Chalmers Roberts

On this date in 1910, Chalmers Roberts was born in Pittsburgh, Pa. He earned a degree from Amherst College in 1933, and later became a journalist for seven newspapers including the Japan Times in Tokyo, beginning in 1938, and the Washington Post, beginning in 1949. Roberts was chief diplomatic correspondent of the Washington Post from 1953 to 1971, often authoring front-page political stories. Roberts wrote the influential Washington Post articles about the Pentagon Papers, secret government documents detailing deceptions that occurred during the Vietnam War. Roberts was named as a defendant in the U.S. Supreme Court Case against the Washington Post and The New York Times for publishing information about the Pentagon Papers.

Roberts continued to write columns for the Washington Post until 2004. He wrote five books, including Washington Past and Present (1950), The Nuclear Years: The Arms Race and Arms Control (1970), and his autobiography, First Rough Draft: A Journalist’s Journal of Our Times (1973). In 1941, Roberts married Lois Roberts, who died in 2001. He has three children: David, Patricia and Christopher.

After being diagnosed with congestive heart failure, Roberts chose to refuse potentially lifesaving open-heart surgery. He wrote about his decision for the Washington Post on August 28, 2004, explaining, among other things, his views on religion and the afterlife. Roberts wrote: “I agree with Francis Crick, the eminent Cambridge don, the winner of the Nobel Prize for his co-discovery of the double helix, the blueprint of life, who wrote: ‘In the fullness of time, educated people will believe there is no soul independent of the body, and hence no life after death.’” D. 2005

“I do want to add a final word about the hereafter. I do not believe in it. I think that the religions which promise various after-life scenarios basically invented them to meet the longing for an answer to life’s mysteries.”

—Chalmers Roberts, Washington Post, August 28, 2004.

Compiled by Sabrina Gaylor

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