A Principled Stand: The Story of Hirabayashi v. United States

Overview

In 1943, University of Washington student Gordon Hirabayashi defied the curfew and mass removal of Japanese Americans on the West Coast, and was subsequently convicted and imprisoned as a result. In A Principled Stand, Gordon's brother James and nephew Lane have brought together his prison diaries and voluminous wartime correspondence to tell the story of Hirabayashi v. United States, the Supreme Court case that in 1943 upheld and on appeal in 1987 vacated his conviction. For the first time, the events of the ...

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Overview

In 1943, University of Washington student Gordon Hirabayashi defied the curfew and mass removal of Japanese Americans on the West Coast, and was subsequently convicted and imprisoned as a result. In A Principled Stand, Gordon's brother James and nephew Lane have brought together his prison diaries and voluminous wartime correspondence to tell the story of Hirabayashi v. United States, the Supreme Court case that in 1943 upheld and on appeal in 1987 vacated his conviction. For the first time, the events of the case are told in Gordon's own words. The result is a compelling and intimate story that reveals what motivated him, how he endured, and how his ideals changed and deepened as he fought discrimination and defended his beliefs.

A Principled Stand adds valuable context to the body of work by legal scholars and historians on the seminal Hirabayashi case. This engaging memoir combines Gordon's accounts with family photographs and archival documents as it takes readers through the series of imprisonments and court battles Gordon endured. Details such as Gordon's profound religious faith, his roots in student movements of the day, his encounters with inmates in jail, and his daily experiences during imprisonment give texture to his storied life.

University of Washington Press

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Editorial Reviews

HistoryLink.org - Paula Becker
A Principled Stand proves that boxes of paper hauled from home to home and stored in closets and garages can eventually become the meat of history.... A valuable book, highly recommended.
Oral History Review - Troy Reeves
[T]he authors succeed in one of their main goals: letting people get to know Gordon the person, not merely Gordon the plaintiff in a noted legal case....A Principled Stand should be added to the growing number of quality, firsthand accounts of that era.
Oregon Historical Quarterly - Paul Spickard
What a treat it is to spend a few hours with three of the finest minds that have ever addressed Japanese American history....[in this] memoir constructed out of the World War II diaries of Gordon Hirabayashi and other documents.
City Living - Mike Dillon
A long-awaited and richly satisfying memoir that emerges from a dark place in Northwest history.... The book puts you there, as a good novel does.
The Chronicle of Higher Education - Peter Monaghan
Hirbayashi's... struggle and case have been analyzed every which way—but one. It has not been, until A Principled Stand, The Story of Hirabayashi v. United States, that readers have had access to Hirabayashi's reflections at the time of his resistance.
Rafu Shimpo - Martha Nakagawa
A fascinating look into the inner workings of how one man, with the support of his Christian supporters, took on the U.S. government and ultimately won.
Publishers Weekly
“What good are principles if we suspend them each time there is a crisis?” asks Hirabayashi, at an appeal hearing over 40 years after his imprisonment for opposing the relocation of U.S. citizens of Japanese descent following the attack on Pearl Harbor. Assembled from interviews, articles, and Hirabayashi’s journal entries, the author’s family provides insight into how the accidental civil rights pioneer felt throughout his prison sentences. The strong faith afforded to him by his family’s upbringing and Quaker allegiance guided Hirabayashi to conscientiously object to the war effort, but his strong desire to be treated as a full citizen of the United States and his belief in constitutional equality shaped his resolve to object to discrimination. At one point, Hirabayashi refuses bail on the grounds that being forced to live in an internment camp would be at odds with his identity as an American citizen, and he later hitchhikes 1,600 miles to serve on a road camp outside of military grounds. The reliance on his journal make Hirabayashi’s odyssey through the judiciary system difficult to follow. In addition, particular trial details are summarized by third-party reports, while the lives of his parents, wife, and children are glossed over. However, in portraying Hirabayashi’s fight for his own American dream, the book successfully reminds us of the struggles needed to secure our freedoms today. (Apr.)
From the Publisher
"A Principled Stand proves that boxes of paper hauled from home to home and stored in closets and garages can eventually become the meat of history. . . . A valuable book, highly recommended." -Paula Becker, HistoryLink.org, March 4, 2014

"A Principled Stand offers remarkable glimpses into a dubious chapter in American history, and the curious justifications and distortions of law that were undertaken by the government during wartime." -Barbara Lloyd McMichael, The Bellingham Herald

"The wartime decision to intern Japanese-Americans in far-off camps was a grave injustice. Now the University of Washington has published his diaries to further bring the World War II internments to bear on the war on terror." -John Yoo, Wall Street Journal

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Gordon K. Hirabayashi (1918-2012) was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in May 2012. He was professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Alberta, in Edmonton. James A. Hirabayashi (1926-2012) was professor emeritus of Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University. Lane Ryo Hirabayashi is professor of Asian American Studies and the George and Sakaye Aratani Professor of the Japanese American Incarceration, Redress, and Community at UCLA.

University of Washington Press

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Table of Contents

Preface AcknowledgmentsAcronyms

Part I. An Issei-Nisei Family 1. Hotaka to Seattle 2. Growing Up in America 3. "You're Going to College"

Part II. Challenges and Incarceration 4. World War II 5. Arraignment Summons 6. King County Jail 7. King County Jail Mates 8. Jail Visitations 9. World War II Interracial Marriage 10. Prison Meditations 111. Pretrial 12. Seattle Federal District Court 13. U.S. Supreme Court 14. Out on Bail 15. Thumbing to Jail 16. Catalina Federal Honor Camp 17. Federal Prison Again

Part III. The Postwar Years and Vindication 18. Early Postwar Experiences 19. Coram Nobis

Appendix 1. Major Publications Appendix 2. Professional Positions, Honors, and Awards Glossary of Names Further Reading About the Coauthors Index

University of Washington Press

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