Allen Gullion


Name Allen W. Gullion
Born December 14 1880
Died June 19 1946
Birth Location Carrollton, KY

Major General Allen W. Gullion (1880–1946) was the wartime Provost Marshal General of the U.S. Army, the army's chief law enforcement officer. In that position, he was a staunch early advocate for removing Japanese American citizens as well as aliens from the West Coast and, along with his assistant Karl Bendetsen, played an important role in influencing key decision makers John L. DeWitt and John McCloy to reach the same conclusion.

Before World War II

Allen W. Gullion was born on December 14, 1880 in Carrollton, Kentucky, a small town just across the Ohio River from Indiana. He graduated from Centre College in Danville, Kentucky in 1901 and from West Point in 1905. He obtained a law degree from the University of Kentucky in 1914. He was a career military lawyer and World War I veteran who had been posted in the Philippines and in Hawai'i among other places. He was chief of the Military Affairs Division and Assistant Judge Advocate General from 1935 to 1937, then Judge Advocate General from December 1937, until being named to the reinstated Provost Marshal General position in August, 1941. (The Provost Marshal General post is typically activated only during wartime.) As Provost Marshal General, Gullion was in charge of controlling enemy aliens, security clearance investigations, and the military police.

The Road to EO 9066

From the beginning, Allen Gullion was an advocate of a mass roundup of Japanese Americans. On December 26, he called John L. DeWitt, head of the Western Defense Command, to recommend such a roundup, based on discussions he had had with various California civic leaders. (The two men had known each other since 1912 when both were stationed at Fort Douglas, Utah.) At that time, DeWitt resisted such action, citing both the difficult logistics and the fact that most of those who would be affected were American citizens.

At a February 1 meeting between officials from the army and War Department on one side and the Justice Department on the other, tempers flared over the Justice Department's reluctance to consider the exclusion of Nisei in addition to Issei. He recounted his exchange with Attorney General Francis Biddle a few days later: "They made me a little sore and I said, well listen Mr. Biddle, do you mean to tell me that if the Army, the men on the ground, determine it is a military necessity to move citizens, Jap citizens, that you won't help me. He didn't give a direct answer, he said the Department of Justice would be through if we interfered with citizens and write [sic] of habeas corpus, etc."[1] The meeting ended with the agreement that the opinion of DeWitt would be sought on the necessity to remove citizens.

Undaunted, Gullion continued to press for mass removal. Two days later, he met with Secretary of War Henry Stimson and Assistant Secretary of War John McCloy and pushed his argument, citing "regular communication…from Japanese spies…to submarines" (an assertion for which there was no evidence) and asserted that Nisei "are probably a more dangerous element at the present time than their unnaturalized parents."[2] It was to no avail; he later recounted "…the two Secretaries [Stimson and McCloy] are against any mass movement. They are pretty much against it. And they are also pretty much against interfering with citizens unless it can be done legally."[3]

Gullion continued the pressure. The turning point may have been a letter sent to McCloy on February 6 predicting dire consequences should mass removal not happen. "No half-way measures based upon considerations of economic disturbance, humanitarianism, or fear or retaliation will suffice," he wrote. "Such measures will be 'too little or too late.'"[4] This message might have struck a chord with McCloy, who was a strong advocate of military preparedness. On February 10, McCloy and Stimson got approval from the President for mass exclusion of Japanese Americans from the West Coast and passed that message on to Gullion and his associates. Gullion later took part in the drafting of Executive Order 9066 with McCloy and Biddle (who dropped his objections once the President gave his okay.)

Described as "the most persistent advocate of internment"[5] by Peter Irons, he was, according to Karl Bendetsen, "absolutely charming, a splendid man of great intelligence and wit and humor and he knew Shakepeare forwards and backwards and he could recite any part from memory."[6]

Last Years

Gullion stepped down from the post of Provost Marshal General in April 1944, and was replaced by Archer Lerch. He died on June 19, 1946.

Authored by Brian Niiya, Densho

For More Information

Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians. Personal Justice Denied: Report of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1982. Foreword by Tetsuden Kashima. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1997.

Daniels, Roger. Concentration Camps, North America: Japanese in the United States and Canada during World War II. Malabar, Fla.: Robert E. Krieger Publishing Co., 1981.

Irons, Peter. Justice at War: The Story of the Japanese American Internment Cases. New York: Oxford University Press, 1983.

Footnoes

  1. Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians. Personal Justice Denied: Report of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1982), 74.
  2. Peter Irons, Justice at War: The Story of the Japanese American Internment Cases (New York: Oxford University Press, 1983), 45.
  3. Roger Daniels, Concentration Camps, North America: Japanese in the United States and Canada during World War II (Malabar, Fla.: Robert E. Krieger Publishing Co., 1981), 58.
  4. Daniels, Concentration Camps, North America, 63.
  5. Irons, Justice at War, 49.
  6. Klancy Clark de Nevers, The Colonel and the Pacifist: Karl Bendetsen, Perry Saito and the Incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2004), 64.