We Hereby Refuse

In this interactive timeline you will find documentation to dig deeper into the events depicted in the graphic novel, WE HEREBY REFUSE. Click on each story bubble to pop up text, images, and documents.

Use the scroll button on your mouse to advance the timeline. The time span begins with the US entry into WW2 and continues through 1947, with a few events out to 1981. Behind the "Find out more" buttons are key backgrounders and documents.

1941-12-08 00:00:00

Jim Akutsu at school

Hajime Jim Akutsu is born in Seattle on January 25, 1920. By 1941 he is studying civil engineering at the University of Washington, while his family operates the New Golden Shoe Repair Shop at 422 Sixth Avenue S. and S. King St. They have just purchased new shoe repair machinery for the shop shortly before the outbreak of war. The site is now part of the extension of Hing Hay Park. Click "Find out more" to read Jim’s full biography at Resisters.com.

1941-12-08 00:00:00

Hiroshi Kashiwagi on the farm

Hiroshi Kashiwagi is born in Sacramento on November 8, 1922. In 1941 he is helping his family sharecrop on a fruit ranch in Penryn, outside Sacramento. Hiroshi's father suffers from tuberculosis, and keeps his distance from his family by sleeping in a canvas tent away from the farmhouse. Click "For more information" for Hiroshi’s full biography in the Densho Encyclopedia.

1941-12-08 00:00:00

Mitsuye Endo at work

Mitsuye Endo is born in Sacramento on May 10, 1920. In 1941 she works as a key punch operator for the California State Department of Employment. Click "Find out more" for her full biography in the Densho Encyclopedia.

1941-12-08 21:52:44

JACL professes loyalty and informs on Issei leadership

In Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, JACL chapters and regional councils form defense committees in reaction to the attack on Pearl Harbor and proudly proclaim how they are acting as informants for the FBI. In Los Angeles, the Southern District Council of the JACL forms the Anti-Axis Committee. In Seattle and San Francisco, they are called Emergency Defense Councils. Click "Find out more" for texts of statements from National JACL and these defense committees, as reported in a 1990 internal JACL investigation commonly known as “The Lim Report.”

1941-12-08 22:32:02

Baseless claims of Japanese American espionage and sabotage

In the days after the Japanese attack, U.S. Navy Secretary Frank Knox spends 36 hours at Pearl Harbor and claims without evidence that Japanese Americans in Hawai'i helped sabotage the Island's defenses. In California, state Attorney General Earl Warren citse the very absence of Japanese fifth column activity on the West Coast as evidence of secret plans for another attack. Click "Find out more" for the Densho Encyclopedia entry on false claims of Fifth Column activity by Japanese Americans.

1942-01-08 21:52:44

Mike Masaoka proposes a Nisei suicide battalion

In an effort to counter cries for the mass removal of Japanese Americans, newly-appointed JACL field executive Mike Masaoka proposed creation of a volunteer Nisei suicide battalion “to spearhead the most dangerous missions,” with their families and friends held by the government as hostages. Click "Find out more" for the JACL’s 1990 internal investigation into this and other wartime JACL activities, commonly known as “The Lim Report.”

1942-01-30 07:33:14

DeWitt and Bendetsen plan mass expulsion

"Public sentiment is beginning to become irrestible," said Col. Karl Bendetsen in a telephone conversation on this date with Lt. Gen. John DeWitt of the Western Defense Command. The two developed the final plan for mass expulsion authorized on Feb. 19 by the President. This transcript can be found in "The Decision to Relocate the Japanese Americans" by Roger Daniels (Lippincott, 1975). A direct quote is used on page 13 of the graphic novel. Click "Find out more" for the story of the Western Defense Command.

1942-02-19 21:52:44

President authorizes mass exclusion based on race

President Roosevelt authorizes his Secretary of War to prescribe military areas from which any or all persons can be excluded, with “transportation, food, shelter, and other accommodations” provided. Others are allowed to remain. Nowhere does the order specify Japanese Americans, but the meaning is clear. Click “Find out more” for the Densho Encyclopedia entry on Executive Order 9066.

1942-02-21 00:00:00

Akutsu father arrested by FBI

Kiyonosuke Akutsu is among 103 Issei men arrested in a second sweep of community leaders, evidently fingered by a confidential informant. Among the items seized from the family home at 311 Tenth Avenue near Alder Street is a copy of a Japanese-language magazine, “Sokoku,” published by a group on the FBI’s list of potential subversives. Click "Find out more" to download the FBI arrest report.

1942-02-22 21:52:44

James Sakamoto envisions "model cities" for the expulsion

The House Select Committee Investigating National Defense Migration, commonly known as the "Tolan Committee," came to Seattle for hearings on the 4th floor of the County-City Building, what is now the King County Courthouse. Seattle JACL president James Sakamoto outlined his vision of Japanese Americans creating their own self-governing "model cities" in Central Washington, away from the coast. He expanded upon this idea in a letter in which he envisioned the people building irrigation ditches for farms and sewing uniforms in factories. Click "Find out more" for the Densho Encyclopedia entry on James Sakamoto.

1942-02-28 13:06:23

Masaoka waives the right to protest expulsion

A week after the President authorizes the mass removal of Japanese Americans from the West Coast, JACL spokesman Mike Masaoka undermines any possibility of mass protest with public statements framing cooperation with expulsion as a patriotic contribution to the war effort. "Why jeopardize our people by insisting on staying, or even by pursuing our legal rights to contest evacuation?," he says. "We want them to go protesting but one thing – their patriotism to the flag of the United States." Click "Find out more" to read his full comments as reported nationwide by the Associated Press.

1942-03-08 06:04:20

JACL pledges cooperation with forced removal

At an emergency meeting of the JACL National Board and National Council in San Francisco, the organization adopts resolutions to cooperate with forced removal "as a matter of military necessity and not a reflection on their loyalty.” Click "Find out more" to read "The Lim Report" discussion of the JACL's decision to cooperate with forced removal.

1942-03-19 04:07:08

Akutsu father taken to DOJ internment camp

One month after their arrest, 150 Issei men, including the fathers of Jim and Gene Akutsu and future novelist John Okada, were marched a long block from the Immigration Detention Station to King Street Station, where they were put on a train bound for the Dept. of Justice alien internment camp at Fort Missoula, Montana. Note the outstretched arms of their wives and children from whom they were being separated, reaching through the iron bars to shout out their goodbyes in Japanese and English. Click “Find out more” for the Densho Encyclopedia article on Fort Missoula.

1942-03-24 09:35:23

Army posts Civilian Exclusion Orders

The President’s West Coast exclusion order became more real in March and April when the Army posted notices establishing 99 exclusion zones, outlined by street name, with dates by which to report to specified registration centers and details of what possessions could be brought. Click "Find out more" for the Densho Encyclopedia entry on civilian exclusion zones.

1942-03-30 04:54:23

WRA director recruits JACL as his advisory council

Two weeks after President Roosevelt directs him to set up a new War Relocation Authority, and knowing nothing about the Japanese American community, Milton Eisenhower meets with leaders of the JACL and establishes them as his advisory council to represent those affected by EO 9066. Eisenhower is especially taken by the brash young JACL field secretary, Mike Masaoka, and makes sure to consult with him on every major decision regarding Japanese Americans. Click "Find out more" for Eisenhower's memoir of his first days setting up the WRA.

1942-04-06 04:54:23

Masaoka advises Eisenhower on policy for WRA camps

One week after first meeting Milton Eisenhower, Mike Masaoka promptly provides him with an 18-page letter filled with JACL recommendations for running the WRA camps. The letter encourages Americanization and the drafting of Nisei from camp, and opposes the use or teaching of the Japanese language. Click "Find out more" for the Lim Report's discussion of Masaoka's letter of April 6, 1942.

1942-04-08 00:00:00

Endo receives termination letter

The California State Personnel Board sends letters dismissing Endo and 300 other Nisei from their civil service jobs, citing public distrust of persons of Japanese ancestry. Click "Find out more" to download the letter as a PDF.

1942-04-20 07:33:14

James Purcell represents state employees

Sixty-three of the fired state employees organize to hire an attorney to get back their jobs. As the highest-ranking among them, Sumio Miyamoto and Dave Okada write to San Francisco attorney James Purcell about representing them. Purcell meets with a group of them in Sacramento and agrees to represent the 63, including Endo, who each contribute a $10 retainer to a legal fund.

1942-05-01 09:35:23

Endo detained at Sacramento Assembly Center

Endo and her family are incarcerated at the Sacramento Assembly Center, a former migrant workers camp. Click "Find out more" for the Densho Encylopedia entry on the detention camp.

1942-06-13 13:17:01

Endo authorizes Purcell to sue government

While held in the Sacramento Assembly center, Endo writes to James Purcell to authorize him to procure a writ of habeas corpus “so that I may be released from my confinement.” Click "Find out more" to read her letter of June 13, 1942.

1942-06-20 09:35:23

Endo imprisoned at Tule Lake

The Endo family is moved from the Sacramento Assembly Center to the Tule Lake War Relocation Center. Shortly after their arrival, Purcell sends Mitsuye the petition for a writ of habeas corpus and asks her to sign and notarize it. The family is imprisoned at Tule Lake until September 22, 1943, when all are transferred to Topaz. Click "Find out more" to see Endo's letter to Purcell with her report on the physical confinement measures in camp.

1942-06-28 00:00:00

Kashiwagi imprisoned at Tule Lake

The Kashiwagi family is moved from the Marysville Assembly Center to the Tule Lake War Relocation Center, Block 40, Barrack 5-D. They remain there until the site is closed on March 7, 1946.

1942-07-12 00:00:00

Purcell files Endo's writ of habeas corpus

With Endo's signature, James Purcell files "Endo v. Eisenhower" in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. The petition asks the court to require WRA director Milton Eisenhower, as the person responsible for her detention, to show cause why Endo should not be released from incarceration. Click "Find out more" to download their six-page legal brief.

1942-07-20 00:00:00

Purcell argues before District Court

A week after filing the writ of habeas corpus, James Purcell appeared at the Federal Courthouse in San Francisco for what he thought would be a routine calendar-setting hearing. Instead, U.S. District Court Judge Michael Roche surprised Purcell by asking him to present his argument for Endo's petition for release. Click "Find out more" to download excerpts from Purcell's argument.

1942-08-17 00:00:00

Akutsu imprisoned at Minidoka

The Akutsu family is moved from the Puyallup Assembly Center to the Minidoka War Relocation Center, while the head of the family remains in the Justice Dept. alien internment camp at Fort Missoula, Montana. Jim is held at Minidoka until his arrest for draft evasion. Click "Find out more" for the Densho Encyclopedia entry on Minidoka.

1942-09-14 00:00:00

Selective Service reclassifies Nisei as enemy aliens

The Selective Service System adopts new regulations prohibiting Nisei men from joining the Army, and reclassifies all registered Nisei from I-A -- a citizen who is eligible to serve -- to IV-C, an enemy alien. Jim Akutsu and others regard this as notice the government is stripping them of their U.S. citizenship. Click "Find out more" for the Smithsonian Institution entry on Selective Service registration.

1942-12-06 21:52:44

The Manzanar Revolt

Manzanar delegate Fred Tayama was severely beaten upon his return from the JACL emergency meeting in Salt Lake City. Harry Ueno was arrested, and a crowd stormed the Manzanar Jail to demand his release. Click “Find out more” for a 1996 National Park Service Special History Study of the events of Dec. 6, drawn from internal WRA documents by Harlan D. Unrau.

1943-01-14 04:54:23

Masaoka urges segregation of "known agitators" and "troublemakers"

After the attack on JACL leaders at the Manzanar and Poston camps, Mike Masaoka urges the new director of the WRA, Dillon Myer, to segregate what he calls the "known agitators." Click "Find out more" for the section of the Lim Report documenting a series of letters from JACL urging segregation.

1943-01-23 18:37:33

Masaoka shuts down Civil Liberties League

JACL’s policy was to oppose test cases challenging the government. Mike Masaoka travelled to Minidoka to quash the emerging Civil Liberties League, a group of mostly Portland, Oregon residents collecting funds in support of Min Yasui’s curfew case. Click “Find out more” to read the Naval Intelligence report on the meeting.

1943-02-09 00:50:28

Army and WRA jointly distribute loyalty questionnaire

Having impugned the loyalty of incarcerees by locking them up, the Army needs some way to affirm the loyalty of volunteers for the service, and the WRA needs to clear Nisei for resettlement in the East and Midwest. A loyalty oath provides the bureaucracy with the perfect paper trail, but the demand for binary yes/no answers -- coming after nearly one year of mass removal and incarceration -- creates only confusion and division among those in camp. Click "Find out more" for the Densho Encylopedia entry.

1943-07-15 13:21:12

Tule Lake fortified as WRA Segregation Center

Tule Lake is designated as the WRA's Segregation Center, into which all those who refused to answer the loyalty questionnaire were transferred from other camps. Raymond Best is named project director. An eight-foot high double "man-proof" fence is erected, the six watchtowers are increased to 28, and a battalion of 800 military police with armored cars and tanks is stationed nearby. Click "Find out more" for the Densho Encyclopedia entry on Segregation.

1943-08-01 07:45:34

Kashiwagi refuses to register his loyalty on questionnaire

With no explanation how the government would use their answers to the loyalty questionnaire, Kashiwagi and 12,000 others refuse to answer or answer “no” under threat of 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. This creates an administrative class of people who on paper have to be categorized as NOT loyal when they refuse to answer the question, “Are you loyal?”

1943-09-23 00:00:00

Endo imprisoned at Topaz

The Endo family was held in Block 39, Barrack 9, Unit B. Mitsuye got a job in the administration office as secretary to relocation program officer Leah Dickinson. Their office manager took the clerical staff out for a memorable dinner at a "fancy hotel" in the nearby town of Delta.

1943-10-10 00:00:00

Endo declines govt offer to leave camp

The chief solicitor for the WRA, Phillip Glick, offers Endo the chance to leave camp ahead of others, a move that would end her habeas corpus case. In a letter to James Purcell, she makes her intention clear: “I am willing to go as far as I can on this case.” Click "Find out more" to download Endo's letter to Purcell.

1944-01-20 00:50:28

War Dept. reinstitutes draft for Nisei in camp

The reinstitution of compulsory military conscription in January 1944 for the Nisei in camp creates another division in camp -- between those who comply with their draft orders, and those who refuse to report for induction on principle. Click "Find out more" to read the announcement that Assistant Secretary of War John J. McCloy directed to be given first to the JACL newspaper, the "Pacific Citizen."

1944-02-20 22:22:53

Mothers Society petitions the President

100 Issei women at Minidoka sign a letter to President Roosevelt pleading for restoration of full citizenship rights for their precious sons before they’re sent off to the front to fight and die. Click "Find out more" to download the text of the two-page letter.

1944-03-01 02:50:40

Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee issues manifesto for draft resistance

At Heart Mountain, Wyoming, the Fair Play Committee steering committee posts a manifesto crossing the line from protest to resistance. Click "Find out more" to open the PBS website for the film "Conscience and the Constitution" with full documentation of the FPC story.

1944-03-04 22:22:53

Eleanor Roosevelt replies to Mothers Society

The Mothers Society sent their petition protesting the draft to President Roosevelt, the First Lady, the Attorney General, and others. Of those, only First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt replied, to the effect that fairness for their sons would have to wait until after the war. The reply noted that the First Lady dictated the letter but "had to leave before signing."

1944-06-12 00:00:00

63 Heart Mountain draft resisters stand trial

The federal trial opens in U.S. District Court in Cheyenne, Wyoming for the 63 men from Heart Mountain who refuse the draft until their rights are first restored and their families released from camp. Click "Fnd out more" for the "Conscience and the Constitution" webpage on the "Mass trial of 63."

1944-07-01 01:11:35

Congress offers Nisei a chance to voluntarily renounce their citizenship

In a compromise with lawmakers who want to strip the Nisei of U.S. citizenship, Attorney General Francis Biddle drafts the Denaturalization Act of 1944, which Congress passes and the President signs. For the first time, it allows American citizens to voluntarily renounce their citizenship during times of war. Click “Find out more” for the Densho Encyclopedia entry.

1944-07-20 00:00:00

Akutsu refuses induction and is taken to Boise jail

Jim Akutsu fails to report for his pre-induction physical and U.S. Marshals arrest him in his barrack. He is driven to the jail atop the Ada County Courthouse in Boise, where he joins his brother Gene who was himself arrested earlier.

1944-09-13 00:00:00

Akutsu put on trial for draft resistance

Jim Akutsu gets his day in court to argue that his incarceration violated the Constitution, but the jurors in his case are instructed to focus only on whether Jim had reported for induction. As he was warned, his trial is a kangaroo court where the same pool of jurors returns guilty verdicts in all 33 cases in rapid succession. Click "Find out more" to download the federal court record in the trial of Jim Akutsu.

1944-10-02 00:00:00

Akutsu faces sentencing for draft resistance

U.S. District Court Judge Chase Clark hands down a sentence for draft evasion of three years and three months, a term intended to keep the resisters locked up in a federal penitentiary past the expiration of the Selective Service Act of 1940. Click "Find out more" to download a copy of the sentencing form.

1944-10-06 00:00:00

Akutsu imprisoned at McNeil Island

Jim and Gene enter U.S. Prison McNeil Island, a federal penitentiary located an hour's drive south of Seattle. accessible only by a prison ferry boat. After 18 months in the Big House, they are transferred to an adjacent minimum-security Honor Farm.

1944-10-11 00:00:00

Purcell argues writ before Supreme Court

Endo’s attorney argues that while Congress authorized removal of Japanese Americans, it did not envision their continued detention. Once Mitsuye Endo was cleared as loyal, he maintains the government no longer had any right to hold her. Click "Find out more" for Peter Iron's description of the arguments before the Supreme Court in "Justice at War" (Oxford Univ. Press, 1983)

1944-12-01 02:33:31

Kashiwagi renounces his U.S. citizenship

In a powderkeg of anger, frustration, and isolation at Tule Lake, seven of every 10 Nisei voluntarily surrender their U.S. citizenship, including Hiroshi Kashiwagi. The 5,000 renunciants act under duress from the government and coercion from gangs the government knowingly allowed to run wild, with only rumor and misinformation to guide them. Click "Find out more" to read Kashiwagi's six-page 1955 affidavit for return of his citizenship, in which he describes the pressures that led him to renounce.

1944-12-17 15:02:47

Army lifts exclusion order, WRA orders closure of the camps

With the Supreme Court set to announce its decision in favor of Endo on a Monday, the Western Defense Command is ordered to proactively announce on the Sunday before that it will lift its West Coast exclusion order, effective on January 2, 1945. The WRA is also ordered to announce it will close all camps within one year. Click "Find out more" to download Public Proclamation No. 21, signed by the new head of the Western Defense Command, Major Gen. Henry Pratt.

1944-12-18 00:00:00

Endo wins at Supreme Court

The Supreme Court unanimously rules the WRA has no authority to detain loyal American citizens. The ruling avoids the question of the constitutionality of the mass exclusion and incarceration. When Endo receives a telegram from Purcell with the news, she and her friend Janet Masuda are "so happy that we actually danced around the room." Click "Find out more" for the Densho Encyclopedia entry on "ex parte Endo."

1945-05-24 00:00:00

Endo leaves Topaz for Chicago

Endo stays in camp for five months after her court victory to arrange for resettlement of her parents, then goes to live with the oldest of her sisters in Chicago. Chicago Mayor Edward Kelly offers her a job as office manager for his Committee on Race Relations, located in the Metropolitan Building at 134 N. LaSalle St., directly across from Chicago City Hall.

1946-02-23 07:33:14

JACLers consider deportation, ID cards for Tuleans

At the first postwar JACL convention held at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Denver, some delegates grumbled that JACL should go on record to demand the immediate deportation of Tule Lake segregees who failed to express loyalty, and that those Tuleans allowed to remain be required to carry special identification cards. Masaoka and others discourage these ideas as liable to backfire upon JACL. Click "Find out more" to see this scene described in "JACL: In Quest of Justice" by Bill Hosokawa (William Morrow, 1982).

We Hereby Refuse

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