1942 March 23

Japanese-American Evacuation Begins; NY Times Reports “Pioneers” are “Vastly Impressed” with the “Courteous Treatment”


As President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s program to evacuate the Japanese-Americans from the West Coast during World War II began, The New York Times reported on this day the arrival of the first 1,000 Japanese-American at the Assembly Center in the Owens Valley of California. (The evacuees were held there until being transferred to one of the Relocation Centers.) The Times referred to the arrivals as “pioneers,” and said that “all” the evacuees “had been vastly impressed” with the “courteous treatment” they had received so far.

President Roosevelt on February 19, 1942 issued an executive order authorizing the military to establish military zones and evacuate people from the west coast, without specifically mentioning the Japanese-Americans and without saying what would happen to them. The treatment of the Japanese-American evacuation and internment is widely regarded as the greatest single civil liberties tragedy in American history.

Learn more about the Japanese-American tragedy: Greg Robinson, By Order of the President: FDR and the Internment of the Japanese Americans (2001)

View Dorothea Lange’s Internment Camp Photographs:

Read a first-hand account of the evacuation and internment: Jeanne Wakatsuki Huston and James D. Houston, Farewell to Manzanar (2002)

Watch an interview with Jeanne Wakatsuki Huston: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDDFw5TGkJo

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