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Military Draft Issues

Why this topic is a civil rights issue?

The draft has always been a hot topic, especially during major American wars. There have been many court cases and laws over the years because of issues with the draft. Important people and groups have also been associated with anti-draft issues such as Muhammad Ali, Michael Simmons, Daniel Seeger, and the Black Panther Party. They have also inspired others to listen and join their cause. The draft has always been debated over and continues to be to this day with people like Charles Rangel, who has tried twice to restart the draft to help balance the types of people who are represented in the army with those that direct it.

History of the Draft:

The draft itself has been around since ancient times. In some cultures, both men and women who were physically able were forced to serve in times of war. The alternatives to a draft included relying on all-volunteers or organizing citizen militias that are called to serve locally. Both have drawbacks in times of major conflict, at which times a draft has been necessary to sustain the number of soldiers to protect the country/fulfill an invasion.

In American history, the Civil War was the first American war where an official draft was put into action. First the Confederates, and then the Union troops, passed legislation ordering it into effect. The first draft was both good and bad. It was good in a way, because it helped supply the armies with men and kept them fresh. However, it was bad because it caused protests and people felt it infringed on there rights as Americans. In a way, people were drafted during the American Revolution because they were expected to fight in the militias and the colonial army. Also during this time were the first considered conscientious objectors. People who follow a pacifist religion forbidding them to harm or kill another human or just don't want to fight try to apply to avoid combat. Some of these people were called quakers and there would be a lot of people like them during future draft times. In addition, there were other religions like the one which Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali followed called the Muslim Faith that set people against combat. Wars, such as Vietnam, were actually not considered wars because congress never declared the act. This means that laws concerning the draft could be altered such as the law that says only sons could not be drafted. Also in Vietnam a man would have to spend a year in combat before he could go back to the states but in World War two, a man would have to serve as long as the war lasted.

Looking up the draft in most American wars, you will find that there have always been issues concerning the draft such as court cases, conscientious objectors, new laws. During the Civil War for example, A rich man could hire a slave to fight in his stead. This left it very unfair to the poor and immigrants who came to out country. There were not as many of these problems in the past because men would fight for their country as an honor, such as Roman and Greek times. In fact, it used to be that poor people couldn't fight in the countries army because the countries thought it represented them badly.

Timeline of the Draft


Significant People:

Charles Rangel
Muhammad Ali
Michael Simmons