Suggestions for Dealing With Conscientious Objectors Under the Conscription Act

Date

xxxx-xx-xx

Title

Suggestions for Dealing With Conscientious Objectors Under the Conscription Act

Date

xxxx-xx-xx

Description

memorandum

Subject

WWI conscientious objection / objectors

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unknown

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Copyright for this material may have been transferred to the Swarthmore College Peace Collection or may have been retained by the creators/authors (or their descendants) of this set of papers or records, as stipulated by United States copyright law. Please contact SCPC staff for further information.

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Language

English

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text

Transcription

SUGGESTIONS FOR DEALING WITH CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTORS UNDER THE CONSCRIPTION ACT.

DETERMINING OF CONSCIENCE BEFORE THE LOCAL BOARD.

1. The well recognized religious sects opposed to war defined in the Act should be set forth so that their members may know whether or not they are included.

2. The difficulty in presenting evidence as to Conscientious Objectors before local boards can be somewhat overcome by testimony showing that a person was a member, before the draft act was passed, of an established organization whose purposes are opposed to war such as for instance The Fellowship of Reconciliation, International Brotherhood Welfare Association, the Socialist Party and other Political and Industrial groups whose principles are opposed to war and to participation in it by their members.

3. Persons not members of such organizations can present evidence before the local boards, by witnesses, or by affidavits of trustworthy citizens of the district to the effect that the applicant was well known to have been opposed to war and to participation therein. Questions to be asked by the board of such applicants which would help determine his attitude toward participation in war might well be framed and sent around as a confidential document by the department.

NOTE: Some provisions should be made for men who are conscientious objectors to participation, not to all war, but to this particular war, on the ground of their National affiliations. The German-American, Hungarian-American and others closely tied by blood relationship to the countries with which we are at war will, in many cases, refuse to bear arms against their relatives. Provisions as conscientious objectors should be made for these men.

PROVISION FOR CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTORS

1. Men who are unwilling to engage in combatant service and to undergo military training should be assigned to non-combatant service, whether for service at home or abroad, according as they may be willing.

2. Men who are unwilling to engage in either combatant or non-combatant service under military authority should be released under a written agreement to engage in some occupation essential to the National welfare, reporting periodically to the local exemption board. Such occupations should be determined and listed.

[page 2]

3. Men who are unwilling either to engage in combatant or non-combatant service or to accept alternative service under agreement, as outlined above, might be temporarily exempted, if engaged in an occupation essential to the National welfare. If not engaged in such an occupation and unwilling to change he would presumably have to tried or courtmartialed.

In connection with the latter group, men who are unwilling to accept any National service under compulsion or agreement on the ground that any such service helps in carrying on war , to which they are opposed, we desire to call attention to the English experience and to suggest that in the case of men who are to be tried our courtmartialed the following provision be made:

First: That the trial or courtmartial take place immediately, after the refusal of a board to exempt a drafted man, and

Second: Arrangements be made to place such a man either in a detention camp or in civil rather than military prision [sic].

These suggestions are based upon the solution finally accepted in England after one and a half years experience and represent, we believe, the best judgment of those who have studied the problem.

Citation

unknown, “Suggestions for Dealing With Conscientious Objectors Under the Conscription Act,” Conscientious Objection & the Great War: 1914-1920, accessed November 21, 2019, https://cosandgreatwar.swarthmore.edu/items/show/1656.

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