First peacetime draft in U.S. history takes effect on October 16, 1940.

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 10/16/2003
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 5572

On October 16, 1940, the first peacetime program of compulsory military service takes effect. Under the Selective Training and Service Act, all males between the ages of 21 to 35 are required to register for the draft. A lottery system determines who will be called into service.

In response to Nazi Germany's conquest of France in June 1940, the U.S. Congress enacted a number of national defense measures including an expansion of the Army and the Navy. Taxes were raised, the national debt limit was increased, and five million aliens were required to register. After the U.S. declaration of war in 1941, the ages of draftees was expanded to from 20 to 44. Only those in critical professions and those mentally or physically unfit for service were given deferments.

The first lottery was held on October 29, 1940.


Sources: James R. Warren, The War Years: A Chronicle of Washington State in World War II (Seattle: History Ink, 2000); Webster's Guide to American History ed. by Charles Van Doren (Springfield, MA: G. & C. Merriam Co., 1971), 478, 484.

Related Topics:   Firsts | War & Peace

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