Feb 19 2011

On This Day in History February 19

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

February 19 is the 50th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 315 days remaining until the end of the year (316 in leap years).

On this day in 1942, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs Executive Order 9066, authorizing the removal of any or all people from military areas “as deemed necessary or desirable.” The military in turn defined the entire West Coast, home to the majority of Americans of Japanese ancestry or citizenship, as a military area. By June, more than 110,000 Japanese Americans were relocated to remote internment camps built by the U.S. military in scattered locations around the country. For the next two and a half years, many of these Japanese Americans endured extremely difficult living conditions and poor treatment by their military guards.

The Order

The order authorized the Secretary of War and U.S. armed forces commanders to declare areas of the United States as military areas “from which any or all persons may be excluded,” although it did not name any nationality or ethnic group. It was eventually applied to one-third of the land area of the U.S. (mostly in the West) and was used against those with “Foreign Enemy Ancestry” – Japanese.

The order led to the internment of Japanese Americans or AJAs (Americans of Japanese Ancestry); some 120,000 ethnic Japanese people were held in internment camps for the duration of the war. Of the Japanese interned, 62% were Nisei (American-born, second-generation Japanese American and therefore American citizens) or Sansei (third-generation Japanese American, also American citizens) and the rest were Issei (Japanese immigrants and resident aliens, first-generation Japanese American).

Japanese Americans were by far the most widely affected group, as all persons with Japanese ancestry were removed from the West Coast and southern Arizona. As then California Attorney General Earl Warren put it, “When we are dealing with the Caucasian race we have methods that will test the loyalty of them. But when we deal with the Japanese, we are on an entirely different field.” In Hawaii, where there were 140,000 Americans of Japanese Ancestry (constituting 37% of the population), only selected individuals of heightened perceived risk were interned.

Americans of Italian and German ancestry were also targeted by these restrictions, including internment. 11,000 people of German ancestry were interned, as were 3,000 people of Italian ancestry, along with some Jewish refugees. The Jewish refugees who were interned came from Germany, and the U.S. government didn’t differentiate between ethnic Jews and ethnic Germans (jewish was defined as religious practice). Some of the internees of European descent were interned only briefly, and others were held for several years beyond the end of the war. Like the Japanese internees, these smaller groups had American-born citizens in their numbers, especially among the children. A few members of ethnicities of other Axis countries were interned, but exact numbers are unknown.

Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson was responsible for assisting relocated people with transport, food, shelter, and other accommodations.


FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover opposed the internment, not on constitutional grounds, but because he believed that the most likely spies had already been arrested by the FBI shortly after the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. First lady Eleanor Roosevelt was also opposed to Executive Order 9066. She spoke privately many times with her husband, but was unsuccessful in convincing him not to sign it

 197 – Roman Emperor Septimius Severus defeats usurper Clodius Albinus in the Battle of Lugdunum, the bloodiest battle between Roman armies.

1594 – Having already inherited the throne of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth through his mother Catherine Jagellonica of Poland, Sigismund III of the House of Vasa is crowned King of Sweden, succeeding his father John III of Sweden.

1600 – The Peruvian stratovolcano Huaynaputina explodes in the most violent eruption in the recorded history of South America.

1674 – England and the Netherlands sign the Treaty of Westminster, ending the Third Anglo-Dutch War. A provision of the agreement transfers the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam to England, and it is renamed New York.

1807 – In Alabama, Former Vice President of the United States Aaron Burr is arrested for treason and confined to Fort Stoddert.

1819 – British explorer William Smith discovers the South Shetland Islands, and claims them in the name of King George III.

1846 – In Austin, Texas the newly formed Texas state government is officially installed.

The Republic of Texas government officially transfers power to the State of Texas government following Texas’ annexation by the United States.

1847 – The first group of rescuers reaches the Donner Party.

1859 – Daniel E. Sickles, a New York Congressman, is acquitted of murder on grounds of temporary insanity. This is the 1st time this defense is successfully used in the United States.

1861 – Serfdom is abolished in Russia.

1878 – Thomas Edison patents the phonograph.

1884 – More than sixty tornadoes strike the Southern United States, one of the largest tornado outbreaks in U.S. history.

1915 – World War I: The first naval attack on the Dardanelles begins when a strong Anglo-French task force bombards Ottoman artillery along the coast of Gallipoli.

1921 – Reza Shah takes control of Tehran during a successful coup

1937 – During a public ceremony at the Viceregal Palace (the former Imperial residence) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, two Eritrean nationalists attempt to kill viceroy Rodolfo Graziani with a number of grenades.

1942 – World War II: nearly 250 Japanese warplanes attack the northern Australian city of Darwin killing 243 people.

1942 – World War II: President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the executive order 9066, allowing the United States military to relocate Japanese-Americans to Japanese internment camps.

1943 – World War II: Battle of the Kasserine Pass in Tunisia begins.

1945 – World War II: Battle of Iwo Jima – about 30,000 United States Marines land on the island of Iwo Jima.

1949 – Ezra Pound is awarded the first Bollingen Prize in poetry by the Bollingen Foundation and Yale University.

1953 – Censorship: Georgia approves the first literature censorship board in the United States.

1959 – The United Kingdom grants Cyprus independence, which is then formally proclaimed on August 16, 1960.

1986 – The Soviet Union launches its Mir spacecraft. Remaining in orbit for 15 years, it is occupied for 10 of those years.

1999 – President Bill Clinton issues a posthumous pardon for U.S. Army Lt. Henry Ossian Flipper.

2001 – The Oklahoma City bombing museum is dedicated at the Oklahoma City National Memorial.

2002 – NASA’s Mars Odyssey space probe begins to map the surface of Mars using its thermal emission imaging system.

2006 – A methane explosion in coal mine near Nueva Rosita, Mexico, kills 65 miners.

Holidays and observances

   * Birthday of Shivaji or Shivaji Jayanti (Maharashtra)

   * Chaoflux (Discordianism)

   * Christian Feast Day:

         o Barbatus of Benevento

         o Conrad of Piacenza

         o February 19 (Eastern Orthodox liturgics)

   * Flag Day, the birthday of the President Saparmurat Niyazov, established in 1997 (Turkmenistan)

   * Narconon Day (Church of Scientology)

   * The hanging of Bulgaria’s Apostle of Freedom Vassil Levski (Bulgaria)