WORLD WAR I DRAFT LOTTERY HELD A CENTURY AGO
Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) A century ago today, July 20, 1917, a blindfolded Secretary of War Newton D. Baker drew the first number of the draft lottery for World War One.
The scene was Room 226 of the Senate Office Building. At the front of the room stood a "tremendous blackboard blocked oft for 500 numbers." In front of the blackboard was a small table on which sat a great glass globe filled with 10,500 gelatin capsules each bearing a number from 1 to 10,500. Stuck inside the globe was a huge wooden spoon with red, white and blue bunting tied to the handle.
Before drawing the first capsule, Secretary Baker said...
"Gentlemen, this is a solemn and historic moment. This is the first time in our history that we are to have a demonstration of selecting men from the nation for service. These men have all registered and are waiting. For them I bespeak the honor of the nation."
The first capsule, drawn at 10 a.m., held the number 258. The last capsule was drawn at 2:18 a.m. July 21, 1917. The Chicago Daily Tribune reported that officials indicated that after 4000 numbers were drawn "it will be possible to approximate the order in which all 9,600,000 registrants will be called."
The draft lottery was a result of the Selective Service Act enacted on May 18, 1917 authorizing the federal government to raise a national army through compulsory enlistment.
"Drafted Men Know Fate Today, 1,374,000 Will Be Called," by Arthur Sears Henning , The Chicago Daily Tribune, July 20, 1917.
"The World War One Draft: Reporting of the First Draft Lottery-1917," GG Archives, www.gjenvick.com/