1990 January 7

Ed Ennis Dies; Fought Japanese-American Evacuation


Ed Ennis, who died on this day, served as Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the ACLU from 1969 to 1976. During World War II, he had been in the U.S. Justice Department and was head of the Alien Enemy Control Unit during World War II. He is most notable for vigorously opposing the administration’s plan to order the evacuation of Japanese-Americans from the West Coast. Attorney General Francis Biddle caved in to pressure from the War Department and West Coast politicians and, at the critical final meeting, endorsed the proposal. Ennis reportedly was near tears after the meeting and considered resigning from the Justice Department. President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942 ordering the evacuation, which many historians regard as the greatest civil liberties disaster in American history.

Learn more about Ennis and the Japanese-American tragedy: Peter Irons, The Story of the Japanese-American Internment Cases (1983)

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