Japanese American Internment

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Written by: Marcia Motter
Teacher Clayton Middle School
mmotter@washoe.k12.nv.us

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, was the internment of Japanese-Americans justified?

You are going to be the featured guest on CNN. You are an expert on the topic of Japanese internment. You have been asked to discuss the justification of the internment of Japanese-Americans in this country after the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Sunday, December 7, 1941.

In a response, write an essay explaining your answer. Justify your reasons using specific evidence from the sources available.

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, was the internment of Japanese-Americans justified?

Historical Background:

The bombing of Pearl Harbor on Sunday, December 7, 1941 drastically changed the lives for Japanese Americans living in the United States, specifically for those living on the West Coast. After the attack on Pearl Harbor by Japan, some Americans became afraid and fearful of the Japanese. They worried that Japanese Americans already living in the United States might help Japan with future attacks or be saboteurs. The United States government slowly began to restrict the rights of Japanese Americans and eventually forced them to relocate from their homes and imprisoned them in internment camps between the years of 1942-1946. Most of the Japanese American population lived on the west coast of the United States, with the majority living in the states of Washington, Oregon and California. There was also a large population of Japanese Americans living on the islands of Hawaii. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942. This order authorized the war department to designate military areas from which “any and all persons” may be excluded. Although this order never specifically named Japanese Americans, it soon became clear that they would be the only group targeted for mass removal. At first, the Japanese were moved to assembly centers, which were located at large public places, like fairgrounds and racetracks. From there, they were taken to internment camps. There were 10 internment camps across the country. They were found in the states of California, Arizona, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and Arkansas. Two of the biggest camps were Manzanar and Tule Lake, both found in California. All Japanese were taken to the camps, even Japanese-Americans. They could only bring what they could carry, including toiletry items, kitchen items, bedding, and clothing. Everything else was left behind including pets. Most of the camps were located in remote, desolate areas. The land could vary from desert like conditions with very hot summers and cold winters, to swamp-like conditions with heat and humidity in Arkansas. Facilities differed from camp to camp, but all were spartan. Internees were assigned to a block consisting of fourteen barracks subdivided into four or six rooms.

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, was the internment of Japanese-Americans justified?

There were communal bathrooms and showers and a common dining hall where the internees could eat. Standing in long lines to eat, shower, or to buy something at the camp store became a way of life. Eventually, each relocation center became a kind of American community, with many of the institutions that existed on the larger society. There were schools, libraries, hospitals, newspapers, and churches After World War II was over, the federal government started talking about redress, or a compensation for a wrong doing, for the discrimination and loss of civil rights that the Japanese American community suffered during the war. It took over 40 years for the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 to be enacted into law for the redress.

Directions: The following question is based on the documents (1-8) that follow. Before reading these...
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