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executive order

Executive Order 9066

United States Executive Order 9066 was a presidential executive order issued during World War II by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt on February 19, 1942, using his authority as Commander-in-Chief to exercise war powers to send ethnic groups to internment camps.

This order authorized the Secretary of War and U.S. armed forces commanders to declare areas of the United States as military areas "from which any or all persons may be excluded," although it did not name any nationality or ethnic group. It was eventually applied to one-third of the land area of the U.S. (mostly in the West) and was used against those with "Foreign Enemy Ancestry" — Japanese, Italians, and Germans.

The order led to the Japanese American internment in which some 120,000 ethnic Japanese people were held in internment camps for the duration of the war. Of the Japanese interned, 62 percent were Nisei (American-born, second-generation Japanese American) or Sansei (third-generation Japanese American) and the rest were Issei (Japanese immigrants and resident aliens, first-generation Japanese American).

Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson was to assist those residents of such an area who were excluded with transport, food, shelter, and other accommodations.

Americans of Japanese ancestry were by far the most widely-affected, as all persons with Japanese ancestry were removed from the West Coast and southern Arizona, including orphan infants. In Hawaii, however, where there were 140,000 Japanese nationals (constituting 37 percent of the population), the Japanese were neither relocated nor interned. Even though such actions would have appeared even more congruent with strategic concerns, the political and economic implications of such a move would have been overwhelming. The Japanese were only vulnerable on the mainland. Americans of Italian and German ancestry were also targeted by these restrictions, including internment. As then California Attorney General Earl Warren put it, "When we are dealing with the Caucasian race we have methods that will test the loyalty of them. But when we deal with the Japanese, we are on an entirely different field.

Opposition

Notably, one of the few voices in Washington opposed to internment was FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. Hoover opposed the interment not on constitutional grounds, but because he believed that the most likely spies had already been arrested by the FBI shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor. First lady Eleanor Roosevelt was also opposed to Executive Order 9066. She spoke privately many times with her husband, but was unsuccessful in convincing him not to sign it.

Post-World War II

Executive Order 9066 was finally rescinded by Gerald Ford on February 19, 1976. In 1980, Jimmy Carter signed legislation to create the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (CWRIC). The CWRIC was appointed to conduct an official governmental study of Executive Order 9066, related wartime orders and their impact on Japanese Americans in the West and Alaska Natives in the Pribilof Islands.

In 1983, the CWRIC issued its findings in Personal Justice Denied, concluding that the incarceration of Japanese Americans had not been justified by military necessity. Rather, the report determined that the decision to incarcerate was based on "race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership." Lastly, the Commission recommended legislative remedies consisting of an official Government apology; redress payments of $20,000 to each of the survivors; and a public education fund to help ensure that this would not happen again (Public Law 100-383).

On August 10, 1988, the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, based on the CWRIC recommendations, was signed into law by Ronald Reagan. On November 21, 1989, George H.W. Bush signed an appropriation bill authorizing payments to be paid out between 1990 and 1998. In 1990, surviving internees began to receive individual redress payments and a letter of apology.

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