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History of Issues with the draft and Conscientious Objectors

Issues with the draft have been happening ever since we had the right to bear arms. Back in 1776 when we became a country, conscientious objectors were fighting for their rights. Of coarse issues didn't just pop up as soon as we were a country, they have been happening ever since the colonial times.

A brief time line:

  • In 1661 Massachusetts passed a law respecting conscientious objectors and their rights, it was the first colony to do so.
  • In the Revolutionary War conscientious objectors were often called cowards and in Pennsylvania a Quaker colony had to either fight or give up their property.
  • In the 1789 Bill of Rights, James Madison proposed that the Second Amendment should not only include the right to bear arms but to also include that anyone's religion which is against bearing arms or fighting is excluded from the draft. This was struck from the version of the Bill of Rights which was later approved by Congress.
  • For the Civil War the draft came back but COs could pay $300 for a substitute and not have to fight.
  • During World War One only people that belonged to "a well-recognized sect or organization ... whose then existing creed or principles forbid its members to participate in war in any form" were considered conscientious objectors. Over 5,000 people were imprisoned for resisting the draft. Others were tortured or given harsh treatment.
  • During WWII COs could either serve as noncombatants or serve in Civilian Public Service Camps. Still over 15,000 conscientious objectors were imprisoned by the end of the war.
  • In 1956 Vietnam war started. This was a big war for COs as many people tried to become COs because they thought the Vietnam war was unjust. This was stopped after the court case Gillette v. United States.
  • In 1970 Supreme Court case removed religious requirement for C.Os; could be C.O based on strong belief.
  • In 1973 the draft ended and is now an all volunteer military.
  • In 1980 the Selective Service System is put in and all men age 18-26 have to register.

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Revolutionary War
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World War II

Bibliography