Us history dbq: japanese internment

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BACKGROUND: On February 19, 1942, a little over two months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066 authorizing military authorities to remove civilians from any area without a trial or hearing. On March 2 the Western half of the Pacific Coast states and the southern third of Arizona were declared military areas and it was announced that all persons of Japanese descent would soon be removed. On March 22 the first Japanese and Japanese-Americans were removed from the Los Angeles area and relocated to Manzanar in the Owens Valley of California as Japanese Internment began.
PROMPT: Why were Japanese and Japanese-Americans interned by the United States government during World War II?

Source: Dr. Seuss – political cartoon, 1942.

1. Who are the people depicted in the cartoon and what are they supposed to be doing?

2. Based on the cartoon, what is the argument does Dr. Seuss make about Japanese-Americans and how could that justify Japanese internment?


Source: Curtis B. Munson “Munson Report” Government investigation report on Japanese loyalty in America, November 1941

“There is no Japanese `problem' on the Coast. There will be no armed uprising of Japanese. There will undoubtedly be some sabotage financed by Japan and executed largely by imported agents...In each Naval District there are about 250 to 300 suspects under surveillance. It is easy to get on the suspect list, merely a speech in favor of Japan at some banquet being sufficient to land one there. The Intelligence Services are generous with the title of suspect and are taking no chances. Privately, they believe that only 50 or 60 in each district can be classed as really dangerous. The Japanese are hampered as saboteurs because of their easily recognized physical appearance. It will be hard for them to get near anything to blow up if it is guarded. There is far more danger from Communists and people of the Bridges type on the Coast than there is from Japanese. The Japanese here is almost exclusively a farmer, a fisherman or a small businessman. He has no entree to plants or intricate machinery.”

Source: General John L. DeWitt in charge of war “relocation” April 1943

“I don't want any of them [persons of Japanese ancestry] here. They are a dangerous element. There is no way to determine their loyalty... It makes no difference whether he is an American citizen, he is still a Japanese. American citizenship does not necessarily determine loyalty... But we must worry about the Japanese all the time until he is wiped off the map.”

1. What are the most significant findings of the Munson Report?

2. What is the attitude expressed by General John DeWiit toward Japanese-Americans and what would his attitude toward internment be?

3. In your opinion, do you think most Americans during WWII would agree with opinion expressed by Munson or DeWitt? Explain.


Source: Columnist Henry McLemore, Sacramento Union, January 1942

"I am for the immediate removal of every Japanese on the West Coast to a point deep in the interior. I don't mean a nice part of the interior either. Herd 'em up, pack 'em off and give 'em the inside room in the badlands... Personally, I hate the Japanese. And that goes for all of them."

Source: Harry Paxton Howard, “Americans in Concentration Camps,” The Crisis (a civil rights publication), September 1942.

“Along the eastern coast of the United States, where the numbers of Americans of Japanese ancestry is comparatively small, no concentration camps have been established. From a military point of view, the only danger on this coast is from Germany and Italy...But the American government has not taken any such high-handed action against Germans and Italians – and their American-born descendants – on the East Coast, as has been taken against Japanese and their American-born descendants on the West Coast. Germans and Italians are “white.”

Color seems to be the only possible reason why thousands of American citizens of Japanese ancestry are in concentration camps. Anyway, there are no Italian-American, or German-American citizens in such camps.”

1. Why does Henry McLemore support Japanese Internment?

2. What does Harry Paxton Howard argue is the true reason for Japanese Internment and how does he support this?

3. Do you agree with Howard’s conclusion? Explain.


Source: Korematsu v. United States Supreme Court Ruling, 1944, Majority Opinion – Chief Justice Hugo Black.

“We uphold the exclusion order as of the time it was made and when the petitioner violated it....In doing so, we are not unmindful of the hardships imposed by it upon a large group of American citizens....But hardships are part of war, and war is an aggregation of hardships. All citizens alike, both in and out of uniform, feel the impact of war in greater or lesser measure. Citizenship has its responsibilities, as well as its privileges, and, in time of war, the burden is always heavier. Compulsory exclusion of large groups of citizens from their homes, except under circumstances of direst emergency and peril, is inconsistent with our basic governmental institutions. But when, under conditions of modern warfare, our shores are threatened by hostile forces, the power to protect must be commensurate with the threatened danger...

To cast this case into outlines of racial prejudice, without reference to the real military dangers which were presented, merely confuses the issue. Korematsu was not excluded from the Military Area because of hostility to him or his race. He was excluded because we are at war with the Japanese Empire, because the properly constituted military authorities feared an invasion of our West Coast and felt constrained to take proper security measures, because they decided that the military urgency of the situation demanded that all citizens of Japanese ancestry be segregated from the West Coast temporarily, and, finally, because Congress, reposing its confidence in this time of war in our military leaders -- as inevitably it must -- determined that they should have the power to do just this.”

Source: Korematsu v. United States Supreme Court Ruling, 1944, Dissenting Opinion – Justice Roberts.

“This is not a case of keeping people off the streets at night as was Kiyoshi Hirabayashi v. United States…nor a case of temporary exclusion of a citizen from an area for his own safety or that of the community, nor a case of offering him an opportunity to go temporarily out of an area where his presence might cause danger to himself or to his fellows. On the contrary, it is the case of convicting a citizen as a punishment for not submitting to imprisonment in a concentration camp, based on his ancestry, without evidence or inquiry concerning his loyalty and good disposition towards the United States. If this be a correct statement of the facts disclosed by this record, and facts of which we take judicial notice, I need hardly labor the conclusion that Constitutional rights have been violated.”

1. What is the majority ruling in the Supreme Court case on Japanese Internment?

2. Why did Justice Roberts disagree?

3. Which argument is more convincing? Explain.

PROMPT: Why were Japanese and Japanese-Americans interned by the United States government during World War II?
1. Write a detailed paragraph that answers that includes a clear thesis statement, a minimum of 2 documents as evidence (but more is recommended) and outside specific evidence and analysis.

2. Reflection: What lessons should the United States and Americans today have learned from Japanese Internment?
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