Japanese American Internment 1942

On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 authorizing the Secretary of War to declare parts of the United States as military zones “from which any or all persons may be excluded.” The order was used to evacuate some 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry, 70,000 of whom were American citizens. After the terrifying attack on Pearl Harbor, it was seen as a necessary safety precaution. The Government characterized the order as a means of protecting the evacuees. But the watchtowers equipped with machine guns pointing inwards towards the internees suggested a different reality.

The evacuees were deprived of their most basic right—their freedom. In 1988 the Government officially recognized the gross injustice of their treatment and paid the victims or their relatives $1.6 billion in reparation.