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Along with a general opposition to American involvement in a foreign conflict, Southern farmers objected to unfair conscription practices that exempted members of the upper class and industrial workers.

Is this, sir, consistent with the character of a free government? The United States first employed national conscription during the American Civil War.

The vast majority of troops were volunteers; of the 2,100,000 Union soldiers, about 2% were draftees, and another 6% were substitutes paid by draftees.

The problem of Confederate desertion was aggravated by the inequitable inclinations of conscription officers and local judges.

The three conscription acts of the Confederacy exempted certain categories, most notably the planter class, and enrolling officers and local judges often practiced favoritism, sometimes accepting bribes.

Attempts to effectively deal with the issue were frustrated by conflict between state and local governments on the one hand and the national government of the Confederacy.

In 1917 the administration of President Woodrow Wilson decided to rely primarily on conscription, rather than voluntary enlistment, to raise military manpower for World War I when only 73,000 volunteers enlisted out of the initial 1 million target in the first six weeks of the war.

Following this system in its essentials, the Continental Congress in 1778 recommended that the states draft men from their militias for one year's service in the Continental army; this first national conscription was irregularly applied and failed to fill the Continental ranks.

For long-term operations, conscription was occasionally used when volunteers or paid substitutes were insufficient to raise the needed manpower.

Still, men drafted could provide substitutes, and until mid-1864 could even avoid service by paying commutation money.

Many eligible men pooled their money to cover the cost of any one of them drafted.

The draft was universal and included blacks on the same terms as whites, although they served in different units.

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