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Exhibition Echoes of the Great War: American Experiences of World War I

Maurice Becker. The Spokesman for Prisoner Strikes . . . in Prison Yard Ft. Leavenworth, 1919. Crayon and charcoal drawing. Sam Willner Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (032.00.00)
Statement Concerning the Treatment of Conscientious Objectors in the Army, June 18, 1919. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1919. Harlan Stone Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (031.00.00)

Conscientious Objectors

Of the twenty-four million men who registered for the draft more than 64,000 claimed Conscientious Objector (CO) status; 56,830 of these claims were validated by local draft boards, and roughly 20,800 of those men were called up for military service. Either through coercion or persuasion, approximately 80 percent of the 20,800 eventually went to war. Most of the remaining 20 percent served in noncombat roles, and a devoted 1,500 would refuse any sort of service all together. Four hundred and fifty individuals were court-martialed and sent to Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. Pictured in Russian-born Maurice Becker's drawing is conscientious objector W. Oral James speaking on behalf of striking prisoners at Fort Leavenworth to Commandant Colonel Sedgwick Rice. Rice brought the strikers' requests to the War Department in early 1919.