Born to a prominent Massachusetts family in 1860, Robert Bacon was a close friend and Harvard classmate of Theodore Roosevelt. After graduating in 1880, Bacon entered the world of finance and banking. He joined J. P. Morgan and Company as a junior partner in 1894 and often worked closely with Morgan as an assistant, including serving as an intermediary between Morgan and President Roosevelt. Bacon helped avert the financial panic of 1895 and participated in the organization of the United States Steel Corporation and the Northern Securities Company. He left J. P. Morgan in 1903 due to failing health.
Bacon joined the Roosevelt administration in 1905 as Assistant Secretary of State. He served until 1909 when he briefly became Secretary of State after Elihu Root accepted election as senator from New York. During the Taft administration, Bacon was ambassador to France from 1910 to 1912. He resigned to become a fellow of Harvard University. After the outbreak of the First World War, Bacon went to France and helped organize the American Ambulance Service, including service at the front as an ambulance driver. He returned to the United States in 1915 to advocate for the preparedness movement alongside Roosevelt and General Leonard Wood. Bacon passed through the Plattsburg training camp, as did all of Roosevelt’s sons, and was president of the National Security League, a major preparedness organization.
When the United States joined the Allies, Bacon was commissioned as a major and accompanied General Pershing to France. He worked at Pershing’s headquarters and would hold the important post of chief liaison officer between the American Expeditionary Force and the headquarters of the British commander, General Haig. Bacon was an effective officer and received praise from his superiors and the British. He was demobilized in April 1919 and left the army as a lieutenant colonel of infantry. Robert Bacon passed away shortly thereafter on May 29, 1919, due to complications from surgery.
Davis, Calvin D. “Bacon, Robert.” American National Biography. Eds. John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes. Vol. 1. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. Print.
“Robert Bacon.” Miller Center. University of Virginia, n.d. Web. 4 Feb. 2014.