 1912 and worked for John J. Pershing during the term of American involvement in World War I.

He became a Fellow of Harvard in 1912. In August 1914 he went to France to help with the work of the American Ambulance. His book For Better Relations with Our Latin American Neighbors was published in 1915. He was then commissioned a major and detailed to General Pershing's staff in 1917, promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1918 and served as Chief of the American Military Mission at British General Headquarters.

Bacon died on May 29, 1919 from blood poisoning after undergoing surgery on his mastoiditis.

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Robert Bacon, U.S. Secretary of State's Timeline

July 5, 1860
July 23, 1884
Age 24
Jamaica Plain Suffolk County Massachusetts, USA
March 7, 1886
Age 25
Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, United States
Age 28
July 4, 1890
Age 29
May 29, 1919
Age 58