We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Prisons and Patriots

Japanese American Wartime Citizenship, Civil Disobedience, and Historical Memory

Cherstin Lyon

Publication Year: 2012

Prisons and Patriots provides a detailed account of forty-one Nisei (second-generation Japanese Americans), known as the Tucsonians, who were imprisoned for resisting the draft during WWII. Cherstin Lyon parallels their courage as resisters with that of civil rights hero Gordon Hirabayashi, well known for his legal battle against curfew and internment, who also resisted the draft. These dual stories highlight the intrinsic relationship between the rights and the obligations of citizenship, particularly salient in times of war.

Lyon considers how wartime civil disobedience has been remembered through history—how soldiers have been celebrated for their valor while resisters have been demonized as unpatriotic. Using archival research and interviews, she presents a complex picture of loyalty and conflict among first-generation Issei and Nisei. Lyon contends that the success of the redress movement has made room for a narrative that neither reduces the wartime confinement to a source of shame nor proffers an uncritical account of heroic individuals.

Published by: Temple University Press

Series: Asian American History and Culture (AAHC)


pdf iconDownload PDF
p. v

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. vii-x

I AM INDEBTED to those who have infl uenced this project, commented on previous drafts, and given advice and feedback on my research through formal and informal conversations. Frank Abe, Jo Arlow, Denise Bates, Jane Beckwith, Kathren Brown, Frank Chin, Frank Emi, Art Hansen, Lily Havey, William Hohri, Takashi Hoshizaki, Reeve...

read more

A Note on Terminology

pdf iconDownload PDF
p. xi

THE JAPANESE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE during World War II had a wide range of constitutional and legal repercussions, in part because the treatment of Japanese Americans was shrouded in euphemism. The words used to describe federal policies minimized the real impact these policies had on people and created...

read more

Introduction: “A Footstep in the Sand of Time”

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 1-13

LATE ONE EVENING, early in May 2002, I sat in a hotel room with a colleague, historical archaeologist Nicole Branton, after a very long day of traveling and conducting interviews. Together, we read from the wartime diary that Joe Norikane had so generously lent to us. Norikane stood defiantly against the government’s attempts...

read more

1. Lessons in Citizenship

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 14-44

WHEN JOE NORIKANE was in third grade, his family moved from Yuba City to Walnut Grove, California. Before the move, Norikane had been one of only four Asian children in his school, but he never felt out of place and was never aware that his ancestry could differentiate him from the other kids. He...

read more

2. Nisei Wartime Citizenship

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 45-80

ON A SATURDAY MORNING in California only a few months after Japan had bombed Pearl Harbor, a young Nisei boy heard a knock at his door. When he opened the door, he found a police officer standing on the porch. The offi cer could sense the boy’s fear and began joking around to put him at ease. The child’s father joined them. They were both relieved that the policeman had not...

read more

3. Loyalty and Resistance

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 81-104

THE TELETYPE MESSAGE that set off a fl urry of activity in Topaz on January 28, 1943, came from Secretary of War Henry Stimson, who announced that the War Department had created a combat unit exclusively for the Nisei. Nisei volunteers could enlist for military service during a loyalty registration program...

read more

4. Gordon Hirabayashi in the Tucson Federal Prison Camp

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 105-119

WHEN GORDON HIRABAYASHI was sentenced after losing his initial court case in October 1942, he knew that he might have to serve prison time for his decision to refuse the government’s exclusion order, but he did not want to spend any more time inside an institution like the King County Jail. He had spent months confined in this short-term facility waiting for his trial...

read more

5. The Obligations of Citizenship

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 120-154

ON JANUARY 20, 1944, Secretary of War Henry Stimson announced that the Selective Service had restored Nisei eligibility for the draft. Stimson declared that the draft gave Nisei the chance to restore their citizenship and to repair their public image as loyal Americans. The government had demonstrated its faith in Nisei, Stimson said, and now it was time for Nisei to demonstrate...

read more

6. Prison and Punishment

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 155-175

WHEN U.S. DEPUTY MARSHALL Alf G. Gunn drove his car into Topaz on May 16, 1944, he was surprised by the living conditions in this isolated camp in the middle of the Utah desert. Deputy Marshall Gunn had come to arrest Ken Yoshida for refusing to appear for his preinduction physical exam and failing to appear for military induction. Dust filled the air, making it difficult...

read more

7. Reunions, Redress, and Reconciliation

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 176-191

IN 1947, President Harry S. Truman asked an independent review board to investigate the possibility of pardoning draft resisters. The board was directed by former Supreme Court Justice Owen J. Roberts. They reviewed 15,805 cases and determined that during World War II, approximately ten thousand individuals had committed what they called “willful” and criminal violations of Selective Service regulations. They recommended that these resisters not be...

read more

Conclusion: The Changing Nature of Citizenship

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 192-200

WHAT DO GORDON HIRABAYASHI’S and the Tucsonians’ stories tell us about the changing nature of citizenship, civil disobedience, and historical memory? The aim of this book is not only to tell the stories of Hirabayashi and the Tucsonians but also to place their stories in historic and theoretical context. Making sense of their experiences brings together literature...


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 201-224


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 225-234


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 235-239

E-ISBN-13: 9781439901885
Print-ISBN-13: 9781439901878

Page Count: 239
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: Asian American History and Culture (AAHC)
Series Editor Byline: Sucheng Chan, David Palumbo-Liu, Michael Omi, K. Scott Wong, and Linda Trinh V› See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 794700767
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Prisons and Patriots

Research Areas


UPCC logo

Subject Headings

  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Draft resisters -- United States.
  • Japanese Americans -- Evacuation and relocation, 1942-1945.
  • Prisoners -- Arizona -- Tucson -- Biography.
  • Japanese Americans -- Legal status, laws, etc. -- History -- 20th century.
  • Hirabayashi, Gordon K.
  • Japanese Americans -- Civil rights -- History -- 20th century.
  • Civil disobedience -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access