The Draft


  • The Draft

    This program traces the history of forced conscription into the U.S. military back to its roots during the Revolutionary War. Engage in a debate about the relationship between the draft and the idea of what it means to be an American citizen, informed by examples from all major conflicts the United States has engaged in over the past two centuries.

    Grades: 9-12
  • The All-Volunteer Force: Today's Military and Draft Debate | The Draft

    Engage in the current debate about the state of our armed forces with this clip from The Draft. Now that the draft is no longer a driving force in American society, who serves? The new face of the military is the all-volunteer force, which is sustained by active recruiting policies. But the questions raised about citizenship & service, from the Revolutionary War to the Vietnam era, remain pertinent—the debate about the draft continues, even as we fight a war without it.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Vietnam: The End of the War and the Draft | The Draft

    Learn how the war in Vietnam finally ended in this clip from The Draft. As the war dragged on, and more men were drafted from every level of society, popular support for the war began to wane. New president Richard Nixon instituted a random lottery sysem before finally ending both the draft and the war.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Fault Lines: Economic and Racial Divisions in Vietnam-era America | The Draft

    Learn how the Vietnam-era draft system exposed deep fault lines in American society in this clip from The Draft. Economic and racial divides were endemic in the system, and African-Americans and Latinos were more likely to be drafted and die than whites. As the casualites piled up, so did the racial tensions. Muhammed Ali's refusal to be drafted on religious (and racial) grounds illustrated this "perfect storm" moment in American society.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Up in Flames: Protests and Counterprotests in the Vietnam Era | The Draft

    Learn about linkages between Vietnam War protests and the draft in this clip from The Draft. The anti-war movement was not immediately popular with the American people during the Vietnam War—protests were often challenged by counter-protestors. Anti-war statements were by default anti-draft; acts of civil disobedience, such as draft-card burning in Union Square, were dramatic examples of the growing pacifist movement.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Vietnam: The Origins of the Conflict | The Draft

    Learn how the United States was drawn into the conflict in Vietnam in this clip from The Draft. In the years after WWII, America became the beacon of democracy—a role for which it paid a heavy price in Vietnam. Presidents Kennedy and Johnson argued that the war was necessary for fighting Communism worldwide—but many of the drafted men landing in Vietnam saw only chaos.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Selective Service and the World Wars | The Draft

    Learn how the Selective Service Act changed the way we fought "the war to end all wars" in this clip from The Draft. World War I required a mass mobilization of troops, and it ushered in the era of the draft board and benefits for veterans. By the time America was drawn into World War II, the American people were proud to fight for their ideals—and did so in record numbers, responding to a decade of economic turmoil with new enthusiasm for a common cause.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Civil War: Riots Over the Union Draft | The Draft

    Learn how men on both sides in the Civil War, desperate to stay out of battle, found ways around the mandatory conscription laws—and took part in the largest protest in American history. In this clip from The Draft, discover the underlying tensions within both the North and the South over the draft. In New York, long-simmering resentment over the unfair substitution draft system exploded in the historic draft riots—which prompted essential changes in the draft system.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Citizen Soldiers: The Draft Debate in the American Revolution | The Draft

    Learn about the origins of American military conscription in this clip from The Draft. As General Washington called for more troops to support his struggling army during the Revolutionary War, the Founding Fathers engaged in a debate about liberty, citizenship, and service. "Citizen soldiers" of the Revolutionary War were expected to fight—but did this expectation represent a tyrannical force akin to what the Patriots were fighting? Did the idea of compulsory service challenge the Constitutional ideals of the new nation?

    Grades: 9-12
  • Iraq: The Longest War | The Draft

    Learn what it means to fight a war without conscription in this clip from The Draft. The Iraq War, America's longest conflict, has required enormous sacrifices of its troops. It raises the question: in times of war, should all citizens be required to defend their country? Or should our wars only be fought by those who have volunteered for the duty?

    Grades: 9-12