John Beverley Robinson in “The Michigan Daily” (1916–1918)

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  • “Engineering News,’” The Michigan Daily 27 no. 35 (November 11, 1916): 4.
  • Tom P. Knockafellow, “Let’s Be a Soldier Boy?” The Michigan Daily 27 no. 93 (February 17, 1917): 5.
  • John Beverley Robinson, “Don’t Be a Brown Bear,” The Michigan Daily 27 no. 94 (February 18, 1917): 5.
  • Publius Croesus, “A Fly in the Ointment,” The Michigan Daily 27 no. 94 (February 18, 1917): 5.
  • N. H. S., “Come to Rescue of Preparedness by Refuting ‘Brown Bear’ Letter,” The Michigan Daily 27 no. 95 (February 20, 1917): 4.
  • E. D. A., “Come to Rescue of Preparedness by Refuting ‘Brown Bear’ Letter,” The Michigan Daily 27 no. 95 (February 20, 1917): 4.
  • John Beverley Robinson, “Brown Bear is Back,” The Michigan Daily 27 no. 96 (February 21, 1917): 4.
  • E. D. A., “Challenges Robinson,” The Michigan Daily 27 no. 97 (February 22, 1917): 2.
  • “Robinson Defines Anarchism,” The Michigan Daily 27 no. 106 (March 4, 1917): 5.
  • “Prof. J. B. Robinson Talks on ‘No War for America,’” The Michigan Daily 27 no. 109 (March 8, 1917): 1.
  • “Peace League,” The Michigan Daily 27 no. 127 (March 29, 1917): 2.
  • [advertisement], The Michigan Daily 28 no. 105 (March 3, 1918): 2.
  • “Unitarian Church,” The Michigan Daily 28 no. 105 (March 3, 1918): 5.

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Engineering News

Prof. J. B. Robinson of Washington University was the principal speaker at the Architectural society “booster banquet” at the Delta last night. Professor Robinson is the father of Prof. B. Robinson of the architectural department.

“Engineering News,’” The Michigan Daily 27 no. 35 (November 11, 1916): 4.



Editor, The Michigan Daily:

It grieves me much that there should be so few of the students of the University who have responded to the call for volunteers for military training. I had confidently expected that, instead of a paltry 152 enlistments, there would have been ten times that number—enough for a whole regiment, and a troop of horse or artillery besides!

Think how glorious it would be to march through the streets of Ann Arbor, with flags flying and drums beating, on your way to the front, when the next war is declared! Think of the joy of the return of the 200 or 300 survivors, decorated with medals “For Valor,” adored by women, adulated by the whole population; only less happy than their comrades, who have nobly yielded up their lives for their country in the trenches!

Consider, too, the prestige that such a regiment would bring to your beloved University—the reputation that it would foster in the Legislature, and the number of new buildings that the legislature would grant in return!

But these, after all, are mostly only sentimental considerations, gratifying though such lofty sentiments are to every truly patriotic soul! There are also very material advantages to be taken into account.

Bear in mind the vast additions to the material wealth of the country that would accrue as the result of your self denial and heroism—the profits that some patriotic citizens would obtain from manufacturing ships and guns and ammunition! Millions,—I tell you, my dear friends,—there are millions in it! And besides these, the innumerable other things required- the coats and shoes and food—ah, yes, canned food-you’ve no idea how profitable it is! All this would come as the result of your heroic self sacrifice!

Yet even this is not all. With your aid we should be able to get the labor required for all this work at the cheapest possible price. I should like to see any crowd of workingmen dare to strike, when you—my brave boys!—got after them with your gatling guns!

Finally it would be through your devoted services, offered to a grateful and appreciative Fatherland that we should be able to invest our profits to advantage. The debt of the country now is less than a billion dollars. It ought to be ten billions! Our adored country would sell bonds to us to that amount, or perhaps even more! That would be wealth and prosperity for you! That would be a country that you could be proud of!

So think it over carefully, and let us see a great change after these uplifting reflections have sunk in. Let us see crowds of students pressing for the honor of enlisting to serve their beloved country! Let all who hang back be forever branded and blasted as COWARDS!


Tom P. Knockafellow, “Let’s Be a Soldier Boy?” The Michigan Daily 27 no. 93 (February 17, 1917): 5.



Editor, The Michigan Daily:

The chief grudge that the pacifists have against the militarism is their total lack of imagination.

Naturally, the first thing that occurs to anybody, when they are afraid that some other people are coming with bombs and torpedoes to blow them skyhigh, is to also get some bombs and torpedoes and do some blowing themselves. If they can get together enough of these weapons, and can arouse the necessary spirit to use them, by cheers and flag waving, it would seem to be a foregone conclusion that they would blow up the enemy before the enemy could blow them up. Logically, the scheme is perfect.

The trouble is it doesn’t work that way.

In actual practice, we have seen men for centuries trying to guard themselves against war by arming themselves; and, the more they arm themselves, the more wars there are.

Right now, at the present moment, under our noses, as it were, we have the most stupendous laboratory experiment, so to speak, of the results of “preparedness.” All the European nations were “prepared.” Some were prepared more than others; but it is an error to say that any of them was unprepared. The result is the general mix-up that we see, with the apparent probability that the most prepared of all is not going to come out on top, as logic would require, but just the opposite.

Now, our militarists seem totally incapable of learning from experience. Did you ever see a bear, walking up and down—up and down—behind the bars of his cage, trying to find a space wide enough for him to get out? If the bear had any sense, one might address him and say, “Stop, Mr. Bear—stop right now! Don’t go back to the other end of the cage again! You’ve tried it fifty times. You ought to be sure by this time that you can’t get out that way. Try scratching a hole through the bottom of your cage, or finding some cranny at the top; but stop doing what you’ve tried a thousand times before with nothing but failure!”

Of course the bear would neither listen nor understand; and, to all appearance, neither will the militarist.

Both the bear and the militarist have the logic on their side. The front of the cage is the most open—manifestly the proper place to try to get out; the only way to oppose somebody who is coming to kill you, is to kill him first. The weakness of us pacifists is that we have no logic to help us. It does seem absurd—it may be freely granted—as far as logic is concerned, not to arm for defence But if we have not the logic, we have the facts; and he who has facts can let the logic go.

So we again urge you militarists not to keep on doing blindly what you have tried hundreds of times before and found a conspicuous failure! Have more sense than a brown bear!

The experience of ages has proved war futile; give up war anyway—try some other way, be it scratching a hole through the bottom or scrambling out at the top! War has been proves a failure by the facts. Give it up! And that means peace at any price!

And now I see you balk—”Oh, no! not at any price!” “Well, why not? What higher price could you pay for anything than you pay for war. Would peace cost more than war? Hardly!

Of course, I could tell you the real remedy, but your minds are not yet ready. For the present, all I am asking is that you should use what intelligence you have to more purpose than a brown bear.


John Beverley Robinson, “Don’t Be a Brown Bear,” The Michigan Daily 27 no. 94 (February 18, 1917): 5.



Editor, The Michigan Daily:

It has come to my ears that my very dear friend and fellow capitalist, Tom P. Knockafellow, has written you a letter, the publication of which was intended to increase the number of students desirous of military training. While I am in no wise unmindful of the benefit that would accrue to our clan and to the street in the event that war would be declared, I yet perceive one or two flies in the otherwise placid ointment, whose presence has evidently escaped the sagacity of Mr. Knockafellow.

Short-sighted indeed are those members of the capitalist class whose end and aim is to increase interest in such military training and preparedness with the purpose of precipitating the country into a war, and then enriching themselves by the luscious profits. I warned dear Knockafellow not to try a gag so ancient as that of painting the glory of war, the adoration of women, the flying flags, and number of medals, saying that university students had surely arrived at that degree of wisdom where they felt the need of preparedness for the sake of protecting their country and their homes from possible invasion, and that military training if left in their hands, prepared against war, and not for it.

But he laughed at my suggestion, saying that declarations of war were not left to university students or to anyone else, save the government acting under our control. I should be happy to believe this, but my greatest ear, both waking and asleep, is that when matters come to a crisis, war will, or will not be brought about by the people of the United States, not subject to our intervention.

I further asserted that the portion of the people to which he was addressing his letter, could not be blinded to the wide-spread desolation and poverty that follows in the wake of war, nor oblivious to the fact that while a few munition makers might profit, the country as a whole would suffer: Besides there is always the danger that the government, which after all, is more under the rule of the people than of us, would take over munition plants and those built for the manufacture of supplies in the event of actual war.

“Stuff!” exclaimed my friend. “Even at that, we could run the country into a vast public debt. Bonds would then be issued, which we might gobble up and reap interest on for a thousand years.”

“But, my dear fellow,” I said, “in the case of a bonded indebtedness heavier income and property taxes would be levied, which would fall heaviest upon us and upon us alone.”

He cried out that if I were a pacifist at heart, then at heart we ought both agree, since it was evident that we both deemed the man-in-the-trench as mere cannon-meat, I because I would send the unprepared boys to certain death without profit to anyone, while he would at least make sure of a profit for himself. At that moment little Knockafellow, aged six, entered the room with a toy gun upon his “choot the Jummuns.” I turned pale, shoulder, saying that he was going to for I know of some very lovely bits of cannon-meat myself, which bear my name.

No, my dear sir, I am not a pacifist, if pacifism means lack of preparedness. If we could make terms with all the foreign powers that would secure for us a lasting peace, well and good. But since we seem unable to do so, and since even we capitalists have far more to lose than gain by waging warfare, I am for strong military training and for a preparedness that will result in the respect of foreign powers, and cause some hesitation on their part ere they lightly declare war upon us.

Herein Knockafellow and I full agree that military training, especially in the universities should be fostered. But whereas he sees only profit for himself, I see none. Yet I do perceive safety and protection for everyone, and ourselves included. Therefore, with him I enjoin more of your students to come forward for the sake of protection, for the sake of insuring a lasting peace for our country.


Publius Croesus, “A Fly in the Ointment,” The Michigan Daily 27 no. 94 (February 18, 1917): 5.

Come to Rescue of Preparedness by Refuting ‘Brown Bear’ Letter

Editor, The Michigan Daily:

“To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace. A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined; to which end a uniform and well digested plan is requisite.”

General Washington’s speech to both houses of Congress, Jan. 8, 1790.

“I wish to call Mr. John B. Robinson’s attention to the above statement made by one to whom we may be thankful for the liberties and wonderful opportunities that we enjoy as a result of his part in making our nation what it is today. Little thought, Mr. Robinson, do you give to the hardships endured by our ancestors to help make our nation what it is today. They gave their lives for liberties which they could never enjoy.

I think preparedness has already been proved to be more efficient than pacifism, by abler men than I. Therefore I do not care to make this article a review of material already familiar to you. If you glance back over history, I doubt if you can find a period of more than 10 years during which there was not war somewhere in the world. If I may quote Mr. Roosevelt’s statement, which so ably brings out the cause for preparedness, “There can be no better cause for which to work than the peace of righteousness. The surest of all ways to invite disaster is to be opulent, aggressive, and unarmed.”

As for the good of having military training in universities, I would like to quote a few words of John Andrews, provost of the University of Pennsylvania from 1810 to 1813. “To be exposed to some hardships is good for young men. It overcomes that softness and indolence and that senseless pride which in the course of an indulgent education they are apt to contract, and gives them a greater manliness and energy of character.”

Mr. Robinson, if you answer this communication, I wish that you would please make clear to me your analogy of the “brown bear.” As I understand it, you believe in having the government disband its entire armament and defy anyone to tread upon our rights. “Logically the scheme is perfect,” to use your words. “The trouble is, it doesn’t work that way,” Preparedness is merely insurance against invasion. Surely you believe in protective insurance.

N. H. S., ‘19E.

Editor, The Michigan Daily:

It is good to see a quotation from such a paper as the New York Times on your editorial page. I hope there will be more from the same source.

You are right about the cleverness of the communication signed “Tom P. Knockafellow,” and his second one is even more clever than the first. In fact, his arguments are logically correct; the only trouble with them is that they are based on false premises; for instance, he alleges that the best way to avoid war is to be as unprepared as possible, and that the least prepared nation would fare the best in the event of war in case she were attacked. This is not proved true in the case of Belgium. Perhaps he means to imply that an unprepared nation would not be attacked. This supposition, however, will hardly hold water in the light of recent events. And as for not resenting an attack, that admits of no answer.

He says, “The experience of ages has proved war futile,” but is this a true statement? There is always the question of justice which must be taken into consideration. Was the American revolution a futile war? It gave us liberty. Was the Civil War futile? It gave freedom to the slaves. Is the present war futile? Not if it leads to greater freedom for mankind. The cost is terrific, of course, but that is all the more reason that we should resolve that it shall not have been in vain, and that the fruit of all this sacrifice shall be a higher liberty for, all humanity.

This is the sentiment that is felt in the east of our country, and not the alleged craven fear that somebody is coming with bombs and torpedoes to blow us up.

Tom P. Knockafellow asks, “Would peace cost more than war?” Perhaps it would. It might be bought at the price of honor, and though honor is perhaps an old-fashioned notion, it is a notion that is still in vogue with some people,—with the majority of Americans, I trust and believe.

E. D. A.

N. H. S. & E. D. A., “Come to Rescue of Preparedness by Refuting ‘Brown Bear’ Letter,” The Michigan Daily 27 no. 95 (February 20, 1917): 4.



Editor, The Michigan Daily:

So now I have three to answer, Publius Croesus, N. H. S. and E. D. A. Let me take them in order.

Reflect, Publius Croesus, when you say that war would be to the disadvantage of the rich as well as the poor, that war has always been waged and led by the aristocracy; that until the last century there was no aristocracy but a war aristocracy; that even yet in Germany the war aristocracy rules, although the money aristocracy has taken its place elsewhere. Reflect that no war is carried on without the assent of the bankers; and realize that bankers are not in business for their health.

Notice, too, the little things that show the desire of the rich for war, as, just recently, in The Michigan Daily for Feb. 15, a paragraph about the American Rights League, which is going to urge “immediate vigorous action,”—that means war,—through advertisements in “all the leading newspapers of the country.” It cost a lot money to put advertisements in all the leading newspapers.

Notice how the Central Labor Union men refused to walk in the preparedness parades, and how the marchers were trolley car, electric lighting, department store and other employees, who could be and were ordered by their masters to march. Notice, too, how Anne Morgan and a select company of many millioned women went the rounds to aid the preparedness parades, until they found out that their presence gave color to the statement, which I now repeat, that the rich, as a class, want war.

They want it because they make money out of it in various ways. Remember that the great evil in time of peace is stagnation of business—what they call overproduction, which means not that people don’t want overcoats, but that they haven’t the money to pay for them. “Hooray!” cry the overcoat owners, “We can’t sell to the people, because they’re so darned poor. We’ll sell to the government all the overcoats it wants for its soldiers, and the more soldiers, the more overcoats will be needed. Hooray, for the Old Flag!”

Then in payment they are glad to take government bonds, which will ensure them and their children and grandchildren an income, not only for life, but to all eternity! Talk of treasures in heaven! Government bonds have got them skinned alive!

And Publius Croesus really must read up his economics a little before he says again that the rich pay the taxes. It is true that they are largely paid through the rich, so that the rich seem to pay them; but the basis of economics is that labor produces all wealth, and, ultimately, all payments come out of labor.

Now for N. H. S.! N. H. S. don’t ever talk about “abler men than myself” in that please-step-on-me tone. There isn’t a better man in the. universe than yourself, as far as your interests are concerned. Think for yourself. If you bow down to people and adore them, they will use you, and suck you dry, and throw you on the ash heap. If you really enjoy sticking people with a bayonet, or being stuck yourself, by all means practice for it, so that you can get all the fun possible out of it when the time comes. Try a cat and a carving knife first. But if you don’t enjoy that sort of thing, don’t let them fool you into it with their fine phrases.

If E. D. A. will look over what I wrote, he will find that he is mistaken in saying that I said things I didn’t say. I didn’t say that ‘”the best way to avoid war is to be as unprepared as possible,” nor did I say nor imply that “an unprepared nation would not be attacked.” I merely “put it up” to the preparedness people to invent something a little more original—something different—that had not been discredited by repeated failure.

As for the American Revolution, the democracy which was established at its close was brought about more by the speculations of the French philosophers of the eighteenth century upon liberty, than by the war. The war merely gave the opportunity. If the present war ends in the establishment of some new and happier social arrangement, such as thinkers of many varieties have been preaching for fifty years past, it would be a parallel case. The war would break up the present regime, and give a chance for a new and different crystallization to start. And that is just what may happen.

But be assured that neither preparedness nor unpreparedness, nor Leagues to Enforce Peace, nor any other trivial stopgap is going to put and end to war. To do away with war, we must seek out and understand and remove the causes of war, of all of which I may tell you some day.


John Beverley Robinson, “Brown Bear is Back,” The Michigan Daily 27 no. 96 (February 21, 1917): 4.



Editor, The Michigan Daily:

If, as Mr. John B. Robinson says, he can tell us the real remedy for war,—if he can tell us the real solution,—I think that it is his duty to his country to come forward and do so and not hide behind the paltry excuse that “our minds are not yet ready.”

E. D. A.

E. D. A., “Challenges Robinson,” The Michigan Daily 27 no. 97 (February 22, 1917): 2.


Summarizes Principles Before Invited Audience of 50

“Scientific Anarchism” was the subject of a talk delivered Friday night by Prof. John Beverly Robinson of Washington university, St. Louis, to an invited audience of 50 at the home of Miss Agnes Inglis, 1340 Wilmot street. Professor Robinson is the author of several pamphlets on political, economic, and social topics, and recently contributed several communications on pacifism to The Daily.

Interest, rent, and profit are the principal objects of the attack of anarchism, as, from the viewpoint of the anarchist, they take from the producer and give to the non-producer. The theory of scientific anarchism, according to Professor Robinson, by removing these causes of distress, will ultimately remove all inequality between man and man, and give to each the same benefits and enjoyments from life that he is entitled to as a human being.

Professor Robinson summarized anarchism thus: “It is the revolt of the individual against the institution, the introduction of the spirit of Protestantism into government, as Luther and his adherents introduced it into religion. It aims not to remove government, but to make it the servant of the people instead of their master.”

“Robinson Defines Anarchism,” The Michigan Daily 27 no. 106 (March 4, 1917): 5.


Prof. Beverly Robinson of the college of architecture will deliver an address on the subject, “No War for America” at 7:30 o’clock tonight in Newberry hall. The meeting will be held under the auspices of the Intercollegiate society, and will be open to the public.

It is thought that Professor Robinson will adopt a rather radical attitude throughout his talk, and will endeavor to refute the argument being advanced that the working class of America has something to gain in the event of war.

“Prof. J. B. Robinson to Speak on ‘No War for America,’” The Michigan Daily 27 no. 108 (March 7, 1917): 1.


“No War for America” was the subject of the lecture given last night at Newberry hall by Prof. John Beverly Robinson of Washington university.

Professor Robinson’s remarks were especially interesting in view of the present agitation for preparedness. “War,” said the speaker, “has nothing to do with the case to be decided. It simply settles which nation is the stronger, and not which is in the right. And yet we cannot overcome and abolish war until society is completely reorganized on a new and non-military basis.”

“Prof. J. B. Robinson Talks on ‘No War for America,’” The Michigan Daily 27 no. 109 (March 8, 1917): 1.


No Dues! No Officers! No Meetings!

Just a Roll of Lovers of Peace, both men and women, who will refuse to take part in war or in preparation for war, for mutual aid in a mad world.. Join now! Call up John Beverley Robinson, 837-R.—Adv.

“Peace League,” The Michigan Daily 27 no. 127 (March 29, 1917): 2.

Unitarian Church

Sermon at 10:30 o’clock by the Rev. R. S. Loring on “Nietzsche—the Superman and Democracy.” At 6:30 o’clock Prof. John B. Robinson, formerly of Washington university,

“Unitarian Church,” The Michigan Daily 28 no. 105 (March 3, 1918): 5.

[advertisement], The Michigan Daily 28 no. 105 (March 3, 1918): 2.


About Shawn P. Wilbur 2703 Articles
Independent scholar, translator and archivist.