By Michael Glover
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Additional info for Warfare from Waterloo to Mons
Crowder, the judge advocate general who became the head of Selective Service, originally envisioned complete exemption for sectarian COs. The Congress, however, wanted them to perform noncombatant military service, and the administration concurred. Thus the Selective Draft Act of 1917 declared only that nothing in this Act shall be construed to require or compel any person to serve in any of the forces herein provided for who is found to be a member of any wellrecognized religious sect or organization at present organized and existing and Conscientious Objectors and the American State from Colonial Times to the Present 33 whose existing creed or principles forbid its members to participate in war in any form .
Before the twentieth century, this equivalent could take several forms, including payment of a fine or commutation fee, the hiring of a substitute or the personal performance of noncombatant service in the military. More recently it has taken the form of alternative civilian public service. Absolutism—the refusal to cooperate in any manner—remains illegal in America, as in virtually all other countries, and is punishable by fine and imprisonment. Although the United States has not gone as far as some nations in recognizing of the rights of COs, it has gone farther than most.
Radical nonresistant Christian pacifists, such as William Lloyd Garrison, also a leading abolitionist, were inspired by the ideas of the Enlightenment and the emotions of religious revivalism in the Second Great Awakening. They departed from the quietism of the historic pacifist sects and began to formulate a modern philosophy of activist noncooperation against' 'evil'' institutions such as slavery and war. In 1845, on the eve of the Mexican War, transcendentalist writer Henry David Thoreau went to jail for refusing to pay taxes in support of what he and other abolitionists saw as an immoral conflict to expand slavery.