What Was One of the Worst Violations of Civil Liberties in American History?

Civil liberties are the basic rights that every citizen of a country is entitled to. However, history has shown us that these liberties have been denied to certain groups of people at different times for various reasons. The United States of America has had its share of violations of civil liberties, but one of the worst was the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.

The Beginning:
After the attack on Pearl Harbor by Japan in December 1941, fear and paranoia spread throughout the United States. This fear was mainly directed towards people of Japanese descent living in America at that time. The government feared that they were spies or saboteurs for Japan and could pose a threat to national security.

Executive Order 9066:

In February 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which authorized the forced relocation and internment of over 120,000 Japanese Americans living on the West Coast. They were moved to internment camps located in remote areas across the country.

The Internment Camps:

The conditions in these internment camps were harsh and deplorable. Families were separated from each other, and they were forced to live in cramped spaces with no privacy or basic amenities such as running water or proper sanitation facilities. Many Japanese Americans lost their homes and businesses due to this forced relocation.

  • The internment camps were surrounded by barbed wire fences and guard towers.
  • Japanese Americans were given only a few days’ notice to pack their belongings before being forcibly removed from their homes.
  • They were only allowed to take what they could carry with them.

The Aftermath:

It wasn’t until December 1944 that the Supreme Court ruled that Executive Order 9066 was unconstitutional. It took until March 1946 for all internment camps to be shut down and Japanese Americans to be released.

However, the damage had already been done. Japanese Americans had lost everything they had worked for and were forced to start anew.

The Significance:
The internment of Japanese Americans during World War II was a significant violation of civil liberties in American history. Innocent people were rounded up and forced into internment camps based solely on their heritage. This act showed the fear and prejudice that existed during that time and how it led to the denial of basic human rights.


It is crucial to remember this dark period in American history as a reminder that civil liberties must be protected at all times, even during times of war or crisis. We must learn from our mistakes as a society and ensure that such violations never happen again.