Hugh B. Mitchell


Name Hugh B. Mitchell
Born March 22 1907
Died June 10 1996
Birth Location Great Falls, Montana
More information...

Congressman and U.S. senator from Washington and member of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (CWRIC).

Hugh B. Mitchell (1907–96) was born in Great Falls, Montana, the son of a politician and civil servant father and activist mother. He attended Dartmouth College, but did not graduate and worked as a journalist for The Everett News in Washington state. In 1933, he became a staffer for Monrad Wallgren, then a congressman and later a U.S. senator; Wallgren was among West Coast politicians who fed the anti-Japanese frenzy that led to the mass expulsion and incarceration of Japanese Americans.

In 1944, Wallgren won election as the governor of Washington and appointed his longtime aide Mitchell to his Senate seat. Mitchell was defeated in his bid for reelection in 1946, ironically by Harry P. Cain, who had been among the few West Coast politicians to publicly oppose the expulsion of Japanese Americans, but who had evolved into a anti-Communist supporter of Joseph McCarthy. Mitchell ran successfully for Congress in 1948 and was reelected in 1950. He ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1952 and for Congress in 1954 and 1958, his liberal politics enabling opponents to red-bait him, effectively ending his political career. Though remaining active in civic causes, he turned to business and made his living in the freight shipping business.

In 1980, he was named to the CWRIC by the senate along with another respected former senator, Edward W. Brooke. At the San Francisco hearings, he reflected that "the testimony and the long smoldering feelings which have come to light, the words of all the people who have been in the front row here are going to have tremendous meaning to a nation as a whole," and was among the committee members who supported monetary reparations for surviving Japanese American former inmates.[1]

He passed away at the age of 89 on June 10, 1996.

Authored by Brian Niiya, Densho

For More Information

Frank Chesley, "Mitchell, Hugh B. (1907–1996)," HistoryLink.org.

Guide to the Hugh B. Mitchell Papers, 1937–1967, University of Washington Libraries Special Collections.

Murray, Alice Yang. Historical Memories of the Japanese American Internment and the Struggle for Redress. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2008.

Footnotes

  1. Alice Yang Murray, Historical Memories of the Japanese American Internment and the Struggle for Redress (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2008), p. 349.