The creation of a new American Army, adequate in numbers to cope if need be with the full strength of the Germanic Allies, was now the chief task of Congress. Deeming it impractical to depend upon volunteer enlistments in raising such an army, President Wilson presented a modified form of conscription for the approval of Congress. The Selective Service Bill, as it came to be known, encountered much opposition in Congress and elsewhere, but it was finally passed on May 16, 1917, by a vote of 478 to 32 in both Houses, receiving the presidential signature two days later.
Under the provisions of this Act, all male citizens and intended citizens, between the ages of 21 and 30, were subject to call and required to register their names for possible enrollment. The bill also authorized President Wilson to raise the Regular Army by enlistment to its maximum strength of 287,000 men, to draft into the service of the United States all members of the National Guard and the National Guard Reserve, and raise by selective draft an additional force of 500,000 men (or so much as he might deem necessary) and another 500,000 at his discretion, this force to be known as the National Army.
June 5, 1917 was fixed, by proclamation, as Registration Day, save in Alaska, Hawaii and Porto Rico, where a time for registration was named later. The President increased the number of men to be drafted for the United States First Army from 500,000 to 687,000, in order to use drafted men to bring the Regular Army to its full strength of 287,000 and the National Guard to its full strength of 400,000. Before the draft registration was begun, there were 200,000 enlistments in the Regular Army, while the National Guard was recruited to 450,000, three times its former strength. At the same time the Navy personnel was increased to 100,000 as an emergency measure, and 100,000 additional men were secured by September.
Socialists Oppose the Draft
Socialists, slackers, cowards, pacifists and pro-...