Monrad C. Wallgren


Name Monrad C. Wallgren
Born April 17 1891
Died September 18 1961
Birth Location Des Moines, Iowa
More information...

Wartime U.S. senator and governor from Washington state. A liberal New Deal congressman, senator and governor of Washington, Monrad C. Wallgren (1891–1961) was a popular optometrist and jeweler when he was first elected to Congress in 1932. He was reelected three times before winning election to the Senate in 1940. In 1944, he won election as governor of Washington.

As part of a vehemently anti-Japanese West Coast congressional delegation, Wallgren chaired one of two ad hoc committees of U.S. senators from western states formed in February 1942, the Committee on Alien Nationality and Sabotage. Wallgren's committee held two meetings in early February—the first providing a forum for the differing views towards West Coast Japanese Americans as expressed by Karl Bendetsen on behalf of the army and War Department and Attorney General Francis Biddle representing the Justice Department. The committee voted on February 10 to recommend mass removal of Japanese Americans from California, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska, though, in language foreshadowing that of Executive Order 9066, Japanese Americans are not mentioned by name.[1]

About a year later, after the disturbances at Poston and Manzanar, Wallgren and Oregon Republican Senator Rufus C. Holman introduced legislation that would shut down the War Relocation Authority (WRA) and transfer management of the concentration camps to the army. Reflecting popular distrust of the WRA, Wallgren claimed that "There has been too much pampering, and too much social experimentation in the handling of these concentration camps."[2] Wallgren subsequently was part of the subcommittee of the Senate Military Affairs Committee (popularly known as the Chandler Committee) that investigated the WRA. As governor, Wallgren opposed the return of evicted Japanese Americans to Washington.[3]

Wallgren lost in his bid for reelection in 1948 and subsequently left electoral politics. He died after a car accident outside Olympia in 1961.

Authored by Brian Niiya, Densho

For More Information

Coombs, F. Alan. "Congressional Opinion and War Relocation." In Japanese Americans: From Relocation to Redress. Edited by Roger Daniels, Sandra C. Taylor, and Harry H. L. Kitano. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1986. Revised edition. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1991. 88-91.

Grodzins, Morton. Americans Betrayed: Politics and the Japanese Evacuation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1949.

Riddle, Margaret. "Wallgren, Monrad Charles (1891–1961)." HistoryLink.org. http://www.historylink.org/index.cfm?DisplayPage=output.cfm&file_id=9246.

Footnotes

  1. Morton Grodzins, Americans Betrayed: Politics and the Japanese Evacuation (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1949), 72–78.
  2. Pacific Citizen, January 21, 1943, p. 3, accessed on June 26, 2013 at http://pacificcitizen.org/digitalarchives/assets/images/full/PCN_19430121_003.jpg.
  3. Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians Personal Justice Denied: Report of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1997), 240; Louis Fiset, Imprisoned Apart: The World War II Correspondence of an Issei Couple (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1997), 88.