Selective Training and Service Act of 1940

Fifteen months before America’s official entry into World War II, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the U.S. Congress began preparing for the possibility of active military engagement. On September 16, 1940, the United States implemented the Selective Training and Service Act, which required all able-bodied men between the ages of 21 and 45 to register for the draft. This represented the first peacetime draft in American history. With the fall of France in June 1940 and European Allied forces struggling against Germany and the Axis powers, FDR concluded that America could not expect to go undisturbed for much longer. In 1940 alone, more than 16 million American men were drafted for the forthcoming war efforts. Those selected in the draft lottery were required to serve at least one year in the armed forces. Draft terms of duty were extended indefinitely once the United States entered the war. “By the end of the war in 1945,” according to the National World War II Museum’s research site, “50 million men between eighteen and forty-five had registered for the draft and 10 million had been inducted in the military.”

For More Information:

“Research Starters: the Draft and World War II.” National World War II Museum. Accessed October 18, 2018,

Roark, James L., Michael P. Johnson, Patricia C. Cohen, Sarah Stage, and Susan M. Hartman. The American Promise: From 1865. 6th ed. Vol. 2. Boston, MA: Bedford/St Martin’s, 2014.