Ralph Lawrence Carr: The Man who Stood while his Country Sat 

Guard towers and barbwire loomed over structures meant for livestock, overcrowded with impoverished civilians, prisoners being used as laborers to feed World War II. However, the prisoners aren’t jews and the guards aren’t Nazis, they’re Japanese-Americans in American internment camps. In the swirl of paranoia, fear, and racism that the Attack on Pearl Harbor helped fuel, cried a voice of reason. Colorado Governor Ralph Lawrence Carr stood while the country sat, earning him the loss of his office, and his rightful place in the memories of history.

Governor Ralph Lawrence Carr was politically and socially isolated throughout his career because of his support of the Japanese Americans and advocation for their rights to be protected under the constitution. For instance, in Adam Schrager’s book, The Principled Politician, an inspiring biography detailing Governor Carr’s stand for the Japanese Americans, he states, “His peers weren’t nearly as magnanimous…Wyoming Gov. Nels Smith said if anyone of Japanese descent came to his state, they would be “hanging from every pine tree.

’”(Schrager 102) A statement that was in clear opposition of everything that Carr strood for. It seemed for Governor Carr that he was truly alone in his beliefs. And as time drew on, “Carr quickly found himself on a political island.

Colorado revolted, threatening his life and impeachment.” (Schrager 110). He stood strong in the face of opposition; Colorado may have turned on him but he would not turn on the Japanese Americans. His country and state did not stand by him, “Tens of thousands called, wrote and cabled their concerns.

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One homemaker from Boulder wrote, “May God of Heaven speak to your soul. No one wants Japanese here to see our bodies ravished and raped by the very devil himself.’”(Schrager 234). The people of Colorado spoke out against Governor Carr but he did not back down and stated, “If you harm them, you must first harm me.” (Paul 1) during a press conference in 1942. No matter the backlash or solitude, Carr stuck by what he believed and stood up for what was right.

Governor Carr believed in equal rights for the Japanese Americans and fought for them to be recognized. For instance, during one of his speeches, Carr said, ‘We the people of the United States.’ It doesn’t say, ‘We the people, who are descendants of the English or the Scandinavians or the French.’ ” (Schrager 304). Carr truly cared for the Japanese American people and did everything in his power to make others see that they were just as American as anyone else and, “believed that the Constitution protected all Americans” (CVL 1). Carr saw the injustice and prejudice of the American people, and strove to eradicate it. During a public address to the people of Colorado, “He said we must protect the Constitution’s principles for “every man or we shall not have it to protect any man.” (Schrager 127). Carr understood the weight of what was happening to the Japanese Americans and would not simply sand by while their lives, families, and rights were taken away.

Carr’s support of the Japanese Americans during World War II cost him everything. To illustrate, before the attack on Pearl Harbor, “He had been mentioned in the New York papers as a possible presidential candidate and had turned down a chance in 1940 to run for vice president on a ticket with Wendell Willkie. His political star was rising at breakneck speed.” (Denver Post 1). Carr might’ve gone on to do greater work like his opposition of Executive Order 9066 (DPL 1), but public disapproval and prejudice prevented him from achieving his full potential. Consequently, “Ralph’s public opposition to the imprisonment of Japanese Americans led to the downfall of his political career. Ralph ran to become a senator for Colorado, but lost the race in 1942.”(DPL 1). Carr was a crowd favorite and well liked politician, he could and should have gone on to be one of the most courageous politicians and men of America, but the malice of World War II has tainted history leaving his name just “…a footnote in a time period celebrated by tomes.” (Denver Post 1).

Governor Ralph Lawrence Carr was truly, “…a Shining Light in the Painful History of Japanese Internment”(Paul 1). But his conviction to do what was right and not what was necessarily popular cost him his career. A man who stood when the country sat and didn’t sway under the pressures of fear and insensitivity. Which is why when he is remembered as, “…a man whose stand against ignorance and bigotry cost him his career…” (Denver Post 1) it is also important to, “…look at the faces of those who Ralph Carr defended.” (Denver Post 1). “After all, that’s what he would have wanted.” (Schrager 352).

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Ralph Lawrence Carr: The Man who Stood while his Country Sat . (2022, Apr 28). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/ralph-lawrence-carr-the-man-who-stood-while-his-country-sat/

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