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14 January

Proclamation No. 2537


The First Steps Toward Japanese-American Internment

Internment Letter

Internment Letter flickr user dbking

On this day in 1942 President Roosevelt issued Proclamation No. 2537 which required that Americans from Germany, Italy or Japan must register with the Department of Defense.  Additional proclamations were to follow.  They expanded the original requirements to include all persons of Japanese ancestry, even American-born citizens.  They also froze their assets and set up “exclusion zones” that those registered could not enter.  All this despite the fact that a 1941 federal report requested by Roosevelt indicated that more than 90 percent of Japanese Americans were considered loyal citizens.  Proclamation No. 2537 permitted the arrest, detention and internment of enemy aliens who violated restricted areas, such as ports, water treatment plants or even areas prone to brush fires, for the duration of the war.

Just one month later a Roosevelt reluctantly signed Executive Order 9066, which sent many Japanese-American families into internment camps.  On December 29, 1945 Proclamation 2537 was revoked, by Harry Truman, with Proclamation 2678.