Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
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Hershey, Lewis Blaine (1893–1977)

U.S. Army general and director of the Selective Service System. Born in Angola, Indiana, on 12 September 1893, Lewis Hershey graduated from Tri-State College in Angola in 1914. He was then principal of Flint High School in Indiana. Hershey had joined the National Guard in 1911, and he was promoted to first lieutenant in 1916. After the United States entered World War I, Hershey was activated for military service. He served on the Mexican border and then in France, but too late to see combat. Promoted to captain, he returned to the United States in September 1919 and received a regular army commission in July 1920.

Over the next decade Hershey held a variety of routine assignments. He was left permanently blind in his left eye from a polo accident in 1927. He graduated from the Command and General Staff School in 1931 and the Army War College in 1933. Promoted to major in 1935, Hershey was assigned to Washington that September as secretary of the Joint Army and Navy Selective Service Committee of the War Department General Staff, tasked with developing a system for raising military manpower in the event of need. This undertaking led to the Selective Service Act.

Hershey became deputy director of Selective Service in 1940. In July 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed him the director. During World War II, Hershey oversaw the mobilization of more than 10 million men for the U.S. armed forces gathered from a network of 6,400 local draft boards. He was promoted to major general in April 1942.

The original Selective Service Act expired in 1947, but with the coming of the Cold War, Congress reinstated it the next year, and President Harry S Truman reappointed Hershey the director of Selective Service. The system worked efficiently during the Korean War and again during the Vietnam War. President Richard Nixon pledged to dismiss Hershey; he favored centralized and nationalized draft classifications, which ran counter to Hershey's locally run system. Nixon relieved Hershey in 1970, promoting him to full general in compensation and reassigning him as presidential adviser on manpower. Hershey retired from the army in April 1973. He died in Angola, Indiana, on 20 May 1977.

P. Robb Metz


Further Reading
Flynn, George Q. Lewis B. Hershey: Mr. Selective Service. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1985.; Flynn, George Q. The Draft, 1940–1973. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1993.; Gerhardt, James M. The Draft and Public Policy. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1971.; Seiverling, R. E. Lewis B. Hershey: A Pictorial and Documentary Biography. Hershey, PA: Keystone Enterprises, 1969.
 

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