|Gov. Earl Warren|
Exerpts from "The Unacknowledged Lesson: Earl Warren and the Japanese Relocation Controversy"
Essay by G. Edward White
Published in the Virginia Quarterly Review, Autumn 1979
President Franklin Roosevelt signed the executive order creating the relocation centers, but the principal architects of the relocation program were John J. McCloy, assistant secretary of war, and three U. S. Army officers, Major General Alien W. Gullion, Lieutenant General John L. DeWitt, and Colonel Karl R. Bendesten. In developing the relocation policy these men had the full cooperation and support of Earl Warren, who held the positions of attorney general and governor of California during the Second World War.
In 1971 Earl Warren , having retired as chief justice of the Supreme Court two years earlier, began writing his memoirs. I was a law clerk to Warren at the time, and he asked for my reactions to drafts of the memoirs as they were prepared. Warren's memoirs, anonymously edited, eventually were published in 1977, three years after his death. For the most part, they were the conventional reminiscences of a public figure. Warren revealed almost no information that was not already available, and in some instances, such as his account of the Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education, the famous 1954 case invalidating racial segregation in the public schools, he gave a less than full description of events.
One episode of Warren's career, however, received significant, although sparse, attention in his memoirs—the Japanese relocation decision. Warren said that he had "since deeply regretted the removal order and my own testimony advocating it, because it was not in keeping with our American concept of freedom and the rights of citizens." He then articulated his guilt feelings in terms that, for a father of six and a devoted family man, were vividly personal: "Whenever I thought of the innocent little children who were torn from home, school friends, and congenial surroundings, I was conscience stricken." On reflection, Warren believed that "[i]t was wrong to react so impulsively, without positive evidence of disloyalty. . . ."