From “Porous” to “Ruthless” Conscription, 1776–1917
Henderson, David R.
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What caused the United States to abandon its long tradition of a volunteer military, with some conscription by local and state governments, and to impose a harsh, federally run draft for almost forty years of the twentieth century? There were three major causes: (1) the existence of a much stronger central government, (2) a change in the political philosophy held by the elite, and (3) the Civil War draft. In this article, I document how each of these causes helped to bring about a harsh, ruthless draft in 1917, during the first year of U.S. participation in World War I.