Christopher Capozzola shows how, in the absence of a strong federal government, Americans at first mobilized society by stressing duty, obligation, and responsibility over rights and freedoms. In clubs, schools, churches, and workplaces, Americans governed each other. But the heated temper of war quickly unleashed coercion on an unprecedented scale, making wartime America the scene of some of the nation's most serious political violence, including notorious episodes of outright mob violence. To solve this problem, Americans turned over increasing amounts of power to state institutions. In the end, whether they were some of the four million men drafted under the Selective Service Act or the tens of millions of homefront volunteers--or counted themselves among the thousands of conscientious objectors, anti-war radicals, or German enemy aliens--Americans of the World War I era created a new American state, and new ways of being American citizens.
Based on a rich array of sources that capture the voices of both political leaders and ordinary Americans, Uncle Sam Wants You offers a vivid and provocative new interpretation of American political history.