The idea of a draft, also known as conscription, has been a controversial topic throughout American history. A draft is when the government requires individuals to serve in the military during times of war or conflict. While the United States has used a draft for various wars, it has not been implemented since 1973.
The American Revolution
The first instance of a draft in American history occurred during the Revolutionary War. In 1777, the Continental Congress passed a law requiring all able-bodied men between the ages of 16 and 60 to serve in the military.
This was known as “mandatory militia service.” However, this was not enforced strictly, and many individuals were able to avoid service by paying a fine or finding a substitute.
The Civil War
The first official draft in American history was implemented during the Civil War. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Enrollment Act, which required all able-bodied men between the ages of 20 and 45 to register for military service.
This caused significant controversy and led to riots in several cities across the country. The wealthy could also pay for substitutes to take their place in service.
World War I
During World War I, President Woodrow Wilson signed into law the Selective Service Act of 1917. This required all men between the ages of 21 and 30 to register for military service. Later on, this was expanded to include men between 18 and 45 years old.
World War II
In World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law another Selective Service Act in 1940 before America’s entry into war with Germany and Japan that required all men between the ages of 21 and 35 to register for military service. Later on during World War II, it was expanded again to include all men between 18 and 45 years old.
The Vietnam War
The most controversial draft in American history was during the Vietnam War. The Selective Service System had a lottery system to determine who would be drafted.
This system was based on birthdates, and if an individual’s birthdate was selected, they were required to serve in the military. This caused significant protests across the country, as many individuals felt that the war was unjust and that the draft was unfair.
The End of Drafts
The last time there was a draft in American history was during the Vietnam War. In 1973, President Richard Nixon signed into law the end of mandatory military service. Since then, the United States has relied on an all-volunteer military force.
In conclusion, drafts have been a controversial topic throughout American history. While there have been various instances where it has been implemented, it is no longer part of American military service requirements since 1973.