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Executive Order 9066
The Internment of 110,000 Japanese Americans
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Executive Order 9066
The Internment of 110,000 Japanese Americans

By Maisie & Richard Conrat
1992, 120 pages, paperback.

Book Description from Back Cover
From the Book's Preface
From the Book's Foreword

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Book Description from Back Cover

The days following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor were dark days of the American spirit. Unable to strike back effectively against the Japanese Empire, Americans in the Western states lashed out at fellow citizens and resident aliens of Japanese ancestry.

Executive Order 9066, signed by President Roosevelt on February 19, 1942, was the instrument that allowed military commanders to designate areas "from which any or all persons may be excluded." Under this order all Japanese and Americans of Japanese ancestry were removed from Western coastal regions to guarded camps in the interior. Former Supreme Court Justice Tom C. Clark, who represented the Department of Justice in the "relocation", writes in the Epilogue to this book:

The truth is - as this deplorable experience proves - that constitutions and laws are not sufficient of themselves…Despite the unequivocal language of the Constitution of the United States that the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, and despite the Fifth Amendment's command that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, both these constitutional safeguards were denied by military action under Executive Order 9066….

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From the Book's Preface

Michael McCone
Executive Director
California Historical Society

EXECUTIVE ORDER 9066 will always be with us. And so it should because it is an example of what injustice and havoc men and women have wrought upon each other. One lesson to be learned from such injustices is that regardless of the heat of the moment, we must never lose sight of the inalienable and civil rights which we owe each other, and that such rights, universally applied, constitute the strongest shield for our country and society.

Twenty years ago, the California Historical Society sponsored the original exhibition and publication, EXECUTIVE ORDER 9066. At that time, our sponsorship brought forth starling reactions. Some institutions turned us down: "It will open old wounds," or, "make people remember what they are trying to forget" But we saw the exhibit and publication as a record of a pivotal event in twentieth century American history.

Ultimately, EXECUTIVE ORDER 9066 opened at the De Young Museum in San Francisco, in 1972 and traveled throughout the country, including the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The exhibition and publication were milestones in the process of all Americans coming to grips with their history, and provided material for the legislation which authorized reparations to Japanese Americans many years later.

EXECUTIVE ORDER 9066 was organized by Maisie and Richard Conrat. In their sensitive Foreword they addressed the importance of "self-examination," which is so crucial in all fields of human endeavor, but especially so in the interpretation of history. They pointed out the universality of the Internment and the lesson therein: the Internment is as much a part of white America's experience as it is of Japanese Americans.

The California Historical Society is grateful to the Asian American Studies Center at the University of California at Los Angeles for sponsoring the commemorative program marking the 50th anniversary of the Internment, of which EXECUTIVE ORDER 9066 is a part. The Society is also grateful to the men and women of the Department of History and the Frederick Wight Gallery at the University of California, Los Angeles and to the Japanese American National Museum for their work and commitment to the entire program.

That Executive Order 9066 tore over one hundred thousand Japanese Americans from their homes, their businesses, and their farmlands, and threw them into concentration camps, cannot be erased from our history. The reprinting of this extraordinary publication will serve to ensure that this fateful period is never erased from our memory.

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From the Book's Foreword

Maisie & Richard Conrat
August 1971

OUR INVOLVEMENT with photographs of the Japanese American evacuation began in 1965. At that time Richard was working as an assistant to the photographer Dorothea Lange. He was greatly moved by a number f photographs which she had taken of the evacuation and internment, and he became curious to know how many other photographs might have been made during the period.

After some investigation, we found that there were in existence at least 25,000 photographs dealing with the process of evacuation. These photographs could be divided roughly into three categories, In the first category were photographs which had some historical significance but which failed completely as images. The second category consisted of photographs which failed in both respects. In the majority of these, the awkward presence of the photographer had made his evacuee subjects smile and try to project a sense of contentment and normality, thus completely betraying the truth of their situation. The third category consisted, perhaps, of no more than 100 photographs. These were photographs which had strength both as images and as historical documents, and this, of course, was the group which we were interested in isolating. In order to do so, we applied for and received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1968-69.

On a few occasions recently, we have been approached by young political activists from the Japanese American community. They have asked us to account for our involvement in this photographic project. The evacuation, they pointed out, is a part of their people's history, and they feel it should be interpreted by those who experienced it. Our answer has been that of course the evacuation is part of Japanese American history, but that it is also part of white America's history. After all, the aggressor is as much a part of the crime as the victim.

We recognize the fact that, as Caucasians, it is not our job to interpret the Japanese American's experience. We know, however, that the job of presenting this point of view is of the utmost importance, and in order to make all of the evacuation photographs as accessible as possible, we plan to turn our research files over to the community which suffered from executive Order 9066.

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