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 in 1938 and the Washington Post in 1949. Roberts was chief diplomatic correspondent of the Post from 1953-71, often with front-page bylines.

He wrote influential articles about the Pentagon Papers, the secret government documents detailing deceptions during the Vietnam War, and was named as a defendant in the case that made it to the U.S. Supreme Court for publishing the documents.

Roberts continued to write columns for the 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 he married Lois Roberts, who died in 2001. They had three children: David, Patricia and Christopher. Roberts died in 2005.

After being diagnosed with congestive heart failure, Roberts chose to refuse potentially lifesaving open-heart surgery. He wrote about his decision in the Post on Aug. 28, 2004, explaining his views on religion and the afterlife: “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.’ ”

Freedom From Religion Foundation