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Executive Order 9066: Resulting in the Relocation of Japanese, February 19, 1942

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Courtesy of National Archives, Executive Order 9066: Resulting in the Relocation of Japanese, 19 February 1942


Envy over economic success combined with distrust over cultural separateness and long-standing anti-Asian racism turned into disaster when the Empire of Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Lobbyists from western states, many representing competing economic interests or nativist groups, pressured the U.S. Congress and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to remove persons of Japanese descent from the West Coast, both foreign born (issei – meaning "first generation" of Japanese in the U.S.) and American citizens (nisei – the second generation of Japanese in America, U.S. citizens by birthright.) During Congressional committee hearings, Department of Justice representatives raised constitutional and ethical objections to the proposal, so the U.S. Army carried out the task instead. The West Coast was divided into military zones, and on February 19, 1942, President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066 authorizing exclusion. Congress then implemented the order on March 21, 1942, by passing Public Law 503. After encouraging voluntary evacuation of the areas, the Western Defense Command began involuntary removal and detention of West Coast residents of Japanese ancestry. In the next six months, approximately 122,000 men, women and children were moved to assembly centers. They were then evacuated to and confined in isolated, fenced and guarded relocation centers, known as internment camps. The 10 relocation sites were in remote areas in six western states and Arkansas: Heart Mountain in Wyoming, Tule Lake and Manzanar in California, Topaz in Utah, Poston and Gila River in Arizona, Granada in Colorado, Minidoka in Idaho and Jerome and Rowher in Arkansas.

Transcript of Executive Order 9066

Source-Dependent Questions

  • What actions were taken as a result of Executive Order 9066? What justification was given by President Roosevelt for those actions?
  • How were these actions contradictory to American ideals? Read the document again. Why were citizens allowed to be interned?
  • How did this action work against American interests on the homefront during World War II?

Citation Information 

Executive Order 9066: Resulting in the Relocation of Japanese, 19 February 1942. Courtesy of National Archives