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Q: In October of 1940 how many men were registered for the draft?
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What was the American system that chose men to go to war?

It was called the draft. The US started drafting men in 1940, the year after the war in Europe began, but a year before the US got into the war. It was the first peacetime draft ever in American history. The US continued drafting men from 1940 right through to 1973, when public disgust with the Vietnam War ended the draft, and the US went to the all-volunteer forces we have today. You have to pay volunteers a lot more, though. Those selected for"induction" into the service were chosen by a lottery. First, all the men eligible to be drafted registered with their local draft board. Each was assigned a number. The first man to register with a local board was number 1, the second number 2, and so on. The local board with the most registrants in 1940 had over 6600 men registered. So, 6600 little capsules, each with a unique number, were put in a large drum that could be spun. Numbers were drawn one at a time. If it was, for instance "743", then every man from every draft board who was 743 was selected. The Army knew how many of every number there were, and kept up with how many were already selected, and they kept drawing numbers until they had enough. By the time of Vietnam they were still using a lottery, but they had switched to birthdays. 365 little capsules, one for each day of the year, were put in the drum. If your birthday was drawn, you were a winner!

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