Title: Letter to President Roosevelt from Elmer Davis, (denshopd-i67-00082)
Densho ID: denshopd-i67-00082

Letter, Elmer Davis, Director OWI, to The President, October 2, 1942. Official File 4849 (War Relocation Authority), FDR Library.

October 2, 1942

Office of the Director

The President
The White House

Dear Mr. President,

For both Mr. Eisenhower and myself, I want to recommend that you take two actions designed to improve the morale of the American-citizen Japanese who were evacuated from the Pacific Coast:

(1) Two bills in Congress -- one aimed at depriving the Nisei of citizenship and the other proposing to "intern" them for the duration of the war -- have heightened the feeling that this may after all be a racial war and that, therefore the evacuees should be looked upon as enemies. A brief public statement from you, in behalf of the loyal American citizens, would be helpful. I think WRA and the Justice Department would concur in this recommendation.

(2) Loyal American citizens of Japanese descent should be permitted, after individual test, to enlist in the Army and Navy. It would hardly be fair to evacuate people and then impose normal draft procedures, but voluntary enlistment would help a lot.

This matter is of great interest to OWI. Japanese propaganda to the Philippines, Burma, and elsewhere insists that this is a racial war. We can combat this effectively with counter propaganda only if our deeds permit us to tell the truth. Moreover, as citizens ourselves who believe deeply in the things for which we fight, we cannot help but be disturbed by the insistent public misunderstanding of the Nisei; competentent (sic) authorities, including Naval Intelligence people, say that fully 85 percent of the Nisei are loyal to this country and that it is possible to distinguish the sheep from the goats.

Respectfully yours,

(Signed) Elmer Davis