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100 years ago in Spokane: Draft for World War I expands to 45-year-olds and Spokane residents lined up

The draft age had been expanded to include all men from 18 to 45, The Spokesman-Review reported on Sept. 12, 1918. The reason was simple: World War I required more manpower to make a final push. The previous draft age had been 21 to 30. (Spokesman-Review archives)
The draft age had been expanded to include all men from 18 to 45, The Spokesman-Review reported on Sept. 12, 1918. The reason was simple: World War I required more manpower to make a final push. The previous draft age had been 21 to 30. (Spokesman-Review archives)

Thirteen million more American men were streaming into polling places to register for the draft.

The draft age had been expanded to include all men from 18 to 45. The reason was simple: The war in Europe required more manpower to make a final push. The previous draft age had been 21 to 30.

A front page editorial cartoon in The Spokesman-Review summed up the situation. It showed a rock labeled “The First Three Million” – draftees – smashing the German kaiser. An even bigger boulder, labeled “The New Draft” was teetering above the kaiser, and Uncle Sam was about to give it a shove. The caption read, “Come on everybody, help put it over.”

The Spokane Daily Chronicle devoted a full page to listing the names of the early registrants at each polling place. Many well-known names were on the list, including movie director Larry Trimble, who was filming at the Washington Motion Picture Corp. studios.

The Chronicle estimated that, before the day was out, 11,000 men would register in Spokane.

The editors of the Chronicle called it a historic day.

“No longer are you a just a floating fragment of the population, drifting by chance where luck or fancy may move. You are a definite part of the mightiest human force yet organized – a distinct element in the most tremendous campaign ever planned to free and lift and ennoble mankind.”


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