Snow Falling on Cedars Historical Context

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The Internment of Japanese Americans

On December 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. This attack on an American military base sent waves of panic across the country and political pressure led President Franklin Roosevelt to sign Executive Order 9006 on February 19, 1942, forcing citizens of Japanese descent to report to internment camps. On March 31, Japanese Americans along the West Coast were given their instructions to report for registration. The time allowed for preparation ranged from two days to two weeks. During this time, people had to make arrangements for their belongings, which usually meant selling it all at a fraction of its value. Many people took advantage of the Japanese Americans in this situation, including the government. Almost 2,000 internees were told that their cars would be stored safely, but the army soon offered to buy them for less than they were worth. Those who...

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