On February 19, 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, allowing for the creation of areas from which "any and all persons may be excluded." His action was unanimously authorized by Congress. FDR designated Lieutenant General J.L. DeWitt as the commander of such areas, thus transferring civilian control from the Justice Department to the army. On March 2, DeWitt issued Public Proclamation No. 1, defining the western portions of Washington, Oregon, and California, and parts of Arizona as areas " with respect to which, the right of any persons to enter, remain in, or leave shall be subject to whatever restrictions" he might impose.
DeWitt had initially allowed families to "voluntarily" move east of the Cascade Mountains. Only three Bainbridge Island families had finalized plans when DeWitt suddenly revoked permission three weeks after the program began. On March 24, Civil Exclusion Order No. 1 was issued, designating Bainbridge Island as the first area from which American citizens and their alien parents would be forced to leave. Islanders were allowed six days to prepare. With the help of neighbors Nikkei families made whatever arrangements they could for their homes, farms, businesses, pets, and belongings.
Many of the families about to be exiled were helped by friends and neighbors as they prepared to leave. Here is an excerpt from Mary Woodward's book In Defense of Our Neighbors describing some of these instances:
"All across the Island, hurried arrangements were also made between the Nikkei and their Caucasian neighbors. Ken Myers, going against specific company instructions, made sure his clients had proper insurance coverage. Clark Burkheimer provided essential legal advice to Nikkei families. Orville Robertson of the Society of Friends agreed to look after some of the less–established farms, thus preserving ownership for the Nikkei. Arnold Raber bought the Koura's farm for one dollar and promised to resell it to them for that price upon their return.
Eve Bucklin stored the Sakais' rugs. The Schmidts took care of the Hayashidas' dishes. The Hydes assisted the Nishimoris. The Burnses helped the Suyematsus. Hakujin (Caucasian) customers settled tabs with local grocer Masaaki "Johnny" Nakata over his protests, saying, "You'll need this."
- Help from Friends of Alliance Church - Michi Noritake (OH0007)
- Family prepares to leave - Vic Takemoto (OH0014)
- New home, destroyed Japanese things - Kay Nakao (OH0018)
- Chaos, storage and loss, packing and what to wear - Kay Nakao (OH0019)
- JACL meetings, preparing to leave, arrangements for house and farm - Yae Yoshihara (OH0035)
- Why BI first, why cooperated - Frank Kitamoto (OH0043)
- Shigata ga nai or "it cannot be helped" - Hisa Matsudaira (OH0051)
- Moneybelts - Nobi Omoto (OH0053)
- Help from Filipino friends - Lilly Kodama (OH0055)
- Registering - Matsue Watanabe (OH0062)
- Packing and what students think - Matsue Watanabe (OH0063)
- Had to leave doll behind - Sally Kitano (OH0075)
- Walt gives advice to some Nisei - Mary Woodward (OH0085)
- What if Niseis said, "No, we won't go" - Sada Omoto (OH0092)
Photo Information: Posting Civilian Exclusion Order No. 1 — When army soldiers arrived via ferry to post notices of Exclusion Order Number One, several Nisei or second generation men arrived to help show the soldiers where the posters should be placed so they would be most visible. Left to right: Unknown soldier, possible young issei, Takashi Sakuma, Robert Koba, George Chihara. Bainbridge Island, WA March 24, 1942. Seattle PI photo N331. Library of Congress