William D. Rogers.

Author:Brower, Charles N.
Position:American Society of International Law president - Testimonial

Bill Rogers died poetically at the end of a life of principle. The poetry first: The New York Times reported his death as follows: Mr. Rogers, a devotee of fox hunting, died during a hunt after suffering a heart attack while riding his favorite horse, Isaiah. He was declared dead almost immediately by a doctor participating in the hunt. An Episcopal priest was called, the hounds were collected and the hunters gathered for a short service on the spot. One by one, they rode past him and tipped their hats. What better way to depart this world than in an instant while fully engaged in what one loves most.

We pause a few moments this afternoon to tip our hats to a man of principle. Bill was too young to enlist in World War II, so he spent his summers working in a shipyard building warships. Following Princeton and Yale Law School, he clerked for the Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and for then Justice Stanley Reed on the U.S. Supreme Court. And he arrived just in time to deal both with the first argument in Brown v. Board of Education and with the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg espionage case.

His life of personally demonstrated principle began more publicly when he left there for the brand new firm of Arnold, Fortas & Porter to become its ninth lawyer. And he went straight into the defense, which was successful, of Owen Lattimore, who at least older persons present will recall was a chief target of the subsequently disgraced Senator Joseph McCarthy.

A man of principle. He was appointed in the Kennedy Administration and continued in the Johnson Administration at the Alliance for Progress. But in 1965, he resigned out of disenchantment he expressed with President Johnson's invasion of the Dominican Republic and with his Vietnam policy.

Nonetheless, George Ball, who was then Under Secretary of State--we would now call that person Deputy Secretary of State--asked Bill to head up a task force to advise the Secretary of State and the President about what to do about Ian Smith's unilateral declaration of the independence of Southern Rhodesia and the British government's proposal to invade the rebellious former colony. Under Rogers' leadership, the task force concluded that the U.S. should not provide intelligence or logistical support for any such operation and the President should seek to dissuade the British Government from this course, and in all of this Rogers was successful.

But he was out of government and back at...

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