1921 September 15

War Department Removes 17 Alleged WW I “Slackers” From its List


The War Department, it was reported on this day, removed the names of seventeen men from its list of alleged “slackers” from World War I. “Slackers” was a slang term for men accused or suspected of avoiding the draft during the war. See the notorious  “slacker” raids on July 3, 1917 and September 14, 1917.

Charges of desertion against the men were dismissed. Fifteen of the men were in the service (two as officers), one had died while in the service, and one was physically disqualified from military service.

The listing as “slackers” into the year 1921, three years after the war ended, indicated the sloppy record keeping by the War Department. The New York Times story included the names and service records of the seventeen men. Several had entered the military almost as early as possible, in May and June 1917. It was not reported whether any of the men had suffered because of being listed as draft evaders, such as job loss or denial of employment.

Read: Paul L. Murphy, World War I and the Origins of Civil Liberties in the United States (1979)

Learn more about the WW I prosecutions: Stephen Kohn, American Political Prisoners: Prosecutions Under the Espionage and Sedition Acts (1994)

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