Non-voluntary deferments in WWII?

Non-voluntary deferments in WWII?

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This question comes from an interview I conducted many years ago. The question about drafts reminded me. The subject was a grad student and medical researcher. His research project was canceled and he was assigned to the early stages of the Manhattan Project, which first started at the university level. He worked on the project until the end of the war.

According to the Selective Service, defense contractors were a form of deferment and thus were not drafted. That sounds like someone should be a defense contractor first, but this subject was not. His civilian assignment was non-voluntary.

This Wikipedia page gives a little bit of a clue as to a possible mechanism:

Industry realized that the Army urgently desired production of essential war materials and foodstuffs more than soldiers. (Large numbers of soldiers were not used until the invasion of Europe in summer 1944.) In 1940-43 the Army often transferred soldiers to civilian status in the Enlisted Reserve Corps in order to increase production. Those transferred would return to work in essential industry, although they could be called back to active duty if the Army needed them. Others were discharged if their civilian work was deemed essential.

Does anyone know how a lower level scientist or other support staff were brought on to the Manhattan Project specifically? Was there a way for the government to target specific kinds of skill sets, for instance, similar to the "doctor draft" instituted during Korea. And was it common during WWII to use non-voluntary "deferments" for strategically critical civilian personnel?

Note: The other possible mechanism I can think of is that his grant was cancelled from war-time cut-backs and he was offered the job on another project with the government, even though he didn't know what it was and this prevented his possible drafting. The interview is unclear. Any information is appreciated!

If you're referring specifically to deferments related to the Manhattan Project, this document is a fascinating read. It is apparently in response to arguments made in favor of giving technicians deferments based on security grounds, and instead argues that the hazards associated with the project put it in line with military service and forms a separate basis for granting deferrals. This might be a fruitful start for more research.

Also, the oral histories on the Voices of the Manhattan Project site contain several references to the draft.

If you are looking for more general information, this link contains documentation around the deferrals granted to members of the merchant marine as being essential workers, and quite a few farmers were given occupational referrals as well.

I have a friend whose father worked on the Manhattan Project.

Scientists (and other workers) for secret projects such as the Manhattan Project were recruited by higher ups, through reputation, or word of mouth. They didn't just "volunteer," because they weren't told what these projects were, or what the needed qualifications were; only the higher ups knew that.

Once on, only a handful of the most connected and knowledgeable people knew what the Manhattan Project was about. While it was mainly voluntary, most people were induced to join by being told, "This project is important enough to the war effort to keep you out of the armed forces." Mathematicians were told which calculations to make; "technicians" were told how to manufacture uranium without being told why, etc. Basically, the different elements of the project were kept as "separate" as possible, with people being told things only on a "need to know" basis.

Most people involved probably knew something about "radioactivity," which had been discovered by Marie Curie as early as 1903. Perhaps some of them thought they were manufacturing an X-ray gun, or maybe the equivalent of World War I's poison gas, shot out of special cannon. Practically no one could conceive of putting all that nuclear power into a handful of bombs capable of destroying a whole city.

Draft age is lowered to 18

On November 11, 1942, Congress approves lowering the draft age to 18 and raising the upper limit to age 37.

In September 1940, Congress, by wide margins in both houses, passed the Burke-Wadsworth Act, and the first peacetime draft was imposed in the history of the United States. The registration of men between the ages of 21 and 36 began exactly one month later. There were some 20 million eligible young men� percent were rejected the very first year, either for health reasons or because 20 percent of those who registered were illiterate.

But by November 1942, with the United States now a participant in the war, and not merely a neutral bystander, the draft ages had to be expanded men 18 to 37 were now eligible. Black people were passed over for the draft because of racist assumptions about their abilities and the viability of a mixed-race military. But this changed in 1943, when a “quota” was imposed, meant to limit the numbers of Black men drafted to reflect their numbers in the overall population, roughly 10.6 percent of the whole. Initially, Black soldiers were restricted to “labor units,” but this too ended as the war progressed, when they were finally used in combat.

By war’s end, approximately 34 million men had registered 10 million had been inducted into the military.


Colonial to 1862 Edit

In colonial times, the Thirteen Colonies used a militia system for defense. Colonial militia laws—and after independence those of the United States and the various states—required able-bodied males to enroll in the militia, to undergo a minimum of military training, and to serve for limited periods of time in war or emergency. This earliest form of conscription involved selective drafts of militiamen for service in particular campaigns. Following this system in its essentials, the Continental Congress in 1778 recommended that the states draft men from their militias for one year's service in the Continental Army this first national conscription was irregularly applied and failed to fill the Continental ranks.

For long-term operations, conscription was occasionally used when volunteers or paid substitutes were insufficient to raise the needed manpower. During the American Revolutionary War, the states sometimes drafted men for militia duty or to fill state Continental Army units, but the central government did not have the authority to conscript except for purposes of naval impressment. Post Ratification of the Constitution, Article I.8.15, allows for Congress to conscript. Giving it the power to provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions Section 8.16 of the same article, allows Congress to provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress. Article II.2.1 makes the President the commander in chief of the militia. The second amendment protects the infringement of the militia regulations, being necessary to the security of a free state. The Second Militia Act of 1792 defined the first group who could be called up as “each and every free able-bodied white male citizen” between the ages of 18 and 45.

The administration asserts the right to fill the ranks of the regular army by compulsion . Is this, sir, consistent with the character of a free government? Is this civil liberty? Is this the real character of our Constitution? No, sir, indeed it is not . Where is it written in the Constitution, in what article or section is it contained, that you may take children from their parents, and parents from their children, and compel them to fight the battles of any war, in which the folly or the wickedness of government may engage it? Under what concealment has this power lain hidden, which now for the first time comes forth, with a tremendous and baleful aspect, to trample down and destroy the dearest rights of personal liberty?
Daniel Webster (December 9, 1814 House of Representatives Address)

During the War of 1812, President James Madison and his Secretary of War James Monroe unsuccessfully attempted to create a national draft of 40,000 men. [7] The proposal was fiercely criticized on the House floor by antiwar Congressman Daniel Webster of New Hampshire. [8]

Civil War Edit

The United States first employed national conscription during the American Civil War. The vast majority of troops were volunteers of the 2,200,000 Union soldiers, about 2% were draftees, and another 6% were substitutes paid by draftees. [9] [10]

The Confederacy had far fewer inhabitants than the Union, and Confederate President Jefferson Davis proposed the first conscription act on March 28, 1862 it was passed into law the next month. [11] Resistance was both widespread and violent, with comparisons made between conscription and slavery.

Both sides permitted conscripts to hire substitutes to serve in their place. In the Union, many states and cities offered bounties and bonuses for enlistment. They also arranged to take credit against their draft quota by claiming freed slaves who enlisted in the Union Army.

Although both sides resorted to conscription, the system did not work effectively in either. [12] The Confederate Congress on April 16, 1862, passed an act requiring military service for three years from all white males aged 18 to 35 not legally exempt it later extended the obligation.

The U.S. Congress passed the Militia Act of 1862 which mirrored the 1792 Act except to allow African-Americans to serve in the militias and authorizing a militia draft within a state when it could not meet its quota with volunteers. [ citation needed ] This state-administered system failed in practice and Congress passed the Enrollment Act of 1863, the first genuine national conscription law, replacing the Militia Act of 1862, which required the enrollment of every male citizen and those immigrants (aliens) who had filed for citizenship, between 20 and 45 years of age, unless exempted by the Act. It set up under the Union Army an elaborate machine for enrolling and drafting men. Quotas were assigned in each state, the deficiencies in volunteers required to be met by conscription.

Still, men drafted could provide substitutes, and until mid-1864 could even avoid service by paying commutation money. Many eligible men pooled their money to cover the cost of any one of them drafted. Families used the substitute provision to select which member should go into the army and which would stay home. The other popular means of procuring a substitute was to pay a soldier whose period of enlistment was about to expire—the advantage of this method was that the Army could retain a trained veteran in place of a raw recruit. Of the 168,649 men procured for the Union Army through the draft, 117,986 were substitutes, leaving only 50,663 who had their personal services conscripted. There was much evasion and overt resistance to the draft, and the New York City draft riots were in direct response to the draft and were the first large-scale resistance against the draft in the United States.

The problem of Confederate desertion was aggravated by the inequitable inclinations of conscription officers and local judges. The three conscription acts of the Confederacy exempted certain categories, most notably the planter class, and enrolling officers and local judges often practiced favoritism, sometimes accepting bribes. Attempts to effectively deal with the issue were frustrated by conflict between state and local governments on the one hand and the national government of the Confederacy. [13]

World War I Edit

In 1917 the administration of President Woodrow Wilson decided to rely primarily on conscription, rather than voluntary enlistment, to raise military manpower for World War I when only 73,000 volunteers enlisted out of the initial 1 million target in the first six weeks of the war. [14] One ascribed motivation was to head off the former president, Theodore Roosevelt, who proposed to raise a volunteer division, which would upstage Wilson however, there is no evidence that Roosevelt had the support to carry out that plan, and also, since Wilson had just started his second term in office the former President's prospects for substantial political gain would seem dubious.

The Selective Service Act of 1917 was carefully drawn to remedy the defects in the Civil War system and—by allowing exemptions for dependency, essential occupations, and religious scruples—to place each man in his proper niche in a national war effort. [15] The act established a "liability for military service of all male citizens" authorized a selective draft of all those between 21 and 31 years of age (later from 18 to 45) and prohibited all forms of bounties, substitutions, or purchase of exemptions. Administration was entrusted to local boards composed of leading civilians in each community. These boards issued draft calls in order of numbers drawn in a national lottery and determined exemptions.

In 1917, 10 million men were registered. This was deemed to be inadequate, so age ranges were increased and exemptions reduced, and so by the end of 1918 this increased to 24 million men that were registered with nearly 3 million inducted into the military services, with little of the resistance that characterized the Civil War, thanks to a well-received campaign by the government to increase support for the war, and shut down newspapers and magazines that published articles against the war. [16] [17]

The draft was universal and included blacks on the same terms as whites, although they served in different units. In all 367,710 black Americans were drafted (13.0% of the total), compared to 2,442,586 white (86.9%). Along with a general opposition to American involvement in a foreign conflict, Southern farmers objected to perceived unfair conscription practices that exempted members of the upper class and industrial workers.

Draft boards were localized and based their decisions on social class: the poorest were the most often conscripted because they were considered the least likely to be the skilled labor needed for the war effort. Poor men were also less likely to convince local boards that they were primary breadwinners who could be deferred to support dependents. [18] [ citation needed ] African-Americans in particular were often disproportionately drafted, though they generally were conscripted as laborers. [ citation needed ] Forms of resistance ranged from peaceful protest to violent demonstrations and from humble letter-writing campaigns asking for mercy to radical newspapers demanding reform. The most common tactics were dodging and desertion, and some communities in isolationist areas even sheltered and defended their draft dodgers as political heroes.

Nearly half a million immigrants were drafted, which forced the military to develop training procedures that took ethnic differences into account. Military leaders invited Progressive reformers and ethnic group leaders to assist in formulating new military policies. The military attempted to socialize and Americanize young immigrant recruits, not by forcing "angloconformity", but by showing remarkable sensitivity and respect for ethnic values and traditions and a concern for the morale of immigrant troops, with the aim of blending them into the larger society. Sports activities, keeping immigrant groups together, newspapers in various languages, the assistance of bilingual officers, and ethnic entertainment programs were all employed. [19]

Opposition Edit

The Conscription Act of 1917 was passed in June. Conscripts were court-martialed by the Army if they refused to wear uniforms, bear arms, perform basic duties, or submit to military authority. Convicted objectors were often given long sentences of 20 years in Fort Leavenworth. [20] In 1918 Secretary of War Newton D. Baker created the Board of Inquiry to question the conscientious objectors' sincerity. [21] Military tribunals tried men found by the Board to be insincere for a variety of offenses, sentencing 17 to death, 142 to life imprisonment, and 345 to penal labor camps. [21] Many of these sentences were commuted after the war's end.

In 1917, a number of radicals and anarchists, including Emma Goldman, tried to challenge the new draft law in federal court, arguing that it was a direct violation of the Thirteenth Amendment's prohibition against slavery and involuntary servitude. The Supreme Court unanimously upheld the constitutionality of the draft act in the Selective Draft Law Cases on January 7, 1918. The decision said the Constitution gave Congress the power to declare war and to raise and support armies. The Court, relying partly on Vattel's The Law of Nations, emphasized the principle of the reciprocal rights and duties of citizens: [22]

It may not be doubted that the very conception of a just government and its duty to the citizen includes the reciprocal obligation of the citizen to render military service in case of need, and the right to compel it. To do more than state the proposition is absolutely unnecessary in view of the practical illustration afforded by the almost universal legislation to that effect now in force.

Conscription was unpopular from left-wing sectors at the start, with many Socialists jailed for "obstructing the recruitment or enlistment service". The most famous was Eugene Debs, head of the Socialist Party of America, who ran for president in 1920 from his Atlanta prison cell. He had his sentence commuted to time served and was released on December 25, 1921, by President Warren G. Harding. Also notably, the Industrial Workers of the World attempted to obstruct the war effort through strikes in war-related industries and not registering, but it did not meet with large success.

Although draft riots were not widespread, an estimated 171,000 people never registered for the draft while another 360,000 people never responded to induction orders. [23]

Conscientious objectors Edit

Conscientious objector (CO) exemptions were allowed for the Amish, Mennonites, Quakers, and Church of the Brethren only. All other religious and political objectors were forced to participate. Some 64,700 men claimed conscientious objector status local draft boards certified 57,000, of whom 30,000 passed the physical and 21,000 were inducted into the U.S. Army. About 80% of the 21,000 decided to abandon their objection and take up arms, [23] but 3,989 drafted objectors refused to serve. Most belonged to historically pacifist denominations, especially Quakers, Mennonites, and Moravian Brethren, as well as a few Seventh-day Adventists and Jehovah's Witnesses. About 15% were religious objectors from non-pacifist churches. [24]

Ben Salmon was a nationally known political activist who encouraged men not to register and personally refused to comply with the draft procedures. He rejected the Army Review Board proposal that he do noncombatant farm work. Sentenced to 25 years in prison, he again refused a proposed desk job. He was pardoned and released in November 1920 with a "dishonorable discharge". [25]

Interwar Edit

The draft ended in 1918 but the Army designed the modern draft mechanism in 1926 and built it based on military needs despite an era of pacifism. Working where Congress would not, it gathered a cadre of officers for its nascent Joint Army-Navy Selective Service Committee, most of whom were commissioned based on social standing rather than military experience. [26] This effort did not receive congressionally approved funding until 1934 when Major General Lewis B. Hershey was assigned to the organization. The passage of a conscription act was opposed by some, including Dorothy Day and George Barry O'Toole, who were concerned that such conscription would not provide adequate protection for the rights of conscientious objectors. However, much of Hershey's work was codified into law with the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 (STSA). [27]

World War II Edit

By the summer of 1940, as Germany conquered France, Americans supported the return of conscription. One national survey found that 67% of respondents believed that a German-Italian victory would endanger the United States, and that 71% supported "the immediate adoption of compulsory military training for all young men". [28] Similarly, a November 1942 survey of American high-school students found that 69% favored compulsory postwar military training. [29]

The World War I system served as a model for that of World War II. The 1940 law instituted conscription in peacetime, requiring the registration of all men between 21 and 35. President Roosevelt's signing of the Selective Training and Service Act on September 16, 1940, began the first peacetime draft in the United States. It also reestablished the Selective Service System as an independent agency responsible for identifying young men and facilitating their military service. Roosevelt named Lewis B. Hershey to head the System on July 31, 1941, where he remained until 1969. [27] This act came when other preparations, such as increased training and equipment production, had not yet been approved. Nevertheless, it served as the basis for the conscription programs that would continue to the present.

The act set a cap of 900,000 men to be in training at any given time, and limited military service to 12 months unless Congress deemed it necessary to extend such service in the interest of national defense. An amendment added 18 more months to this service period on August 18, 1941. After the Pearl Harbor attack the STSA was further amended (December 19, 1941), extending the term of service to the duration of the war plus six months and requiring the registration of all men 18 to 64 years of age. During World War II, 49 million men were registered, 36 million classified, [ failed verification ] and 10 million inducted. [30] 18 and 19 year olds were made liable for induction on November 13, 1942. By late 1942, the Selective Service System moved away from a national lottery to administrative selection by its more than 6,000 local boards.

On December 5, 1942, presidential Executive Order 9279 closed voluntary enlistment for all men from the ages of 18 to 37 for the duration of the war, providing protection for the nation's home front manpower pool. The Navy and Marine Corps began procuring their personnel through the Selective Service System in early 1943. The Navy and Marine Corps enlisted inductees and volunteers under the same service agreements, but with different service obligations, while the Army placed wartime inductees and volunteers into a special service component known as the Army of the United States, commonly known as the "AUS" service commitments were set at the length of the war plus six months. [31] [32]

Paul V. McNutt, head of the War Manpower Commission, estimated that the changes would increase the ratio of men drafted from one out of nine to one out of five. The commission's goal was to have nine million men in the armed forces by the end of 1943. [33] This facilitated the massive requirement of up to 200,000 men per month and would remain the standard for the length of the war.

The World War II draft operated from 1940 until 1946 when further inductions were suspended, and its legislative authorization expired without further extension by Congress in 1947. During this time, more than 10 million men had been inducted into military service. [34] However, the Selective Service System remained intact.

Opposition Edit

Draft evasion accounted for about 4% of the total inducted. About 373,000 alleged evaders were investigated with just over 16,000 being imprisoned. [35] Opposition was nonetheless encountered, especially in the northern cities where some African-Americans protested the system. The Nation of Islam was at the forefront, with many black Muslims jailed for refusing the draft, and their leader Elijah Muhammad was sentenced to federal prison for 5 years for inciting draft resistance. Organized draft resistance also developed in the Japanese American internment camps, where groups like the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee refused to serve unless they and their families were released. 300 Nisei men from eight of the ten War Relocation Authority camps were arrested and stood trial for felony draft evasion most were sentenced to federal prison. [36] American Communists also opposed the war by forming the "American Peace Committee", which tried to organize a coalition of anti-war groups. This lasted until Germany attacked the Soviet Union in June 1941, whereupon they changed the committee's name to the "American People's Committee" and supported aid to Britain, the draft and other preparations for war. [37]

Conscientious objectors Edit

Of the more than 72,000 men registering as conscientious objectors (CO), nearly 52,000 received CO status. Of these, over 25,000 entered the military in noncombatant roles, another 12,000 went to civilian work camps, and nearly 6,000 went to prison.

Cold War Edit

The second peacetime draft began with passage of the Selective Service Act of 1948 after the STSA expired. The new law required all men of age 18 to 26 to register. It also created the system for the "Doctor Draft", aimed at inducting health professionals into military service. [38] Unless otherwise exempted or deferred (see Berry Plan), these men could be called for up to 21 months of active duty and five years of reserve duty service. Congress further tweaked this act in 1950 although the post–World War II surplus of military manpower left little need for draft calls until President Truman's declaration of a national emergency in December 1950. [39] Only 20,348 men were inducted in 1948 and only 9,781 in 1949.

Between the Korean War's outbreak in June 1950 and the armistice agreement in 1953, Selective Service inducted over 1.5 million men. [34] Another 1.3 million volunteered, usually choosing the Navy or Air Force. [26] [35] Congress passed the Universal Military Training and Service Act in 1951 to meet the demands of the war. It lowered the induction age to 18½ and extended active-duty service commitments to 24 months. Despite the early combat failures and later stalemate in Korea, the draft has been credited by some as playing a vital role in turning the tide of war. [26] A February 1953 Gallup Poll showed that 70 percent of Americans surveyed felt that the SSS had handled the draft fairly. Notably, Gallup reported that 64 percent of the demographic group including all draft age men (males 21 to 29) believed the draft to be fair. [40]

To increase equity in the system, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed an executive order on July 11, 1953 that ended the paternity deferment for married men. [41] In large part, the change in the draft served the purposes of the burgeoning Cold War. From a program that had just barely passed Congressional muster during the fearful prelude to World War II, a more robust draft continued as fears now focused on the Soviet threat. Nevertheless, some dissenting voices in Congress continued to advocate for voluntary military service. [42] [43]

The onset of the Cold War coincided with the time at which men born during the Great Depression began to reach military age. Hershey and other supporters of the draft frequently pointed out that the Depression had resulted in a substantial reduction of the birth rate in order to back up their doubts regarding the return to an all-volunteer military at a time when it was known that the number of men reaching military age was going to fall significantly. The Korean War era marked the first time that any form of student deferment had been used. During the Korean War, a student carrying at least 12 semester hours was spared until the end of his current semester. [44]

Though the United States signed the Korean War Armistice on July 27, 1953, technology brought new promises and threats. American air and nuclear power fueled the Eisenhower doctrine of "massive retaliation." This strategy demanded more machines and fewer foot soldiers, so the draft slipped to the back burner. However, SSS director Gen. Hershey urged caution, fearing the conflict looming in Vietnam. In May 1953, he told his state directors to do everything possible to keep the SSS alive in order to meet upcoming needs. [45]

Following the 1953 Korean War Armistice, Congress passed the Reserve Forces Act of 1955 with the aim of improving National Guard and federal Reserve Component readiness while also constraining its use by the president. Toward this end, it mandated a six-year service commitment, in a combination of reserve and active duty time, for every line military member regardless of their means of entry. Meanwhile, the SSS kept itself alive by devising and managing a complex system of deferments for a swelling pool of candidates during a period of shrinking requirements. The greatest challenge to the draft came not from protesters but rather from lobbyists seeking additional deferments for their constituency groups, such as scientists and farmers. [27]

Many government leaders felt that the potential for a draft was a critical element in maintaining a constant flow of volunteers. On numerous occasions, Gen. Hershey told Congress that for every man drafted, three or four more were scared into volunteering. [46] Assuming that his assessment was accurate, this would mean that more than 11 million men volunteered for service because of the draft between January 1954 and April 1975. [26]

The policy of using the draft as a force to compel voluntary enlistment was unique in American history. Previous drafts had not aimed to encourage individuals to enlist in order to gain preferential placement or less dangerous postings. However, the incremental buildup of the Vietnam War without a clear threat to the country bolstered this type of focus. [26] Some estimates suggest that almost one-third of all eligible men were conscripted during the period of 1965–69. [47] [48] This group represented those without exemption or resources to avoid military service. During the active combat phase, the possibility of avoiding combat by selecting their service and military specialty led as many as four out of 11 eligible men to enlist. [49] [50] The military relied upon this draft-induced volunteerism to make its quotas, especially the Army, which accounted for nearly 95 percent of all inductees during the Vietnam War era. For example, defense recruiting reports show that 34% of the recruits in 1964, up to 50% in 1970, indicated that they had joined voluntarily in order to avoid placement uncertainty via the draft. [51] [52] [53] These rates dwindled to 24% in 1972 and 15% in 1973 after the change to a lottery system. Accounting for other factors, it can be argued up to 60% of those who served throughout the Vietnam War era did so directly or indirectly because of the draft. [49]

In addition, deferments provided an incentive for men to follow pursuits considered useful to the state. This process, known as channeling, helped push men into educational, occupational, and family choices that they might not otherwise have pursued. Undergraduate degrees were valued. Graduate work had varying value over time, though technical and religious training received nearly constant support. War-industry support in the form of teaching, research, or skilled labor also received deferred or exempt status. Finally, married and family men were exempted because of the positive social consequences. [27] [54] This included using presidential orders to extend exemptions again to fathers and others. [55] Channeling was also seen as a means of preempting the early loss of the country's "best and brightest" who had historically joined and died early in war. [56]

In the only extended period of military conscription of U.S. males during a major peacetime period, the draft continued on a more limited basis during the late 1950s and early 1960s. While a far smaller percentage of eligible males were conscripted than in war periods, draftees by law served in the Army for two years. Elvis Presley and Willie Mays were two of the most famous people drafted during this period.

Public protests in the United States were few during the Korean War. However, the percentage of CO exemptions for inductees grew to 1.5%, compared to a rate of just 0.5% in the past two wars. The Justice Department also investigated more than 80,000 draft-evasion cases. [48] [57] [58]

Vietnam War Edit

President Kennedy's decision to send military troops to Vietnam as advisors was a signal that Selective Service Director Lewis B. Hershey needed to visit the Oval Office. From that visit emerged two wishes of JFK with regard to conscription. The first was that the names of married men with children should occupy the very bottom of the callup list. Just above them should be the names of men who were married. This Presidential policy, however, was not to be formally encoded into Selective Service Status. Men who fit into these categories became known as Kennedy Husbands. When President Lyndon Johnson decided to rescind this Kennedy policy [ clarification needed ] , there was a last-minute rush to the altar by thousands of American couples. [59]

Many early rank-and-file anti-conscription protesters had been allied with the National Committee for a SANE Nuclear Policy. The signing in 1963 of the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty left them free to focus on other issues. [ citation needed ] Syndicated cartoonist Al Capp portrayed them as S.W.I.N.E, (Students Wildly Indignant About Nearly Everything). The catalyst for protest reconnection was the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.

Consequently, there was some opposition to the draft even before the major U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War began. The large cohort of Baby Boomers who became eligible for military service during the Vietnam War was responsible [ clarification needed ] for a steep increase in the number of exemptions and deferments, especially for college students. Besides being able to avoid the draft, college graduates who volunteered for military service (primarily as commissioned officers) had a much better chance of securing a preferential posting compared to less-educated inductees.

As U.S. troop strength in South Vietnam increased, more young men were drafted for service there, and many of those still at home sought means of avoiding the draft. Since only 15,000 National Guard and Reserve soldiers were sent to South Vietnam, enlistment in the Guard or the Reserves became a popular means of avoiding serving in a war zone. For those who could meet the more stringent enlistment standards, service in the Air Force, Navy, or Coast Guard was a means of reducing the chances of being killed. Vocations to the ministry and the rabbinate soared, because divinity students were exempt from the draft. [ citation needed ] Doctors and draft board members found themselves being pressured by relatives or family friends to exempt potential draftees. [ citation needed ]

The marriage deferment ended suddenly on August 26, 1965. Around 3:10pm President Johnson signed an order allowing the draft of men who married after midnight that day, then around 5pm he announced the change for the first time. [60]

Some conscientious objectors objected to the war based on the theory of Just War. One of these, Stephen Spiro, was convicted of avoiding the draft, but given a suspended sentence of five years. He was later pardoned by President Gerald Ford. [61]

There were 8,744,000 service members between 1964 and 1975, of whom 3,403,000 were deployed to Southeast Asia. [62] From a pool of approximately 27 million, the draft raised 2,215,000 men for military service (in the United States, South Vietnam, and elsewhere) during the Vietnam War era. The majority of service members deployed to South Vietnam were volunteers, even though [ clarification needed ] hundreds of thousands of men opted to join the Army, Air Force, Navy, and Coast Guard (for three or four year terms of enlistment) before they could be drafted, serve for two years, and have no choice over their military occupational specialty (MOS) [ clarification needed ] . [63]

Of the nearly 16 million men not engaged in active military service, 96% were exempted (typically because of jobs including other military service), deferred (usually for educational reasons), or disqualified (usually for physical and mental deficiencies but also for criminal records including draft violations). [26] The requirements for obtaining and maintaining an educational deferment changed several times in the late 1960s. For several years, students were required to take an annual qualification test. In 1967 educational deferments were changed for graduate students. Those starting graduate studies in the fall of 1967 were given two semester deferments becoming eligible in June 1968. Those further along in their graduate study who entered prior to the summer of 1967 could continue to receive a deferment until they completed their studies. Peace Corps Volunteers were no longer given deferments and their induction was left to the discretion of their local boards. However most boards allowed Peace Corps Volunteers to complete their two years assignment before inducting them into the service. On December 1, 1969, a lottery was held to establish a draft priority for all those born between 1944 and 1950. Those with a high number no longer had to be concerned about the draft. Nearly 500,000 men were disqualified for criminal records, but less than 10,000 of them were convicted of draft violations. [35] Finally, as many as 100,000 draft eligible men fled the country. [64] [65]

End of conscription Edit

During the 1968 presidential election, Richard Nixon campaigned on a promise to end the draft. [66] [67] He had first become interested in the idea of an all-volunteer army during his time out of office, based upon a paper by Martin Anderson of Columbia University. [68] Nixon also saw ending the draft as an effective way to undermine the anti-Vietnam War movement, since he believed affluent youths would stop protesting the war once their own probability of having to fight in it was gone. [67] [69] There was opposition to the all-volunteer notion from both the Department of Defense and Congress, so Nixon took no immediate action towards ending the draft early in his presidency. [68]

Instead, the Gates Commission was formed, headed by Thomas S. Gates, Jr., a former Secretary of Defense in the Eisenhower administration. Gates initially opposed the all-volunteer army idea, but changed his mind during the course of the 15-member commission's work. [68] The Gates Commission issued its report in February 1970, describing how adequate military strength could be maintained without having conscription. [66] [70] The existing draft law was expiring at the end of June 1971, but the Department of Defense and Nixon administration decided the draft needed to continue for at least some time. [70] In February 1971, the administration requested of Congress a two-year extension of the draft, to June 1973. [71] [72]

Senatorial opponents of the war wanted to reduce this to a one-year extension, or eliminate the draft altogether, or tie the draft renewal to a timetable for troop withdrawal from Vietnam [73] Senator Mike Gravel of Alaska took the most forceful approach, trying to filibuster the draft renewal legislation, shut down conscription, and directly force an end to the war. [74] Senators supporting Nixon's war efforts supported the bill, even though some had qualms about ending the draft. [72] After a prolonged battle in the Senate, in September 1971 cloture was achieved over the filibuster and the draft renewal bill was approved. [75] Meanwhile, military pay was increased as an incentive to attract volunteers, and television advertising for the U.S. Army began. [66] With the end of active U.S. ground participation in Vietnam, December 1972 saw the last men conscripted, who were born in 1952 and earlier [76] and who reported for duty during the first six months of 1973.

On February 2, 1972, a drawing was held to determine draft priority numbers for men born in 1953, but in January 1973 Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird announced that no further draft orders would be issued. [77] [78] In March 1973, 1974, and 1975, the Selective Service assigned draft priority numbers for all men born in 1954, 1955, and 1956, in case the draft was extended, but it never was. [79]

Command Sergeant Major Jeff Mellinger, believed to be the last drafted enlisted ranked soldier still on active duty, retired in 2011. [80] [81] Chief Warrant Officer 5 Ralph E. Rigby, the last Vietnam War-era drafted soldier of Warrant Officer rank, retired from the army on November 10, 2014 after a 42-year career. [82]

December 28, 1972 had been scheduled to be the last day that draftees would be inducted that year. However, President Nixon declared that day a national day of mourning due to the death of former President Truman, and Federal offices were closed. [83] Men scheduled to report that day were never inducted, since the draft was not resumed in 1973.

Post-1980 draft registration Edit

On July 2, 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued Presidential Proclamation 4771 and re-instated the requirement that young men register with the Selective Service System. [84] At that time it was required that all males, born on or after January 1, 1960, register with the Selective Service System. Those who were now in this category were male U.S. citizens and male immigrant non-citizens between the ages of 18 and 25 they were required to register within 30 days of their 18th birthday even if they were not actually eligible to join the military.

The Selective Service System, still essentially what it was in 1980, describes its mission as "to serve the emergency manpower needs of the Military by conscripting untrained manpower, or personnel with professional health care skills, if directed by Congress and the President in a national crisis". [85] Registration forms are available either online, or at any U.S. Post Office or DMV.

The Selective Service registration form states that failure to register is a felony punishable by up to five years imprisonment or a $250,000 fine. [86] In practice, though, no one has been prosecuted for failure to comply with draft registration since 1986, [87] in part because prosecutions of draft resisters proved counter-productive for the government during the Vietnam War, and in part because of the difficulty of proving that noncompliance with the law was "knowing and wilful". In interviews published in U.S. News & World Report in May 2016, current and former Selective Service System officials said that in 1988, the Department of Justice and Selective Service agreed to suspend any further prosecutions of nonregistrants. [88] Many men do not register at all, register late, or change addresses without notifying the Selective Service System. [89]

Even in the absence of prosecution, however, failure to register may lead to other consequences. Registration is a requirement for employment by the federal government and some state governments, as well as for receiving various state benefits such as driver's licenses. [90] Refusing to register can also cause a loss of eligibility for federal financial aid for college. [91]

On December 1, 1989, Congress ordered the Selective Service System to put in place a system capable of drafting "persons qualified for practice or employment in a health care and professional occupation", if such a special-skills draft should be ordered by Congress. [92] In response, Selective Service published plans for the "Health Care Personnel Delivery System" (HCPDS) in 1989 and has had them ready ever since. The concept underwent a preliminary field exercise in Fiscal Year 1998, followed by a more extensive nationwide readiness exercise in Fiscal Year 1999. The HCPDS plans include women and men ages 20–54 in 57 different job categories. [93] As of May 2003, the Defense Department has said the most likely form of draft is a special skills draft, probably of health care workers. [94]

In 1918, the Supreme Court ruled that the World War I draft did not violate the United States Constitution in the Selective Draft Law Cases. The Court summarized the history of conscription in England and in colonial America, a history that it read as establishing that the Framers envisioned compulsory military service as a governmental power. It held that the Constitution's grant to Congress of the powers to declare war and to raise and support armies included the power to mandate conscription. It rejected arguments based on states' rights, the 13th Amendment, and other provisions of the Constitution.

Later, during the Vietnam War, a lower appellate court also concluded that the draft was constitutional. United States v. Holmes, 387 F.2d 781 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 391 U.S. 936 (1968). [95] Justice William O. Douglas, in voting to hear the appeal in Holmes, agreed that the government had the authority to employ conscription in wartime, but argued that the constitutionality of a draft in the absence of a declaration of war was an open question, which the Supreme Court should address.

During the World War I era, the Supreme Court allowed the government great latitude in suppressing criticism of the draft. Examples include Schenck v. United States, 249 U.S. 47 (1919) [96] and Gilbert v. Minnesota, 254 U.S. 325 (1920). [97] In subsequent decades, however, the Court has taken a much broader view of the extent to which advocacy speech is protected by the First Amendment. Thus, in 1971 the Court held it unconstitutional for a state to punish a man who entered a county courthouse wearing a jacket with the words "Fuck the Draft" visible on it. Cohen v. California, 403 U.S. 15 (1971). [98] Nevertheless, protesting the draft by the specific means of burning a draft registration card can be constitutionally prohibited, because of the government's interest in prohibiting the "nonspeech" element involved in destroying the card. United States v. O'Brien, 391 U.S. 367 (1968). [99]

Since the reinstatement of draft registration in 1980, the Supreme Court has heard and decided four cases related to the Military Selective Service Act: Rostker v. Goldberg, 453 U.S. 57 (1981), upholding the Constitutionality of requiring men but not women to register for the draft Selective Service v. Minnesota Public Interest Research Group (MPIRG), 468 U.S. 841 (1984), upholding the Constitutionality of the first of the federal "Solomon Amendment" laws, which requires applicants for Federal student aid to certify that they have complied with draft registration, either by having registered or by not being required to register Wayte v. United States, 470 U.S. 598 (1985), upholding the policies and procedures which the Supreme Court thought the government had used to select the "most vocal" nonregistrants for prosecution, after the government refused to comply with discovery orders by the trial court to produce documents and witnesses related to the selection of nonregistrants for prosecution and Elgin v. Department of the Treasury, 567 U.S. ____ (2012), regarding procedures for judicial review of denial of Federal employment for nonregistrants. [100]

In 1981, several men filed lawsuit in the case Rostker v. Goldberg, alleging that the Military Selective Service Act violates the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment by requiring that men only and not also women register with the Selective Service System. The Supreme Court upheld the act, stating that Congress's "decision to exempt women was not the accidental byproduct of a traditional way of thinking about women", that "since women are excluded from combat service by statute or military policy, men and women are simply not similarly situated for purposes of a draft or registration for a draft, and Congress' decision to authorize the registration of only men therefore does not violate the Due Process Clause", and that "the argument for registering women was based on considerations of equity, but Congress was entitled, in the exercise of its constitutional powers, to focus on the question of military need, rather than 'equity. ' " [101]

The Rostker v. Goldberg opinion's dependence upon deference on decision of the executive to exclude women from combat has garnered renewed scrutiny since the Department of Defense announced its decision in January 2013 to do away with most of the federal policies that have kept women from serving in combat roles in ground war situations. [102] Both the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Air Force had by then already opened up virtually all positions in sea and air combat to women. Lawsuits were filed challenging the continued constitutionality of requiring men but not women to register with the Selective Service system: National Coalition for Men v. Selective Service System (filed April 4, 2013, U.S. District Court for the Central District of California dismissed by the District Court July 29, 2013 as not "ripe" for decision appeal argued December 8, 2015 before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals [103] reversed and remanded February 19, 2016 [104] ), and Kyle v. Selective Service System (filed July 3, 2015, U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey), brought on behalf of 17-year-old Elizabeth Kyle-LaBell by her mother, Allison. Elizabeth tried to register, but as a female, was not eligible. [105]

National Coalition for Men v. Selective Service System Edit

In February 2019, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas ruled that male-only conscription registration breached the Fourteenth Amendment's equal protection clause, overturning the previous ruling on the grounds that the policies of the armed forces regarding women had changed significantly, such that they can now be used interchangeably with men. In a case brought by non-profit men's rights organisation the National Coalition for Men against the U.S. Selective Service System, judge Gray H. Miller issued a declaratory judgement that the male-only registration requirement is unconstitutional, though did not specify what action the government should take. [106] That decision was reversed by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. [107] A petition for review was then filed with the U.S. Supreme Court. [108]

According to the Selective Service System, [109]

A conscientious objector is one who is opposed to serving in the armed forces and/or bearing arms on the grounds of moral or religious principles. .

Beliefs which qualify a registrant for CO status may be religious in nature, but don't have to be. Beliefs may be moral or ethical however, a man's reasons for not wanting to participate in a war must not be based on politics, expediency, or self-interest. In general, the man's lifestyle prior to making his claim must reflect his current claims.

The Supreme Court has ruled in cases United States v. Seeger [110] (1965) and Welsh v. United States [111] (1970) that conscientious objection can be by non-religious beliefs as well as religious beliefs but it has also ruled in Gillette v. United States (1971) against objections to specific wars as grounds for conscientious objection. [112]

There is currently no mechanism to indicate that one is a conscientious objector in the Selective Service system. According to the SSS, after a person is drafted, he can claim conscientious objector status and then justify it before the Local Board. This is criticized because during the times of a draft, when the country is in emergency conditions, there could be increased pressure for Local Boards to be more harsh on conscientious objector claims.

There are two types of status for conscientious objectors. If a person objects only to combat but not to service in the military, then the person could be given noncombatant service in the military without training of weapons. If the person objects to all military service, then the person could be ordered to "alternative service" with a job "deemed to make a meaningful contribution to the maintenance of the national health, safety, and interest".

The "poverty draft" is a term describing U.S. military recruiters' purposeful tendency to focus their recruiting efforts on inner-city and poor rural schools. The low-income youth and young people of color who attend these schools generally have fewer good educational and job opportunities than middle-class and wealthy youth and are therefore more likely to enlist. Proponents of the poverty draft view often claim that because of this the U.S. armed forces are disproportionally men and women of color and from poor and working-class backgrounds. [113] [114]

The Selective Service System has maintained that they have implemented several reforms that would make the draft more fair and equitable.

Some of the measures they have implemented include: [115]

  • Before and during the Vietnam War, a young man could get a deferment by showing that he was a full-time student making satisfactory progress towards a degree now deferment only lasts to the end of the semester. If the man is a senior he can defer until the end of the academic year.
  • The government has said that draft boards are now more representative of the local communities in areas such as race and national origin.
  • A lottery system would be used to determine the order of people being called up. Previously the oldest men who were found eligible for the draft would be taken first. In the new system, the men called first would be those who are or will turn 20 years old in the calendar year or those whose deferments will end in the calendar year. Each year after, the man will be placed on a lower priority status until his liability ends.

The effort to enforce Selective Service registration law was abandoned in 1986. Since then, no attempt to reinstate conscription has been able to attract much support in the legislature or among the public. [89] Since early 2003, when the Iraq War appeared imminent, there had been attempts through legislation and campaign rhetoric to begin a new public conversation on the topic. Public opinion since 1981 has been largely negative. [116]

In 2003, several Democratic congressmen (Charles Rangel of New York, Jim McDermott of Washington, John Conyers of Michigan, John Lewis of Georgia, Pete Stark of California, Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii) introduced legislation that would draft both men and women into either military or civilian government service, should there be a draft in the future. The Republican majority leadership suddenly considered the bill, nine months after its introduction, without a report from the Armed Services Committee (to which it had been referred), and just one month prior to the 2004 presidential and congressional elections. The Republican leadership used an expedited parliamentary procedure that would have required a two-thirds vote for passage of the bill. The bill was defeated on October 5, 2004, with two members voting for it and 402 members voting against.

This statement was in reference to the U.S. Department of Defense use of "stop-loss" orders, which have extended the Active Duty periods of some military personnel. All enlistees, upon entering the service, volunteer for a minimum eight-year Military Service Obligation (MSO). This MSO is split between a minimum active duty period, followed by a reserve period where enlistees may be called back to active duty for the remainder of the eight years. [117] Some of these active duty extensions have been for as long as two years. The Pentagon stated that as of August 24, 2004, 20,000 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines had been affected. [118] As of January 31, 2006 it has been reported that more than 50,000 soldiers and reservists had been affected. [119]

Despite arguments by defense leaders that they had no interest in re-instituting the draft, Representative Neil Abercrombie's (D-HI) inclusion of a DOD memo in the Congressional Record which detailed a meeting by senior leaders signaled renewed interest. Though the conclusion of the meeting memo did not call for a reinstatement of the draft, it did suggest Selective Service Act modifications to include registration by women and self-reporting of critical skills that could serve to meet military, homeland-defense, and humanitarian needs. [120] This hinted at more targeted draft options being considered, perhaps like that of the "Doctor Draft" that began in the 1950s to provide nearly 66% of the medical professionals who served in the Army in Korea. [121] Once created, this manpower tool continued to be used through 1972. The meeting memo gave DOD's primary reason for opposing a draft as a matter of cost effectiveness and efficiency. Draftees with less than two years' retention were said to be a net drain on military resources providing insufficient benefit to offset overhead costs of using them. [26]

Mentions of the draft during the presidential campaign led to a resurgence of anti-draft and draft resistance organizing. [122] One poll of young voters in October 2004 found that 29% would resist if drafted. [123]

In November 2006, Representative Charles B. Rangel (D-NY) again called for the draft to be reinstated Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi rejected the proposal. [124]

On December 19, 2006, President George W. Bush announced that he was considering sending more troops to Iraq. The next day, the Selective Service System's director for operations and chief information officer, Scott Campbell, announced plans for a "readiness exercise" to test the system's operations in 2006, for the first time since 1998. [125]

On December 21, 2006, Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson, when asked by a reporter whether the draft should be reinstated to make the military more equal, said, "I think that our society would benefit from that, yes sir." Nicholson proceeded to relate his experience as a company commander in an infantry unit which brought together soldiers of different socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels, noting that the draft "does bring people from all quarters of our society together in the common purpose of serving". Nicholson later issued a statement saying he does not support reinstating the draft. [126]

On August 10, 2007, with National Public Radio on "All Things Considered", Lieutenant General Douglas Lute, National Security Adviser to the President and Congress for all matters pertaining to the United States Military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, expressed support for a draft to alleviate the stress on the Army's all-volunteer force. He cited the fact that repeated deployments place much strain upon one soldier's family and himself which, in turn, can affect retention. [127]

A similar bill to Rangel's 2003 one was introduced in 2007, called the Universal National Service Act of 2007 (H.R. 393), but it has not received a hearing or been scheduled for consideration.

At the end of June 2014 in Pennsylvania, 14,250 letters of conscription were erroneously posted to men born in the 19th century calling upon them to register for the US military draft. This was attributed to a clerk at the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation who failed to select a century during a transfer of 400,000 records to the Selective Service as a result, the system did not differentiate between men born in 1993 (who would need to register) and those born in 1893 (who would almost certainly be dead). [128] This was compared to the "Year 2000 problem" ("Y2K bug"), in which computer programs that represented years using two digits instead of four digits were expected to have problems beginning in the year 2000. [129] The Selective Service identified 27,218 records of men born in the 19th century made errantly applicable by the change of century and began sending out notices to them on June 30. [129]

On June 14, 2016, the Senate voted to require women to register for the draft, though language requiring this was dropped from later versions of the bill. [130]

In 2020, the bipartisan National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service issued a final report recommending that the military improve enlistment rates through improved outreach and recruiting rather than a renewed draft. However, it also recommended that the U.S. Department of Defense perform regular national mobilization drills to rehearse a recommencement of the draft. [131]

The Selective Service (and the draft) in the United States is not limited to citizens. Howard Stringer, for example, was drafted six weeks after arriving from his native Britain in 1965. [132] [133] Today, non-citizen males of appropriate age in the United States, who are permanent residents (holders of green cards), seasonal agricultural workers not holding an H-2A Visa, refugees, parolees, asylees, and illegal immigrants, are required to register with the Selective Service System. [134] Refusal to do so is grounds for denial of a future citizenship application. In addition, immigrants who seek to naturalize as citizens must, as part of the Oath of Citizenship, swear to the following:

. that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law that I will perform noncombatant service in the armed forces of the United States when required by the law that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law [135]

However, since 1975, USCIS has allowed the oath to be taken without the clauses: ". that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by law that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by law . " [135]


1917 to 1920 Edit

Following the U.S. declaration of war against Germany on 6 April, the Selective Service Act of 1917 (40 Stat. 76) was passed by the 65th United States Congress on 18 May 1917, creating the Selective Service System. [9] President Woodrow Wilson signed the act into law after the U.S. Army failed to meet its target of expanding to 1 million men after six weeks. [10] The act gave the president the power to conscript men for military service. All men aged 21 to 30 were required to enlist for military service for a service period of 12 months. As of mid-November 1917, all registrants were placed in one of five new classifications. Men in Class I were the first to be drafted, and men in lower classifications were deferred. Dependency deferments for registrants who were fathers or husbands were especially widespread. [11] The age limit was later raised in August 1918 to a maximum age of 45. The military draft was discontinued in 1920.

1940 to 1947 Edit

Conflict Dates active Number of
wartime draftees [12]
World War I September 1917 – November 1918 2,810,296
World War II November 1940 – October 1946 10,110,104
Korean War June 1950 – June 1953 1,529,539
Vietnam War August 1964 – February 1973 1,857,304

The Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 was passed by Congress on 16 September 1940, establishing the first peacetime conscription in United States history. [13] It required all men between the ages of 18 to 64 to register with the Selective Service. It originally conscripted all men aged 21 to 35 for a service period of 12 months. In 1941 the military service period was extended to 18 months later that year the age bracket was increased to include men aged 18 to 37. Following the Japanese air raid attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, and the subsequent declarations of war by the United States against the Empire of Japan and a few days later against Nazi Germany, the service period was subsequently extended in early 1942 to last for the duration of the war, plus a six-month service in the Organized Reserves.

In his 1945 State of the Union address, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt requested that the draft be expanded to include female nurses (male nurses were not allowed), to overcome a shortage that was endangering military medical care. This began a debate over the drafting of all women, which was defeated in the House of Representatives. A bill to draft nurses was passed by the House, but died without a vote in the Senate. The publicity caused more nurses to volunteer, agencies streamlined recruiting. [14]

The Selective Service System created by the 1940 act was terminated by the act of 31 March 1947. [15] [16]

1948 to 1969 Edit

The Selective Service Act of 1948, enacted in June of that year, created a new and separate system, the basis for the modern system. [16] All men 18 years and older had to register with the Selective Service. All men between the ages of 18 to 25 were eligible to be drafted for a service requirement of 21 months. This was followed by a commitment for either 12 consecutive months of active service or 36 consecutive months of service in the reserves, with a statutory term of military service set at a minimum of five years total. Conscripts could volunteer for military service in the regular United States Army for a term of four years or the Organized Reserves for a term of six years. Due to deep postwar budget cuts, only 100,000 conscripts were chosen in 1948. In 1950, the number of conscripts was greatly increased to meet the demands of the Korean War (1950–1953).

The outbreak of the Korean War fostered the creation of the Universal Military Training and Service Act of 1951. This lowered the draft age from 19 to 18 + 1 ⁄ 2 , increased active-duty service time from 21 to 24 months, and set the statutory term of military service at a minimum of eight years. Students attending a college or training program full-time could request an exemption, which was extended as long as they were students. A Universal Military Training clause was inserted that would have made all men obligated to perform 12 months of military service and training if the act was amended by later legislation. Despite successive attempts over the next several years, however, such legislation was never passed.

President John F. Kennedy set up Executive Order 11119 (signed on 10 September 1963), granting an exemption from conscription for married men between the ages of 19 and 26. His vice president and later successor as president, Lyndon B. Johnson, later rescinded the exemption for married men without children by Executive Order 11241 (signed on 26 August 1965 and going into effect on midnight of that date). However, married men with children or other dependents and men married before the executive order went into effect were still exempt. President Ronald Reagan revoked both of them with Executive Order 12553 (signed on 25 February 1986).

The Military Selective Service Act of 1967 expanded the ages of conscription to the ages of 18 to 55. It still granted student deferments, but ended them upon either the student's completion of a four-year degree or his 24th birthday, whichever came first.

1969 to 1975 Edit

On 26 November 1969, President Richard Nixon signed an amendment to the Military Selective Service Act of 1967 that established conscription based on random selection (lottery). [17] The first draft lottery was held on 1 December 1969 it determined the order of call for induction during calendar year 1970, for registrants born between 1 January 1944, and 31 December 1950. The highest lottery number called for possible induction was 195. [18] The second lottery, on 1 July 1970, pertained to men born in 1951. The highest lottery number called for possible induction was 125. [19] The third was on 5 August 1971, pertaining to men born in 1952 the highest lottery number called was 95. [20]

In 1971, the Military Selective Service Act was further amended to make registration compulsory all men had to register within a period 30 days before and 29 days after their 18th birthdays. Registrants were classified 1-A (eligible for military service), 1-AO (conscientious objector available for non-combatant military service), and 1-O (conscientious objector available for alternate community service). Student deferments were ended, except for divinity students, who received a 2-D Selective Service classification. Men who were not classifiable as eligible for service due to a disqualification were classified 1-N. Men who are incapable of serving for medical or psychological unfitness are classified 4-F. Upon completion of military service the classification of 4-A was assigned. Draft classifications of 1-A were changed to 1-H (registrant not currently subject to processing for induction) for men not selected for service after the calendar year they were eligible for the draft. (These – and other – draft classifications were in place long before 1971.) Also, draft board membership requirements were reformed: minimum age of board members was dropped from 30 to 18, members over 65 or who had served on the board for 20 or more years had to retire, and membership had to proportionally reflect the ethnic and cultural makeup of the local community.

On 27 January 1973, Secretary of Defense Melvin R. Laird announced the creation of an all-volunteer armed forces, negating the need for the military draft. [21] The seventh and final lottery drawing was held on 12 March 1975, pertaining to men born in 1956, who would have been called to report for induction in 1976. [22] But no new draft orders were issued after 1972. [23]

1975 to 1980 Edit

On 29 March 1975, President Gerald R. Ford, whose own son, Steven Ford, had earlier failed to register for the draft as required, [24] signed Proclamation 4360 (Terminating Registration Procedures Under Military Selective Service Act), eliminating the registration requirement for all 18- to 25-year-old male citizens. [25]

1980 to present Edit

On 2 July 1980, President Jimmy Carter, signed Proclamation 4771 (Registration Under the Military Selective Service Act) in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the previous year of 1979, [26] retroactively re-establishing the Selective Service registration requirement for all 18- to 26-year-old male citizens born on or after 1 January 1960. [27] As a result, only men born between 29 March 1957, and 31 December 1959, were completely exempt from Selective Service registration. [28]

The first registrations after Proclamation 4771 took place at various post offices across the nation on 21 July 1980, for men born in calendar year 1960. Pursuant to the presidential proclamation, all those men born in 1960 were required to register that week. Men born in 1961 were required to register the following week. Men born in 1962 were required to register during the week beginning 5 January 1981. Men born in 1963 and after were required to register within 30 days after their 18th birthday. [27]

A bill to abolish the Selective Service System was introduced in the United States House of Representatives on 10 February 2016. [29] H.R. 4523 would end draft registration and eliminate the authority of the president to order anyone to register for the draft, abolish the Selective Service System, and effectively repeal the "Solomon Amendments" making registration for the draft a condition of federal student aid, jobs, and job training. The bill would leave in place, however, laws in some states making registration for the draft a condition of some state benefits. [30] On 9 June 2016, a similar bill was introduced in the United States Senate, called the "Muhammad Ali Voluntary Service Act". [31]

On 27 April 2016, the House Armed Services Committee voted to add an amendment [32] to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 [33] to extend the authority for draft registration to women. On 12 May 2016, the Senate Armed Services Committee voted to add a similar provision to its version of the bill. [34] If the bill including this provision had been enacted into law, it would have authorized (but not require) the president to order young women as well as young men to register with the Selective Service System. [35]

The House-Senate conference committee for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 removed the provision of the House version of the bill that would have authorized the president to order women as well as men to register with the Selective Service System, but added a new section to create a "National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service" (NCMNPS). This provision was enacted into law on 23 December 2016 as Subtitle F of Public Law 114–328. [36] The commission is to study and make recommendations by March 2020 on the draft, draft registration, registration of women, and "the feasibility and advisability of modifying the military selective service process in order to obtain for military, national, and public service individuals with skills (such as medical, dental, and nursing skills, language skills, cyber skills, and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skills) for which the Nation has a critical need, without regard to age or sex". During 2018 and 2019, the commission held both public and closed-door meetings with members of the public and invited experts and other witnesses. [37]

In February 2019, a challenge to the Military Selective Service Act, which provides for the male-only draft, by the National Coalition for Men, was deemed unconstitutional by Judge Gray H. Miller in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas. Miller's opinion was based on the Supreme Court's past argument in Rostker v. Goldberg (1981) which had found the male-only draft constitutional because the military then did not allow women to serve. As the Department of Defense has since lifted most restrictions on women in the military, Miller ruled that the justifications no longer apply, and thus the act requiring only men to register would now be considered unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause. [38] The government appealed this decision to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. [39] Oral arguments on the appeal were heard on 3 March 2020. [40] The District Court decision was reversed by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. [41] A petition for review was declined by the U.S. Supreme Court. [42]

In December 2019, a bill to repeal the Military Selective Service Act and abolish the Selective Service System, H.R. 5492, was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representatives Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Rodney Davis (R-IL). [43]

In January 2020, the Selective Service System website crashed following the US airstrike on Baghdad International Airport. An Internet meme about the event being the beginning of World War III began gaining in popularity very quickly, causing an influx of visitors to the Selective Service System website, which was not prepared to handle it. [44] [45]

Under current law, all male U.S. citizens between 18 and 25 (inclusive) years of age are required to register within 30 days of their 18th birthdays. In addition, certain categories of non-US citizen men between 18 and 25 living in the United States must register, particularly permanent residents, refugees, asylum seekers, and illegal immigrants. [3] Foreign men lawfully present in the United States who are non-immigrants, such as international students, visitors, and diplomats, are not required to register, so long as they remain in that status. [3] If an alien's non-immigrant status lapses while he is in the United States, he will be required to register. [46] Failure to register as required is grounds for denying a petition for U.S. citizenship. Currently, citizens who are as young as 17 years and 3 months old can pre-register so when they turn 18 their information will automatically be added into the system.

In the current registration system, a man cannot indicate that he is a conscientious objector (CO) to war when registering, but he can make such a claim when being drafted. Some men choose to write on the registration card "I am a conscientious objector to war" to document their conviction, even though the government will not have such a classification until there is a draft. [47] A number of private organizations have programs for conscientious objectors to file a written record stating their beliefs. [48] [49] [50] [51] [52]

In 1987, Congress ordered the Selective Service System to put in place a system capable of drafting "persons qualified for practice or employment in a health care occupation" in case such a special-skills draft should be ordered by Congress. In response, the Selective Service published plans for the "Health Care Personnel Delivery System" (HCPDS) in 1989, and has had them ready ever since. The concept underwent a preliminary field exercise in fiscal year 1998, followed by a more extensive nationwide readiness exercise in fiscal year 1999. [53] The HCPDS plans include women and men age 20–54 in 57 job categories. [54]

Until their 26th birthdays, registered men must notify Selective Service within 10 days of any changes to information regarding their status, such as name, current mailing address, permanent residence address, and "all information concerning his status . which the classifying authority mails him a request therefor". [5] [55]

Sex Edit

In February 2019, the male-only military draft registry was ruled to be unconstitutional by a federal district judge in National Coalition for Men v. Selective Service System. [56] Following the ruling, Selective Service System attorney Jacob Daniels told reporters: "Things continue here at Selective Service as they have in the past, which is men between the ages of 18 and 25 are required to register with Selective Service. And at this time, until we receive guidance from either the court or from Congress, women are not required to register for Selective Service." [57] On 13 August 2020, the federal district judge's opinion was unanimously overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. The Court held that male-only military draft registration is constitutional on the basis that "only the Supreme Court may revise its precedent." [58]

The Selective Service System considers the term "male" in the federal law to refer to the sex observed at birth, so trans women are required to register, while trans men are not. [59] Failure to register can cause problems such as denial of Pell Grants, even when registration would not have been allowed. [60] As of 2019, the policy toward allowing service of transgender personnel in the United States military is its own subject of legal dispute. If upheld, under the ban ordered by President Donald Trump, trans women who were required to register with the Selective Service System would not be allowed to serve in the military if drafted or volunteering.

A congressionally mandated commission recommended in March 2020 that women should be eligible for the draft. [61]

Year Total draftees [12]
World War I
1917 516,212
1918 2,294,084
World War II
1940 18,633
1941 923,842
1942 3,033,361
1943 3,323,970
1944 1,591,942
1945 945,862
Post-World War II
1946 183,383
1947 0
1948 20,348
1949 9,781
Korean War
1950 219,771
1951 551,806
1952 438,479
1953 473,806
Post-Korean War
1954 253,230
1955 152,777
1956 137,940
1957 138,504
1958 142,246
1959 96,143
1960 86,602
1961 118,586
1962 82,060
1963 119,265
Vietnam War
1964 112,386
1965 230,991
1966 382,010
1967 228,263
1968 296,406
1969 283,586
1970 162,746
1971 94,092
1972 49,514
1973 646

In 1980, men who knew they were required to register and did not do so could face up to five years in prison, fines of up to $50,000 or both if convicted. The potential fine was later increased to $250,000. Despite these possible penalties, government records indicate that from 1980 through 1986 there were only twenty indictments, of which nineteen were instigated in part by self-publicized and self-reported non-registration. [62]

A principal element for conviction under the act is proving a violation of the act was intentional, i.e. knowing and willful. In the opinion of legal experts, this is almost impossible to prove unless there is evidence of a prospective defendant knowing about his obligation to register and intentionally choosing not to do so. Or, for example, when there is evidence the government at any time provided notice to the prospective defendant to register or report for induction, he was given an opportunity to comply, and the prospective defendant chose not to do so.

The last prosecution for non-registration was in January 1986. In interviews published in U.S. News & World Report in May 2016, current and former Selective Service System officials said that in 1988, the Department of Justice and Selective Service agreed to suspend any further prosecutions of non-registrants. [63] No law since 1980 has required anyone to possess, carry, or show a draft card, and routine checks requiring identification virtually never include a request for a draft card.

As an alternative method of encouraging or coercing registration, Solomon Amendment laws were passed requiring that in order to receive financial aid, federal grants and loans, certain government benefits, eligibility for most federal employment, and (if the person is an immigrant) eligibility for citizenship, a young man had to be registered (or had to have been registered, if they are over 26 but were required to register between 18 and 26) with the Selective Service. Those who were required to register, but failed to do so before they turned 26, are no longer allowed to register, and thus may be permanently barred from federal jobs and other benefits, unless they can show to the Selective Service that their failure was not knowing and willful. [6] There is a procedure to provide an "information letter" to the Selective Service for those in these situations, for example recent citizens who entered the US after their 26th birthday. [64] The federal law requiring Selective Service registration as a condition of federal financial aid for higher education was overridden in December 2020, and the questions about Selective Service registration status on the FAFSA form will be eliminated by July 1, 2023. [65]

Most states, as well as the District of Columbia, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, and Virgin Islands, have passed laws requiring registration for men 18–25 to be eligible for programs that vary on a per-jurisdiction basis but typically include driver's licenses, state-funded higher education benefits, and state government jobs. [66] Alaska also requires registration to receive an Alaska Permanent Fund dividend. [66] Eight states (California, Connecticut, Indiana, Nebraska, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and Wyoming) have no such requirements, though Indiana does give men 18–25 the option of registering with Selective Service when obtaining a driver's license or an identification card. [66] The Department of Motor Vehicles of 27 states and 2 territories automatically register young men 18–25 with the Selective Service whenever they apply for driver licenses, learner permits, or non-driver identification cards. [66] [67]

There are some third-party organized efforts to compensate financial aid for those students losing benefits, including the Fund for Education and Training (FEAT) and Student Aid Fund for Non-registrants. [68] [69]

Some registrants are not U.S. citizens, or have dual nationality of the U.S. and another country they fall instead into one of the following categories:

  • Alien or Dual National (class 4-C): An alien is a person who is not a citizen of the United States. A dual national is a person who is a citizen of the United States and another country. They are defined in four classes.
    • Registrants who have lived in the United States for less than a year are exempt from military training and service, but become eligible after a year of cumulative residence (counting disjoint time periods).
    • A registrant who left the United States before his Order to Report for Induction was issued and whose order has not been canceled. He may be classified in Class 4-C only for the period he resides outside of the United States. Upon his return to the United States, he must report the date of return and his current address to the Selective Service Area Office.
    • A registrant who registered at a time required by Selective Service law and thereafter acquired status within one of its groups of persons exempt from registration. He will be eligible for this class only during the period of his exempt status. To support this claim, the registrant must submit documentation from the diplomatic agency of the country of which he is a subject verifying his exempt status.
    • A registrant, lawfully admitted for permanent residence, as defined in Paragraph (2) of Section 101(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, as amended (66 Stat. 163, 8 U.S.C. 1101) who, by reason of their occupational status, is subject to adjustment to non-immigrant status under paragraph (15)(A), (15)(E), or (15)(G) or section 101(a). In this case, the person must also have executed a waiver of all rights, privileges, exemptions, and immunities which would otherwise accrue to him as a result of his occupational status.

    The Selective Service System is authorized by the Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution which says Congress "shall have Power To . provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union" The Selective Service Act is the law which established the Selective Service System under these provisions.

    The act has been challenged in light of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution which prohibits "involuntary servitude". [73] These challenges, however, have not been supported by the courts as the Supreme Court stated in Butler v. Perry (1916):

    The amendment was adopted with reference to conditions existing since the foundation of our government, and the term 'involuntary servitude' was intended to cover those forms of compulsory labor akin to African slavery which, in practical operation, would tend to produce like undesirable results. It introduced no novel doctrine with respect of services always treated as exceptional, and certainly was not intended to interdict enforcement of those duties which individuals owe to the state, such as services in the army, militia, on the jury, etc. [74]

    During the First World War, the Supreme Court ruled in Arver v. United States (1918), also known as the Selective Draft Law Cases, that the draft did not violate the Constitution. [75]

    Later, during the Vietnam War, a federal appellate court also concluded that the draft was constitutional in Holmes v. United States (1968). [76]

    Since the reinstatement of draft registration in 1980, the Supreme Court has heard and decided four cases related to the Military Selective Service Act: Rostker v. Goldberg, 453 U.S. 57 (1981), upholding the constitutionality of requiring men but not women to register for the draft Selective Service v. Minnesota Public Interest Research Group (MPIRG), 468 U.S. 841 (1984), upholding the constitutionality of the "Solomon Amendment", which requires applicants for Federal student aid to certify that they have complied with draft registration, either by having registered or by not being required to register Wayte v. United States, 470 U.S. 598 (1985), upholding the policies and procedures which the Supreme Court thought the government had used to select the "most vocal" non-registrants for prosecution, after the government refused to comply with discovery orders by the trial court to produce documents and witnesses related to the selection of non-registrants for prosecution and Elgin v. Department of Treasury, 567 U.S. 1 (2012), regarding procedures for judicial review of denial of federal employment for non-registrants. [77]

    The case National Coalition for Men v. Selective Service System resulted in the male-only draft being declared unconstitutional by a district court. That decision was reversed by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. [78] A petition for review was then filed with the U.S. Supreme Court. [79]

    The Selective Service System is an independent federal agency within the Executive Branch of the federal government of the United States. The Director of the Selective Service System reports directly to the President of the United States. [80] Starting on the day of the inauguration of President Biden, the Selective Service System was under an acting director following the departure of the previous director, Don Benton, and pending the nomination and confirmation of a new permanent director. [81] [82]

    During peacetime, the agency comprises a national headquarters, three regional headquarters, and a data management center. Even during peacetime, the agency is also aided by 11,000 volunteers serving on local boards and district appeal boards. [83] During a mobilization that required activation of the draft, the agency would greatly expand by activating an additional 56 state headquarters, more than 400 area offices, and over 40 alternative service offices. [84]

    The agency's budget for the 2015–2016 fiscal year was about $23 million. In early 2016, the agency said that if women were required to register, its budget would need to be increased by about $9 million in the first year, and slightly less in subsequent years. [85] This does not include any budget or expenses for enforcing or attempting to enforce the Military Selective Service Act. Costs of investigating, prosecuting, and imprisoning violators would be included in the budget of the Department of Justice [ citation needed ] .

    The description below is for a general draft under the current Selective Service regulations. Any or all of these procedures could be changed by Congress as part of the same legislation that would authorize inductions, or through separate legislation, so there is no guarantee that this is how any draft would actually work. Different procedures would be followed for a special-skills draft, such as activation of the Health Care Personnel Delivery System (HCPDS).

    1. Congress and the president authorize a draft: The president claims a crisis has occurred which requires more troops than the volunteer military can supply. Congress passes and the president signs legislation which revises the Military Selective Service Act to initiate a draft for military manpower.
    2. The lottery: A lottery based on birthdays determines the order in which registered men are called up by Selective Service. The first to be called, in a sequence determined by the lottery, will be men whose 20th birthday falls during the calendar year the induction takes place, followed, if needed, by those aged 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 19 and 18 year olds (in that order).
    3. All parts of the Selective Service System are activated: The agency activates and orders its state directors and Reserve Force officers to report for duty.
    4. Physical, mental and moral evaluation of registrants: Registrants with low lottery numbers receive examination orders and are ordered to report for a physical, mental, and moral evaluation at a military entrance processing station (MEPS) to determine whether they are fit for military service. Once he is notified of the results of the evaluation, a registrant will be given 10 days to file a claim for exemption, postponement, or deferment.
    5. Local and appeal boards activated and induction notices sent: Local and appeal boards will begin processing registrant claims/appeals. Those who passed the military evaluation will receive induction orders. An inductee will have 10 days to report to a local MEPS for induction.
    6. First draftees are inducted: According to current plans, Selective Service must deliver the first inductees to the military within 193 days from the onset of a crisis. [86]

    If the agency were to mobilize and conduct a draft, a lottery would be held in full view of the public. First, all days of the year are placed into a capsule at random. Second, the numbers 1–365 (1–366 for lotteries held with respect to a leap year) are placed into a second capsule. These two capsules are certified for procedure, sealed in a drum, and stored.

    In the event of a draft, the drums are taken out of storage and inspected to make sure they have not been tampered with. The lottery then takes place, and each date is paired with a number at random. For example, if 19 January is picked from the "date" capsule and the number 59 picked from the "number" capsule, all men of age 20 born on 19 January will be the 59th group to receive induction notices. This process continues until all dates are matched with a number.

    Should all dates be used, the Selective Service will first conscript men at the age of 20, then 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 19, and 18. Once all dates are paired, the dates will be sent to Selective Service System's Data Management Center. [87]

    1948–1976 Edit

    Class Categories (1948–1975) [88]
    1-A Available for unrestricted military service.
    1-A-O Conscientious objector available for noncombatant military service only.
    1-C Member of the Armed Forces of the United States, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or the Public Health Service. Enlisted (Enl.): member who volunteered for service. Inducted (Ind.): member who was conscripted into service. Discharged (Dis.): member released after completing service later changed to Class 4-A. Separated (Sep.): member released before completing service may be recalled to service if their status has changed.
    1-D Members of a reserve component (reserves or National Guard), students taking military training (service academy, senior military college, or ROTC), or accepted aviation cadet applicants (1942–1975).
    1-D-D Deferment for certain members of a reserve component or student taking military training.
    1-D-E Exemption of certain members of a reserve component or student taking military training.
    1-H Registrant not currently subject to processing for induction or alternative service.

    Within the cessation of registrant processing in 1976, all registrants (except for a few alleged violators of the Military Selective Service Act) were classified 1-H regardless of any previous classification.

    The 1-Y classification was abolished 10 December 1971. Local boards were subsequently instructed to reclassify all 1-Y registrants by administrative action.

    Present Edit

    If a draft were authorized by Congress, without any other changes being made in the law, local boards would classify registrants to determine whether they were exempt from military service. According to the Code of Federal Regulations Title 32, Chapter XVI, Sec. 1630.2, [90] men would be sorted into the following categories:

    The truth about Hollywood draft deferments

    by &ldquoFearless&rdquo &ndash Photoplay, December 1942

    Yes, a lot of the stars have been deferred &mdash and they haven&rsquot been able to tell the public why! Here&rsquos the inside information.

    Celebrities and military service

    While it is true that publicity often overemphasizes Hollywood happenings, and that the smallest mistakes of stars are exaggerated, draft deferments in the film industry will take explaining. The personalities of the fabulous films are on the spot in the matter of serving their country.

    It is useless to deny that motion picture stars have been getting the best of it (as to immunity from draft). Some have been given special deferments and choice assignments and, even when taken, often have been allowed extra months to finish pictures before having to report for active duty.

    Husky film heroes without dependents or physical disabilities have frequented sporting events, nightclubs and social gatherings, apparently without fear of the draft board &mdash while their country cousins and city pals were being called from their jobs and their homes by the Army, or were cleaning up their affairs to enlist in the Marines or the Navy.

    Nor were other members of the film industry so immune. Pictures were held up because technical men, crew hands and laboratory workers were drafted or had volunteered for service &mdash while the ranks of the stars seemingly thinned not at all.

    As late as August of this year, few important players were to be seen in uniform. Jimmy Stewart, Robert Montgomery, Doug Fairbanks, Wayne Morris, Ronald Reagan, Bill Holden, Jeffrey Lynn, Gene Raymond, Burgess Meredith, Tim Holt and one or two others were notable exceptions &mdash an amazingly low percentage in view of the statements regarding those supposed to be on the verge of going.

    Months passed with the stars still among those present and the public began to ask why. Wives, sisters, parents and sweethearts of drafted men who had little worldly goods to fight for wondered why their loved ones should face danger and death while the men to whom America had given so very much remained behind.

    The stars have sensed this growing resentment, rubbed to a rawer edge by the actions of those few who pulled strings to get commissions in behind the lines jobs as Army, Navy and Marine press agents, intelligence officers and &ldquospecialists,&rdquo this latter covering a multitude of assignments such as Tony Martin&rsquos job of running a theater. Yet, when a star would have responded to this spur of public opinion and joined the fighting forces, he ran head-on into an unyielding wall of pressure.

    For that is the paradox of Hollywood deferments. The stars are, in the main, deferred &mdash not by request, but because of circumstances. No more than in Milwaukee or Spokane have Hollywood&rsquos draft boards put into 1-A men who are married, who have children, or who live under other special circumstances allowed for by the Selective Service Act. There is, of course, no law against a man with a family volunteering.

    But there has been, in a surprising number of cases, the ceaseless, urgent plea of the studios, of fellow workers, of friends and well-meaning advisers to &ldquostay on the job.&rdquo

    Then Clark Gable kicked the floodgates open by joining up as a private in the officers training school for the Air Corps. Tyrone Power, who had been none too happy over the failure of his attempt to enlist as a non-commissioned officer in the Navy and the publicity that followed his move, threw off the shackles and enlisted in the Marines.

    At the same time, Henry Fonda signed up as a seaman with the Navy, and the movement of star enlistments began in earnest.

    African-Americans have fought for the United States throughout its history, defending and serving a country that in turn denied them their basic rights as citizens. Despite policies of racial segregation and discrimination, African-American soldiers played a significant role from the colonial period to the Korean War. It wasn't until the middle of the 20th century that African-American soldiers began to receive the recognition and equality they deserved.

    The beginning of the 20th century was marked by World War I, and thousands of African-Americans rushed to register for the draft. Their enthusiasm stemmed in part to defend liberty and democracy in Europe, but also from the opportunity it gave them to prove that they deserved greater rights at home. Their enlistment rate was high, as was their desire to serve on the front lines. However military leaders believed that African-Americans did not have the physical, mental or moral character to withstand warfare and they were commonly relegated to labor-intensive service positions. The majority saw little combat.

    Still, worthy contributions were made to America's war effort and one outstanding example was the 369th Infantry Regiment (known as the "Harlem Hellfighters") which served on the front lines for six months, longer than any other American unit in the war and made notable due to the fact that they had received less training. During this time the unit never lost any prisoners or territory to the enemy. France awarded the entire unit with Croix de Guerre, that country's highest military honor and 171 members of the regiment were awarded the Legion of Merit.

    In the lead up to and during World War II the military establishment continued to maintain that African-Americans soldiers were not as capable as their white counterparts and needed more intensive leadership. Despite the continuing discrimination, more than a million African-Americans volunteered to serve in the Armed Forces in the fight against Hitler.

    As the war progressed attitudes began to slowly change. Some African-Americans were trained in elite positions never offered previously, such as the Air Force, and some units were desegregated for the first time at the Battle of the Bulge. In just a few years the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard made significant advancements in the treatment of their African-American personnel.

    World War II was a watershed for race relations within the Armed Forces, and it marked the beginning of the end for racial separation within military units. In 1948 with the demand for civil rights mounting, President Harry S. Truman ordered desegregation of the Armed Services and equality of treatment and opportunity without regard to race, color, religion or national origin.

    Reform was slow, however, and it wasn't until 1953 that segregation officially ended when the Secretary of Defense announced that the last all-black unit had been abolished.

    The Korean War put this new policy to the test. African-Americans served in all combat service elements alongside their white counterparts and were involved in all major combat operations, including the advance of United Nations Forces to the Chinese border. Two African-American Army sergeants, Cornelius H. Charlton and William Thompson, earned the Medal of Honor.

    The 1960s marked a major transformation for African-American citizens in the United States. The decade also marked the first major combat deployment of an integrated military to Vietnam.

    The Vietnam War saw the highest proportion of African-Americans ever to serve in an American war. There was a marked turnaround from the attitude in previous wars that black men were not fit for combat - during the Vietnam War African-Americans faced a much greater chance of being on the front-line, and consequently a much higher casualty rate. In 1965 alone African-Americans represented almost 25 percent of those killed in action.

    Following the Vietnam War and the phasing-out of conscription, the number of African-Americans volunteering to join the Army grew exponentially, enlisting at rates far above their share of the population. In general African-Americans account for nearly 25% of all enlisted Army soldiers while making up just 13% of the population.

    In 1991, forty years after military segregation ended, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest military position in the Department of Defense, oversaw Operation Desert Storm in Iraq. He was an African-American named Colin L. Powell.

    Non-voluntary deferments in WWII? - History

    A total of 10,110,104 men were drafted between November 1940 and October 1946, drawing from the pool of men born on or before 1927. Note that some of these individuals may have served later -- however, they received deferments initially.

    NameOccupationBirthDeathKnown for
    Dwayne Andreas Archer Daniels Midland CEO, 1970-97
    Isaac Asimov Foundation
    Charles Bukowski Love is a Dog from Hell
    Ralph Bunche UN Mediator in Palestine 1948
    Roy Campanella National League MVP 1951, 1953, and 1955
    Harold Camping Predicted the end of world, three times
    Owen Chamberlain Co-Discoverer of the antiproton
    Orvil Dryfoos New York Times Publisher, 1961-63
    Leo Durocher Leo the Lip
    Bob Feller Pitched three no-hitters for Cleveland
    Errol Flynn Robin Hood
    John Garfield Gentleman's Agreement
    Ed Gein Serial killer and cannibal
    Benny Goodman Bespectacled jazz clarinetist
    Gordon Gould Invented the laser, arguably
    Hank Greenberg Two-time American League MVP
    Harvey Haddix MLB pitcher
    Moss Hart You Can't Take It With You
    Dick Haymes State Fair
    Woody Herman 1940s Big Band leader, jazz clarinetist
    Stanley Hiller, Jr. Helicopter designer
    Jimmy Hoffa International Brotherhood of Teamsters
    Hubert Humphrey US Vice President, 1965-69
    Lee Iacocca Former chairman, Chrysler Corporation
    Van Johnson The Caine Mutiny
    B. B. King King of the Blues
    Thomas Kuhn Structure of Scientific Revolutions
    Timothy Leary Tune in, turn on, drop out
    Vince Lombardi Winning isn't everything, It's the only thing
    Lester Maddox Governor of Georgia, 1967-71
    Malcolm X Nation of Islam
    Eugene McCarthy US Senator from Minnesota, 1959-71
    Gregory Peck To Kill A Mockingbird
    Jackson Pollock Abstract expressionist
    James H. Quillen Congressman from Tennessee, 1963-97
    Sun Ra Jazz musician from Saturn
    Walter Reuther UAW and CIO labor leader
    Phil Rizzuto American League MVP, 1950
    Jerome Robbins West Side Story
    Mickey Rooney Actor in Andy Hardy comedies, musicals
    Julius Rosenberg Leaked atomic bomb secrets to USSR
    Jack Ruby Killed Lee Harvey Oswald
    Bayard Rustin Organized the 1963 March on Washington
    Daniel Schorr Veteran journalist, Nixon enemy
    Claude Shannon Pioneer in information theory
    Frank Sinatra It's Frank's world, we just live in it
    Eddie Slovik US soldier executed for desertion
    Jimmy Stewart Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
    Alfred Tarski Tarski's indefinability theorem
    A. E. van Vogt Science fiction writer
    James Watson Co-Discoverer of DNA
    John Wayne The Duke
    Orson Welles Citizen Kane
    Ted Williams Cryonically preserved .400 hitter
    Tennessee Williams The Glass Menagerie

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    NNDB has added thousands of bibliographies for people, organizations, schools, and general topics, listing more than 50,000 books and 120,000 other kinds of references. They may be accessed by the "Bibliography" tab at the top of most pages, or via the "Related Topics" box in the sidebar. Please feel free to suggest books that might be critical omissions.

    Non-voluntary deferments in WWII? - History

    I'm not aware of any blanket exemption for railroaders from the WWII draft. However, local draft boards and enlistment offices had latitude to reject individual candidates for various reasons, and many railroaders who tried to enlist post-Pearl Harbor were turned away.

    Many railroaders did serve. The Army formed a company of railroaders to operate Iran's railroads in order to supply the Soviet Union, for example James Carlisle, later one of the engineers on the Mississippian Railway, served in this unit. There were also railway operating battalions that served in Europe after D-Day.

    My father was not drafted early in the war account he was a brakeman and conductor on the Milwaukee Road. About 1943 he was drafted to operate railroads in Japan after the invasion. He spent time in Louisiana and Cheyenne. While he was fascinated with training on the UP Big Boys he realized he would never see service on locos like this in Japan.

    So Dad spent his service time in the Phillipines doing stevadore and teamster services.

    There were a number of "essential services" which were considered to be equivalent to military service for purposes of the draft.

    My father in law was a quality control inspector for an ammunition plant in NJ during the war. Although he tried to enlist, his job was considered national security and his application was rejected. My uncle worked as a machinist in the Curtiss Wright aircraft factory in Fairfield NJ, and was deferred "for the duration".

    I don't know if there was any national policy, but local policy clearly deferred some people working in shipyards, some railroad jobs, some defense plants, etc. Some people working in coal mines, electric generating plants, etc also fell into this category.

    One of my relatives was a fireman on the SP out of Colton, CA and ended up running trains in India for the Army. His transportation company hauled supplies that were eventually taken over the Burma Road to China. When the war ended he went back to his firing job.

    Here's the notice issued to all Canadians of working age in 1942.

    Everyone except those exempted at the top of the notice registered for the draft. The "National Selective Service Board" determined who was eligible for military service, who were eligible to work in war related industries, and who were required to stay home and work.

    The railroad and the Selective Service Board determined who was essential to remain working the railroad during the war.
    The senior men stayed to work the trains during the war. The junior men signed up for military service and the railroad let them go if they had enough crew people. They kept their seniority during the war.

    One locomotive engineer I knew served in the "Railway Operating Division" of the British Army overseas.

    See also a wartime ad to buy Victory Bonds.

    Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 08/31/10 08:36 by eminence_grise.

    johnacraft Wrote:
    > nr2d Wrote:
    > --------------------------------------------------
    > Many railroaders did serve. The Army formed a
    > company of railroaders to operate Iran's railroads
    > in order to supply the Soviet Union, for example
    > James Carlisle, later one of the engineers on the
    > Mississippian Railway, served in this unit. There
    > were also railway operating battalions that served
    > in Europe after D-Day.
    > JAC

    I searched the internet a while back looking for info on the topic of railroaders serving at home and abroad during WWII. I came up empty on the folks serving overseas.

    Anybody have any sources on how our people served overseas during the war?

    Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/30/10 23:40 by jerryheng.

    When I started as a dispatcher there were still 3 guys with seniority dates from the late 30's early 40's. An ACD with a '39 date told me that the trick DS with the '42 date became a dispatcher before the age of 21, which he said you had to be 21 to dispatch at that time. The railroad obtained a deferment for this 20 year old from the draft board. They were very unhappy when he enlisted after a year of dispatching. Of course his seniority continued uninterrupted during his service and both of those gentleman retired in the late 70's.

    There was one other dispatcher from the office that also served during the war. They said he obtained the rank of major and when he returned he was promoted at the railroad and didn't return to dispatching.

    My dad, who worked for Perlman on the Rio Grande, was exempt from the draft but was offered an Army commission as a second lieutenant to work on a railroad battalion because of his railroad experience. He turned it down and stayed with the Grande.

    Tommy the Rocket DeLaRosa said he was born in March 1920 which would have made him 21 in Dec. 1941. He was working for the SP in San Luis Obispo but was sent off to be a gunner's mate in the Navy and served aboard the Hornet. He returned in '46 to the SP and qualified as engineer in steam in 1955, just in time to haul all the steam locos off to the scrap yard.

    WWII through Vietnam Era, Selective Service Records:

    WWII Selective Service Records: The National Archives - St. Louis maintains World War II Selective Service Records. During WWII, the Selective Service System conducted six draft registrations these records are held collectively in two groupings at the National Archives - St. Louis. The first group contains records from the 4th Registration, known as the "Old Man's Registration" or the "Old Man's Draft," for those men whose year of birth was from April 28, 1877 to February 16, 1897. The second group contains the Selective Service Records of the remainder of the WWII registrants, born from February 17, 1897 to July 31, 1927. Please note: as there is overlap in the WWI and WWII Selective Service registration birth years (1877 to 1900), some men may have registered twice and have both WWI and WWII draft records.

    The complete series of draft registration cards for the World War II era,1940-1947, from Record Group 147, Records of the Selective Service System, has been scanned and transcribed.These nearly 38 million cards are available at See for details.

    Post-WWII through Vietnam Era Selective Service Records: The National Archives - St. Louis maintains Selective Service Records for this time period for all men born before 1960. Please note: Men born from March 29, 1957 - December 31, 1959 were not required to register with Selective Service because the registration program was suspended when they would have reached age 18. The requirement to register with Selective Service was reinstated in 1980 but only for men born January 1, 1960, or later.

    To obtain a copy of a WWII though Vietnam era (men born April 28, 1877 to March 28, 1957), Selective Service Record, please complete the Selective Service Request Form and

    National Archives & Records Administration
    National Archives - St. Louis
    P.O. Box 38757
    St. Louis, MO 63138-0757

    Please note: Selective Service Records for men born on or after January 1, 1960 are maintained by the Selective Service System.

    What Do We Want in a First Lady?

    On January 18, 1968, Lady Bird Johnson welcomed about fifty guests to the White House for a Women Doers Luncheon. This wasn&rsquot her first Doers do an earlier one was focussed on &ldquobeautification,&rdquo Lady Bird&rsquos personal cause&mdashsomething every modern First Lady is expected to have&mdashand had as its featured speaker the urbanist Jane Jacobs. The January luncheon was concerned with juvenile delinquency and &ldquocrime on the streets.&rdquo Some of the Doers were involved in organizations such as the Y.W.C.A. others were journalists or the wives of politicians. And one was Eartha Kitt, the singer, who was invited because of her work with a youth group. Her fellow-guests might also have heard her rendition of &ldquoSanta Baby&rdquo or seen her on television, earlier that month, as Catwoman, in &ldquoBatman.&rdquo

    After the luncheon was under way, with polite discussions of street lighting in Indianapolis and a drop-in by L.B.J., Kitt raised her hand and, in a freewheeling soliloquy, declared that one couldn&rsquot talk about juvenile delinquency without also talking about the war in Vietnam. &ldquoYou take the best of the country and send them off to a war and they get shot,&rdquo she said. The war meant that &ldquoit pays to be a bad guy,&rdquo since a criminal record could keep young men from being inducted into the military&mdashan upside-down version of student deferments. &ldquoThey can&rsquot come to you and tell you, Mrs. Johnson,&rdquo Kitt said. &ldquoThey cannot get to President Johnson and tell President Johnson about it. They rebel in the streets they will take pot.&rdquo

    Bedlam ensued. Another guest&mdashalso a first lady, of New Jersey&mdashstood up to say that &ldquoanybody who&rsquos taking pot just because there is a war in Vietnam is some kind of a kook.&rdquo Lady Bird, her voice trembling, said that the war did not &ldquogive us a ticket not to try to work on bettering the things in this country that we can better.&rdquo In an audio diary she kept, she said that she feared that her luncheon would be seen as &ldquoa riot.&rdquo If so, the target was Kitt, who, in the following days, was pilloried as disruptive and &ldquoill bred.&rdquo Lady Bird put out a statement calling her &ldquothe shrill voice of anger and discord&rdquo the Secret Service asked the C.I.A. for a dossier on her. It mattered that Kitt was Black one of the few public figures to support her was Martin Luther King, Jr. She lost work, and moved to Europe. One thing the episode illustrates is that the First Ladyship does come with power.

    If the job of a First Lady is to be a model of hospitality and grace, Lady Bird was, in this case, a bad one if the job is to back up her husband and undercut his opponents, she was a good one. Kitt, in a memoir, suggested that her mistake was thinking that the event was really meant to come up with ideas about young people and crime: &ldquoWas this a sounding board, or was this simply a theme luncheon to no end?&rdquo The problem of the luncheon, then, was also an inherent problem with the institution of the First Lady: how much of it is for real?

    Two new books&mdash&ldquoLady Bird Johnson: Hiding in Plain Sight&rdquo (Random House), by Julia Sweig, a fellow at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, at the University of Texas at Austin, and &ldquoThe Triumph of Nancy Reagan&rdquo (Simon & Schuster), by Karen Tumulty, a Washington Post columnist&mdashoffer perspectives on the confusion of the public and the private, and of seriousness and sham, that is the First Ladyship. Sweig&rsquos book is focussed on Lady Bird during the Johnson Administration, and her main contention is that Lady Bird, in some broad sense, mattered. The author&rsquos fondness for her subject is evident&mdashtoo much so, at times. Tumulty&rsquos book is more ambitious than Sweig&rsquos&mdashit is a full biography&mdashand more successful. She doesn&rsquot make excuses for her subject, and her clarity about Nancy (as she calls her throughout her husband is &ldquoRonnie&rdquo) gives substance to an engaging, well-written narrative. Tumulty&rsquos Nancy is humanly comprehensible and compelling, and comes out looking better than do many of her worst critics and her husband&rsquos strongest allies&mdashtwo categories that often overlapped.

    Watch the video: Blitzkrieg WW2 Short Animation (August 2022).