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Notice of Certification For Military Duty to District Board - 1917

Notice of Certification to District Board when No Claim of Exemption or Discharge has been Made, Christian Gjenvik of Madison, Minnesota, Red Ink Serial Number 548, Dated 12 August 1917.

Notice of Certification to District Board when No Claim of Exemption or Discharge has been Made, Christian Gjenvik of Madison, Minnesota, Red Ink Serial Number 548, Dated 12 August 1917. Form 150 § 25 Gjenvick-Gjønvick Family Documents Collection. GGA Image ID # 1822540956

To: Christian Gjenvik

Madison, Minn

You are hereby notified that you were on the 15th day of August 1917 certified by this Local Board to District board of the 1st District of the State of Minnesota, Mankato, Minn as having been called for the military service of the United States and not exempted or discharged.

Local Board: Lac qui Parle County, Minnesota

by A. G. Smaagaard (Chairman)

A. G. Shogreu (Clerk)

The date of this notice is the 15th day of August, 1917.

N. B.—If this notice is received by a person called who signed a waiver of his right to file a claim of exemption or discharge with the Local Board, the time within which he may file a claim for discharge with the District Board having jurisdiction is governed by the notice heretofore posted by the Local Board in respect of the signing of such a waiver.

Selective Service Act of 1917 and World War I Conscription

After the Civil War, the federal government did not use conscription again until World War I (WWI). By then a new concept for a draft system termed “Selective Service” had been developed that would apportion requirements for manpower to the states and through the states to individual counties.

By 1915, Europe was in all-out war; the United States had a small volunteer Army of approximately 100,000 men. On April 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson asked Congress for a declaration of war, and on May 18, 1917, he signed an act commonly known as the Selective Service Act of 1917 into law.

This new law allowed the President to draft the National Guard into federal service (rather than calling the militia into federal service) and made all male citizens between the ages of 21 and 31 liable for the draft.

On July 15, 1917, Congress enacted a provision that all conscripted persons would be released from compulsory service within four months of a presidential proclamation of peace.13 In 1918, Congress extended the eligible draft age to include all males between the ages of 18 and 45. World War I was the first instance of conscription of United States citizens for overseas service.

A key aspect of the Selective Service Act of 1917 was that it allowed the federal government to select individuals from a pool of registrants for federal service.

A Shortage of Volunteers Was Not the Primary Concern

Unlike the Civil War, a shortage of volunteers was not the primary concern in enacting this legislation. The selective aspects of the WWI draft law were driven by concerns that indiscriminate volunteerism could adversely affect the domestic economy and industrial base.

In support of the selective service law, Senator William M. Calder of New York said, “under a volunteer system, there is no way of preventing men from leaving industries and crippling resources that are just as important as the army itself.”

Local and District Draft Boards Reponsible for Registration and Classification of Men

In contrast to the Civil War draft, the Selective Service Act of 1917 did not allow for the furnishing of substitutes or bounties for enlistment. It also provided for decentralized administration through local and district draft boards that were responsible for registering and classifying men, and calling registrants into service.

The law specified that the President would appoint boards consisting of civilian members “not connected with the Military Establishment.” Over 4,600 such boards were established to hear and decide on claims for exemptions.

The provost marshal general, at the time Major General Enoch Crowder, oversaw the operation of these boards.

Congressional Research Service, "Selective Service Act of 1917 and World War I Conscription," in The Selective Service System and Draft Registation: Issues for Congress, Updated 1 May 2020, pp. 3-4.

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