July 1948
Reinstatement of the Draft
In 1940 Congress passed the Selective Training and Service Act, which introduced the first peacetime draft in U.S. history. Its purpose was to allow for a rapid expansion in the size of the armed forces, which nearly everyone agreed were too small to deal with the international crisis of World War II. Between 1940 and 1947 over 10 million men were inducted into the services through this act.

The Selective Training and Service Act expired in 1947, and for a while it was hoped that the military could be maintained at sufficient strength on the basis of volunteers alone. After a few months, however, it was determined that there were simply not enough volunteers to meet the needs of national security. Therefore in July 1948 Congress passed a new Selective Service Act. According to its terms, all men between the ages of 18 and 26 were required to register for the draft; those selected would be subject to 21 months’ active service, followed by five years of reserve duty. Three years later, after the outbreak of the Korean War, the length of service was extended to 24 months.