Registration certificate for George Demetriou Phillos, 1649 N. St. Louis, Chicago, IL Laminated card indicating white race, 5' 4" height, 150 lbs, gray eyes, black hair and light complexion of George Phillos. George Phillos registered for Selective Service on April 27, 1942.
At the time of World War I, the U.S. Army was tiny compared with the mobilized armies of the European powers. As late as 1914, the federal army was under 100,000, while the National Guard (the organized militias of the states) numbered around 120,000. The National Defense Act of 1916 authorized the growth of the army to 165,000 and the National Guard to 450,000 by 1921, but by 1917 the federal army had only expanded to around 121,000, with the National Guard numbering 181,000.
By 1916, it had become clear that any participation by the United States in the conflict in Europe would require a far larger army. While President Wilson at first wished to use only volunteers to supply the troops needed to fight, it soon became clear that this would be impossible. Indeed, three weeks after war was declared, only 32,000 had volunteered for service. Wilson accepted the recommendation by Secretary of War Newton D. Baker for a draft.
General Enoch H. Crowder, the Judge Advocate General, when asked for his thoughts on the proposal, indicated his displeasure. Ironically it came to be not only that Crowder, with the assistance of Captain Hugh Johnson and others, guided the bill through Congress but also that he would administer the draft as the Provost Marshal General.
One notable problem that came up in the writing of the bill and its negotiation through Congress was the desire of former President Theodore Roosevelt to assemble a volunteer force to go to Europe. President Wilson and others, including army officers, were reluctant to permit this for a variety of reasons. The final bill contained a compromise provision permitting the president to raise four volunteer divisions, a power Wilson did not exercise.
By the guidelines set down by the Selective Service Act, all males aged 21 to 30 were required to register for military service. At the request of the War Department, Congress amended the law in August 1918 to expand the age range to include all men 18 to 45, and to bar further volunteering. By the end of World War I, some 2 million men volunteered for various branches of the armed services, and some 2.8 million had been drafted.  In fact, more than half of the almost 4.8 million Americans who served in the armed forces were drafted.
Due to the effort to incite patriotic fervor, the World War I draft had a high success rate, with fewer than 350,000 men ”dodging” the draft.
Rights and Reproduction
The content on this site is made available for research and education purposes only. The use of these materials may be restricted by law or the donor.
Any other use, such as exhibition, publication, or commercial use, is not allowed except by written permission in accordance with the NHM Image Rights and Reproduction Policy
For questions on image rights and reproduction, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org