Digital History>eXplorations>Japanese American Internment>The Decision to Intern>Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson

Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson,

To Representative Leland Ford, January 26, 1942

Dear Mr. Ford:

This will acknowledge receipt of your letter of January 16, 1942, proposing the evacuation of all Japanese from the pacific Coast and their internment inland in order to prevent fifth-column activity.
The internment of over a hundred thousand people, and their evacuation inland, presents a very real problem. While the necessity for firm measures to insure the maximum war effort cannot be questioned, the proposal suggested by you involves many complex considerations.

Responsibility and authority for the determination of the necessity for internment in continental United States has been delegated by the President to the Attorney General by proclamations dated December 7 and December 8, 1941….

To Attorney General Francis Biddle, January 25, 1942

In recent conferences with General De Witt, he has expressed great apprehension because of the presence on the pacific Coast of many thousand alien enemies. As late as yesterday, 24 January, he stated over the telephone that shore-to-ship and ship-to-shore radio communications, undoubtedly coordinated by intelligent enemy control were continually operating. A few days ago it was reported by military observers on the Pacific coast that not a single ship had sailed from our Pacific ports without being subsequently attacked. General De Witt’s apprehensions have been confirmed by recent visits of military observers from the War Department to the Pacific coast.

The alarming and dangerous situation just described, in my opinion, calls for immediate and stringent action.

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