The iconic image of Uncle Sam, used for recruitment in WWI. The image was created in 1916 for a preparedness campaign by James Montgomery Flagg, a native of Pelham Manor, NY. After America’s entry into the war, Flagg began working for the Creel Committee and his artwork was used nationwide.
April 28 1917, Washington–The United States, like the United Kingdom before the war, had no draft, relying instead on a small professional army. While Congress had been largely united when declaring war on Germany, the question of whether American would send over a large army to Europe forcibly conscripted from its population was a divisive one. Many had assumed that the United States’ contributions would be primarily naval and financial, with perhaps a small role for the regular Army or a volunteer force. Britain had not enacted conscription until they were a year and a half into the war, and neither Canada nor Australia (despite the PM’s wishes) had yet to institute a draft.
Nevertheless, Wilson introduced a conscription bill to Congress on April 7, a day after the declaration of war. There were many reasons for this. Firstly, he recognized that victory in Europe would likely require a large contribution of American troops, beyond what the regular Army and volunteers could provide. Secondly, he believed a draft would unite the country behind the war, with men from all backgrounds compelled to serve. Finally, there were more mundane political reasons. His old foe, Teddy Roosevelt, was itching to lead a volunteer force to Europe, just as he had to Cuba during the Spanish-American war. An immediate reliance on the draft, as opposed to waiting for volunteers, would allow him to reject Roosevelt’s offer in good conscience.
Unsurprisingly, immediate conscription faced some severe opposition in Congress. A faction led by Hubert Dent, chair of the House Military Affairs Committee, argued in favor of conscription purely for defense of the United States, while the regular Army and any volunteers could be sent to Europe. He also opposed the structure of Wilson’s Selective Service proposal, which would not form units on a geographic basis (as had been the case in the Civil War), a feature that House Speaker Champ Clark also derided: men would rather “serve shoulder to shoulder, elbow to elbow, heart to heart, with their neighbors, friends, and kindred, [rather than] be broken up into small squads and distributed among strangers from distant localities.”
However, with little backing from Republicans, Dent’s proposal failed in the House. When both houses voted on Wilson’s bill on April 28, only 24 voted against, a wider margin than the declaration of war itself.
is this the first time i’ve mentioned here that right up until several days after i was born my mother did not want me to have and fully intended to not register me for a social security number or birth certificate.
why am i such a softie tho??? i almost cried petting a husky a week ago. i was watching videos tonight of a golden retriever service dog and i cried real hard about her. i’ve cried at pet stores multiple times. i’m honestly disgusted with how mushy and gushy my heart is for animals. like… let me be a bad ass…