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Supporters of Woodrow Wilson’s 1916 presidential reelection campaign proclaimed “he kept us out of the War.” Yet only one month after his inauguration Wilson stood before Congress asking for the United States to enter the war against Germany to make the world “safe for democracy.” Six weeks later Congress passed the Selective Service Act of 1917, the first military conscription since the Civil War. Suddenly, not only were all Americans expected to support the war in Europe, they were to send their sons, brothers, and husbands, whether they were willing or not. A sizeable number of Americans, including some in East Texas, failed to see how “democracy” and being conscripted to possibly die in a foreign conflict could be reconciled.


This article was originally published in the Chronicles of Smith County, Texas:

Betts, Vicki. “The Consequences of Dissent in East Texas, 1917-1921.” Chronicles of Smith County, Texas 48 (2018): 117-123.

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