The Noncombatancy Provision

03 March 1863

On March 3, 1863, the Congress of the United States passed a law calling for the enrollment of all men between the ages of 20 and 45; this would form the basis of a national draft. It now looked as if one man in three would be called to military service. Certain provisions of this act brought a sigh of relief to Seventh-day Adventists:

That members of religious denominations, who shall by oath or affirmation declare that they are conscientiously opposed to the bearing of arms, and who are prohibited from doing so by the rules and articles of faith and practice of such religious denomination, shall, when drafted into the military service, be considered noncombatants, and shall be assigned by the Secretary of War to duty in the hospitals, or to the care of freedmen, or shall pay the sum of $300, to such person as the Secretary of War shall designate to receive it, to be applied to the benefit of the sick and wounded soldiers.

Provided, That no person shall be entitled to the benefit of the provisions of this section, unless his declaration of conscientious scruples against bearing arms shall be supported by satisfactory evidence that his deportment has been uniformly consistent with such declaration ("The Views of Seventh-day Adventists Relative to Bearing Arms," pp. 3, 4).