Japanese-American Internment: The Impure Motives of Californians

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The first Chinese immigrants flooded to America, in the hopes of “striking gold” during the California Gold Rush of 1849. Unfortunately, the citizens of California greeted these newcomers with many unfair laws. Beginning with the Foreign Miner’s License Tax Law of 1850, the Chinese experienced nothing but bigotry from the citizens who surrounded them. This inequality peaked when President Chester A. Arthur signed the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, barring the immigration of Chinese workers for ten years. During that time, the immigration of Japanese in search of work rapidly increased. These immigrants also faced racial discrimination, from their ineligibility for citizenship to the laws prohibiting Japanese from owning land. The full extent of this prejudice was revealed in 1942, when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, allowing the Secretary of War to “prescribe military areas … from which any or all persons may be excluded.” This order allowed for the unconstitutional relocation of over one hundred thousand Japanese American citizens. Racist Californians instigated the Japanese American internment during World War Two for personal and societal economic gain. Racism in California Before, during, and after World War Two, Californians showed an attitude of bigotry and racism towards non-European immigrants in their midst. These citizens, who initially deemed the Japanese innocuous, became outraged at their presence when Japan showed their military strength in their defeat of Russia in 1905. As a response, over 60 labor unions joined together to form the Oriental Exclusion League, while other organizations focused on ruining the Japanese, such as the Anti-Jap Laundry League. These organizations per... ... middle of paper ... ..., Baron Shimpei. “The Anti-Japanese Question in California.” The American Academy of Political and Social Science 94 (1921): 104-10. Print. Gulick, Sidney Lewis. Hawaii’s American-Japanese Problem: A Description of the Conditions, A Statement of the Problems, and Suggestions for their Solution. Honolulu: Star-Bulletin, 1915. Print. Perl, Lila. Behind Barbed Wire: The Story of Japanese-American Internment during World War II. New York: Benchmark Books, 2003. Print. Roosevelt, Franklin Delano. Executive Order 9066. Washington: GPO, 1942. Print. Roosevelt, Theodore. Sixth Annual Message to the Senate and House of Representatives. Washington: GPO, 1906. Print. Sakurai, Gail. Japanese American Internment Camps. New York: Children’s Press, 2002. Print. Santayana, George. Reason in Common Sense. New York: Dover Publications, 1980. Project Gutenberg. Web. 11 April 2011.

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