The Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park will present an author talk with Greg Robinson on Sunday, July 23 at 2 p.m. to discuss his book, By Order of the President: FDR and the Internment of Japanese Americans. Professor Robinson, a native New Yorker, is professor of History at l’Université du Québec à Montréal. He will discuss the conflict between Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt over the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. She opposed internment and tried to stop her husband from issuing Executive Order 9066.
Concerned about the potential hysteria against people of Japanese ancestry, Eleanor visited Japanese American communities, posed for pictures with residents and praised their patriotism. But when she discussed the issue with FDR, he rebuffed her. After the order was signed, Eleanor did not speak out publicly, opting instead to work quietly behind the scenes. But many in the Japanese American community knew of her sympathies, including her support for allowing students to leave the government camps to attend college and initiatives to permit people to leave with work releases. When Congressional critics charged that Japanese Americans in the camps were being “coddled,” she helped push FDR to have them tone down their criticism.
Eleanor visited the Gila River relocation camp in Arizona in April of 1943. She was impressed by the character and perseverance of the individuals she encountered there. In a report to the president, she urged him to relax his Executive Order and allow people to return to their homes. It would not be until January 1945, however, before the order was rescinded.
After the program in the Henry A. Wallace Center at the FDR Presidential Library and Home, attendees will be invited to view the new exhibit, “Images of Internment.” free of charge. The event is open to the public, but registration is required.