Both sides permitted conscripts to hire substitutes to serve in their place.
Forms of resistance ranged from peaceful protest to violent demonstrations and from humble letter-writing campaigns asking for mercy to radical newspapers demanding reform.
Families used the substitute provision to select which member should go into the army and which would stay home.
The other popular means of procuring a substitute was to pay a soldier whose period of enlistment was about to expire - the advantage of this method was that the Army could retain a trained veteran in place of a raw recruit.
The Selective Service Act of 1917 was carefully drawn to remedy the defects in the Civil War system and—by allowing exemptions for dependency, essential occupations, and religious scruples—to place each man in his proper niche in a national war effort.
The act established a "liability for military service of all male citizens"; authorized a selective draft of all those between 21 and 31 years of age (later from 18 to 45); and prohibited all forms of bounties, substitutions, or purchase of exemptions.