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Uncle Sam Wants YouWorld War I and the Making of the Modern American Citizen$
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Christopher Capozzola

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195335491

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195335491.001.0001

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The Spirit of Selective Service: Conscription and Coercion

The Spirit of Selective Service: Conscription and Coercion

(p.21) 1 The Spirit of Selective Service: Conscription and Coercion
Uncle Sam Wants You

Christopher Capozzola (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on selective service in America during World War I. The Selective Service Act of 1917 was the centerpiece of wartime citizenship and its defining obligation. It reflected the state's power at its most extreme by demanding that its citizens die for it. Selective service embodied the national culture of voluntarism: not only through individual effort but together with the institutions of everyday life. Voluntarism also shaped the “slacker raids,” vast dragnet operations of interrogation conducted by the 250,000 volunteer members of the American Protective League. By the end of the war, conscription would result in courtroom battles, shoot-outs in the Ozark Mountains, and even a fistfight in the cloakroom of the US Senate.

Keywords:   Selective Service Act, Woodrow Wilson, World War I, mass draft, voluntarism

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