Robert Bernard Anderson (June 4 1910 – August 14 1989) was an American administrator and businessman. He served as the Secretary of the Navy between 1953 and 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. During World War II, he was an adviser to the Secretary of War.
In February 1953, Anderson became the new Eisenhower administration's first Secretary of the Navy. 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 Presidential 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.
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. Several investors lost their life savings in the mid 1980s. 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."