Appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt
Robert Bacon was born at Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, on July 5, 1860, and descended from a long line of Puritans. The second son of his father William's second marriage, Robert was educated at Hopkinson's School and then Harvard. Theodore Roosevelt was a classmate, and the friendship that developed between them there lasted their whole lives. Bacon was an excellent athlete and participated in baseball, football, lacrosse, and rowing, among other sports.
Graduating from Harvard in June 1880, the youngest of his class, Bacon took a trip around the world. After returning to the United States, Bacon joined the banking firm of Lee, Higgenson & Company. He left the company in 1883 to become a partner in the firm of E. Rollins Morse & Brother. He married Martha Waldron Cowdin the same year.
Bacon left the Morse Company in 1894 to accept a partnership in J. P. Morgan & Company, and soon Morgan himself involved Bacon in some of the most important actions of the firm. These actions included the Morgan loan of almost sixty-five million dollars to the U.S. government during the panic of 1895, the establishment of the United States Steel Corporation, and the transactions that led to the formation of the Northern Securities Company, both in 1901.
Secretary of State Elihu Root, with President Theodore Roosevelt's support, asked Bacon to take the office of Assistant Secretary of State. Bacon took the oath of office on September 5, 1905, and served during Root's whole secretaryship.
Bacon served as acting Secretary of State when Root was out of the country to attend the Pan-American Conference at Rio de Janeiro and to travel throughout Latin America on a goodwill tour in 1906. During this time, Bacon oversaw U.S. participation in a Central American peace conference held to end hostilities between El Salvador and Guatemala. He also was part of a peace mission, which included Secretary of War William Howard Taft, that Roosevelt had sent to Cuba to try to find a formula agreeable to all warring Cuban factions that would restore civil peace and forestall U.S. intervention. The mission failed, and the United