Bowing to political pressure, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order No. 9066 allowing military commanders to declare areas off-limits to “any or all persons.” Public Law 503 made violation of military orders issued under the authority of EO 9066 a federal offense. Congress approved the law unanimously, and Roosevelt signed it. General John L. Dewitt was in charge of the Western Command that included California, Oregon, and Washington. “A Jap’s a Jap. It makes no difference whether the Jap is a citizen or not,” he said. He immediately excluded any persons of Japanese ancestry, citizen and non-citizen, from residence in the Western Command. Some Japanese-Americans refused to comply, and their convictions became the basis for court challenges on the constitutionality of exclusion and internment that went up to the Supreme Court (See Korematsu v. US). EO 9066 was the basis for the removal and internment of Japanese Americans (See Japanese American Evacuation and Ansel Adams).
Source: 100 Milestone Documents, an online library compiled by the “Our Documents” Initiative, a cooperative effort of the National Archives and Records Administration with National History Day and USA Freedom Corps. https://goo.gl/JjrUC8.
Authorizing the Secretary of War to Prescribe Military Areas
Whereas the successful prosecution of the war requires every possible protection against espionage and against sabotage to national-defense material, national-defense premises, and national-defense utilities as defined in Section 4, Act of April 20, 1918, 40 Stat. 533, as amended by the Act of November 30, 1940, 54 Stat. 1220, and the Act of August 21, 1941, 55 Stat. 655 (U.S.C., Title 50, Sec. 104);
Now, therefore, by virtue of the authority vested in me as President of the United States, and Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy, I hereby authorize and direct the Secretary of War, and the Military Commanders whom he may from time to time designate, whenever he or any designated Commander deems such action necessary or desirable, to prescribe military areas in such places and of such extent as he or the appropriate Military Commander may determine, from which any or all persons may be excluded, and with respect to which, the right of any person to enter, remain in, or leave shall be subject to whatever restrictions the Secretary of War or the appropriate Military Commander may impose in his discretion. The Secretary of War is hereby authorized to provide for residents of any such area who are excluded therefrom, such transportation, food, shelter, and other accommodations as may be necessary, in the judgment of the Secretary of War or the said Military Commander, and until other arrangements are made, to accomplish the purpose of this order. The designation of military areas in any region or locality shall supersede designations of prohibited and restricted areas by the Attorney General under the Proclamations of December 7 and 8, 1941,1 and shall supersede the responsibility and authority of the Attorney General under the said Proclamations in respect of such prohibited and restricted areas.
I hereby further authorize and direct the Secretary of War and the said Military Commanders to take such other steps as he or the appropriate Military Commander may deem advisable to enforce compliance with the restrictions applicable to each Military area hereinabove authorized to be designated, including the use of Federal troops and other Federal Agencies, with authority to accept assistance of state and local agencies.
I hereby further authorize and direct all Executive Departments, independent establishments and other Federal Agencies, to assist the Secretary of War or the said Military Commanders in carrying out this Executive Order, including the furnishing of medical aid, hospitalization, food, clothing, transportation, use of land, shelter, and other supplies, equipment, utilities, facilities, and services.
This order shall not be construed as modifying or limiting in any way the authority heretofore granted under Executive Order No. 8972, dated December 12, 1941,2 nor shall it be construed as limiting or modifying the duty and responsibility of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with respect to the investigation of alleged acts of sabotage or the duty and responsibility of the Attorney General and the Department of Justice under the Proclamations of December 7 and 8, 1941, prescribing regulations for the conduct and control of alien enemies, except as such duty and responsibility is superseded by the designation of military areas hereunder.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
- 1. These proclamations dealt with restricting the activities of enemy aliens, that is, German and Japanese citizens living in the United States.
- 2. This Executive Order allowed the Secretary of War and the Secretary of the Navy to establish guards and patrols and to take other measures to protect national defense materials and premises.