Tertius Chandler, Historian and Reformer

BERKELEY e-PLAQUE

Theophilus “Tertius” Parsons Chandler III
(1915–2000)


Chandler Residence (1970s): 2720 Elmwood Avenue
Chandler Residence (1980s–1990s): 2500 Buena Vista Way

Tertius Chandler, a scholar and intellect as prolific as he was unknown, was a striking figure—tall and dressed as if to the manor born. In fact, Chandler was born into an upper class Massachusetts family, attended Harvard and graduate school at UC Berkeley.

Following school Chandler lived a vagabond life that would have put Kerouac to shame. He roamed the western states, Europe, and New Zealand, often traveling by foot and sleeping outside or, famously, in a cave outside Susanville. To supplement an allowance from his mother, he worked odd jobs—washing dishes (at Larry Blake’s in Berkeley), setting pins in bowling alleys, sorting radio parts, and fighting wild fires.

Chandler relentlessly researched history and population demographics in U.S. and European libraries, compiling detailed lists for use in writings containing “discoveries” based on unsubstantiated leaps. His best know work, Four Thousand Years of Urban Growth, was self-published.

Chandler’s politics are not easily defined. From 1939 to 1978 he considered himself a moderate Marxist and opposed Fascism. Because he found Britain’s colonial policy deplorable he dodged the draft in World War II. In the early 70s by his own description he “thrashed around pretty hard in world affairs, without clearly accomplishing a great deal.” One thing he did accomplish was getting included on President Nixon’s second Enemies List, identified as No. 133. Chandler was a major contributor to the campaigns of Pete McCloskey, who challenged Nixon for the GOP nomination, and of Democratic nominee George McGovern.

In 1974, Chandler shifted his focus to local politics, volunteering for the early Berkeley campaigns of Loni Hancock who went on to become a councilmember, mayor and California state Senator. On an anti-Proposition 13 platform which favored a land value tax rather than a property tax, Chandler ran without success for Berkeley City Council and Congress (against Ron Dellums). He was a lifelong advocate of the odd combination of Prohibition and legalized prostitution.

Late in life he obtained a Ph.D from Clayton University, an institution operating from an office in Missouri that awarded doctorates based on life experience and work. A self-described “universal historian” and “historical path-breaker,” he struggled with his lack of fame, saying in 1989 that he only wanted two things, “a publisher and to teach.”

Chandler was an avid walker and runner who proudly never drove a car. On April 21, 2000, he was hit by a car while crossing Shattuck Avenue at Virginia St. and died a month later.

He was a scholar, a gentleman, and a lot more.

Contributed by Tom Dalzell, 2014


  • Chandler Residence, Elmwood Ave., photo (2015) R. Kehlmann

  • Chandler Residence, Buena Vista Way, photo (2014) R. Kehlmann

  • Tertius Chandler (1985), Berkeley Voice

  • Chandler and his wife (1989), photo Don Melandry, Berkeley Voice

  • Chandler Joggoing, (1995), photo Chester King Vega, Hills Publication

  • Letter to Editor (1968), Life Magazine.

More information:
“Discoveries”:
That Ramses III discovered America in 1181 BC.
That Tubal of ancient Spain may have built Stonehenge.
That Moses was Ikhnaton's vizier Ramose.
That Mercury was Menkure, pharaoh of Egypt in 2500 BC.
That Chinese writing was derived from that of Moses.
That Hindu reincarnation concepts came from Egypt.
That Noah was the same person as the ancient Greek Aeneas.
That Moses, influenced by the Egyptian pharaoh Ikhnaton, originated democracy, advocated the Golden Rule, and invented the alphabet.

Writings:
Godly Kings and Early Ethics (1981), ISBN 0-9603872-4-2
Moses and the Golden Age (1986), ISBN 0-8059-3024-8
Four Thousand Years of Urban Growth First edition (1974) revised edition (1987), ISBN 0-88946-207-0
Chandler's Half Encyclopedia
The Tax We Need
Remote Kingdoms
Progress: Social Progress from Mercury to Kennedy

Fred Foldvary’s Remembrance

Photo credit abbreviations:
BAHA: Berkeley Architectural Heritage Assn.
BHS: Berkeley Historical Society