Fighting the Wars
If it were possible to raise a sufficient number of men by voluntary enlistment and they would come from all sections in equal percentages the selective service might not be necessary.
Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn of Texas, Constituent Correspondence, August 22, 1940
More than 4.7 million Americans served in World War I, and approximately 16.1 million served in World War II. Congress authorized the draft during both wars to raise the necessary military personnel. Casualties (i.e., battle deaths, other deaths, and wounds not mortal) amounted to approximately 320,500 during World War I and approximately 1,076,200 during World War II. Women and minorities were given new or additional opportunities to serve, which eventually resulted in greater rights for many Americans.