James Robinson was an American historian.Robinson was born in Bloomington, Illinois, the son of a bank president. After traveling to Europe in 1882 and returning to work in his father’s bank, Robinson entered Harvard University in 1884, earning his M.A. in 1888 before returning to Europe.
After further study at the University of Strasbourg and the University of Freiburg, he received his Ph.D. at Freiburg in 1890, and began teaching European history at the University of Pennsylvania in 1891, moving to Columbia University in 1895–1919, becoming a full professor in 1895. He trained numerous graduate students who went on to professorships around the United States.