1942 Roosevelt ushers in Japanese-American internment On this day in 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issues Presidential Proclamation No. 2537, requiring aliens from World War II-enemy countries–Italy, Germany and Japan–to register with the United States Department of Justice. Registered persons were then issued a Certificate of Identification for Aliens of Enemy Nationality. A follow-up to the Alien Registration Act of 1940, Proclamation No. 2537 facilitated the beginning of full-scale internment of Japanese Americans the following month. While most Americans expected the U.S. to enter the war, presumably in Europe or the Philippines, the nation was shocked to hear of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. In the wake of the bombing, the West Coast appeared particularly vulnerable to another Japanese military offensive. A large population of Japanese Americans inhabited the western states and American military analysts feared some would conduct acts of sabotage on west-coast defense and agricultural industries. Official relations between the governments of Japan and the United States had soured in the 1930s when Japan began its military conquest of Chinese territory. China, weakened by a civil war between nationalists and communists, represented an important strategic relationship for both the U.S. and Japan. Japan desperately needed China’s raw materials in order to continue its program of modernization. The U.S. needed a democratic Chinese government to counter both Japanese military expansion in the Pacific and the spread of communism in Asia. Liberal Japanese resented American anti-Japanese policies, particularly in California, where exclusionary laws were passed to prevent Japanese Americans from competing with U.S. citizens in the agricultural industry. In spite of these tensions, a 1941 federal report requested by Roosevelt indicated that more than 90 percent of Japanese Americans were considered loyal citizens. Nevertheless, under increasing pressure from agricultural associations, military advisors and influential California politicians, Roosevelt agreed to begin the necessary steps for possible internment of the Japanese-American population. Ostensibly issued in the interest of national security, Proclamation No. 2537 permitted the arrest, detention and internment of enemy aliens who violated restricted areas, such as ports, water treatment plants or even areas prone to brush fires, for the duration of the war. A month later, a reluctant but resigned Roosevelt signed the War Department’s blanket Executive Order 9066, which authorized the physical removal of all Japanese Americans into internment camps. 1784 Adams, Jefferson and Madison help to ratify the Treaty of Paris On this day in 1784, at the Maryland State House in Annapolis, the Continental Congress ratifies the Treaty of Paris. The document, negotiated in part by future President John Adams, contained terms for ending the Revolutionary War and established the United States as a sovereign nation. The treaty outlined America’s fishing rights off the coast of Canada, defined territorial boundaries in North America formerly held by the British and forced an end to reprisals against British loyalists. Two other future presidents, Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe, were among the delegates who ratified the document on January 14, 1874. Thomas Jefferson had planned to travel to Paris to join Adams, John Jay and Benjamin Franklin for the beginning of talks with the British in 1782. However, after a delay in his travel plans, Jefferson received word that a cessation of hostilities had been announced by King George III the previous December. Jefferson arrived in Paris in late February after the treaty had already been negotiated by Adams, Franklin and Jay. Adams’ experience and skill in diplomacy prompted Congress to authorize him to act as the United States’ representative in negotiating treaty terms with the British. Following his role in ending the Revolutionary War and his participation in drafting the Declaration of Independence, Adams succeeded George Washington as the second president of the United States in 1797. 1943 FDR becomes first president to travel by airplane on U.S. official business On this day in 1943, Franklin Roosevelt becomes the first president to travel on official business by airplane. Crossing the Atlantic by air, Roosevelt flew in a Boeing 314 Flying Boat dubbed the Dixie Clipper to a World War II strategy meeting with Winston Churchill at Casablanca in North Africa. With German U-boats taking a heavy toll on American marine traffic in the Atlantic, Roosevelt’s advisors reluctantly agreed to send him via airplane. Roosevelt, at a frail 60 years old, gamely made the arduous 17,000-mile round trip. The secret and circuitous journey began on January 11, with the plane stopping several times over four days to refuel and for its passengers to rest. Roosevelt and his entourage left Florida, touched down in the Caribbean, continued down the southern coast of South America to Brazil and then flew across the Atlantic to Gambia. They reached Casablanca on January 14. After a successful meeting with Churchill, as well as some sightseeing and visits to the troops, Roosevelt retraced the route back to the United States, celebrating his 61st birthday somewhere over Haiti.