Posts Tagged ‘World War II’

Comparing Two Controversial Executive Orders

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
George Santayana

Article 2, Section 1 of the Constitution requires that before U.S. presidents can assume their duties they are required to take the oath of office, affirming in part that they “will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. This post will review and compare two controversial presidential executive orders that were issued in the interest of national security, and that many believe violate various provisions and protections guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. Among these are the First Amendment rule barring the establishment of religion, the Fifth Amendment’s right to due process of law, and the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection.

1942: President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order #9066

On December 7, 1941, Japan launched a surprise attack on the U.S. Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. A total of 2,403 were killed, including 2,335 military personnel and 68 civilians. The United States entered World War II by declaring war on Japan the following day. A wave of anti-Japanese sentiment across the country was accompanied by widespread fear of a Japanese attack, especially on the vulnerable West Coast. On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which authorized the Secretary of War to declare certain areas of the United States military zones in order to prevent espionage and sabotage.

Residents of Japanese Ancestry Awaiting the Bus at the
Wartime Civil Control Station, San Francisco, Apr. 1942
By Dorothea Lange, U.S. War Relocation Authority via Library of Congress [public domain]

Within weeks, all persons of Japanese ancestry–whether citizens or enemy aliens, young or old, rich or poor–were ordered to assembly centers near their homes. Soon they were sent to permanent relocation centers outside the restricted military zones defined by the order. Around 120,000 people of Japanese descent, two-thirds of whom were native-born citizens of the United States, were forced into remote and desolate internment camps with armed guards and barbed wire for the duration of the war. There were 10 different sites across the country, including Tule Lake, California; Minidoka, Idaho; Manzanar, California; Topaz, Utah; Jerome, Arkansas; Heart Mountain, Wyoming; Poston, Arizona; Granada, Colorado; and Rohwer, Arkansas. Many lost their homes and businesses and were separated from loved ones for the duration of the war.

In 1942, 23-year-old Fred Korematsu, who was born in Oakland, California, to Japanese immigrants, refused to go to the government’s incarceration camps for Japanese Americans. After he was arrested and convicted of defying the government’s order, he appealed his case all the way to the Supreme Court, arguing that Congress, the President, and the military authorities did not have the power to issue the relocation orders and that he was being discriminated against based on his race. The government argued that the evacuation was necessary to protect the country. In Korematsu v. United States (1944), the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that the need to protect the country in time of war was a greater priority than the individual rights of Japanese immigrants and Japanese Americans. One of the three dissenting opinions, written by the lone Republican-appointed Justice Owen Roberts, stated that “I think the indisputable facts exhibit a clear violation of Constitutional rights.”

Protest Against Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban
By Fibonacci Blue from Minnesota, USA [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

2017: President Donald J. Trump ‘s Executive Order #13769

Skip to 75 years later. One week after taking office, on January 27, 2017, President Donald Trump issued Executive Order #13769, ordering a halt on immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries–Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Two days later, the president released a statement which read, “To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting. This is not about religion–this is about terror and keeping our country safe.” The order sparked immediate protests both across the country as well as internationally.

The next day, a federal judge in New York blocked part of the order. On March 6, Trump released a revised travel ban that excluded Iraq from the list of Muslim-majority countries whose citizens were temporarily blocked. A federal judge in Hawaii then issued a nationwide restraining order on the revised travel ban March 15, ruling that it still discriminated on the basis of nationality. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s ruling on May 25. The Trump administration then appealed to the Supreme Court, which will hear arguments on the travel ban order in October 2017. Stay tuned.

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“Old Enough to Fight, Old Enough to Vote.”

Many young people may not realize it wasn’t until 46 years ago that teenagers gained the right to vote. The voting age started to become a controversy during World War II when President Franklin D. Roosevelt lowered the minimum age for the military draft to 18. Many young people felt it was unfair to be required to fight in the war without the right to have a say in the policies of the nation through voting. The youth voting rights movement began with the slogan, “Old enough to fight, old enough to vote.”

From 1942 to 1971, Rudolph Jennings of West Virginia, as a congressman and later as a senator, brought 11 pieces of legislation to Congress to lower the voting age to 18 but was unsuccessful. Only a handful of states lowered the voting below 21 and only Georgia and Kentucky allowed voting at age 18.

The 1960s brought the issue to a head at a time when young people were at the center of civic involvement. They often participated in marches, sit-ins, and other forms of protest on civil rights issues for blacks, women, and to end the war in Vietnam. Again a war was the impetus to fuel the movement.

On June 22, 1970, Congress voted to extend the Voting Rights Act to apply to age and allow voting at age 18. After challenges to the law and a ruling at the Supreme Court in Oregon v. Mitchell that Congress could only regulate the age in federal elections not State or local, support swelled for an amendment that would set a uniform voting age of 18 in all elections.

On March 10, 1971, the U.S. Senate unanimously voted in favor of the 26th Amendment and it went to the states for ratification. On June 30, 1971, the amendment was considered officially ratified. On July 5, 2017 the 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was certified and signed into law by President Richard Nixon.

The youth turnout was 55.4% in 1972 but then declined over the years reaching 36% in the 1988 election. The tide dramatically turned in the 2008 election of Barack Obama with a youth vote turnout of 49% which is the second highest in history.

The Current Debate

The current controversy with voting age is a call to reduce the age further to 16. As young people have access to more information than ever before, many teens and youth advocates are calling for lowering the voting age. Some countries, such as Austria and Nicaragua, have reduced their minimum voting age to 16.

Proponents say a lower voting age would focus attention on issues of particular interest to young adults. But some say younger teens are still learning about the democratic process and may not yet know how to be responsible citizens. These critics argue that, at 16, children are too immature to vote.

Educators, find the latest coverage of this issue in the SIRS Issues Researcher Leading Issue: Voting Age and in the eLibrary Research Topic: Voting Age.

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75th Anniversary of Executive Order 9066

Executive Order 9066

Executive Order 9066 Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

On December 7, 1941, the Japanese military conducted a bombing raid on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. In the wake of that attack, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, on February 19, 1942, signed a document that would itself live in infamy and have lasting consequences for Japanese Americans. Executive Order 9066 authorized the Secretary of War to prescribe “military areas” which would confine persons who were restricted from living in or traveling to coastal areas, mainly the West Coast of the United States. As a result of the Order, the Western Defense Command began the removal and detention of tens of thousands of residents of Japanese ancestry, mostly from California. (Anti-Asian prejudices had existed in California since the mid-1800s, beginning with Chinese immigrants. Anti-Japanese movements became widespread in California around 1900.) Within six months after FDR signed the Order, some 122,000 men, women and children were involuntarily taken to assembly areas. They were then moved to and confined in relocation centers, or, internment camps, that were isolated, fenced-in behind barbed wire and under military guard.

Japanese-American Internment

Japanese-American Internment Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Franklin D. Roosevelt Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary










Entire communities of Japanese Americans were uprooted. The U.S. government made no official charges against them, nor could they appeal their relocation and incarceration. Most of those relocated were American citizens. All lost their personal liberties; many lost their homes and personal property. There were ten relocation centers in remote areas in six western states and Arkansas: Heart Mountain, Wyoming; Tule Lake and Manzanar in California; Topaz in Utah; Poston and Gila River in Arizona; Granada in Colorado; Minidoka in Idaho, and Jerome and Rowher in Arkansas. For the next two-and-a-half years, Japanese Americans endured extremely difficult living conditions and poor treatment. Several prisoners used the legal system to challenge the government’s actions. Fred Korematsu, a U.S. citizen of Japanese descent, refused to go to an internment camp and was arrested, tried and convicted in federal court. He challenged FDR’s executive order, and the case went to the U.S. Supreme Court, where the Justices upheld Korematsu’s conviction on the grounds of military necessity.

Grave of Fred Korematsu

Grave of Fred Korematsu [Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons]

These Japanese Americans were not allowed to return to their homes until January 2, 1945. In an ironic twist of history, during the course of World War II, only ten Americans were convicted of spying for Japan, and not one of them was of Japanese ancestry. In 1988, calling the internment of Japanese Americans “a grave wrong,” President Ronald Reagan signed a bill authorizing that each surviving internee receive a check for $20,000 along with an official apology from the United States government.

You can find out more about this important topic in U.S. history by searching eLibrary. Here are just a few related resources:

German- and Italian-American Internment (Research Topic)

Japanese American Internment (Reference Book)

Japanese Canadian Internment (Research Topic)

Racism (Research Topic)

December 7, 1941: Infamy at Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

Pearl Harbor Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

“Yesterday, December 7, 1941–a date which will live in infamy–the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the empire of Japan.”

With those words, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked for a declaration of war against Japan.  Seventy-five years ago tomorrow Japan attacked the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor in the Hawaii Territory.  The surprising assault came in the early hours of a tranquil Sunday morning, and it hastened the United States’ entry into World War II.  Over 2,400 servicemen and civilians lost their lives that day.  For the Greatest Generation, Pearl Harbor was their September 11th.

The attack at Pearl Harbor was a pivotal moment in American history.  Until December 7, 1941, the United States’ policy regarding World War II was one of isolation.  The provocation by the Japanese that day transformed America from the once fourteenth-ranked military power to the world’s leading superpower.  It moved the United States to be more involved on the world stage.

Very few, if any, American military and government leaders thought Pearl Harbor would ever be attacked.  It was believed to be “the strongest fortress in the world” and too far from Japan.  The Philippines was a more likely target.  Two waves of Japanese Zero fighters, more than 350 in total, launched from six aircraft carriers within 300 miles of the Hawaiian islands took aim at Battleship Row and Hickam Airfield where over 300 American warbirds stood tip to tip.  Japan’s goal was to prevent the United States from hindering its military actions in Southeast Asia by neutralizing the U.S. Pacific Fleet.  In just 90 minutes, Japan devastated the American forces at Pearl Harbor.  The attack was a great tactical victory for the Japanese.

The numbers were staggering: 2,403 lives lost, 1,178 wounded, five battleships sunk and almost 200 planes destroyed.  The sight of the sunken USS Arizona remains one of the most iconic images of that day.  To this day, 1,177 men lie at rest in her remains on the harbor floor.

Department of the Navy [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons

Wreckage of the USS Arizona [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons

The numbers of World War II veterans dwindle each day and their personal accounts go with them.  To read their stories and learn more about the attack at Pearl Harbor, search eLibrary and its vast resources of timely newspapers, magazine articles and primary source materials.

Related Research Topics

World War II

Japan in World War II

U.S. Navy


70th Anniversary of the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial

Nuremberg Trials (1945-1949)

Nuremberg Trials Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

It is almost Thanksgiving, so it’s a good time to be thankful that we don’t have to deal with Nazis. Seventy years ago this Friday (November 20, 1945) marked the beginning of “the greatest trial in history.” The Nuremberg Trials were a series of military tribunals held in Germany by the Allies (U.S., Soviet Union, England and France) after a hard-won World War II. The best-known of the Nuremberg trials was the Trial of Major War Criminals, held from November 20, 1945, to October 1, 1946. Conducted by the International Military Tribunal, Allied prosecutors sought indictments against 24 high-ranking political and military leaders of the Third Reich who planned, carried out, or otherwise participated in the Holocaust and other war crimes. Missing the festivities were Adolf Hitler, Heinrich Himmler, and Joseph Goebbels, all of whom had committed suicide in the spring of 1945.

Holocaust Research Topic

Holocaust Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

Hermann Goring Research Topic

Herman Goering Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary










By the end of the first and most famous trial, the Tribunal found all but three of the defendants guilty. Twelve were sentenced to death, and the rest were given prison sentences ranging from 10 years to life in prison. The death sentences were carried out October 16, 1946, by hanging. Hermann Goering, Hitler’s designated successor, committed suicide the night before his execution with a cyanide capsule. The Nuremberg Trials are now regarded as a milestone toward the establishment of a permanent International Criminal Court, and it set an important precedent for handling future instances of genocide and other crimes against humanity.

On a lighter note, you can enjoy, either on DVD or Blu-ray, the fine 1961 film “Judgment at Nuremberg,” starring Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Marlene Dietrich, Judy Garland, Maximilian Schell and Montgomery Clift, among others. It was directed by Stanley Kramer and has been selected for preservation in the United States Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

Educators and librarians can use eLibrary resources, as well as the 1961 film, to enhance classroom discussions about this important end-of-World War II topic.


Hitler and the Nazis: A History in Documents (Book)

ProQuest Research Topics

The Reader’s Companion to American History (Reference Book)

World War II (Magazine)

World War II: A Student Companion (Book)


Hiroshima and Nagasaki: 70 Years Since the Atomic Bomb

August 6, 1945 and August 9, 1945 saw the only times a nuclear weapon has been used during war.  It was on these dates the United States dropped the atomic bomb on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki respectively.  The mass destruction killed nearly 138,000 Japanese men, women and children in Hiroshima and 74,000 in Nagasaki, but the death toll would continue to rise in later years as the effects of radiation became known.  Hiroshima and Nagasaki lay in ruins and World War II with Japan effectively ended.

Destruction of Hiroshima After the Dropping of the Atomic Bomb

Hiroshima After the Atomic Bomb [Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons]

A military base and city of 343,000, Hiroshima was the primary atomic bomb target.  The bomb was dropped by the Enola Gay around 8:15 a.m.  What followed was “a blinding flash in the sky, and a great rush of air.”  Within two minutes 60 percent of the city was destroyed.  Radio in Tokyo described the scene as one of ruins and with so many dead there would be no way to count all of them.

Atomic Cloud Over Nagasaki

Atomic Cloud Over Nagasaki [Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons]

Nagasaki was an industrial port city and had a population of approximately 258,000.  It became the second city ravaged by nuclear warfare when the atomic bomb was dropped at 11:00 a.m. on August 9.  The scene was described in colorful terms as a flash of “bluish-green light” and “pillar of purple fire.”  Nearly 74,000 were killed and the same number injured.

The reason for using the bomb, according to President Truman, was to end the war with Japan swiftly and more importantly to save the lives of American service members.  While that argument has been debated, the impact of the bomb did lead to the Japanese surrender on August 15.

The Academy Awards: A Most Biographical Year

Academy Awards

Academy Awards Research Topic [Screencap via eLibrary]

It’s that time of year: awards season. The Golden Globe Awards have been presented recently and the Academy Awards, the 87th to be exact, will be given on February 22. Cinephiles will gather round televisions to root for their favorite movies and actors just as Patriots and Seahawks fans did two days ago. The Oscars are Hollywood’s “Super Bowl.”

The race for Best Picture this year is particularly noteworthy. Of the eight nominees, four are biographical—two Americans fighting for country in different ways and two British scientists making strides and becoming leaders in their fields.

The movie Selma stars David Oyelowo as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and focuses on his leadership during the Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches in 1965.  These marches helped lead to the passage of the Voting Rights Act.  Signed into law by President Johnson on August 6, 1965, the Act barred racial discrimination in voting.

American Sniper is the story of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, the most productive military sniper in US history with 160 confirmed kills. Bradley Cooper portrays Kyle who served four tours of duty in the Iraq War.  Sadly, Chris Kyle was shot and killed in 2013 by a veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder whom he was helping.

Stephen Hawking is widely known for his work in cosmology.  In The Theory of Everything, Eddie Redmayne depicts Stephen Hawking’s romance, marriage and life with his first wife Jane as well as his education and work in astrophysics. All the while, he struggles with onset of motor neuron disease (Lou Gehrig’s Disease, ALS) which he continues to battle to this day.

Alan Turing may be the least known of those whose stories have been put to screen this year.  Benedict Cumberbatch stars in The Imitation Game as the man who would become known as the Father of Computer Science. Turing’s work at Bletchley Park breaking the German Enigma code during World War II helped save countless Allied lives and was influential in the development of modern computer science.

To learn more about these remarkable men, look no further than eLibrary.  A great jumping off point for your research is Research Topics.  You can easily find these by clicking on Find your Research Topic here on the Basic Search page.

Research Topics


The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis

The only thing about a shark is he’s got lifeless eyes, black eyes like a doll’s eyes. When he comes at you, he doesn’t seem to be living until he bites you. Then those black eyes roll over white, and then you hear that terrible, high-pitch screaming. The ocean turns red and in spite of the pounding and the hollering, they all come in and they rip you to pieces.” This monologue from the 1975 movie Jaws was the first many Americans ever heard about the horrible ordeal endured by the crew of the USS Indianapolis near the end of World War II.

uss indianapolis underway in 1939

USS Indianapolis by U.S. Navy photo 80-G-425615 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Early on July 30, 1945, the ship was on its way to Leyte in the Philippines from Tinian after delivering components for the atomic bomb that would later be dropped on Hiroshima. It was hit by two torpedoes from a Japanese submarine. The ship sank quickly, taking a quarter of the crew with it, and nearly 900 men went into the sea. Because of Navy errors, the ship was not known to be missing, so for more than four days, the men floated in the water, suffering hypothermia, madness from drinking salt water and shark attacks. By the time they were accidentally discovered, nearly two-thirds were gone. Ultimately, 317 survived.

The Indianapolis’ captain, Charles McVay, was later court-martialed and demoted for failing to take evasive maneuvers, and in 1968 he committed suicide. His crew lobbied for years to clear his name, but it took a high-school student’s history project to get the job done. Hunter Scott dug up numerous pieces of evidence pointing to McVay’s innocence, and he doggedly pursued justice for the captain. An astrophysicist, using precise calculations, even agreed with the sub’s commander (who had testified in McVay’s trial) that the ship was doomed because the light of the moon made the ship easily visible.

To find information on the USS Indianapolis and related topics, follow the links above and below to see some of the great resources in eLibrary. Remember that you can use basic and advanced searching and browse subject headings to discover articles, photos, websites and more. Also, look for our Research Topics pages to give you a quick start on your research. They are returned with regular results when there is a close correlation to your search terms.

Research Topics: USS Indianapolis, U.S. Navy, Shark Attacks, World War II

Subject browse sections (Click on underlined words to widen or narrow the scope and click on “View Results” to see eLibrary resources. Items with stars next to them will display Research Topic pages.): World War II, Pacific and Asian Theater, Military History, Armed Forces History


Remembering Pearl Harbor

Tracking the Japanese Attack

Tracking the Japanese Attack, 1941

Saturday, December 7 will mark the 72nd anniversary of the Japanese attack on the American naval base at Pearl Harbor. In honor of this solemn occasion, here are five interesting facts—plucked directly from the extensive resources of eLibrary—that can help provide historical context and promote general knowledge about that fateful day.

  1. Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, the principal architect of the attack, had initially wished to avoid hostilities with the United States. However, when the political climate in Japan made war with America inevitable, Yamamoto insisted on a lightning-fast strike against the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, believing it the best way to neutralize the U.S. and ensure Japan a free hand in the Pacific.
  2. The attack consisted of two waves of bombing aircraft and utilized over 350 planes. It began at around 7:50am on Sunday December 7 and lasted for 110 minutes.
  3. Kazuo Sakamaki became the first Japanese prisoner of war captured by the United States after his submarine, HA-19, was seized. After the war, he was denounced by many Japanese who felt he should have committed suicide rather than allow himself to be taken prisoner.
  4. The attack took place before any formal declaration of war had been issued by Japan—but this was not Admiral Yamamoto’s intention. He originally stipulated that the attack should not commence until thirty minutes after Japan had informed the United States that peace negotiations were at an end. In fact, Tokyo had transmitted the information in a 12-part, 5,000-word notification to the Japanese Embassy in Washington, but transcribing the message took too long for the Japanese ambassador to deliver it in time.
  5. When Japanese airman Shigenori Nishikaichi crash-landed on the island of Niihau, he was relieved of his pistol, maps and other documents by a native Hawaiian. Nishikaichi subsequently enlisted the support of three Japanese-American residents in an attempt to recover the items. During ensuing struggles, Nishikaichi was killed and a Hawaiian civilian was wounded. The apparent ease with which the local ethnic Japanese residents went to the assistance of Nishikaichi became a source of concern for many, fueling the sentiment that local Japanese could not be trusted.

For an overview of this event, check out eLibrary’s Research Topic on Pearl Harbor.

Pearl Harbor Research Topic

This Day in History: Anne Frank Receives a Diary, 1942

"Anne Frank." Photo credit: TEDxNJLibraries / Foter / CC BY

“Anne Frank.” Photo credit: TEDxNJLibraries / Foter / CC BY

Anne Frank was born June 12, 1929 in Frankfurt, Germany. She died in the German concentration camp, Bergen-Belsen in 1945. Through her diary that she kept from age 13 until August 1, 1944 (age 15), Anne expressed her innermost feelings and her perceptions of the world around her during the Nazi regime. This diary, which was later published by her father Otto Frank after World War II ended, is known by the title, “The Diary of a Young Girl.” SIRS Discoverer brings Anne Frank’s life and the lives of those who knew her to the forefront through historical photographs, websites (including Anne Frank the Writer), newspaper articles, magazine features and reference books, making her story accessible to children and teens. Otto Frank was the only member of his immediate family who survived the Holocaust. Anne and her sister Margot died from Typhus, and their mother Edith died from starvation in the Auschwitz concentration camp. While Anne’s life was short-lived, her father’s perseverance in getting her diary published has given people around the world the ability to see the Holocaust, and life before it, through the eyes of a young girl.