On This Day, Dec. 18, 1944 – Liberty Falls as High Court Upholds Japanese Internment


1944 – The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the wartime relocation of Japanese-Americans, but also stated that undeniably loyal Americans of Japanese ancestry could not be detained.

The relocation of Japanese-Americans into internment camps during World War II was one of the most flagrant violations of civil liberties in American history.

Two months after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 ordering all Japanese-Americans to evacuate the West Coast. This resulted in the relocation of approximately 120,000 people, many of whom were American citizens, to one of 10 internment camps located across the country. Traditional family structure was upended within the camp, as American-born children were solely allowed to hold positions of authority.

The Supreme Court upheld the legality of the relocation order in Hirabayashi v. United States and Korematsu v. United States. Early in 1945, Japanese-American citizens of undisputed loyalty were allowed to return to the West Coast, but not until March 1946 was the last camp closed. A 1948 law provided for reimbursement for property losses by those interned. In 1988, Congress awarded restitution payments of twenty thousand dollars to each survivor of the camps.


1787New Jersey became the third state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.

1796 – The “Monitor,” of Baltimore, MD, was published as the first Sunday newspaper.

1862 – The first orthopedic hospital was organized in New York City. It was called the Hospital for Ruptured and Crippled.

1865 – Slavery was abolished in the United States when the 13th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified.

1903 – The Panama Canal Zone was acquired ‘in perpetuity’ by the U.S. for an annual rent.

1912 – The discovery of the Piltdown Man in East Sussex was announced. It was proved to be a hoax in 1953.

1915President Woodrow Wilson, widowed the year before, married Edith Bolling Galt at her Washington home.

1916 – During World War I, after 10 months of fighting the French defeated the Germans in the Battle of Verdun.

1917 – The Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was passed by the U.S. Senate and then officially proposed the states.

1936 – Su-Lin, the first giant panda to come to the U.S. from China, arrived in San Francisco, CA. The bear was sold to the Brookfield Zoo for $8,750.

1940 – Adolf Hitler signed a secret directive ordering preparations for a Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union. Operation “Barbarossa” was launched in June 1941.

1950 – NATO foreign ministers approved plans to defend Western Europe, including the use of nuclear weapons, if necessary.

1953 – WPTZ, in Philadelphia, PA, presented a Felso commercial, it was the first color telecast seen on a local station.

1956 – “To Tell the Truth” debuted on CBS-TV.

1956 – Japan was admitted to the United Nations.

1957 – The Shippingport Atomic Power Station in Pennsylvania went online. It was the first nuclear facility to generate electricity in the United States. It was taken out of service in 1982.

1965 – Kenneth LeBel jumped 17 barrels on ice skates.

1969 – Britain’s Parliament abolished the death penalty for murder.a

1970 – Divorce became legal in Italy.

1972 – The United States began the heaviest bombing of North Vietnam during the Vietnam War. The attack ended 12 days later.a

1973 – The IRA launched its Christmas bombing campaign in London.

1979 – The sound barrier was broken on land for the first time by Stanley Barrett when he drove at 739.6 mph.

1987 – Ivan F. Boesky was sentenced to three years in prison for plotting Wall Street’s biggest insider-trading scandal. He only served about two years of the sentence.

1996 – Despite a U.N. truce, factional fighting in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, broke out in which at least 300 fighters and civilians were killed.

1998 – The U.S. House of Representatives began the debate on the four articles of impeachment concerning President Bill Clinton. It was only the second time in U.S. history that process had begun.

1998 – Russia recalled its ambassador in protest of the U.S. attacks on Iraq.

1998South Carolina proceeded with the nation’s 500th execution since capital punishment was restored.

1999 – After living atop an ancient redwood in Humboldt County, CA, for two years, environmental activist Julia “Butterfly” Hill came down, ending her anti-logging protest.

2001 – In Seattle, WA, Gary Leon Ridgeway pled innocent to the charge of murder for four of the Green River serial killings. He had been arrested on November 30, 2001.

2003 – Adam Rich was arrested for driving onto a closed section of Interstate 10 and nearly struck a California Highway Patrol car.

2009 – A Paris court ruled that Google was breaking French law with its policy of digitizing books and fined the company a $14,300-a-day fine until it rids its search engine of the literary extracts.

2009 – James Cameron’s movie “Avatar” was released in the United States. On January 26, the movie became the highest-grossing film worldwide.


Source: History.com; On-This-Day.com