When Congress passed the Selective Service Act of 1917, it was in response to an enlistment of 73,000 men when the need was for 10 times that amount. The low enlistment rate might have provided a clue as to the popularity of President Wilson’s war, but once the law was enacted, many men enlisted in the branch of their choice rather than waiting to be called up.
Not all men were interested in registering for the draft. Enough problems arose that the Department of Justice issued an opinion that men failing to report for examination to be drafted would be classified as deserters from the Army. They could be arrested and turned over to the Army. Those who did not report for induction were termed “slackers.”
The Oct. 3, 1917, edition of Prescott’s newspaper, the Weekly Journal-Miner, reported on a letter outlining the action to be taken for those failing to register for the draft.
“A reward of $50 is payable for the delivery to the nearest army camp or post of a deserter. . . A person who fails to report to his local board for military service at the time specified in his order to report, is a deserter. . . It is thought that if the fact of reward is given the widest publicity we shall have a great force of police officers and even of individuals interested in bringing such delinquents under military control.”
That article also went on to state, “The members of the local board announced to the Journal-Miner last night that a list containing the names and…
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