Albert Roberts learned the newspaper business from his father, John Roberts, publisher of the Republican Banner in Nashville, during the 1840s and 1850s.
But like most young men of his time, he found his career interrupted by the Civil War. He enlisted in May 1861 and rose to the rank of captain in the Tennessee Infantry. After leading his company in the battle of Shiloh, Roberts resigned and became editor of the Montgomery Mail.
Forced to flee Union forces, Roberts went to Chattanooga, where he joined his friend Henry Watterson in editing the Chattanooga Rebel. Established by Franc M. Paul, the Rebel was published in three states and for a period in a boxcar traveling with Confederate soldiers. Its last issue was at Selma, Alabama, in April 1865, when its plant was captured and destroyed.
After the war Roberts became a partner with his father in the Republican Banner. His writings in the Banner are said to be partly responsible for defeating Andrew Johnson’s bid for a second presidential term, but he later supported Johnson for Congress.
A versatile writer, Roberts sometimes used the pseudonym of “John Happy” in humorous works. Roberts was instrumental in the merger of the Republican Banner with the Union and American into the Nashville American. He became president of the publishing firm and editor of the American.
His newspaper career was interrupted again in 1885 when he was appointed United States consul to Hamilton, Ontario, by President Grover Cleveland. He returned to Nashville four years later and purchased an interest in the Southern Lumberman and served as its editor until his death on July 15,1895.