World War I in Lawrence: Draft registration day is scheduled

More information became available in late May, 1917, on the draft registration day scheduled for June 6. According to an official front-page announcement in the Journal-World, “EVERY MAN between his twenty-first and thirty-first birthdays, MARRIED or SINGLE, except those actually in the army, navy, national guard or naval militia, MUST register for service…. NONE IS EXEMPT.” The penalty for failing to register was “Liability to a year’s imprisonment, then enforced registration.” More than enough volunteers had come forward to run the registration sites on that day, and the May 23 Journal-World stated that “local officers do not anticipate anything except cheerful and ready compliance with the registration requirements.”

Lawrence officials continued their plans to make the day a joyful holiday celebration. A “pandemonium of noise” was expected to sound throughout the city at 7 a.m. on June 6, reminding residents that it was to be the day for “the young men of the nation [to] march to the registration booths to enroll their names as a part of Uncle Sam’s great fighting machine, enlisted for the cause of human freedom and democracy.”

Meanwhile, George W. Kleihege of 1201 New Jersey St., Lawrence, was arrested by a deputy U.S. marshal for allegedly “advocating resistance to the registration law” at a recent public meeting in Topeka. Kleihege’s case aroused some local interest, as he had held a fellowship at KU in 1911 and had been the Socialist candidate for governor in 1914. At the time of his arrest, Kleihege asserted that his speech at the Topeka meeting had only addressed the general issue of world peace, and that “when men had asked him specifically what they ought to do about registering he had told them that he had no advice to give.”