December 17, 1944: Internment of Japanese-Americans Comes to an End.
On December 17th, 1944 the United States under the direction of U.S. Major General Henry C. Pratt issued Public Proclamation No. 21 stating that on January 2nd, 1945 all Japanese-Americans “evacuees” from the West Coast could return back to their homes.
The internment of Japanese-Americans began exactly ten weeks after the Empire of Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which gave authorization for the removal of any or all people from military areas. As a result the military defined the entire West Coast, home to a majority of Japanese-Americans as military area. Within a couple of months over 110,000 Japanese-Americans were relocated to internment camps built by the US military scattered all over the nation. For the next two years Japanese-Americans would live under dire living conditions and at times abuse from their military guards.
Throughout World War II ten people were found to be spies for the Empire of Japan, not one of them was of Japanese ancestry. Forty-four year would pass until Ronald Reagan and the United States made an official apology to the surviving Japanese-Americans who were relocated, and were given $20,000 tax-free.
“Resolutely support the American people in their resistance against American imperialist aggression in Vietnam.”
A Chinese propaganda poster encouraging Chinese to support American anti-war protests, 1966.
The Chinese government also produced posters during that era supporting African American struggles in the Civil Rights movement. Of course, the Vietnam War hit closer to home. Most US Americans still haven’t wrapped their head around the realities of what that war was even about. It’s common US liberal mythology to say things like “Why were we even over there? It made no sense!” Actually, it made perfect sense in terms of US imperialism: in the wake of the unsatisfactory standoff of the Korean War, US strategic planners saw a need to dramatically demonstrate to China that they were willing to send large numbers of young men to their deaths, even against popular domestic opinion, in order to crush and destroy China’s neighbors (i.e. Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos), killing hundreds of thousands or even millions of Asians, rather than allow them to come under China’s sphere of influence hostile to US imperialism.
Ever since Washington was carved from two slaveholding states in 1791, it has been a special place for black Americans. Lincoln freed the slaves in Washington about nine months before the Emancipation Proclamation, prompting blacks from the region to flock here. It was the birthplace of Duke Ellington and home to other artists like Zora Neale Hurston and Sterling Allen Brown, who later fueled the Harlem Renaissance. By 1957, blacks had become the majority of the city’s residents, exceeding numbers in any major city in the United States. Ever since Walter E. Washington was appointed mayor by Lyndon B. Johnson in 1967, the city has been led by black politicians and shaped by black institutions. This has fostered a sense of black privilege, swagger and, yes, the hubris that comes with leadership.
This is an identification certificate, issued by the Imperial Chinese government via the Consulate General in San Fransisco, dated in 1891. The certificate was one way in which Chinese-American immigrants could vouch for their identity and their eligibility to work and reside in the US. Proof of identity and residency was necessary (and very important) under the laws enacted with the Chinese Exclusion Act.
This document is part of a series of general case files for the US District Court in Los Angeles. The records are held at the National Archives at Riverside.
Observing Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month
To pay tribute to the many generations of Asian-Pacific Americans that have enriched our nation’s history, the National Archives at Riverside will be highlighting some of our holdings relating to Asian American history in our region (Southern California, Arizona, and Clark County, NV), including records relating to enforcement of the Chinese Exclusion Act, records relating to Japanese internment and relocation, and many more.