This post is part of a continuing series of blogs accompanying the release of my historical novel, How Much Do You Love Me? Parts 1, 2, and 3 covered “Pre-Pearl Harbor,” “Pearl Harbor,” and “Anti-Japanese Frenzy,” respectively.
As you recall, Pearl Harbor was bombed on December 7th, 1941. Not long afterward, pubic sentiment, fueled mainly by politicians and outrageous public statements of Japanese American disloyalty, reached a fervor.
Responding to this frenzy, Secretary of War Henry Stimson recommended to Attorney General Francis Biddle on January 25 that they officially define military exclusion zones, areas deemed sensitive for West Coast military operations. Biddle interpreted this request to mean the exclusion of only aliens (non citizens) from these zones. However, Lt. General John DeWitt, the commanding officer of the Fourth Army and Western Defense Command, who had stoked the fires of anti-Japanese hysteria immediately following Pearl Harbor, had influence with President Roosevelt. And so, on February 19th, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order No. 9066, which authorized the Secretary of War to set up the militarily sensitive areas. Only weeks later, on March 3, 1942, General DeWitt announced to reporters that all Japanese, citizens or not, would be forced to leave those Pacific exclusion zones.
The number, 9066, would remain stenciled on the minds of all West Coast Japanese. Up next: The Japanese Internment of World War II: Part 5: Their world turned upside down
Note:Both photographs above courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.
This post was written by paulmarktag