Don’t Know Much About® Executive Order 9066

 Dorothea Lange In this 1942 Dorothea Lange photograph from the newly published “Impounded,” a family in Hayward, Calif., awaits an evacuation bus.


Dorothea Lange
In this 1942 Dorothea Lange photograph from the book “Impounded,” a family in Hayward, Calif., awaits an evacuation bus.

Franklin D. Roosevelt famously told Americans when he was inaugurated in 1933:

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself

But on February 19, 1942 –a little more than two months after the attack on Pearl Harbor– President Roosevelt allowed America’s fear to provoke him into an action regarded among his worst mistakes. He issued Executive Order 9066.

The result of this Executive Order was the policy of “relocating” some 120,000 Japanese Americans, and a smaller number of German and Italian Americans,  into “internment camps.”

I have written about the subject of the internment of the Japanese American population in the past. I relink these today, including this post on the birthday of Ansel Adams, who photographed the internment camp at Manzanar, and another on photojournalist Dorothea Lange, who also documented the period. Both of these posts include links to other resources on the history of “Internment.”

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Photo: (National Park Service, Jeffery Burton, photographer

 

Among these resources is a site devoted to the War Relocation Camps –a Teaching With Historic Places Lesson Plan from the National Park Service called “When Fear Was Stronger than Justice.”

 

Who Said It? (2/15/2015)

George Washington to Robert Morris (April 12 1786)

I hope that it will not be conceived from these observations, that it is my wish to hold the unhappy people who are the subject of this letter in slavery. I can only say that there is not a man living who wishes more sincerely than I do, to see a plan adopted for the abolition of it [slavery]–but there is only one proper and effectual mode by which it can be accomplished, & that is by Legislative authority;

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Pop Quiz: Which vice president was arrested for treason?

Answer: Aaron Burr

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On February 19, 1807, Burr was arrested in what is now Alabama.

Burr (1756-1836), the third vice president of the United States from 1801-1805 under President Thomas Jefferson, had famously killed political rival Alexander Hamilton in a duel in 1804. (He was never charged in that case.) He was arrested in what is now Alabama in 1807, accused of plotting to split the nation or planning to invade Spanish territories.
A few weeks before Burr was arrested, Thomas Jefferson had addressed Congress on the “Burr Conspiracy.”
 Burr was acquitted in what was then the “Trial of the Century.”
The complete story of Burr’s arrest, trial and life is the opening chapter in A NATION RISING.

A NATION RISING (Harper paperback/Random House Audio)

What day is it? Don’t Know Much About® George Washington

It’s that time of year. Time once again to explain that the upcoming national holiday is not “Presidents Day.”

Yes, I cannot tell a lie. The day we celebrate  on the third Monday in February is really called “George Washington’s Birthday.” Ask the National Archives.

Want to learn a little more?
Here is the website for the National Park Service’s Birthplace of Washington site.

And here is the National Park Service website for Fort Necessity, scene of Washington’s surrender and “confession.”

Teachers- A new round of classroom Skype visits

As the 150th anniversary of the final days of the Civil War approaches, I will once again offer a round of free, classroom visits via Skype. These sessions are conversations not lectures and I welcome student questions. They typically last 40 minutes to one hour.

To learn more about this offer and register for a possible visit, please visit the FOR TEACHERS page linked here.

Don't Know Much About the Civil War (Harper paperback, Random House Audio)

Don’t Know Much About the Civil War (Harper paperback, Random House Audio)

Abraham Lincoln (November 1863) Photo by Alexander Gardner

Abraham Lincoln (November 1863) Photo by Alexander Gardner

NEW BOOK IN STORES ON MAY 5, 2015

“A fascinating exploration of war and the myths of war. Kenneth C. Davis shows how interesting the truth can be.”

—Evan Thomas, New York Times-bestselling author of Sea of Thunder and John Paul Jones

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I am very excited to announce the publication of my new book, THE HIDDEN HISTORY OF AMERICA AT WAR: Untold Tales from Yorktown to Fallujah. A collection of  “war stories” about six important battles in American History that have been overlooked, forgotten or mythologized, the hardcover book and audio will be available on May 5 from Hachette Books and Random House Audio.

Going beyond strategy and tactics, winners, losers and casualty counts of traditional military accounts, these six stories reveal who has fought America’s wars and how America’s military has changed over more than two centuries –going from from the legendary “Minutemen” who fought 240 years ago at Lexington and Concord to the technologically advanced, global power America is today.  In these stories I also examine the human side of war, from the point of view of those who fight and those civilians who are often trapped in a combat zone.

To learn more about the book. see more advance praise, and preorder copies, please visit The Hidden History of America At War.

Don’t Know Much About® Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday

February 12 used to mean something special  — Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday. It was never a national holiday but it was pretty important when I was a kid and we got the day off from school in my  hometown.

The Uniform Holidays Act in 1971 changed that by creating Washington’s Birthday as a federal holiday on the third Monday in February. It is NOT officially “Presidents Day.”

But it is still a good excuse to talk about Abraham Lincoln, especially since his real birthday is on the calendar.c

“Honest Abe.” “The Railsplitter.” “The Great Emancipator.” You know some of the basics and the legends. But check out this video to learn some of things you may not know, but should, about the 16th President.

Here’s a link to the Lincoln Birthplace National Park

This link is to the Emancipation Proclamation page at the National Archives.

And you can read much more about Lincoln in Don’t Know Much About the American Presidents, Don’t Know Much About History and Don’t Know Much About the Civil War.

Don't Know Much About the Civil War (Harper paperback, Random House Audio)

Don’t Know Much About the Civil War (Harper paperback, Random House Audio)

Don't Know Much About® the American Presidents (Hyperion Paperback-April 15, 2014)

Don’t Know Much About® the American Presidents (Hyperion Paperback-April 15, 2014)

Abraham Lincoln (November 1863) Photo by Alexander Gardner

Abraham Lincoln (November 1863) Photo by Alexander Gardner

 

“In Depth” on Book TV with Kenneth C. Davis

On November 4, 2012, New York Times Bestselling author Kenneth C. Davis sat down for a comprehensive three-hour interview with C-Span’s Book TV.

The interview, which included questions from callers and via e-mail, covered Davis’ career as a writer spanning more than 20 years. In the interview, he discussed his approach to writing history in such books as Don’t Know Much About® History. He also described his background, growing up in Mt. Vernon, New York, how he became a writer, and his early work, including his first book, Two-Bit Culture: The Paperbacking of America, which discussed the rise of the paperback publishing industry and the impact of books on American society.

Davis also described the success of his “Don’t Know Much About®” series, with its emphasis on making history both accessible and entertaining while connecting the past to the present.

Watch the video here.

Pop Quiz: Which two Presidents not named Roosevelt were born in New York?

Answer: Millard Fillmore and Martin Van Buren

Martin Van Buren- 8th President of the United States (Photo Courtesy of Library of Congress)

Martin Van Buren- 8th President of the United States (Photo Courtesy of Library of Congress)

Van Buren was born on December  5, 1782 in Kinderhook, New York. His later home, Lindenwald, is a National Historic site. That makes the eighth president the first born an American citizen, even though Dutch was his first language.

Fillmore, the 13th President,was born in Summerhiill, New York on January 7, 1800. His later home is also a national historic site in East Aurora, New York.

Unlike the two Roosevelts, Theodore and Franklin, , Van Buren and Fillmore do not make anyone’s “Greatest Presidents list” –including mine.

Read more about both men in Don’t Know Much About the American Presidents.

DON'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT® THE AMERICAN PRESIDENTS (HYPERION PAPERBACK APRIL 15, 2014)

DON’T KNOW MUCH ABOUT® THE AMERICAN PRESIDENTS (HYPERION PAPERBACK APRIL 15, 2014)

Pop Quiz: Which Constitutional Amendment repealed another?

United States Constitution (Image Courtesy of the National Archives)

United States Constitution (Image Courtesy of the National Archives)

Answer: The 21st Amendment, ratified on December 5, 1933, repealed the 18th Amendment and with it the federal Prohibition of alcohol. (The Amendment gave the states extensive authority to regulate alcoholic beverages.)

Amendment XXI

Section 1.

The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.

Section 2.

The transportation or importation into any state, territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.

Section 3.

This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by conventions in the several states, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the states by the Congress.

Source: Legal Information Institute: Cornell University Law School

The 21st Amendment is unique among amendments because it was the only one that overturned an existing Amendment and the only one ratified by state ratifying conventions rather than state legislatures. These  statewide conventions were  specially elected for that purpose, according to Linda Monk in The Words We Live By. Adds Monk:

Approximately seventy-three percent of the twenty-one million citizens who voted in those elections supported the Twenty-first Amendment.” (The Words We Live By, page 248)

The 18th Amendment (Text) had taken effect on January 17, 1920  and the prohibition of alcohol was widely blamed for creating widespread corruption and organized crime, ultimately leading to its repeal.

An excellent history of the Prohibition period is Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition  by Daniel Okrent.

You can also read more about the Prohibition era in Don’t Know Much About History.

 

Don't Know Much About® History: Anniversary Edition (Harper Perennial and Random House Audio)

Don’t Know Much About® History: Anniversary Edition (Harper Perennial and Random House Audio)