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Pamphlet "Brent Dow Allinson: Conscientious Objector to War"

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[Prepared at the request of counsel to be read at the general court-martial held at Camp Grant on June 11th, 1918, this statement was never used for the reason that the defendant determined to take the stand and testify in his own behalf.]


I was born in Chicago twenty-five years ago and I have lived there all my life, with the exception of certain periods when I have been away at school. FOr the last fifteen years my father and mother have been actively interested in the life and problems of the city’s unassimilated immigrants, and in the task of social reform. Since 1907 they have been the resident heads of a social settlement in the twentieth ward, a large percentage of whose population is of foreign birth or parentage. Cosmopolitanism has therefore been in the air which I have breathed for many years.

During my two years at the University of Chicago, I was a member and for part of the time an officer of the Cosmopolitan Club there. This general and early interest in people of alien race led to the choice in College of considerable work in modern languages. In September 1915, I went to Harvard University and at the end of that academic year I was elected president for the ensuring year of the Harvard International Polity Club, one of the larger undergraduate clubs. The purposes of this organization, as defined on its letterheads, were: “To promote the thoughtful study and discussion of modern international problems, with a view to the formulation of American policy, which shall contribute to the peace and better government of the world.” In the meetings of the Polity Club many aspects of the world war were discussed and many pertinent books were read. All degrees of opinion, both militarist and pacifist, if I may use two much overworked words, were represented in these discussions. It was I think because I happened to be the president of the club that in February 1917 I was invited together with representatives from Yale, Amherst, Dartmouth, Princeton and Columbia, to appear before the Committee on Military affairs of the United States Senate, which then had in conference what was known as the “Chamberlain Bill” to establish universal compulsory military training and service in the United States. On this occasion I spoke briefly against the object of the bill in question: what I said is to be found in the published volume of the records of the Senate Military Affairs Committee concerning the “Chamberlain Bill”; and I mention the fact now only because it may be considered as my first public statement upon a subject connected with the war, because the prosecution may seek to introduce it in this trial as evidence of my “intention to desert” from the drafted armies of the United States which were not at that time in existence and whose creation I opposed, and because I wish to call attention to the date of its occurrence, i. e. two months prior to the American declaration of war.

I remained at College until the end of the academic year in June, interesting myself immediately following the coming of war


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