Event Title

4B2: Men, Military, and the Law: An Examination of Conscription During World War I and Its Legal Challenges

Start Date

29-9-2018 2:30 PM

End Date

29-9-2018 3:45 PM

Description

As in the case of the American Civil War, conscription was implemented during World War I to serve the military needs of the nation. As voluntary enlistment had again decreased, the US Congress responded with another conscription bill to institute another federally controlled system of conscription to require the service of America’s male population. Republican Representative Julius Kahn introduced the Selective Service Act. A conscription call, and registration for conscription, would be a joint effort by the US Congress and President Woodrow Wilson. The members of Congress, that supported conscription, expressed their belief that men were required to serve the nation in times of need. They additionally expressed a desire to ensure an effective plan would be in place to muster in the requisite number of men rather than rely on volunteerism. Opponents to conscription expressed concern with the growing expanse of the military since they viewed conscription as an extension of power beyond what is granted in the US Constitution. Wilson supported the measure, and signed the bill into law on May 18, 1917.

President Wilson issued a proclamation on May 18, 1917. This proclamation, Proclamation 1370, outlined the requirements of self-registration of men, the penalties for those that did not register, and the penalties for men that committed fraud. President Wilson, similar to President Abraham Lincoln, made pleas to a man’s patriotism. Both of these presidents used patriotism as a measure to determine the loyalty and obedience of men for their compliance and support of this military policy. Wilson took this idea a step farther to discuss how compliance for this military policy illustrated how the nation was now united to serve as an army. While conscription was not new, Wilson explained that this moment was significant for the United States since it ushered in a new sense of duty among all Americans (including civilians) for a common purpose.

The legality of conscription was challenged during World War I. Unlike the American Civil War, the US Supreme Court heard a case regarding the legality of conscription. Among the legal challenges, the litigants questioned conscription as being inconsistent with the Thirteenth Amendment. The case is known as the Selective Draft Law Cases 245 U.S. 366 (1917). This project will explore the legal challenges to expose the anti-war and anti-conscription efforts in the United States. Wilson, fearful of resistance against this policy, ordered that this measure be called Selective Service. Wilson believed the term ‘conscription’ bore such a negative connotation, which would cause resistance. Despite the change in terminology, Americans resisted against conscription during this conflict. The case presented to the Court highlights the main arguments of those against conscription policies. The Court’s ruling reaffirmed its supports arguments of conscription’s legal grounding.

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Sep 29th, 2:30 PM Sep 29th, 3:45 PM

4B2: Men, Military, and the Law: An Examination of Conscription During World War I and Its Legal Challenges

As in the case of the American Civil War, conscription was implemented during World War I to serve the military needs of the nation. As voluntary enlistment had again decreased, the US Congress responded with another conscription bill to institute another federally controlled system of conscription to require the service of America’s male population. Republican Representative Julius Kahn introduced the Selective Service Act. A conscription call, and registration for conscription, would be a joint effort by the US Congress and President Woodrow Wilson. The members of Congress, that supported conscription, expressed their belief that men were required to serve the nation in times of need. They additionally expressed a desire to ensure an effective plan would be in place to muster in the requisite number of men rather than rely on volunteerism. Opponents to conscription expressed concern with the growing expanse of the military since they viewed conscription as an extension of power beyond what is granted in the US Constitution. Wilson supported the measure, and signed the bill into law on May 18, 1917.

President Wilson issued a proclamation on May 18, 1917. This proclamation, Proclamation 1370, outlined the requirements of self-registration of men, the penalties for those that did not register, and the penalties for men that committed fraud. President Wilson, similar to President Abraham Lincoln, made pleas to a man’s patriotism. Both of these presidents used patriotism as a measure to determine the loyalty and obedience of men for their compliance and support of this military policy. Wilson took this idea a step farther to discuss how compliance for this military policy illustrated how the nation was now united to serve as an army. While conscription was not new, Wilson explained that this moment was significant for the United States since it ushered in a new sense of duty among all Americans (including civilians) for a common purpose.

The legality of conscription was challenged during World War I. Unlike the American Civil War, the US Supreme Court heard a case regarding the legality of conscription. Among the legal challenges, the litigants questioned conscription as being inconsistent with the Thirteenth Amendment. The case is known as the Selective Draft Law Cases 245 U.S. 366 (1917). This project will explore the legal challenges to expose the anti-war and anti-conscription efforts in the United States. Wilson, fearful of resistance against this policy, ordered that this measure be called Selective Service. Wilson believed the term ‘conscription’ bore such a negative connotation, which would cause resistance. Despite the change in terminology, Americans resisted against conscription during this conflict. The case presented to the Court highlights the main arguments of those against conscription policies. The Court’s ruling reaffirmed its supports arguments of conscription’s legal grounding.