100 years ago in The Saratogian: July 13 – New York News




Friday, July 13, 1917

“The patriotic spirit in this city received a black eye,” The Saratogian reports from Mechanicville, “when it was found out that a ‘slacker’ was in the city.”

A “slacker” in 1917 is what most people would call a “draft dodger” a century later. With a wartime military draft scheduled for later this summer, slackers are men of draft age, between the ages of 21 and 30, who refused to register for the draft last month. The U.S. has been at war with Germany since April 6.

A federal officer went to Frog Island yesterday, just north of Mechanicville, to investigate the case of William Lyons, who had “steadfastly refused to enroll in the federal census. After giving Lyons a grace period in which to register, W. Mace Laraway went before a Stillwater justice of the peace to ask for Lyons’ arrest.

Taken into custody by a sheriff’s deputy, Lyons appears before the Mechanicville exemption board this morning.


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“After having the law read in regard to slackers and being advised by the members, he deemed it advisable to register, which he was allowed to do and the case was dropped,” a Mechanicville correspondent writes, “The reason he claimed for not enrolling before was that he did not feel inclined to.”

Further refusal to register would have earned Lyons a year in jail, after which he would have been enrolled automatically into the regular army. Instead, he’ll take his chances in the draft lottery like his peers.

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