World War I (1914–1918) and World War II (1939–1945) were cataclysmic events, which spurred Congress to address the nation’s role in the world. As foreign aggression increasingly threatened national security, Congress refined its isolationist stance by declaring war on its enemies. To prepare the country for these wars, Congress debated and passed legislation to recruit citizens to serve their country, expand the U.S. citizenry and their rights, regulate the domestic economy, and define national loyalty. These laws forever changed the nation and the everyday lives of all Americans.
Debating the Wars We are going to war . . . to vindicate our honor and to maintain our independence as a great nation. We are going to war . . . in defense of humanity.
Funding the Wars We act with the belief that the debt we are about to incur, stupendous though it is, is no greater than this, the greatest Republic of all time, owes to human civilization.
Fighting the Wars If it were possible to raise a sufficient number of men by voluntary enlistment and they would come from all sections in equal percentages the selective service might not be necessary.