Hershey, General Lewis B. (1893 – 1977)
United States Army General who served as the second Director of the Selective Service System, the means by which the US administers its military conscription. Former presidential advisor.
Typewritten Letter Signed, one page, December 1970, on White House letterhead. Reads: …It has been a long time that you have remembered me and encouraged me. It has been a privilege to read the articles that you have sent over the years, including the present one. I note that our correspondence goes back into the fifties. May the Holiday Season and 1971 be kind to the Pilkingtons… Written at the height of the Vietnam-era conflict. Letter is accompanied by a 8″x10″ black/white glossy newspaper formal photograph of General Hershey. This is an historic letter given the context of the Vietnam conflict and the directive issued by Hershey against demonstrating students on college campus (read further).
Hersey was assigned to the General Staff, Wash, D.C., in 1936. Flour years later, President Roosevelt promoted him to brigadier general and named him executive officer of the Selective Service System. The following year he was appointed director of the Selective Service. Four years later Hershey was promoted to major general. While officially retiring in 1946, he was retained on active duty starting the next day.
General Hersey was the longest serving director in the history of the Selective Service System, and held the position until February 1970, spanning WWI, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. He was one of only three generals in the history of the US Army to have served as a general during three major conflicts.
In October, 1967, in response to increasing demonstrations against military recruitment on college campuses, Hersey issued an order which became known as The Hershey Directive, that anyone demonstrating against a military recruiter could be subject to immediate Selective Service reclassification of their draft status, meaning that those students who demonstrated would be at risk of being immediately drafted. The order enraged students, many of whom were not subject to being drafted due to education deferments, and campus demonstrations against the war (and Hersey’s direcive) increased. The Supreme Court voided this order on January 2, 1970 (Bucher v. Selective Service System). Hersey was removed from his post on February 16, 19070 by President Richard Nixon after becoming a focus of anti-war protests, and replaced by Curtis Tan.
President Nixon appointed Hershey as a presidential adviser and promoted him to full general — up until that time the only four-star General to reach that rank without having served in combat.