Thomas H. Green

Name Thomas H. Green
Born April 22 1889
Died March 27 1971
Birth Location Cambridge, Massachusetts

Judge Advocate General, Hawaiian Department, and executive to the military governor in the Territory of Hawai'i during World War II; martial law proponent who advocated control over the civilian population in the Islands, particularly the Japanese.


Thomas Henry Green was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and graduated from Boston University in 1915. Green first entered military service in 1916 when he joined a cavalry unit of the Massachusetts National Guard for service on the Mexican border. In 1917, he went overseas with the 15th cavalry as a second lieutenant and returned in command of the regiment. He later served with "Patsy Dugan's Horsemen," a cavalry regiment in Cheyenne, Wyoming. [1] In 1921, Green married Ruth Cooper Tuthill of Moravia, New York. That same year, he was assigned to Washington where he worked in the office of the assistant secretary of war and earned his master's degree from George Washington University law school. Green was later assigned to duties on Governor’s Island, New York with the First Division. Following the completion of his assignment he returned to Washington where he transferred to the judge advocate general's department in 1925. Green later served as executive secretary of the Muscle Shoals Commission and as a war department representative on the German-Austrian and British-American claims commissions. He first came to Hawai'i on August 24, 1940, as a department judge advocate at Ft. Shafter until the outbreak of World War II.

Proponent of Martial Law

Following the Pearl Harbor attack, Green was responsible for creating the martial law proclamation that bypassed the Hawaii Defense Act and gave the military governor absolute power. He also created an organizational plan that "left Hawaii with a status resembling that of a conquered province" as he drafted military orders that regulated life in the Islands. [2] Under martial law, Green established military tribunals under General Order 4 whereby a network of military commissions tried all criminal cases. The military governor's office also established provost courts. Defendants were often not provided a copy of the charges against them, denied legal representation and trial by juries, and often given severe sentences with no opportunities for appeals. As a result of the suspension of habeas corpus , individuals could be held without being charged and Japanese Americans such as Sanji Abe were arrested and placed in "custodial detention." [3] Eventually the civilian government was partially restored but the army continued to retain special emergency powers such as the regulation of labor in defense-related occupations, censorship powers, curfew enforcement, prostitution regulation, and control over the alien population, specifically the Japanese.

Following his career in the army, Green passed away in 1971 at the age of eighty-one.

Authored by Kelli Y. Nakamura , University of Hawai'i

For More Information

"Gen Thomas H. Green."

Green, Maj. Gen. Thomas H. Martial Law in Hawaii, December 7, 1941–April 4, 1943 . Unpublished manuscript. Library of Congress.

"Meet General Green." The Judge Advocate Journal 2.3 (Fall–Winter, 1945): 5, 22.

Robinson, Greg. A Tragedy of Democracy: Japanese Confinement in North America . New York: Columbia University Press, 2009.

Staff of the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's School Library. Martial Law in Hawaii: The Papers of Major General Thomas H. Green, Judge Advocate General's Corps, U.S. Army: A Guide to the Microfilm Edition." Bethesda, Maryland: LexisNexis, 2003.


  1. "Colonel Green Made General," Honolulu Advertiser , 21 May 1942, 1.
  2. Greg Robinson, A Tragedy of Democracy: Japanese Confinement in North America (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009), 226.
  3. Robinson, A Tragedy of Democracy , 227.

Last updated Jan. 25, 2024, 7:03 p.m..