tv World War I the 1917 Selective Service Act CSPAN November 8, 2018 8:59pm-9:45pm EST
allied, with your calls on washington journal and joining the discussion is john mosher, author of the myth of the great war. at 11:00 a.m., we will be live from arlington cemetery for a replaying ceremony at the tomb of the unknown. at 5:00 p.m., former president george w. bush and former first lady laura bush will be presented with the liberty metal at the national constitution center in philadelphia. watch live coverage on c-span. you can find programming on world war i and the centennial all day long. >> our focus on the supreme court during world war i continues next with christopher.
he wrote a book on the selective service act of 1917, and how it affected men and women during and after the war. from the supreme court chamber, this is about 45 minutes. >> good evening ladies and gentlemen and i am greg joseph, chair of the board of trustees of the historical society welcome to our third lecture in the leon sullivan series, and the professor will be speaking about this elective -- elected draft law case. let me begin by asking everyone to turn off their cell phone, not just put them on mute because it will affect the sound system, and that includes your fancy watches that are really cell phones. i want to begin also but thinking -- thanking justice elena kagan and we cannot be here unless we are sponsored by justice, and you do us honor by
coming in this evening to introduce the professor for i have the privilege of introducing justice elena kagan, and it is a pleasure to do so. i will be brief and she had a career of distinction before she assumed her seat on august 7 of 2010. she graduated from princeton and was editorial chair of the prince stony and, and got a masters degree in philosophy on a fellowship in princeton. she went to harvard and graduated and was he supervising editor of the law review. she then went to actual work at a great law firm, for a couple of years before she started teaching at the university of chicago in the early 1990s. she became associate counsel to
president clinton in 1995 and later became deputy assistant to the president for domestic policy, and this was at a time when as a matter of domestic policy, we are burning through our budget deficit and going toward a balanced budget. she was actually nominated for the dc circuit by president clinton, and politics calls that nomination to lapse, and that is been known to happen to others from time to time. john roberts got that seat. so as a consolation prize, she went to harvard in 1999, were she began teaching and working only to describe as a meteoric rise and became dean of that institution in four years. six years after that in 2009, she was nominated by president obama as the 45th solicitor general of the united states, and the first woman to hold that job just as she had been the first female dean at the harvard law school. it is a one year after that
that she was nominated and confirmed to this court, so we have been honored to have justice kagan on the court for little over eight years. please join me in welcoming kagan .[ applause ] >> thank you so much. thank you. thank you greg for all that you do for the supreme court historical society. i does! i noticed that you can do my biography without notes. that might be because of your astonishing memory, but i have a feeling that we have done this before. that would suggest how many years you have been incredibly important to the historical society and because of that, important to the supreme court. what the historical society does is very significant to the court in promoting understanding of the core of the constitution, and i don't know if some of you
saw the very sad news today that justice o'connor is retiring from public life because she is in the early stages of dementia . in the statement that she wrote, in very typical justice o'connor fashion, she used the sad occasion to do good. if you haven't read her statement, please do so because she talks about the importance of civic education for our society for the way that we govern ourselves and for the way we live in a democracy, and surely, the supreme court historical society should go down on the list of institutions that do such excellent work in that regard in promoting our understanding of the court in the constitution. thank you greg for everything that you and your colleagues do. thank all of you for being here. as great told you, this is the
leon silverman lecture series, which is folks in this year in honor of the centennial of world war i on the supreme court in world war i. in the lecture today, it is only selective draft law cases, which i don't know very much about, so i am suspecting many of you don't low the spec know a lot about either. it will be extremely interesting and the lecture today is presented by christopher capozzola, who is a professor of history at mit. some may say that something doesn't fit there. but it turns out that in addition to being a quite extraordinary institute of technology and engineering and science, mit has long had an extraordinary american history department and christopher capozzola is part of a collection of really wonderful the story is at mit. he is the author of a book called uncle sam wants you,
world war i and the making of the modern american citizen. it is a prize winning book that was awarded the prize of the new england american studies association and the author of many articles and essays on the history of citizenship, war, and the military in modern american history. finally, christopher capozzola is a prize-winning teacher . i have very high expectations of today's lecture. chris.[ applause ] >> i will begin with a quote that i am borrowing from the distinguished legal distorting at the university of iowa who once said that academics fly around the country because they like to hear themselves talk,
but because they like to hear themselves introduced. so a special thanks to justice kagan for that introduction, and in particular for her support of the supreme court historical society and thanks to friends, colleagues, and family. thank all of you for taking time to mark the centennial of the first world war, which marks its 100th anniversary on 11 november, and i think as a country, we can do more to mark that history and to honor the service of all those who served in the military and also in they -- a civilian role. the invitation to select, it could have yielded a short lecture. in january 1918, the u.s. supreme court dispense with all constitutional challenge to the
select service act. in a brief and unanimous opinion following a session of oral arguments in which the justices were widely reported to have been bored by the case, and to have been impatient to issue their ruling and get on with administering the law. my task this evening is in fact to convince you otherwise and to convince you that the supreme court engagement with the subscription and enforcement marked a contingent and transforming moment for the constitution, the court, and for the american people. the selective service act of 1917 asserted that the federal government had power at the most extreme. during the war, that basic premise that our political obligations include military ones, and that we owe our lives to the state when it calls was rarely challenged including that brief consideration here before the u.s. supreme court.
the sense of compliance in fact was not lost on a reporter for the new york times, who spent one of the registration days in the rough-and-tumble neighborhood on the east river waterfront in manhattan. there, that day, 3528 men who many of them was longshoremen and dockworkers and drifters, the people who filled the neighborhood lodging houses, they registered for the draft without complaint. that was at the makeshift office of the new york board member 92. as the reporter wrote, there was no use complaining you asked the average register of what he thought of the affair would do that spec would be to receive a shrug of the shoulders and the acknowledgment that he had no use of having any thought on the subject at all. furthermore, it was the law of
the land in every goal citizen voted to himself and his country to obey that law. the new york newspaper reporter marveled at this unprecedented registration for military service. it like part of the american second nature. but in fact it wasn't yet part of the second nature, and adopting, enforcing, and upholding the first universal military draft required a remarkable departure from the nation's military and political tradition. but now to the point that was frequently made by the opponents of the law, who were not so quick to shrug their shoulders when the registrants came by. by the end of the war, it would bring courtroom battles, shootouts in the ozark mountains, and he fistfight in the cloakroom of the -- fistfight in the cloakroom of the united states senate. there was a kaiser fnc, and then hang in a news.
through it all and through all of that controversy, the registration forms continue to pour into selective service headquarters. to the forms, we ought to pay a little bit more attention. the reporter again said he was accustomed to send -- consider themselves outside of the organized society, and the neighborhood men was compelled to locate themselves and asked themselves many questions that do not concern themselves before . who they was, what they were, and where they was. what they did not realize was that filling out the form, and locating them simple for the state was the main fact, and the card the symbols of new terms of citizenship. selective services, even in the brief moment, created new categories of citizens, conscientious objectors, and
draft dodgers. as drafted men and their families interacted, they rework the meanings of american citizenship, and in particular, the power of the government over our bodies and our soul. when the supreme court got involved, it left a legacy for both. so, the first world war represented a drastic transformation on the power of the federal government. the size of the federal budget, the number of federal employees, the number of soldiers in the standing army and the phone dynamics that took place during the war. the government expanded dramatically in the space of 18 months, and then it gets smaller, but it never goes down to what it was before. this is a transformative moment. before the war, the largest federal budget was $762 million. after the war, the smallest federal budget was 2.8 billion. this is a transformative moment . in 1913, the 16th amendment
have brought americans the income tax, and the 17th amendment established the direct election of senators, and it was intended to prevent the senate from becoming a millionaire's club. in case you're wondering, that reform did not work. the war accelerated this focus on federal power and the expanses in an effort to expand the text of the constitution. during the war, the government began to regulate alcohol in 1917, and then in prohibition, with the 18th amendment ratified in 1919. the government intervened in the first time in dispute between business and labor. the government nationalized the railroad and coal industry. it administered the very first iq test and it literally change the clock by instituting daylight savings time. uncle sent was truly everywhere
in american lives and in a brief moment of time. i think the selective service act of 1970 -- 1917, is a clear example of this relationship between federal power and everyday voluntary participation. the idea of universal male obligation was not brand-new idea. but the draft, a former universal draft, did not come easy in the first world war. the civil war had seen a draft in both the union and the confederacy, but these was deemed failures in the minds of the people 50 years later. it was mark by bile duct raisings in the north, and the draft sent relatively few men into the civil war armies, and only 8% came from enlisting. political debate and
bureaucratic concerns about efficiency led to the compromise of the selective service act, and it would have data for all male citizens of draft age initially 21-30, and expanded to 18-45, and aliens who had taken out first papers of citizenship, what we now call a green card, required all of them to register with the local draft board. liabilities registration was universal, but it was in the ladies of this day, and the engagement is useful or industry and those it was stay-at-home would end up in uniform. adopted this as law and implementing it as policy was two different things. although the draft boards had some help in identification from the u.s. census bureau, from local post office, and from private insurance companies, the state in 1917 simply could not locate or identify all of those men who
lived under its authority. officials today could track an individual down to a birth certificate, driver's license, a passport, a social security card. in 1917, the average american men lacked most of these men, and many of them carry none of them at all. the voluntary that spec so volunteering in the end played a role that the men would locate themselves by standing before the draft board as they did in new york that day. casting the registration process as a voluntary service and not with the individual gives to the state, and that would be selected based on the principle of efficiency, it gave the draft an aura of consent, but masked a process. it also you that one of the more
perplexing quotes from president woodrow wilson who described the 1917 draft law as in no sense a prescription of the unwilling, but a selection from the nation which has volunteered in mass. there was of course some unwilling men who are not being conscripted and had not volunteered in mass and pursued their claims in the courts. tom watson from georgia was a leading figure in the politics of the previous generation of the 1890s and the 1900s and in 1917, he immersed as a spokesman for draft opposition and resistance. in the summer of 1917, watson recruited two men from georgia and $100,000 from the readers of his newspapers. he joined together with a civil libertarian and a veteran new york litigator and they made an
unlikely alliance. both of them brought their cases eventually before the supreme court arguing that the selective service legislation violated the constitution. first of all watson said, it violated the 13th amendment's prohibition against involuntary servitude. this is an ironic deployment of the 13 amendment by watson, who is one of the most ardent supporters of jim crow. he argued that the constitution, which mentions the militia but doesn't speak, authorize the raising of armies passage means. he thought there was no authorizing techs for the low. he added a third line of reasoning and said by exempting clergymen and divinity students from the draft, the selected service act had violated the first amendment establishment clause separating church and state. these three arguments went nowhere.
on january 7 of 1918, the u.s. supreme court unanimously upheld the constitutionality of inscription. it was real before the court in a series of cases that was collected as the selective draft law cases, that was headed by one of the harvard versus the united states. citizenship the court ruled implied the reciprocal obligation of the citizen to render military service in a time of need. also for the right to compel it. with justice uses claim that the ability, and the power to wage war is a can to the power
to wage war successfully. so wait for said there is an obligation and the other notion he asserted challenged the existence of all power for governmental power which has no sanction to it, and can only be exercised provided the citizen consents, is in no substantial stent a power. that is what he is saying is that the citizens fundamental duties to the state precedes any opinions that we have about particular policies. consent falls from citizenship, and not the other way around. as for the 13th amendment for watson, that was refuted by a mere statement, and the unsound this of the religious establishment claim was too apparent to acquire a counter argument. but notice this is justice by assertion, but no matter.
harvard was authoritative and the law of the land but in fact, it announced nothing new. every single court in the united states had heard a challenge to the draft and rejected. so, no matter how forcefully the court spoke in the selected draft law cases, opposition to the draft persisted and at least 350 thousand -- 350,000 americans dodged the draft and became slackers. in response to americans of draft dodging marked the crucial moment in federal power. when i was doing the research for my book, my favorite letters was the one sent to selective service headquarters in washington thousands of them arrived every month alleging draft dodging on the part of neighbors, colleagues, and family members. this man wrote to draft officials to turn in his
friend. she said i wouldn't say anything about it only he is so disloyal for being only 24 years of age and single. is hurting my feelings when he talks about the country because i have brothers and service and think if i only had a gun, i would kill him. from massachusetts, emma wrote to the draft board in may 1918 asking them to draft her husband. [ laughter ]. >> he is not a good father to his two little babies, and therefore, i won't our great uncle sam to take care of him. of course when you read a letter like this in the archives, you start to laugh, and the stare at you and tell you to be quiet. but notice what is happening and that she is a single mother who has been abandoned by her
husband, and in this moment of vast federal power, she has figured out that she can pull a couple of levers. americans are learning very quickly to live and negotiate this world that is changing so rapidly around them. there are other mechanisms of collusion and often quite personal. parents were encouraged to accompany their children to draft registration centers to were both parents and the children received but they was asked to were on their lapel. the wartime draft also attached the nationstate to the bodies of draft men in the form of a draft card. these were the first mesh is you state documents in u.s. history which you was legally bound to carry at all times and show up on request. churches read out the names of members of their aggregation who had registered for the
draft, a process at honoring the registrants, but is acted to ensure compliance. the letter still kept coming. request for investigation of draft dodging, the justice department small bureau of investigation, an agency that would later become the fbi, supported a group of chicago people. by the time the league dissolved in 1919, as many as 250,000 men and a handful of women served in the secret organization. it was best known for conducting the slacker rage, and massive dragnet's who would find men who had not registered for the draft, and therefore not in possession of the draft card. these happen in small towns and big cities across the country, including here in washington, with the largest in new york city in september of 1980, when in the course of three days,
slacker raters interrogated as many as 500,000 men on the streets of the city and held almost 60,000 in custody at some point. it is a private voluntary association, and it draws its roots from local habits of vigilance and self-rule, but it was the arm of an emergent federal state that employed methods of social control to uphold the law and keep watch on citizens. on all of these matters, the supreme court remained silent. if selective service registration transformed the federal government's relationship to the american body, it also had provisions on conscientious objectives that reflected an equally dramatic transformation of the government's relation to the american soul. in general, americans actively oppose draft exemption.
their methods range from a scriptural argument to in fact physical violence. against great odds, objectors tried to reconcile the dictates of the personal conscience with the needs of the state. after extensive lobbying from peace groups and religious organizations, particularly the historic peace churches, military officers crafted an official policy and incorporated into the selective service act the first provision of authorizing comprehension -- comprehensive objection. was again, the question remained how will this be in force? turns out the soul does not like investigation with marriage or employment. americans who oppose draft dodging demanded tangible
measures. the war department embarked on a policy of scrutiny and officially evaluating the contents of american citizen minds and hearts and this took the form of something called the board of inquiry established by the war department in june 1918, and the membership comprised three legal heavyweights. it held julie and at harvard fit stone, the dean of harvard law school. justice kagan has been the dean of the law school, and surely can tell us that teams are called to serve on unusual committee assignments, but nothing ever as unusual as this. between june 1918, and the army just that november, the three men traveled around the united states interrogating every single object or whois station
at military camp. the interrogations was often no more than a few minutes long, and they carried out their obligation to see about the sincerity of the men they each interviewed. much depended on the boards to sue. the innocent face the choice of donning a uniform and embarking for france, or awaiting an army court-martial with the power to imprison or even execute the guilty. the board members including stone, gave them a consensus or is a question about their scripture believe in the soundness of their knowledge of religious principles, and they would often suggest that
pacifism was unable to defend mothers and sisters from german invaders which was sure to arrive next week. they offered counter arguments that said that the war was in fact a christian crusade and in fact the religious obligations demanded service rather than objections. then, they often try to trip up the objector, and one of the favorite questions asked whether or not the objectors had used a postage stamp, and they could get evidence that their conscience can bear the benefits of the state, that's my. but there is something different between using a postage stamp and serving under arms, and the interrogations nonetheless did what they was implicitly meant to do, reduce the number of objectors. take for example the operation
of the board at camp gordon. the board interviewed 177 objectors there, and persuaded 72 of them to choose military service, and 64 of them failed to convince the board they was sincere, and was thereby ordered to accept any service ordered by their commanding officer. 12 men withdrew their objection, or it was found by the board they had misunderstood the original question, and was not conscientious objectors in the first place, leaving about three dozen men who is deemed sincere and given noncombatant service. the vast majority of those who came before the board relinquished their claim. between may 1917 and november 1918, 24 million men register for the draft, and only 3989
pursued and maintained their objection is conscious projectors. is highly unlikely that among those who resisted and maintained their status remained anyone who was sincere. there was probably no free riders, but the success of the policy came in at cost namely that many found it impossible to claim a legal right that was designed and written precisely for them. so years later, harlan fit stone was presiding over the supreme court and received a letter from a former ceo who wanted to know if the chief justice who had ruled against most of the claims had had a change of heart.
stone, even as he crafted here in this court, a more digital legacy, even as he voted to affirm the rights of jehovah witness children not to be required to stand inside the pledge of allegiance, he said that no he had. i believe in as much that i am a part of organized society, the majority must rule, and consequently, i must obey some loss, which i do not approve, and even participate in the war which i'm i think -- might think is ill advised. later in the 20th century, the toleration of conscientious objectors was to find that america was big enough to protect the fight for its dissenters. but in the first world war,
they did not find any shelter in public opinion or under the constitution. so it is clear that the selective service act of 1917 shape the lives of american men, whether or not they fought or not. but how did selective service affect american women? nothing in the text of the selective service act applies directly to women, but the wars collusion of all of the citizens body laid the groundwork for a new relationship between women and the state in the postwar era, and significant, the justification for that power that was provided by the supreme court would reappear in some surprising places. let me export two of them. first in the 1929 case, the supreme court ruled that a pacifist woman who said that she would not bear arms to defend the united states should
on those grounds be denied naturalization as a citizen of the united states. this 52-year-old hungarian citizen who have been active in supporting progressive, feminine, and pacifist causes during the first world war. in 1921, she was in political persecution in hungary and moved to the united states. in september 1926, she applied for naturalization and this is not a test case or a media ever, but she believed it would help her support her family and be able to sponsor her aging parents into the united states. the statutes naturalization at the time require that applicants be attached to the principles of the constitution, and they take an oath to defend the united states against all enemies, foreign and domestic. the tone has changed slightly
since then. she was willing to take up arms in defense of this country, and she said neither yes or no, but wrote, i would not take up arms personally, and federal officials who are likely being lobbied behind the scenes by the women's auxiliary of the american legion, denied her naturalization petition. this went through a series of appeals and a line of cases that was brought before the u.s. supreme court in april 1929. a really for the court soon after in may, justice pierce butler said that her refusal to take up arms disqualified her for citizenship. it is the duty of citizens to defend our government against all enemies, and it is a fundamental principle of the constitution. he cited for this authority harbert versus the united states.
edb relevant that the 52-year- old woman was unlikely to be included in any military force had she said the old. notice what she said and said she would not take up arms personally, which i think works both as a description of your fact and a statement of her principles. in fact that the case came to a very quick in, and she lived in the next 20 years as an alien and never became a citizen of the united states and neither did marie brown, a canadian nurse, who had her petition struck down two years later. the court ruled that the pacifist schism -- pacifist nature denied her citizenship. as we can see, selective service has a legacy for men
and women as well. a more indirect in some ways more disturbing way came in this case in 1927, a ruling by the supreme court that upheld the provision of the statue that authorize the sterilization of a teenage woman, who was sent a patient at the state colony for epilepsy and the feebleminded. and the judge's remark, he reflected on the fact that she was reported to be the daughter of a feebleminded woman, and the mother of another. this turned out to be factually true, but was beyond understanding. in the opinion, it was a pined cruelly that three generations of imbeciles are enough.
in fact, state-level sterilization laws was relatively new in roots that we overlooked in the history of world war i. in particular, and that wartime regulations of prostitution around military camps. this fire was upheld by the u.s. supreme court in at 1919 case called mckinley versus united states, which of course cited as the primary authority none other than harvard versus the united states. during the war, women who was suspected of prostitution, who was disproportionately young, working-class immigrants and women of color and many often guilty of little more out in public at night enjoying public amusement with men they was not married to, to find himself detained and forced to submit to medical examination, also
without legal authority. they was then quickly released and others, particularly those diagnosed with sexually transmitted diseases, languished in definitely in the nation's hospitals, prisons, and makeshift detention centers and some behind barbed wire with a performed manual labor under the watchful eye of armed guards. the prostitutes was subjected to psychological examinations and was found to be feebleminded and what the terminology was used. they was regular turned over to institution without their consent and without any formal hearing. in the decade of the 1910s, 16 states adopted laws authorizing the sterilization of those feebleminded people in institution, and some percentage of prostitutes was sterilized. it is unclear how many women face the strong arm of the law of medicine and of the moral
vigilant groups during the war official documents from the period reported as few as 15,000 women arrested as prostitutes, but the number is probably closer to 30,000 in federal facilities alone, excluding an even greater number who encountered local laws and organizations, but was never formally arrested. it was a united and coherent front for the drastic suppression. in the coming weeks, this country will mark the centennial of the end of the first world war. there will be small-town parades, and there will be statewide ceremonies, and there will be an official service at the washington natural investment national cathedral. but i certainly hope so will mark the ceremony in the cemetery where this gravestone sounds as a ceremony to
america's first world war. the passes that we should really pay attention is not the remark about the imbeciles, which was a trademark epigram, but in fact a distraction. it with an offhanded comment inconsequential to his argument. rather, we should look at the analogy that actually structured the thoughts and opinions. as he was ruling on the law that mandated the sterilization, he ruled that the involuntary sterilization of a feebleminded woman was proponent to the noble sacrifices of a soldier. the public welfare may call on the best citizens for their lives, and it would be strange if it cannot call for these lesser sacrifices. lesser or greater, they was legacies for every american man
and every american woman, including of course kerry buck. when he came time for all of her homes -- all over you for, he cited harvard versus the united states. thank you.[ applause ] >> american history tv weeklong focus on world war i 100 years after the end of the war continues friday with a look at the soldiers experience. the pentagon historian discusses the psychiatry of shell shock and what they have
learned about the psychological trauma of combat. it starts at 8:00 p.m. eastern right here on c-span 3. this sunday, veterans day, american history tv marks the 100th anniversary of world war i. starting at 7:30 am eastern live with your calls on washington journal. join any -- joining the discussion is john mosher, and the author of the war against war, the american fight for peace. at 11:00 a.m., we will be live from arlington national cemetery for a wreath laying ceremony at the tomb of the unknown. then at 5:00 p.m., former president george w. bush and former first lady laura bush will be presented with the liberty metal and fill it out there. watch live coverage on c-span.
you can find programming on world war i and the centennial all day long. next, we will hear from military the story eric lingle for what it was like to fight on the front of world war i. >> good afternoon and welcome to the eisenhower national historic site, and we are at the site all weekend, and this is an opportunity for the public to learn about this camp training program for tanks, and it was in gettysburg national park as well as world war i reenactors here at the eisenhower farm. edward lengel holds a ba of