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all matters affecting the registrant's availability or nonavailability for military service, and the further plan of providing suitable and extra assistants to aid registrants to fully answer the questionnaire were two of the most important features in the new Selective Service Regulations. The questionnaire was produced by the same brain that had created the Selective Service Regulations, and the difficulty of providing suitable assistants to advise and assist registrants in making their answers was met by calling practically the entire Bar of the United States to this service.
Under the first draft very few lawyers were used in the machinery for selecting men. The local boards were made up largely of men engaged in business, agriculture and other vocations.
Aid of American Bar Association.
At the annual meeting of the American Bar Association in August, 1917, action was taken offering to the President the services of all the members, to be used in such manner as he saw fit in the prosecution of the war. The President availed himself of this offer.
The new regulations made provision for the creation of a Legal Advisory Board to work in connection with each local board of the United States.
Section 45 of the Selective Service Regulations provides for the appointment of Legal Advisory Boards composed of disinterested lawyers, with associate members consisting of capable lawyers and laymen, for the purpose of advising registrants of the true meaning and intent of the Selective Service Regulations, and of assisting registrants to make full and truthful answers to the questionnaires, and to aid generally in the administration of said law and regulations.
In Section 46 it is provided that "all lawyers and physicians should regard it as their duty to identify themselves with the advisory boards provided for in Sections 44 and 45, and freely, without compensation, to give their best service to the United States. It is inconsistent with this duty for lawyers to seek
clients for the purpose of urging and advocating individual cases in any other way than as disinterested and impartial assistants of the Selective Service System.
In his proclomation on the 8th of November, 1917, promulgating the Selective Service Regulations, the President said: "I arge men of the legal profession to offer themselves as assoeiate members of the Legal Advisory Boards to be provided in each community for the purpose of advising registrants of their rights and obligations, and of assisting them in the preparation of their answers to the questions which all men, subject to draft, are required to submit."
Legal Advisory Boards Appointed
On the 14th day of November, 1917, a State Legal Advisory Board for each state was appointed by the President. The first duty of each of these boards was to nominate to the Governor for appointment by the President a Legal Advisory Board for each local board in the State, to be composed of lawyers wherever available; and also for the appointment of additional or associate members of the Legal Advisory Boards in number sufficient to promptly serve all registrants who might call for assistance.
The members of the State Legal Advisory Board for Tennessee received a telegraphic notice of their appointment on Nov. 14, requesting them to immediately report to the Governor for instructions. The members of the board met with the Governor and Maj. Rutledge Smith early the next morning, when their duties were pointed out.
The first duty was to select for nomination the Legal Advisory Boards throughout the State, there being one local board for each county, the four larger counties had more, four for Hamilton, four for Knox, six for Davidson and seven for Shelby, making a total of 113 local boards in Tennessee.
It required 339 lawyers to constitute the Legal Advisory Boards. About 76 lawyers had already been selected for Gov. ernment Appeal Agents, and 25 placed on the local boards, and these were not available on the Legal Advisory Boards.
The State Board proceeded immediately to select the necessary lawyers in each county, using the members of the Tennessee Bar Association and members of the American Bar Association and others. They also conferred with members of the Supreme Court, Court of Civil Appeals, other Judges and Chancellors and lawyers throughout the State. After the lists were completed Chief Justice Neil went over them. When finally submitted for appointment by the President, the entire list had met the approval of our Chief Justice. These boards were appointed, and a sufficient number of associate members were also appointed. This practically utilized the entire Bar of the State.
In the meantime, a thousand copies of the Selective Service Regulations were secured and made available to all members and associate members of the Legal Advisory Boards. The Boards were requested to immediately organize and prepare for their work.
The first questionnaires were to be sent out on December 15th, and several days prior thereto all Legal Advisory Boards that had not reported fully organized were communicated with by telegraph or long distance telephone, and this process was continued daily until by the 16th of December, 1917, the day the first questionnaires were received, every Legal Advisory Board in Tennessee was fully organized and prepared to discharge its duties.
These Boards had held conferences with the local Boards, and in the larger counties had held public meetings where the duties of the registrants were discussed. Full publicity was given through the newspapers, advising registrants to call upon the Legal Advisory Boards in their locality for aid in answering the questionnaires, and advising that no fees would be charged for any service rendered by them. In the larger counties special quarters were rented, and the Boards and associate members arranged that a sufficient number be in attendance throughout each day to serve promptly all registrants. In some of the Boards twenty to forty members were in constant daily attendance, handling the registrants as rapidly as they could come in.
As the time approached for answering the last of the questionnaires reports were made at frequent intervals to the State Board, showing the number of questionnaires sent out, number answered, so that the progress was indicated from day to day.
Adjournment of Courts
There were 184,000 registrants in Tennessee, under the June, 1917, registration. Of these approximately 14,000 had been accepted under the first draft, leaving about 170,000 to answer their questionnaires. Most of them had to be assisted. The lawyers could not properly render this service and continue daily attendance upon court.
About December 12th, 1918, the State Board sent a request to every Judge and Chancellor in the State, asking that the courts adjourn so as to relieve the lawyers from court duties and enable them to give their entire time to this service. Practically all the courts in the State adjourned, and many of the Judges, including members of both Appellate Courts, joined the Legal Advisory Boards in their work.
Branch Boards Established
December and January saw the coldest weather that Tennessee had known in many years, heavy snows and zero temperatures were common. Roads were almost impassable. To meet this situation, the Legal Advisory Boards in the rural districts organized sufficient number of Branch Boards throughout the county to accommodate the registrants and their dependents without long or inconvenient travel. The Board members often made long journeys through the snow and over the mountains or bottoms to take the affidavit of a sick dependent.
In some of the counties, after all the lawyers had been mobilized, more aid was required, and county officials, postmasters, school teachers, magistrates, bankers and merchants were called upon and rendered valuable service. In James County, for example, there was only one lawyer available, and in Polk County only two, and other counties not enough, so that quite a number of persons not lawyers were called upon to serve on the Legal
When the answering of the questionnaires was finished, the Legal Boards assisted the Local Boards in locating those who had not answered; thus in some counties every registrant was finally accounted for and classified. The work was completed January 22, 1918.
The total number of Legal Advisory Boards in the State was 113, with 339 permanent members. The entire Legal Advisory Board organization numbered 3,993. Nearly every lawyer in the State practically gave up his practice and devoted his time generously and unreservedly to this most important work.
About 170,000 registrants were assisted. With the questionnaires the Local Boards were able with great rapidity to classify the registrants, and within a short time after the questionnaires were returned classification was completed. This would have been an utter impossibility without the assistance of the Legal Advisory Boards.
Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief Act
On March 8, 1918, Congress passed a law to extend protection to the civil rights of members of the military and naval forces of the United States engaged in the present war. This Act pro tected soldiers and sailors from the prosecution of suits or claims against them, and from the loss of their civil rights during the period they were in military service. Notwithstanding this Act, many persons insisted upon prosecuting claims.
The State Legal Advisory Board sent copies of this Act to the various Legal Boards and to every Judge and Chancellor in the State. Every member of the Bar throughout the State, acting with the Legal Advisory Boards, gladly accepted the opportunity of seeing that the soldiers and sailors were given the benefit of this law. Thus from the date of the passage of the Act down to this time, the Bar of Tennessee has stood as a guardian of our absent fighting men against the cupidity of those unpatriotic enough to insist upon enforcing claims against them during their absence, and it will continue to protect them as long as this protection shall be necessary.