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tv   1917 Selective Service Act and the Draft  CSPAN3  July 3, 2017 2:45pm-3:56pm EDT

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♪ >> you're watching american history tv all weekend every weekend on c-span3. to join the conversation, like us on facebook at cspanhistory. >> shortly after declaring war on germany, the u.s. congress passed and president wilson signed the selective service act on may 18th of 1917. the act required men aged 21 to 30 to register for military service. up next, to mark the centennial of selective service historians richard faulkner and beth bailey discuss the evolution of the military draft in the united states from the civil war to the
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vietnam war and beyond when military service eventually became voluntary. the national world war i museum and memorial hosted this event. it's about an hour 10 minutes. >> good evening and welcome to the national world war i museum and memorial. my name is laura vote. i'm the curator of education. and it is my absolute pleasure to be welcoming you here this evening for a riveting conversation on the anniversary, the 100th anniversary, of a piece of legislation that completely changes the united states. now, your national world war i museum and memorial opened here in kansas city in 1926 because the wonderful folks of kansas city wanted to create a memorial for those who lived through and those who died in the world war.
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the war itself began in 1914, and yet the united states remained neutral until 1917. with a volunteer army of about 120,000, on april 6th, congress declared war against germany in 1917 and they decided to move on on may 18th of 1917 to exponentially increase that army. now, we've got a wonderful panel of experts who will be here to bring light to world war i and up through today. so i'd like to go ahead and invite them to come up onto our dias here. we have dr. shawn faulkner and military chair history at the
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staff college in fot. levinwort. not only does he bring an instructor's eye from the command and general staff college, but also of a practitioner. if you are interested, and i highly suggest particularly with father's day coming along, you might want to take a look at his newest book, pershing's crusaders, explores the united states military's first experience with modern warfare. next we have dr. beth bailey, she has been the foundation distinguished professor of history at the university of kansas since 2015. having earned her doctorate and american history degrees from chicago, she specializes in the historic relationship between the u.s. military and american society.
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she is a key contributor to the popular american history textbook, a people and a nation, and has authored five books including her most recent work "america's army making the all volunteer force," which examines the nation's transition from the draft to an all-volunteer force during the vietnam war. and we have mark adams who is the education director at the truman s. -- pardon me, harry s. truman presidential library and museum. he's been adjunct professor, you may notice his famous accent which is in part why he's moderating our conversation this evening, but as you might know we have experts who are here with concentration in world war i, in vietnam and world war ii. so we're really covering that
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breadth. normally i have a podium. makes it a little easier. right -- yeah, that would be fantastic, thanks. prior to world war i the united states which makes it small army of volunteers to head into mexico. no one ever expected that they would actually head out to europe. on this 00 years ago six years after the u.s. declared war against germany the congress passed the selective service act giving the u.s. president the power to draft soldiers. by the end fl world war i in november of november of 1918 some 24 million men had registered under the selective service act. some of those arguably not enjoying the full extent of american citizenship. of the almost 4.8 million
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americans who eventually served in the war, including many women, some 2.8 million men had been drafted. so we went from a volunteer army to a conscripted service and back to a volunteer army again. the selective service act has deeply affect the american military and our role on the global stage. enjoy our conversation. mark. >> thank you, lora. thank you to the museum for putting the panel on tonight. i have from england originally but have been living in kansas city about 20 years. one of my former colleagues in the kansas museum of history is here too. i worked in topeka for six years at the state museum. i am also a former high school state history teacher. we can get past the accent. we have great questions lined up for the panelists.
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i am glad they're answering them and i get the easy job of answering the questions. we're historians so we'll start by looking at the history of the draft and how it came about. my first question. looking at the united states and the colonies that preceded it. they repeatedly faced the question of how to best assemble the necessary military force in time of war or armed conflict. why, i put to the panelists, did the wilson administration choose to implement a selective service system when the united states entered the first world war? >> i have a georgia accent which is even better. >> we'll mix it up. >> this will be a decisive break with american history. woodrow wilson is going to take this precipitous step to build this army for the first time in american history primarily on conscription due to three major things. first of all, he is a professor of history and american government. he is well aware of the challenges that the republic faced in the past with raising
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its war-time armies and the issues of politics and the constitutions that were involved. second reality is, he is a man of his time. he is a progressive in the progressive era. and a lot of the progressives had an absolute faith in the ability to use the power of the federal government to efficiently and effectively deal with the problems of american society. and last and i would argue most importantly, we get to sit back and watch the british bungle through this for nearly three years, and as we'll see there is a lot of similarities between the british situation, 1914, 1917, and the situation that we face in 1917. we should not believe, though, that this was the first time in american history where there had been compulsory military service. going back to colonial america, every one of the british colonies had enshrined in their charters or in their laws requirements for able-bodied
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males, free males, to serve in the militia. this is primarily for local defense and also for short-term military expeditions. and that system worked relatively well, though it starts to wither away the further that the frontier gets away from the centers of population. but even the colonies faced some challenges, when you had the french and indian wars and the american revolution, these short-service militia men were not very well suited for these military challenges. and it's interesting that a number of the colonies turned to impressment. when they couldn't get enough volunteers to fill their quotas for colonial defense or for the defense of the new nation, they were not above doing an impressment usually of the lower classes within the community to fill their needs. now, when the war -- american the revolution is over, of course, we have to establish a new nation.
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it's interesting that our tradition was to be adverse to a large standing army, both for the fact that we believed that it was detrimental to our liberties but also detrimental to our pocketbook. the founding fathers realized that they still had to have some recourse to establish an army. we see this in the constitution. and article 1, section 8, congress is given the power to declare war, to raise army, to regulate the militia, and also to put those laws into practice that were necessary and proper for the good of the republic. it's interesting that, when the selective service act is passed in 1917 there are those who oppose it. so there is a flurry of court cases questioning the constitutionality of the act. and finally, relative quick for the supreme court, in january of 1918, the court hears aver et
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ala versus the united states and the supreme court justices unanimously agree the conscription laws are constitutional. the constitution does not establish law. it is up to the congress to pass legislation. and in the early republic, in fact, up to 1917, there had already been a series of statutes that laid the foundation for compulsory service. the first is the calling forth act of 1793. it is supplanted by the dick act of 1902 and added too by the national defense act of 1916. all of them start off with a declaration that there is a component of responsibility to citizenship. so all free male citizens age 18 to 45 are liable for some sort of military service. now, we basically fight all of our wars up to the civil war and
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then, of course, the spanish-american war based upon volunteers. when you raise an army you rely on volunteers in the national guard, in the regular army and in war-time volunteer units to build the force. we choose this for a host of reasons. that's working well for the republic until 1863. we are in the midst of the american civil war, this is not the war they planned for. it's a long, attritional, total war. by 1863 there is concern in the lincoln administration that the north will be able to continue to bring in man power to fill the ranks. the federal government then passes the enrollment act which requires or makes liable all able-bodied male citizens and declarant aliens for possible military service. furthermore, it puts an allocation, a quota, on all the states to fill those slots with
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these conscripts as the need arises. now, interestingly, the link on administration executed the draft using the war department. so the people to decide whether or not you would serve will be army officers in the major cities of the north. as soon as the draft act comes off, the first launching of conscription in american history is a disaster. a number of americans see this as a tyrannical overreach of the linkon administration, to have the army now selecting who is going to go. there are aspects of the enrollment act that spark even more outrage. it provides for well-off citizens to hire a substitute or to pay a fee to get out of the draft. so, if you are in these northern cities and you are not well off, your argument is this is increasingly a rich man's war and a poor man's fight.
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so when the draft is launched in the summer of 1863 there are a number of anti-draft riots that go across the north. the most bloody in july of 1863 in new york city. it's still one of the most bloody and destructive riots in american history. so everything that the wilson administration does when it comes to thinking about conscription and world war i, the ghost of the civil war draft will hang over the top. from the 1870s to 1917, despite the disaster of the draft in the civil war, there are a small but vocal minority of americans who are pushing for what will become known as universal military training and service. one group is the regular army. led by emory upton. upton, who is an arm-chair h historian says, every time we've gone to war based on volunteers and relying on the states it has
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been a disaster. sending untrained men into battle is tantamount to sending people to be killed. they're joined by a group of men, to include theodore roosevelt and henry stimpson to cut across political boundaries who are looking at the changes occurring in american society at this time. we are in the midst of the industrial revolution. you have break neck urban sayin ization and massive numbers of immigrants. these men are doing so for political and social reasons. they say, if we were to take a draft of all american males from across the nation, throw them together regardless of their religion, race, background, give them a common military experience, ultimately it will create a better american citizen. they are not getting too far
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until 1914 when the great war breaks out. from that moment on, there is an increasingly strident call from what will become known as the preparedness movement to push this idea of conscription. and of course, this is being led by teddy roosevelt, who probably hates woodrow wilson only slightly less than the kaiser. wilson sees that the movement towards preparedness is really a political krujal that will be used on his administration. by the time we get to january of 1917 with the beginning of unrestricted submarine warfare by the germans the majority of americans have come to see that this war is inevitable. that will become a problem because the united states army is ranked 17th in the world behind romania and portugal. if we go to war, that will be a problem. woodrow wilson, who for political and idealogical reasons had long been an opponent of conscription,
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automatically has a road to damascus moment. so, in late march, in fact 28th of march, 1917, woodrow wilson does an about-face. he is a progressive. he realizes that if we go to war we'll be up against it in fielding an army. he is guided more than anything else than by the experience of the british. if you look at britain. they go to war in 1914. in many ways their situation mirrored the american situation in 1917. a long tradition of not liking large standing armies. the regular army is relatively small. they do not have a long history of conscription. yet, when the british go to war, we get to watch them stumble and make the mistakes. the british first try to rely on fighting the war with their regular army, but this war has changed. it's going to be a massive total war. a total war requires the mobilization of every segment of society. and the brits come late to this.
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when their regular army sort of melts away into the trenches and mud of france and flanders of 1914, early 1915, they resort to volunteers. these are enthusiastic young men. go to war with your friends. the problem is, in a massive total war, the state now has to balance the needs of all segments of society. so i have to figure out who i can send to the front to serve in uniform, but i also have to keep skilled workers in the factories to make munitions and keep farmers in the field to feed everyone and i have to also maintain civil servants to keep the civil society running. when you do this on volunteering there is no orderly way to make that work. and after the british stumble through this belatedly in january of 1916 they come to conscription. so wilson is watching all of this develop over across the
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ocean. that's what drives his decision to ultimately go to conscription more than anything else. when he goes to congress to ask for a declaration of war on the 2nd of april, 1917, as part of his message it is a request that, when we raise the army, it will be on the basis of universal military obligation. decisively breaking with american tradition. >> thank you very much. would you like to add to that? >> i think i will wait for the next one. >> wait for the next one. you mentioned some of the challenges. we'll go back to you. you kind of touched on some of that. the challenges of implementing the new system must have been, the design of it, implementation of it, the administrative, the logistics of it. who was charged with manning them, and how or what extent did they overcome those challenges? >> good. if you look, woodrow wilson realizes that he is breaking tradition, that this will be the first army in american history that will be built based --
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built primarily along conscription. by the time it is over, 72% of the american soldiers in the war will be conscripts. he recognizes that that's going to create a couple of challenges. the first is he has to sell it to congress and the american people. secondly, when you create this system, it has to meet those requirements of total war. who is going to go in uniform, who will stay in factories, who will be in the fields, who will make sure a civil society runs. based upon the experience of the american civil war, he has to create a system that will seem to the american people to be as equitable, as just and as democratic as possible. he will work on these things simultaneously. the first is selling it to the american people. the first thing you do is you change the name. the draft and conscription has bad connotations. in fact, a senator from north carolina will say, there is very little -- actually from missouri will say there is very little difference between a conscript
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and a convict. so we have to change the perceptions. the best way to do it is to not call it the draft but call it selective service. say this is not like the draft of old but, rather, the result of a citizenry who volunteers en masse. now, there are a couple major groups who are going to oppose the draft. first of all, you have the old traditionalists who want volunteering. that's the way we've always fought. if you are volunteering, your heart is in it. why send people with no desire to fight and force them into uniform. the volunteerists will say, let volunteering works, see if it does and if it fails, go to conscription. you also have those on the left that either or political or idealogical or humanitarian reasons will be opposed to the draft. socialists like eugene debs and humanists like jane adams who
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are against the idea of sending people to kill and die. wilson will face opposition from his own party, southern democrat democrats. he will face opposition from the old populists. they tend be to agrarians from the south, midwest and west. they're worried about the expansion of federal power and also worried about what the war will do to agriculture. that the draft will take too many workers away. he'll also face opposition from labor. labor had been fighting for 50 years to slowly and painfully gain footholds. the fear is that a lot of conscription will fall on the back of the workers and all the gains will slowly but surely be rolled back. so wilson will do a charm offensive, send his best and brightest up to the house to try to convince them of the path ahead. but he was also willing to make
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compromises on some items, mostly about exemptions for farm workers and industrial workers. some things he won't bend on. again, he is a progressive, and he is already seeing the most effective and efficient way to do this is going to be conscription. he'll give some benefits to the volunteerists but for the most part he won't bend on the fact that the army will be based on conscription. he is aided in overcoming many of the problems based on the way that the draft law is written. he has a very talented group of officers in the war department. led by enick crowder, the provost marshal general of the ya army and responsible for administering the draft. under him a guy named hugh johnson who will later become fdr's runner of the nra. together they are crafting the legislation that will be the selective service act. and crowder and johnson hit on
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something brilliant. let's not make the mistakes made during the lincoln administration. both of them are pouring ovringe reports of the provost marshal general from the civil war. if there is a problem with the naked hand of the federal government being over powerful, the easiest way to deal with it is what they call supervised decentralization. this is actually brilliant. let the local draft boards actually make the determinations of who is going to serve, who will be exempt and who will be deferred. so they establish over 4600 draft boards, local draft boards, and local notables to be the ones to make the hard choices. so the hand of the federal government is being pulled out of it. at least it appears to be. so the decision to who goes is actually left to your neighbors who, in theory, know the situation in which you live, may know you personally but definitely know the communities
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you come from and the needs of that society. this is brilliant. it helps to get rid of some of the tensions. you have to meet the needs for the draft itself. it does this brilliantly. in a series of three registrations the army ultimately registers over 24,000 men. of those, 2.8, roughly two in three dough boys will be called into service. on the issue of fairness, and also meeting the needs, you set the conditions that we will draft men aged 21 to 45, correction, 35, that will later be draopped to 18 to 45. and you grant deferment based upon the needs of the society. you give the volunteers -- volunteerists in the congress a little bit of a bone by allowing volunteer registration until december of 1917 in the army,
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but only in existing national guard and army units. they will close that last loophole down for the marines and navy in august of 1918. so you manage to have a nice, orderly process. and in the end i would argue that the nation has probably the fairest draft in its history. now, the fairest doesn't mean the most fair. because of the way that you do local decisions, you don't remove in-bred prejudices from members on the draft board. they are taking prejudices with them. in the end. african-americans, mexican americans and immigrants are ultimately drafted at rates much greater than their numbers in the population. so while the african-american population accounts for 10% of america, in the end 13% are actually drafted. and they're allowed deferments at a much lower rate than the regular white soldiers. when it came to immigrants, even
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though non-declarant immigrants were exempt from the draft, they had not put in their paperwork for american citizenship, because of the war-time drive for 100% americanism, over 200,000 people who should have been exempt from illegally drafted. since most of them had sketchy english skills or did not understand their rights, they were pretty well stuck. >> thank you very much. let's move forward and maybe compare to future wars. comparing world war ii selective service system with the system designed for the first world war, how did that compare, and then how did it also differ for vietnam as well? let's turn to you this time. >> moving back to world war i, the military faced an enormous challenge of figuring out how to process this enormous number of men who were coming into the military, and there was no mechanism set up to do so. because it was a period where certainly there was the concern about the perceptions of
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fairness and equity, looking back to the civil war and resistance to conscription but it was also a period where people were concerned with efficiency and trying to figure out how to manage this process in the most efficient way. one of the people charged with figuring this out said that, when they began the process it was like having an officer at the end of the gang plank randomly going infantry. core. no rationale. psychologists in civilian society began to try to implement a test they had been working on, an i.q. test, to figure out how to deploy people best according to what they tested to find their talents and abilities. these tests were pretty awful. a lot of people were illiterate. so they had an a test and b test.
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the people who were doing the test for ill literates. they had people come to a military training place and taught them how to pantomime the questions. they are doing this for people speaking dozens of different languages and from all reaches of the united states. many not well schooled in addition to being illiterate. it is like playing charades where you only have one way to act it out and everybody has to guess the right answer. the results pretty much mirrored what you would expect. the people who were well educated did well. the people whose english might not be strong didn't come out so well. they discovered a few alarming things. the first thing they discovered was that jews were really dumb because they didn't test well on the i.q. test. they discovered the average age of american men mentally came out at about 13. not so good. now, this was processing.
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but this is going to carry over to the draft in world war ii because they are much more committed at this point where they're going to be processing even more people, to figuring out not only how to allocate people but how to prescreen them because neuropsychiatric casualties after world war i, by the beginning of the u.s. entry into the second world war, had cost about $1 billion. the psychologists decided that, if they could implement testing, a refined version of the i.q. test but also some other kinds of psychiatric screening, they could wean out, they could prescreen the people who were not having to adjust well to military service and, thus, disturb the -- excuse me -- function of their unit and also find those people, prescreen the people who were going to come out having neuropsychiatric disorders because of combat.
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what they discovered eventually is that, you know, you are not going to be able to screen this out because anybody is going to have, after a certain amount of combat, is going to have a reaction to it. but there was a great deal of faith put into this prescreening. so, this is one of the elements that happens during world war ii, that begins in world war i but becomes a central piece of world war ii. the other piece with world war ii is that it is seen as -- it was the first time that a peace-time draft existed. so after world war i, as was common, the selective service system, or conscription or the draft, in its less positive phrasing, ended and the united states went back to having about a military that came in 15th or 16th in the world and was in no way prepared to function in the world war that it eventually entered. and so, fdr, who was
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increasingly committed to preparation, instituted a peace-time draft for the first time in american history in 1940, which was not well received by and large, and was extended by, i think, the difference was one vote in the end of the summer in 1940. if that hadn't happened, the united states would have been even less prepared for going into world war ii. you want to pick up for a bit? i'll talk more about vietnam in a minute. >> it is interesting. this is going to be a much larger -- in fact, the largest draft in american history. at the end, i think 16 million people serve in uniform. there are lessons that they try to take away from world war i. i said that the great war was probably the fairest draft but a lot of it had to do with the conditions of the time. this was a less cynical period. perhaps a bit more patriotic. there was a vast expectation
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that the well-to-do would do their bit. and for the most part they did. so it helped to overcome some of the past things. by the time you get to world war ii there is a lost generation myth. so as the generation is going into world war ii there is a belief that somehow things had gone wrong in world war i. we had sent our best and brightest to the battlefields of france to ultimately die for not very much. so i think one of the things that's happening when they are adjudicating who goes where in the draft is a desire to sort of preserve a little bit of that. part of it is you create a vast system of schools. the stp system, where you husband away some of the smart ones in american universities. they're getting technical and other training and education. so when we need them to be pilots or when we need them to fill the highly technical roles in a technical war, they will be ready. but we do this by what will
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become known as a hunter division gamble. they say we'll rely on our power, our ability to produce things, meaning we'll make sure more people are in industry. we will be the arsenal of democracy for world war ii, to build up a big air force and navy, to build up our strengths. to do that, that means you restrict the amount of man power you designate for the army. they cap it at 100 divisions. it's a 100 division gamble because in january of 1945 every division is committed. but we start to smell the end of the barn. what's interesting is one of the unintended consequences of the draft in policy is that when the army comes looking for manpower because of the unexpected heavy casualties in western europe and the pacific. they turn to the astp program.
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all the people have been in universities. they say, congratulations, welcome to then -- the infantry. we are the only military where the quality of the infantry increased at the end of the war rather than decreased. >> there was a sense that it was important to preserve the civilian functions of society. so it was after -- it was in december of '42 that people were no longer allowed in most cases to volunteer if they weren't being drafted as a way to handle the manpower allocations for the country. about 10 million of the 16 million people in uniform were drafted during world war ii. which was important. the other thing about world war ii is that it was a language of universal sacrifice. some obviously sacrificed much more than others. if you go to the world war ii
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memorial in d.c., initially the docents would talk about how everyone sacrificed almost equally. there was the language. in terms of the draft, in 1942, 93% of americans according to a poll said they thought the draft was fair. at the end of the war in 1945, 79% of americans thought conscription had functioned fairly. that is truly an amazing figure when you think about the ways in which people, men, lost the ability to make choices. it is significant in terms of who was drafted and who was deferred or exempted, that it was not only about manpower decisions in terms of we need farmers and we need someone to manage the bureaucracy. fathers were exempted. men who were married and had a dependent. wives were automatically
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dependents, were exempted for a long time. this was after they were drafting people who were literate. after drafting single men in essential war industries. it was a social decision that fatherhood, preserving the family was critically important. those men were put into a hands-off category. some fathers volunteered and served but it wasn't because of their draft designation. when conscription is designed, it's not simply how do we get enough people into the military. it is also thinking about who is exempted and why and how that mirrors the values of society at that time. >> very good. let's move that forward to the '60s and vietnam that we touched on. obviously we'll see changes in opinions. let's start with that maybe and then go forward. >> well, as world war ii became the ever better war and vietnam became the ever-worse war --
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>> right. >> so the contrasts are significant, but they also have become larger and larger as we have made the two as parallel kinds of oppositions in war. part of the problem with the war in vietnam in terms of conscription is that there were just way too many men. and so, because a rel till small number of men served either by volunteering or by being drafted, those who were drafted experienced it and a sense of unfairness. and that created a certain amount of resentment. the baby boom fed into vietnam. there were 27 million men in the cohort who came of draft age in the vietnam era. 2.2 million were drafted. 8.5 million volunteered and 16 million people didn't serve, mainly because they were deferred or exempted or are not
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qualified. so the common experience in the vietnam era was not military service. the opposite of world war ii, the opposite of world war i and by and large the opposite of korea. the fact that only 2.5 million american men were even sent to vietnam, the majority not in combat, created a very different sense of what's being fair and what's not being fair. and so, some of it was the war in vietnam becoming increasingly unpopular over time, but it was also that it didn't provide for a sense of shared burden. the other piece that was critically important here was the level of deferments and what they were based upon. it goes back to world war ii. it is intensified in korea. one of the reasons military planners and civilian planners believed that the united states had triumphed with its allies in
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world war ii was because of scientific and technological advancements. thus, the gamble is it's important to keep men, women, men, being trained in the sciences to preserve american technological and scientific advantage. and so, increasingly those men were deferred from the draft. conscription continues after world war ii with a brief exemption. they were not able to get enough people to volunteer. because it was the cold war world, it continued. but what was important is to figure out how to get the relatively small number of people to serve, and that was based on trying to create a sufficient number of exemptions. it didn't matter so much in peacetime. but once it comes to vietnam when you are deferring people because they're in college and you're also deferring people for medical reasons, but if you are someone who has access to a private doctor, it's not that hard to get a medical excuse, it
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becomes a war that seems to be based on class distinctions in fundamental ways. not across the board, but it wasn't like in world war i where people who were -- the president's sons were serving, people were flooding out of the ivy league universities, especially in the enlisted ranks, it was a war that was called by one his toitorian a working-class war. for a whole series of reasons the draft was experienced and was largely unfair. we can talk about the lottery if you want. >> we'll get the -- >> okay. >> give you a chance to comment on that. >> it is. it's definitely societal change. you can see some sterling differences between the two. in the last iteration of the draft act, which comes out in august of 1918, to meet the demands of officers, what the government basically does is drafts every able-bodied male student in colleges. so they actually create the student army training corps.
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they issue them uniforms, they basically disrupt most of the college education to do drill. and you are preparing these guys, if necessary, to go. they end up commissioning some of them quite early. i came across cases where college students as young as 18 volunteered to cut their college short to serve overseas. some of them actually made it into combat in france. a few were even killed before the end of the war. so it's definitely a different perception. >> let's move on. i am cognizant of time. i'll move to the next question, we won't lose your point, though. maybe we can come back to it and weave it maybe into this next question. you both mentioned some about maintaining a draft through peacetime too in the years following world war ii. how did that practice shape the selective service system and the expectations of the american public? whoever would like to go first on this one. >> why don't you. i have been talking a lot.
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>> you are so polite. >> do you want to start? >> no. go ahead, please. >> i think i began answering that in the last question. >> you did. >> i'll just -- i can pick up a little bit more detail. >> absolutely. >> the united states army, which is what i know the most about, in the cold war era, needed initially about an active duty strength of a million people, which meant that it was trying to recruit through volunteers about 40,000 men per month. in the end of the war there was a great deal of war exhaustion. people were not so eager to volunteer, especially those who had served for the duration plus six months. the economy was beginning to boom. the military department seem like the best economic option for people. they were getting 12,000 people maybe instead 40,000.
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when conscription authority ran out. truman decided to let it ride for a while and see if it worked. it didn't. so the draft was reinstated and existed through the korean war but afterwards as a cold war army. by 1961 the military was drafting about 20% of its members, volunteer rate was pretty high. it wasn't that much of a pressure. though it was understood to be something that was part of men's lives. there was a strong sense that the draft impelled people or at least encouraged people, motivated people, to volunteer, in part because they would have more control over their conditions of service if they volunteered. there was a lot of conversation about getting rid of conscription, getting rid of the draft. vietnam put into those conversations when lyndon johnson decided, rather than mobilizing the reserves, that he was going to increase those
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people who were being drafted and that changed the landscape significantly. >> very good. >> it is interesting that when the draft does come back, it's wildly unpopular during korea itself. in fact, what's really irritating a number of veterans is that they're recalled from service. the military tries to put the best face on this as possible. ted williams and jimmy stewart are trotted out as poster boys. most of the veterans who are recalled to service are not happy. throughout the rest of the 1950s, with the changing dynamic of war, with nuclear weapons, ground service seems to be a dead end. and regardless of what the army tries to do, it is seen as a rite of passage. it is a distasteful thing, but it will make a man out of you for a couple of years when you go serve.
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it's interesting that the army is always sort of in the back end of this. my father enlisted in the air force in 1958 to make sure sure as hell he wasn't going into the army. and most of the people who could do so sort of followed that path. the army was always a little bit behind. it wanted to be a high-tech force yet could never get the right manpower in place to pull that off. >> very good. we are moving through time here. now we're going into the 1970s. now -- in 1973 we have the united states moving to an all volunteer force. what are the implications of that rather than the draft? >> there was more or less a perfect storm of conditions that led the united states to move away from conscription to an all-volunteer force.
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much of it had to do with the unpopularity of the war in vietnam and the ways in which people understood conscription to be unfair, which it was. there was a move to a lottery system in late 1969 which got rid of a certain number of deferments and made people's service more predictable. nonetheless, it was perceived and was unfair. and richard nixon, when he was running for president, was trying to find a bit of an edge in the election campaign, and he went on national radio in october, not too long before the election, and said he was planning to get rid of the draft. not until the end of vietnam, but get rid of it. everybody sort of thought it was just talking. he hadn't cleared this with anybody. he hadn't had any conversations with military leaders, policy people or anything. but it was one of the first things he did in office is to constitute a committee, the gates commission, which was charged not with figuring out whether they were going to do it but with figuring out how to do
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it. their answer basically was to turn to the market and to let the market decide. to pay people what they would make if they were in civilian employment, treat it like a job. military leaders were not thrilled with that because they said it's not a job, we ask people to do thing that one doesn't get asked to do in a job. but that was the charge they got, and they had to make it work. so that's where it went. moving away from conscription created complicated issues. what happened -- one thing that happened was that there was no way to control who -- what kind of balance there was going to be in terms of who was serving. you got what the market gave you. at the end of the vietnam war the military was not in good repute by and large. the propensity to enlist was extraordinarily low, especially among people who saw themselves as having any other options. people were more likely to
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enlist if they saw that they had few options which in many cases meant african-american men who were struggling in civilian employment world. so increasingly there was a vastly disproportionate number of black men who were serve nothing the military. some people said this is great because the military offers options. but at the same time it was clear that, if there were a conflict, if people were being sent into battle, there was going to be a highly disproportionate death rate. if it was a highly disproportionate number of people serving in the infantry, which was the case. so all sorts of complications initially registered in terms of what it means in terms of not being able to control in any sense, other than just saying no, who was coming in. >> well, for the first decade -- i came in nine years after this thing started, so i got to see some of the tail end of it. the first decade of the all
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volunteer army is a disaster. in theory it is going to take care of the problems. if i get the willing into the army, i can train and push them harder. they will be more disciplined, i can expect more from them. the problem is the mothers and fathers of america are saying this is a dead-end job for dead-end people. and if you are going to have a small, professional military, you're going to have to pay for it. small professional militaries in the end are a hell of a lot more expensive than large conscripts armies because you have to provide the money to allow the professional army to have the edge, the advantage on the battlefield. throughout the 1970s until the end of the carter administration no money is flowing to the military. so jimmy carter actually gives the peacetime military one of its largest pay increases in history in 1980. he doesn't get credit for that. you start to break that. and of course, with ronald
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reagan came in. it's morning in america. a little bit of patriotism. the flow of money starts to slowly but surely get the army out of the doldrums. there are unintended consequences with this. if you are going to accept an all-volunteer force where the market will bear it, you will have to deal with things you haven't dealt with before. for the first time in history, large numbers of enlisted soldiers and junior officers will have families. it's part and parcel of the deal. you take who you get. when there is no money, there is no funding to build the infrastructure that's required to have wives or husbands and children. you don't have the schools. you don't have the medical care, the barracks. this is not really until the middle of the 1980s that they start to deal with that. for better or worse, there are some advantages when you have
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families. but there are also disadvantages. there are ties, then, to home. that if you had a soldier who was just on their own, you can actually do a lot more with them. that's the dirty little secret. but when you have a small professional army, the problem throughout history is they are inherently fragile. they are best suited for quick, decisive wars. when they get involved in longer duration wars like we fought for the last 15 years, some of the things that makes them special starts to atrophy. we saw this 2006, 2007, 2008 at the height of the iraq and afghanistan wars where, to just fill the ranks, you start to decrease the qualifications. we start to issue moral waivers to bring folks in because, again, the market share is what's bringing them in, and increasingly mothers and fathers
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are saying, why would you do this, to fight a war where you might not come back for, what? so there are challenges when you go with this force. some that the american public is probably not aware of. as i tell my students, they live in a socialist world's paradise. they live in a gated community where, to keep the professional force, they are given free housing, relatively free housing, free health care, subsidized food, to keep them doing what the vast majority of the american people don't want to do. >> so i'll add two points to that. one of the arguments for moving to an all-volunteer force from conscription was the notion that having an all-volunteer force would impede american military adventurism, make it more difficult for the president or congress to deploy troops because the wars would have to be popular in order to get
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enough people to fight. that didn't turn out to be the case. but that was one of the strong arguments in advancing this cause. the second piece of it is, because of the move to an all volunteer force, at that moment in the early 1970s, which was sort of at the height of the social change movements of the 1960s, lots of the '60s actually took place in the '70s. they had to fill a lot of boots. 30,000 or so volunteers a month, which during the recent wars, it was 60,000 to 80,000 a year. this is an enormous number of people. it jump-starts the number of women in the military because, as the army advertised, some of our best men are women. not only did they start recruiting more women and bringing more in, they changed the designation of all sorts of m.o.s.s and of positions so that women are not simply in
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communications or acting as nurses in make but instead are fixing trucks and doing the tasks that are not traditionally feminine. and the military is having to deal with the fallout of all these social change movements. in positive ways certainly. in many ways the army, which is what i can speak about the most, was ahead of civilian society in offering opportunities to women. it had to figure out how to handle some of the racial conflicts because it didn't really have control over who it was bringing in and not bringing in. so the military became, in part, because of the move away from conscription, a place where a lot of the social issues in the united states were being played out, and the institutions had to figure out how to manage them. so -- this had an enormous impact on civilian society. one final point about women coming into the military. draft registration lapsed after the move to the all volunteer
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force. in late 1979 after the hostage taking in iran and after the soviets move into afghanistan, president carter is concerned about preparedness and also signaling to the rest of the world that the united states was ready to take military action if necessary and ren statinstates draft -- not the draft. reinstates registration for selective service. when he creates this he has two bills prepared. one of which is only to register men, and one of which is to register both men and women. congress doesn't let the one with women in it go forward. but in 1979 and early 1980, congress is debating whether or not women are going to be moved into the combat m.o.s.s. so -- this is all tied to who is going to be having to register for selective service. >> very good.
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i have got one final question. you kind of both covered it a little bit. i want to make sure that you get the chance to say all of the things you need to, and then we'll turn to the audience for q & a. how do we evaluate the success and failures of selective service compared to the avf as we have been talking about? this is where you've both been going and is a good place to wrap up. how does the system in each of the different areas balance questions of fairness and efficiency? jump in. [ laughter ] >> it's a big question. >> well, i'll put my cards on the table. i have skin in the game. my eldest son is an infantry private in alaska. so i think it's too easy for the republic to go into military adventures when they are dealing with other people's kids. so there is some advantage to bringing in as many of -- many elements of american society as
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possible to the military because then there will be parents who will be calling congressmen and senators to ask, where are we going, what are we doing? what is this about. i think those questions don't get asked and to a large extent congress has abrogated a lot of its responsibilities established by the constitution to make these calls simply because irate parents are not calling them. that is not the opinion of the department of defense. [ laughter ] >> i think that the balancing becomes enormously difficult, because in terms of the defense of the nation, the military service is by and large believed that the all-volunteer force provides best. it's very hard to draft a small number of people, men, women, whatever, for the amount of time it takes to adequately train people for a technologically sophisticated services today. 18 months is not going to do it. at the same time, i completely
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agree with sean in that having an all-volunteer force, especially in times of extended warfare or peril, allows much of the american public to bear no burden, not even a financial burden, as small numbers of people go to war and their families and they bear that burden. it's hard to figure out how to square that circle and what the proper policy should be. but i think that the part of the problem is that there is not enough of a sense that the entire nation has to have skin in the game when decisions of that magnitude are being made. >> thank you both. i'm going to turn to lora. she has the microphone back there. >> i do. >> she'll do the q & a with the audience. >> there is a microphone here. i can come to you if you would like to ask a question. while i am walking to my first
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question, which will be shortly, i would also like to state and share that this program is in partnership with the truman library institute and the harry s. truman presidential library and museum, one of 13 presidential libraries of the national archives, together with its federal partner the institute, which was founded by harry s. truman, draws on president truman's legacy to enrich the public understanding of history and democracy. so i think we are doing a pretty good job tonight in the education, which means we'll start with our first question right here. i know you are pointing to jerry. that's not going to happen. >> okay. dr. faulkner and the rest of the panel, thank you. to let you know as a disclaimer, i am a nurse corps veteran two times in, '74 to '76 and then '87 -- '85 to '91. my question is, why, in this day
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and age, do we not have registration for women, and when do you think it will come? >> that's a good question. >> what congressional district do you live in? [ laughter ] >> ultimately that's a political question. it just came up again as the militaries have opened up combat roles to women. frankly, for me, fair is fair. so we should -- if we are going to allow women to serve in all branches of the military, everyone should be eligible for that service. >> the supreme court decided that, because women could not serve in combat, that they did not need to register for the draft. women can serve in combat now. so should we move forward? i think there is no way that the supreme court can uphold that decision in the future, political as it is.
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>> but it is a political -- it will be a political football. >> i agree with you. it's only fair. >> great. our next question comes from this gentleman right here. >> doctors, was the draft any different for the naval or armed -- sorry, air forces? >> in world war i, when the original selective service act comes out, it allows volunteer -- people to volunteer for the army until december of 1917. actually, there is a rush of guys to volunteer the last month. december is the largest number of volunteers during the war. so the guys still have a choice. but it still allows voluntary enlistments in the navy and the marine corps until the summer of 1918. then it closes it all off. so world war i, yes to a point. after that, everybody is in the
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same pot. >> i will just say that the marine corps traditionally relied much less on conscription than any of the other services, very proudly so. and so they were able to get enough people volunteering so they didn't turn as much to conscription. >> great question. >> i thank you for being here. very interesting subject. i am wondering if there is a correlation between not declaring war and not having a draft. we went into the balkans, we went into vietnam, we went into iraq, afghanistan, and it's almost as though -- this is way off the -- it's almost as though we are willing to make a commitment but not that big of a commitment. what do you think about that? >> well, vietnam was fought -- the conscription, vietnam, was fought under the peacetime draft authority because war was not declared. i am not sure if that
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counter-example undermines your case or not. i think it has to do with the ways in which executive authority has been configured as much as it has to do with making a full commitment. >> the other argument is, since we have not been fighting sort of these long, total wars, there has not been the need for a declaration of war. there are these other kinds of wars, as -- as farnhach talks about. he argues that the kind of army you need for a different kind of war are the long service professionals to where you can fight them on the periphery and people back home can live their lives. at the same time, though, it does lead to the issue where you don't take responsibility for actions. depending on what day you catch me and how much i've had to drink i'll answer in different ways. i personally believe that it is
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just too easy for the congress to abrogate those responsibilities when they don't have to. so the declaration of else, bey symbolic, at least informs the republic as a whole that there's some sort of obligation involved with the killing and dying that we're doing. >> thank you. this has been a great talk. i actually have a question about the world war i draft. in late july, early august 1918 in omaha, nebraska, two draft boards got a draft call for 100 draftees a piece, and then in august 7th these 200 guys were put on a train and sent out to california and the omaha herald insisted that all of these
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guys -- quote, volunteered to be drafted. is that a bunch of b.s.? >> part of that is when you market it. when there is the draft, in theory, the draftees are voluntarily enrolling for the draft, and there will be a loophole here and john chambers will argue that somewhere between 2,000,003 million guys dodged the draft in world war i simply by not showing up to register and since the census data was incomplete. there's no way to know and it was 10% and 360,000 will be termed desserters and they don't show up for training camp and they abskond on the way. that's one of those ways when
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you use creative language, this is a nation that volunteers en masse. what is more tragic is due to the unexpectedly high casualties of the summer and fall of 1918, a number of draftees are being called up and they're being inducted. two weeks in the united states on a ship, and they are fighting with less than a month of service and almost no training and to me that's one of the criminal aspects that i ever encountered. so the system is getting good at getting guys in. it falls apart when it comes to adequately training them for the realities of modern war. >> all right. i know there may still be some more questions in the audience, but i believe that our panelists might be very kind and generous and answer those after our recording finishes and after a
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bit of applause. a fascinating conversation on a moment a hundred years ago that continues to impact us and should inform us and potentially inform our votes regarding how we feel today. so, ladies and gentlemen, i want to welcome you to thank the truman presidential library and the truman institute, and we'd like to thank our panelists this evening, dr. sean faulkner, dr. ben bailey and director mark adams. ladies and gentlemen, please join me in a round of applause. [ applause ] you're watching american history tv. 48 hours of programming on american history every weekend on c-span3. follow us on twitter @cspanhistory for information on our schedule and to keep up with the latest history news.
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thursday at 7:00 p.m. eastern join american history tv for a live tour of the museum of the american revolution in philadelphia. the museum's president and ceo michael quinn and collections and exhibitions scott stevenson will introduce artifacts and exhibits throughout the museum. including george wash's war tent and a piece of the old north bridge from the battle of concord. hear stories from the american revolution and participate in the live program with your phone calls and tweets. watch american history tv, and live from the museum of the american revolution tuesday starting at 7:00 p.m. eastern on c-span3. >> 2017 mark theentenial of the united states entry into world war i. next on american history tv's real america, home front. 1917 to 1919. war transforms american life and
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narrated by actor robert ryan, this 1965 encyclopedia britannica film examines how the war was sold to the american public and how dissent was discouraged and even outlawed. the documentary also shows how the war effort expanded the federal government and led to a booming industrial economy. this is about 20 minutes. ♪ ♪ on the eve


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