Augustus Octavius Bacon

Augustus Octavius Bacon
United States Senator
from Georgia
In office
March 4, 1895  February 14, 1914
Preceded by Patrick Walsh
Succeeded by William S. West
Member of the Georgia House of Representatives
In office
Personal details
Born (1839-10-20)October 20, 1839
Bryan County, Georgia
Died February 14, 1914(1914-02-14) (aged 74)
Washington, D.C.
Political party Democratic
Education University of Georgia
University of Georgia School of Law
Military service
Allegiance  United States
 Confederate States
Service/branch  Confederate States Army
Battles/wars American Civil War

Augustus Octavius Bacon (October 20, 1839  February 14, 1914) was a U.S. politician. He served as a Democratic Party senator from Georgia.[1]


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".[2] 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.[3] The old Georgia Avenue became Potomac Avenue.[4]

Bacon died of a coronary occlusion on February 14, 1914 in Washington, D.C. at the age of 74.[1] He 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 the park, known as Baconsfield 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. Bacon's heirs then sold the property to private developers, who converted the land to commercial use.[5]

Bacon County, Georgia is named in his honor.


  1. 1 2 "Senator Bacon Dies. His, Illness Brief. Blood Clot in Heart the Cause, Complicated with Kidney Trouble and Broken Rib. To Have A State Funeral. Services in Senate Chamber Tuesday. President Wilson Typewrites Tribute to Distinguished Georgian". New York Times. February 15, 1914.
  2. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-04-19. Retrieved 2012-04-14. page 1339
  3. Kelly, John (26 October 2008). "The Mud Really Flew over the First Georgia Avenue". Washington Post,. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  4. John Kelly, "The Mud Really Flew Over The First Georgia Avenue", The Washington Post, October 26, 2008.
  5. Stephanie Barron, Jessica Carrier, Chad Moore, William Sanders, and Andrew Smith, "The Case over Baconsfield Park," Remembering the Civil Rights Movement, c. 2012.

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External links

United States Senate
Preceded by
Patrick Walsh
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Georgia
March 4, 1895 – February 14, 1914
Succeeded by
William S. West
Political offices
Preceded by
William P. Frye
President pro tempore of the United States Senate
Succeeded by
James P. Clarke
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