Civil Rights and Labor History Consortium / University of Washington

Draft Resistance 1965-1972

by Amanda Miller

Conscription was first mandated by Congress during Civil War and then again in World War I, World War II, and the Korean War. In each instance the draft proved controversal, fostering both evasion and, less commonly, purposeful resistance. But the magnitude and intensity of opposition to the conscription during the Vietnam War was unprecedented. Evasion became so pervasive and organized resistance so effective that the Nixon administraton worried about the capacity of the Armed Forces, leading Selective Service authorities to adjust the law in late 1969 and end the practice of conscription altogether in 1973.

Millions of young men found legal and nonlegal ways to avoid conscription, including fleeing the country to Canada and other countries that offered refuge. Others, women as well as men, committed themselves to openly resisting the draft in various ways. They burned or surrendered draft cards, surrendered student deferments, refused induction, and staged disruptive protests at draft boards and induction centers, employing in some cases tactics of peaceful civil disobedience, in other cases damaging property and battling with police. Traditional pacifist groups--Quakers, Mennonites, the War Resister's League-- led the early movement and provided conscientious objector counselling throughout the era. SDS launched an anti-draft campaign in 1965 and in 1967 two new efforts came together, the Stop the Draft movement that attempted to block induction centers in a number of cities, and The Resistance, which organized draft card turn-ins and supported men who faced prison for refusing induction.

Here we map two aspects of the anti-draft movement. One set tracks anti-draft actions that received publicity in major newspapers in the years between 1965 and 1972. The other set shows the location of 301 organizations and groups engaged in draft resistance or draft counseling. The maps are hosted by Tableau Public and may take a few seconds to respond. If slow, refresh the page. 

Move between maps and databases by selecting tabs below

In Progress: We continue to seek additional data and are eager to correct errors. Please Help. If you know something about the actions of particular anti-draft groups, please share it here.

Sources: The actions list has been compiled from the following newspaper that have been digitized by ProQuest Historical Newspapers: New York Tmes, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and Atlanta Constitution, Chicago Defender, Baltimore Afro-American .

Research and data compilation: Amanda Miller.

Maps: James Gregory

Additional Vietnam-era antiwar movement maps and charts

Click to see maps and charts
May 1970 Campus Antiwar Strikes

The May 1970 antiwar strikes comprised one of the largest coordinated sequences of disruptive protests in American history, with walkouts spreading across more than 700 campuses involving hundreds of thousands of students. This followed the news of a secret invasion of Cambodia and days later the massacre of unarmed students at Kent State.

Click to see maps and charts
SDS Chapters 1962-1969

The Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) was one the most influential radical organizations of the 1960s and remains closely associated with the term "New Left." Founded in 1960, the organization took on a new mission after the Johnson administration escalated the war in Vietnam, launching a campaign of antiwar actions. Here we map the expansion of SDS chapters from 11 in 1962 to more than 300 by early 1969

Click to see maps and charts
Underground GI newspapers (antimilitarist) 1965-1975

Based on data assembled by James Lewes, these maps and charts locate 768 periodicals associated with the GI antimilitarist movement in the era of Vietnam war. By 1970, antiwar periodicals for GIs were available near most military bases in the US and at bases in Europe and Asia, especially in West Germany and Japan.

Click to see map and charts
Maps of underground and alternative newspapers 1965-1975

Here are five maps and charts showing the year-by year geography of the underground media system, locating the comings and goings of more than 2,600 weeklies and monthies. Filter by state and by categories, including African American, Chicana/o, GI antimilitarist, countercultural, radical left, and other descriptives.