A | More | Perfect | Union --  Japanese Americans and the U.S. Constitution
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During the opening months of World War II, almost 120,000 Japanese Americans, two-thirds of them citizens of the United States, were forced out of their homes and into detention camps established by the U.S. government. Many would spend the next three years living under armed guard, behind barbed wire. This exhibit explores this period when racial prejudice and fear upset the delicate balance between the rights of the citizen and the power of the state. It tells the story of Japanese Americans who suffered a great injustice at the hands of the government, and who have struggled ever since to insure the rights of all citizens guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

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The first large groups of Asian immigrants reaching Hawaii — a U.S. territory — and the United States in the late 19th century faced racial prejudice...More

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 stunned the United States, and became a catalyst for challenging the loyalty of all Japanese people living in the U.S...More

By the end of 1942, more than 120,000 men, women, and children of Japanese ancestry had been uprooted from their homes. Their final destinations would be one of 10 camps...More

Japanese internees struggled with the dehumanizing effects of being imprisoned, working to create as normal a life as possible behind the barbed wire...More

Some 25,000 Japanese Americans served in U.S. military units during World War II. The valor of these Americans, many of whom had family and friends living behind barbed wire, was extraordinary...More

By 1946, Japanese Americans were released from the internment camps, but the injustice of the war years was not forgotten...More

Smithsonian - National Museum of American History - Behring Center