Coming to America
The History of Japanese Americans begins with an influx of Japanese immigrants coming to America in the mid-1800s. By the turn of the century over 24,000 Japanese immigrants had made the journey across the Pacific. With their arrival and subsequent success, anti-immigrant sentiments began to fester and racism reared its ugly head.
Before the War
By 1907 the hatred had infiltrated the political system. Laws passed were first aimed at reducing immigration, but quickly grew to barring Isseis from owning land. In 1924 a much harsher immigration law was enacted, and it nearly stopped immigration for three decades, through World War II, until a paltry 100 immigrants per year was allowed.
After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, a heavy shadow was unjustly cast upon all Japanese Americans as the racist sentiments boiled over into everyday life. Quickly their neighbors, and then their country, allowed hatred and hysteria to override principles. Executive Order 9066 was signed by Franklin D. Roosevelt which painted every Japanese American as an “enemy alien”, discarding the fact that many of the children were American citizens.
Life in the Camp
The Japanese American journey took them to some of the most inhospitable places in the country, deemed so by the Department of Reclamation. Faced with some of the most inhuman treatment in our nation’s history, the Japanese Americans put down roots better than most locals and turned desolate corners of America into thriving farms, outstanding schools, and bustling towns.
Through their ‘gaman’ they suffered through the unthinkable with patience and dignity, even sending their sons to war to defend the very country that had turned its back on them. Sharpened against the grindstone of injustice, they suffered silently and motivated their children to go on to become war heroes, business leaders, judges and even senators.