President Roosevelt signs the Burke-Wadsworth conscription bill in the presence of Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson; Congressman Andrew J. May, chairman of the House Military Affairs Committee; General George C. Marshall; and Senator Morris Sheppard, chairman of the Senate Military Affairs Committee, September 16, 1940. (GCMRL/Photographs, 7084)
On this day in 1940, congress enacted The Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 and President Roosevelt signed it into law two days later.
Wiki tells us: It was the first peacetime conscription in United States history. This Selective Service Act required that men who had reached their 21st birthday but had not yet reached their 36th birthday register with local draft boards. Later, when the U.S. entered World War II, all men from their 18th birthday until the day before their 45th birthday were made subject to military service, and all men from their 18th birthday until the day before their 65th birthday were required to register.
The act required all American men between the ages of 21 and 35 to register for the draft. Draftees were selected by lottery. If drafted, a man served for 12 months. Inductees had to remain in the Western Hemisphere or in United States possessions or territories located in other parts of the world. The act provided that not more than 900,000 men were to be in training at any one time.
Section 5 (g) of the Act contained a provision for conscientious objection:
Nothing contained in this Act shall be constructed to require any person to be subject to combatant training and service in the land and naval forces of the United States who, by reason of religious training and belief, is conscientiously opposed to participation in war in any form.
Any such person claiming such exemption from combatant training and service because of such conscientious objections whose claim is sustained by the local draft board shall, if he is inducted into the land or naval forces under this Act, be assigned to noncombatant service as defined by the President, or shall if he is found to be conscientiously opposed to participation in such noncombatant service, in lieu of such induction, be assigned to work of national importance under civilian direction.
On this September 14th, such a draft of youth across country is needed to come to the aid of their country now in crises coast to coast. A universal draft of everyone’s 18th and 19th year for national service geared to each’s best ability, whether civil or military, would be a benefit and a win win for citizens and country.