News article "Allinson Sent to Chicago as a Deserter"




News article "Allinson Sent to Chicago as a Deserter"






WWI conscientious objection / objectors


Chicago, Illinois; Fort Leavenworth, Kansas


Swarthmore College Peace Collection


Swarthmore College Peace Collection


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Allinson Sent To Chicago as A Deserter

“I Go to FIght War,” He Says; “He Goes to Court Martial,” Officer Replies

[Staff Correspondence]

WASHINGTON, April 20--Facing the charge of desertion for failure to report when called by the Chicago Draft Board, Brent Dow Allinson, CHicago pacifist and anti-war advocate, was arrested here to-day. He was taken to Chicago to-night, in custody of a military guard. The order for Allinson’s arrest was issued by the War Department. On his arrival in Chicago Allinson will become a “private,” and perhaps face a court martial.

Allinson was arrested by Department of Justice operatives after Secretary of War Baker had approved a recommendation of PRovost Marshal General Crowder, who declared that the young conscientious objector has shown impertinence and defiance of the selective draft act. After his arrest General Crowder declined to permit the youth to play the role of martyr, but kept him incommunicado. Allinson, however, anticipating this, left a defiant statement to be delivered to newspapers to serve as an interview.

“I am going under compulsion into the camp of an army to protest against the curse and infamy of international war,” Allinson said in this statement.

“He is going before a general court martial to be tried for desertion,” an officer of the judge advocate general’s department corrected, “and he will be lucky if he gets off with less than three to five years in the disciplinary barracks at Fort Leavenworth. Desertion in time of war may even be punish with death.”

Allinson’s statement said he would not “take arms against the youth of Germany,” and other defiant passages probably will not help his case any with the court martial.

A lengthy telegram from Jacob Bernheim, chairman of the Chicago board, brought Allinson’s career as a draft resister to an abrupt close.

Chairman Bernheim’s telegram was addressed direct to Secretary of War Baker. It asked what influence was shielding Allinson from arrest. It denounced his insolent attitude, which was utterly discrediting the Chicago local board, and insisted that Allinson should be brought baxk a prisoner.

Allinson was arrested at the home of G. W. Nasmyth, until recently one of the chief aids of Federal Fuel Administrator Garfield, where he had been a guest. The special agent making the arrest said the young man’s blase pose was quickly dropped when he learned he was under arrest. Allinson’s actions indicated this. He did not carry out his bluff to “serve tea” to the arresting officers. He was told to “pack up in a hurry and come along.”

Allinson’s statement to the press contained some of the phrases used in his “Open Letter to Secretary of War Baker,” published in the anti-war periodical “War.” This resulted in his dismissal from a post in the Berne (Switzerland) Legation, to which he was en route when The Tribune informed the State Department of his pacifist inclinations.

The statement follows:

“One word more before I go. My services have been and are still at my government’s command so long as it will permit to labor in a constructive way for ny worthy end. There is, however, a limit to what my be justly demanded, and in laying the obligation to participate in human slaughter upon me I conceive that it was passed that limit. It has refused to allow me to go abroad in the service of those who minister to the stricken and desolated victims of war, and it has thwarted all of my efforts to serve it in a civil capacity at home.

“Now, because I am in the twenties and physically sound and fit, it asks me to surrender my reasoned judgment and selft-determination [sic], and offers me the single and impossible alternative of violating all that I hold inviolable. It seeks to compel me to participate in the indiscriminate slaughter of youths of my own age with whom I have no quarrel, in an undertaking I regard as a vast and shameful civil war.

“I am going under compulsion into the camp of an army to protest against the curse and infamy of international law. Peace, just peace, peace which is the condition of tolerable existence, can never come by the sword. The noble eloquence of the President is poisoned by the disingenuousness of the Allies and the winged arrows of his words are blunted and turned to naught by the very fact and anarchy of war.

“That America should have been beguiled into this catastrophe, that she should have left her niche in history to ‘cheat and scramble in the market place of war,’ thinking thus to destroy war, is the irony of ironies.

“I am more and more convinced that only a deep moral revolt against the scourge and crime of war can end this universal misery. I think I hear the great tides of that revolt already thundering at the bar, and I am content to be an early wave that breaks and vanishes with a prophetic sound upon the shore.

“As I am master of myself and the slave of no man nor creed, I shall not compromise with war nor violate in my own person the dignity of humanity.


“News article "Allinson Sent to Chicago as a Deserter",” Conscientious Objection & the Great War: 1914-1920, accessed November 25, 2020,

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