Santa Cruz County History - Executive Order 9066 and the Residents of Santa Cruz County

Executive Order 9066 and the Residents of Santa Cruz County: Introduction
by Rechs Ann Pedersen


"...the successful prosecution of the war requires every possible protection against espionage and against sabotage.." (Executive Order 9066)

"This is no time for expansive discourses on protection of civil liberties for Japanese residents of the Pacific coast, whether they be American citizens or aliens." Editorial. (S.C. Sentinel-News. February 19, 1942 [M] p.1.)

"He pointed out that the Japanese race is completely unassimilable with the white race and that this nation would be better off without them." Editorial. (Riptide. April 3, 1942 p.2)

"Remember also -- persecute these people for the accident of birth -- establish a precedent and the cold heavy hand of persecution and intolerance may one day rest on your shoulder because your name is Smith or Jones -- or because you are Protestant or Catholic or Jew -- white or Negro -- and the persecutors will use this incident as a precedent." Letter to the Editor by John L. McCarthy. (Watsonville Register-Pajaronian, March 9, 1943. p.6)

By noon April 30th 1942, "no person of Japanese ancestry remained in Santa Cruz County for the first time in more than half a century..." (Watsonville Register-Pajaronian. 4/30/1942 p.1)

Photo of the Watsonville Boy Scout Troop
Watsonville Boy Scout Troop 87, 1933.
Photography Courtesy of Bill Tao.

It happened here, too

On February 19, 1942, a little more than two months after the United States entered World War II, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. It authorized the Secretary of War, or his designate, to define military areas and to exclude from them citizens and aliens alike. By the authority of Executive Order 9066, General John L. DeWitt, Western Defense Commander, created Military Area no. 1 and excluded from it all persons of Japanese ancestry. Santa Cruz County was part of Military Area no. 1. All Japanese and Japanese-American residents of the County either moved out or were evacuated and imprisoned in relocation centers. "All this was done despite the fact that not a single documented act of espionage, sabotage or fifth column activity was committed by an American citizen of Japanese ancestry or by a resident Japanese alien on the West Coast." 1 Without criminal charges or trials of any kind, these individuals were denied their Constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property.

Part of the local story

By using quotations and full-text articles from contemporary local newspapers, these Web pages begin to show what happened to Santa Cruz County Japanese, Japanese-Americans, and Italians because of Executive Order 9066. These Web pages aim to contribute to their story, outlining events and revealing attitudes and prejudices.

More information

However, these Web pages are based on newspaper accounts and as such are incomplete in themselves. They leave out personal experiences and only lightly touch on the broader legal issues. Articles on our site help to round out the picture. (See the list on Local History: World War II.) Personal accounts, descriptions of life in the camps, and discussions of the fundamental legal issues may be found in books and media available at the Santa Cruz Public Libraries (and other public libraries around the country). To find S.C.P.L books and videos on the Japanese Americans in World War II, use the links to the Library Catalog at the end of each article.

About this Project

In 1997 the Library hosted the traveling Smithsonian exhibition called, "A More Perfect Union". This exhibition dealt with the constitution issues of the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. The focus of the exhibition was nationwide. Using contemporary local newspapers as the source, the Library decided to add information on the local impact of Executive Order 9066 to its Website.

Volunteers from the Friends of the Santa Cruz Public Libraries and Library reference staff scanned microfilm backfiles of the Santa Cruz Sentinel-News (12/1941-1945), Riptide (1941-1945), Morning Sun (12/1941), and Watsonville Register-Pajaronian (1942--1945). They printed off articles related to the internment. Out of the stacks of printed articles, the Internet Librarian (Rechs Ann Pedersen) edited the selections and wrote the articles. The full text of selected articles were transcribed by volunteers and staff.

A common reaction for all of us working with the newspapers was, "I didn't know that." Helping to dispel that ignorance was the major purpose of this project.

>>Continue with Citizenship and Loyalty.


  1. U.S. Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians. Personal Justice Denied. Civil Liberties Education Fund and University of Washington Press, 1997. p.3.

Copyright 2001 Santa Cruz Public Libraries

View similarly tagged articles:

internment camps, Japanese Americans, racism


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