Vermont Connecticut Royster (April 30, 1914 – July 22, 1996) was the
editor of the editorial page of
The Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal from 1958 to
1971. He was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He won
two Pulitzer Prizes for his writing, and numerous other awards.
Royster was famed for providing a conservative interpretation of the
news every day, especially regarding economic issues.
1 Early life
4 Personal life
8 External links
Although his life began and ended in Raleigh, North Carolina, the
parts in between took him to the rest of the world. He was named after
his paternal grandfather. His distinctive first and middle names were
the result of a family tradition of using the names of states for
offspring, begun by his great-grandfather. In addition to his
grandfather's unusual name, his great-uncles were named Arkansas
Delaware, Wisconsin Illinois, Oregon Minnesota, and Iowa Michigan
Royster. They were usually called by their first and middle initials.
These names were so unusual that for many years they were printed in
Ripley's Believe It or Not!
Ripley's Believe It or Not! series of books. Royster's father,
Wilbur High Royster, owned and operated the Royster Candy Company in
Raleigh, which in the early 1900s sold chocolate, peanut brittle, and
other candies across the Carolinas and Virginia. His family also had a
strong connection to the nearby University of North Carolina at Chapel
Hill; Vermont's grandfather had taught Latin and Greek at the
university, and his great-uncle Wisconsin Royster had helped create
the medical school at UNC.
Royster was a 1935 graduate of the University of North Carolina at
Chapel Hill; during his time at UNC he was a member of the
Philanthropic Society and served as the editor of the student
newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel. Soon after graduating, he moved to New
York City and secured a job as a reporter for the New York City News
Bureau, and a year later began his 61-year career with The Wall Street
His career at Journal was one of steady advancement: reporter, 1936;
Washington correspondent, 1936–40 and 1945–46; editorial writer
and columnist, 1946–48; associate editor, 1948–51; senior
associate editor, 1951–58; editor, 1958–71; contributing editor,
columnist, 1971–96; editor emeritus, 1993-96.
In 1940 Royster joined the United States Navy Reserve. During the
Second World War
Second World War he served as the captain of a US Navy destroyer, the
USS Jack Miller, in the
Pacific theater of the war. He rose to the
rank of lieutenant commander in the Navy. The Jack Miller saw a
considerable amount of combat against the Japanese Navy, and survived
being caught in two typhoons. In early September 1945, Royster was
among the first group of American officers to see the ruins of the
Japanese city of Nagasaki, which had been destroyed by the second
atomic bomb dropped on Japan. After the war ended Royster resumed his
career at The Wall Street Journal.
In 1953 Royster was awarded a
Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing. He
served as president of the
American Society of Newspaper Editors
American Society of Newspaper Editors in
1965–66. He retired as editor of
The Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal in 1971 and
began writing his popular weekly column Thinking Things Over, which he
continued until the handicaps of old age forced him to discontinue it
in 1986. He was awarded a second Pulitzer Prize, in 1984, for
After his retirement from the Journal, he became the Kenan Professor
of Journalism and Public Affairs at the University of North Carolina
at Chapel Hill.
When he was awarded the
Presidential Medal of Freedom
Presidential Medal of Freedom by President
Ronald Reagan in 1986, the citation read:
For over half a century, as a journalist, author, and teacher, Vermont
Royster illuminated the political and economic life of our times. His
common sense exploded the pretensions of "expert opinion," and his
compelling eloquence warned of the evils of society loosed from its
moorings in faith. The voice of the American people can be heard in
his prose—honest, open, proud, and free.
Other awards he received include Distinguished Service Award, Sigma
Delta Chi, 1958; William Allen White Award, University of Kansas,
1971; Gerald Loeb Award for Distinguished Business and Financial
Journalism, 1975; Elijah Lovejoy Award 1976; North Carolina Journalism
Hall of Fame, 1980.
In 1976, Royster received the Elijah Parish Lovejoy Award as well as
Doctor of Laws
Doctor of Laws degree from Colby College.
Several of the editorials he wrote are considered classics: The
Desolate Wilderness along with And the Fair Land are now The Wall
Street Journal's traditional
Thanksgiving editorials, and In Hoc Anno
Domini appears every Christmas.
Royster married Frances Claypoole in 1937, and the couple had two
daughters, Francis and Eleanor. He died on July 22, 1996, and she
followed two years later on April 23, 1998, both in Raleigh, North
Carolina. He was 82 and she was 83.
He is a cousin, through the Roysters, of Kay Kyser, a popular
bandleader in the 1930s and 1940s.
Royster, Vermont C. (1962). Journey through the Soviet Union. New
York: Dow Jones. LCCN 62052268.
Royster, Vermont C. (1967). A Pride of Prejudices. New York: Knopf.
Royster, Vermont C. (1983). My own, My country's time : a
journalist's journey. Chapel Hill, N.C.: Algonquin Books. LCCN
Fuller, Edmund (1985). The essential Royster : a Vermont Royster
reader. Chapel Hill, N.C.: Algonquin Books. LCCN 85001302.
^ Richard Vetter, "Wall Street Journal," in Bruce Frohnen, ed.
American Conservatism (2006) pp. 898–99
Papers of Vermont Royster at University of North Carolina
Vermont Connecticut Royster Papers at Syracuse University
Short Summary and Photo
Essay by Jennifer Cook
A film clip "The Open Mind - A Servant of History, Part I (1986)" is
available at the Internet Archive
A film clip "The Open Mind - A Servant of History, Part II (1986)" is
available at the Internet Archive
Appearances on C-SPAN
Pulitzer Prize for Commentary (1976–2000)
Walter Wellesley (Red) Smith (1976)
George Will (1977)
William Safire (1978)
Russell Baker (1979)
Ellen Goodman (1980)
Dave Anderson (1981)
Art Buchwald (1982)
Claude Sitton (1983)
Vermont C. Royster (1984)
Murray Kempton (1985)
Jimmy Breslin (1986)
Charles Krauthammer (1987)
Dave Barry (1988)
Clarence Page (1989)
Jim Murray (1990)
Jim Hoagland (1991)
Anna Quindlen (1992)
Liz Balmaseda (1993)
William Raspberry (1994)
Jim Dwyer (1995)
E. R. Shipp (1996)
Eileen McNamara (1997)
Mike McAlary (1998)
Maureen Dowd (1999)
Paul Gigot (2000)
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