After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Roosevelt cited military necessity as the basis for incarcerating 120,000 Japanese Americans – adults and children, immigrants and citizens alike. The signing of the Executive Order #9066 on February 19th, 1942, by President Roosevelt, changed the destiny of the nearly 300 people on Bainbridge Island.
On March 24th, the federal government sent troops from New Jersey to Bainbridge to post Exclusion Order No. 1, declaring that all residents of Japanese descent were to be removed from the island on March 30th, 1942. They were the first community to be removed en masse by federal troops from the West Coast. It was a “practice run” for the eventual removal of all people of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast.
Those who were farmers quickly got their strawberry fields in harvesting order and made arrangements with their Filipino employees or Caucasian neighbors to look after their farms. Families who were leasing their land lost everything, as the government had made it illegal for them to own agricultural land.
All people of Japanese ancestry were ferried from Winslow to Seattle. Trains then took them to internment camps in California or Idaho. Decades later, a congressional commission found the military removal of the Japanese Americans to be discriminatory, citing “race prejudice, war hysteria and a failure of political leadership along with economic motives”.