National Affairs: Jobless Census

On May 18, 1917 Congress voted a selective draft and President Wilson proclaimed June 5 as Registration Day. So early a date would have been impossible had not a daring young officer named Hugh Samuel Johnson in the Provost Marshal General's office presumed to draw up and have printed in advance 45,000,000 registration questionnaires. Major Johnson, who had also written the draft bill, promptly mailed his cards to 80,000 sheriffs and mayors. Governors divided their States into registration districts of approximately 30,000 inhabitants. Newspaper notices told prospective draftees where to report—at their regular...