Hi ho, Hi ho, it’s off to war we go…

Posters used for recruitment.

Foner’s coverage of the Selective Service Act passed in May 1917, is brief. He simply states that due to the passage of the Act the number of men in the army went from 120,000 to 5 million. He also informs readers that the Act resulted in about 24 million men enlisting. However, the bigger picture in all this is what Foner speaks in great detail about. Foner wrote that the war seemed to bring about the being of a “new nationalist state” in the country. Federal government agencies seemed to be controlling everything from- food margins and transportation to fuel. Food was rationalized because many sought to believe that food will help win the war. If they kept their soldiers full, they would surely have enough strength to win the war. Everyone in the country was focused on doing what they could to help the U.S. win the war. Nevertheless, the biggest difference between the Selective Service Act of 1917 and other previously written acts was that a substitute could no longer be hired to fight in a man’s place, the man himself would now have to enlist.

1. My first question would have to be what sparked the interest to all of a sudden pass an Act requiring men to enlist?

2. My second question would be how long did such high enlisting numbers last before they started to dwindle?

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