In the United States during World War I, conscientious objectors were permitted to serve in non-combatant military roles. About 2000 absolute conscientious objectors refused to cooperate in any way with the military. These men were imprisoned in military facilities. Some were subjected to treatment such as short rations, solitary confinement and physical abuse severe enough as to cause death.
Ben Salmon was a Catholic conscientious objector during World War I. The Catholic Church denounced him and The New York Times described him as a "spy suspect." The US military, which never inducted him, charged him with desertion and spreading propaganda, then sentenced him to death, later revised to 25 years hard labor.
During World War II, all registrants were sent a questionnaire covering basic facts about their identification, physical condition, history and also provided a check-off list to indicate opposition to military service because of religious training or belief. The Civilian Public Service (CPS) provided conscientious objectors in the United States an alternative to military service during World War II. From 1941 to 1947 nearly 12,000 draftees, unwilling to do any type of military service, performed "work of national importance" in 152 CPS camps throughout the United States and Puerto Rico. The CPS men served without wages and minimal support from the federal government.
Starting in 1965, Canada became a choice haven for American draft resisters and deserters during the Vietnam war (1955-1975). Because they were not formally classified as refugees, they were admitted as immigrants. There is no official estimate of how many draft resisters and deserters were admitted to Canada during the Vietnam War. One informed estimate puts their number between 30,000 and 40,000. Although some of these transplanted Americans returned home after the Vietnam War, most of them put down roots in Canada thus making them the largest migrant group Canada has ever received. Draft resistors were usually college-educated sons of the middle class who could no longer defer induction into the Selective Service System.
President John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) once wrote in a letter to a Navy friend which in part said. War will exist until the distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige as the warrior does today.