The first peacetime draft in American history occurred in 1940, amidst the growing tensions of World War II. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Selective Training and Service Act into law on September 16, 1940, which required all men between the ages of 21 and 35 to register for military service.
The United States had been neutral during the early stages of World War II, but President Roosevelt feared that America would eventually be drawn into the conflict. In response to this concern, he proposed a draft to increase the size of the military and prepare for potential involvement in the war.
The Selective Training and Service Act:
The Selective Training and Service Act established the first peacetime draft in American history. It required all men between the ages of 21 and 35 to register for military service, and it authorized the federal government to draft these men into service if necessary.
Certain groups were exempt from the draft, including those who were already serving in the military, those who were physically or mentally unfit for service, and certain essential workers such as farmers.
The selective service system remained in effect throughout World War II and was later used during other conflicts such as the Korean War and Vietnam War. The first peacetime draft had a significant impact on American society at the time, as many young men were forced to leave their families and communities to serve their country.
- The draft sparked controversy: The idea of forcing men into military service was not universally accepted, with some Americans believing it went against their freedom.
- The draft led to changes in society: With so many young men away at war, women entered the workforce in larger numbers than ever before.
- The draft had lasting effects: The experience of serving in the military during World War II had a profound impact on the men who were drafted, and many continued to serve their country in other ways after the war ended.
The first peacetime draft in American history was a significant moment that helped prepare the United States for potential involvement in World War II. The Selective Training and Service Act had a lasting impact on American society, leading to changes in gender roles and creating a generation of veterans who would continue to serve their country long after the war had ended.