Chapter

The Spirit of Selective Service: Conscription and Coercion

Christopher Capozzola

in Uncle Sam Wants You

Published in print July 2008 | ISBN: 9780195335491
Published online September 2008 | e-ISBN: 9780199868971 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195335491.003.0002
The Spirit of Selective Service: Conscription and Coercion

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This chapter focuses on selective service in America during World War I. The Selective Service Act of 1917 was the centerpiece of wartime citizenship and its defining obligation. It reflected the state's power at its most extreme by demanding that its citizens die for it. Selective service embodied the national culture of voluntarism: not only through individual effort but together with the institutions of everyday life. Voluntarism also shaped the “slacker raids,” vast dragnet operations of interrogation conducted by the 250,000 volunteer members of the American Protective League. By the end of the war, conscription would result in courtroom battles, shoot-outs in the Ozark Mountains, and even a fistfight in the cloakroom of the US Senate.

Keywords: Selective Service Act; Woodrow Wilson; World War I; mass draft; voluntarism

Chapter.  15192 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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