The eventual legislation's drafting and passage relied heavily on lobbying and publicity by a small group of dedicated pro-Allied eastern patricians who consciously looked back to the comparable efforts they had undertaken for World War I mobilization. They worked closely with sympathetic politicians, notably Senator Edward R. Burke and Congressman James W. Wadsworth, who sponsored the bill that eventually emerged, and consulted incessantly with military leaders, including army chief of staff General George C. Marshall. After considerable debate, Congress passed a Selective Service Act in September 1940, the first peacetime draft in U.S. history, to raise an army of no more than 900,000 men. Initially, the draft was restricted to men between the ages of 21 and 35. Terms of service were to be 12 months rather than the 18 months the army originally sought, and deployment was to be limited to the Western Hemisphere.
As the international situation deteriorated, in August 1941 Congress, by a one-vote margin, removed these restrictions. Between Pearl Harbor and 1945 almost 10 million Americans were inducted into the military under this legislation. The original Selective Service Act expired in 1947, although Cold War tensions caused the passage of replacement legislation in 1948.
Clifford, J. Garry, and Samuel R. Spencer, Jr. The First Peacetime Draft. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1986.; Flynn, George Q. The Draft, 1940–1973. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1993.