A Principled Stand

The Story of Hirabayashi v. United States

Gordon K. Hirabayashi
With James A. Hirabayashi and Lane Ryo Hirabayashi

  • Published: 2013. Paperback 2014
  • Subject Listing: Asian American Studies; Biography, Autobiography, and Memoir
  • Bibliographic information: 232 pp., 43 illus., 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: World Rights
  • Contents

In 1943, University of Washington student Gordon Hirabayashi defied the curfew and mass removal of Japanese Americans on the West Coast, and was subsequently convicted and imprisoned as a result. In A Principled Stand, Gordon's brother James and nephew Lane have brought together his prison diaries and voluminous wartime correspondence to tell the story of Hirabayashi v. United States, the Supreme Court case that in 1943 upheld and on appeal in 1987 vacated his conviction. For the first time, the events of the case are told in Gordon's own words. The result is a compelling and intimate story that reveals what motivated him, how he endured, and how his ideals changed and deepened as he fought discrimination and defended his beliefs.

A Principled Stand adds valuable context to the body of work by legal scholars and historians on the seminal Hirabayashi case. This engaging memoir combines Gordon's accounts with family photographs and archival documents as it takes readers through the series of imprisonments and court battles Gordon endured. Details such as Gordon's profound religious faith, his roots in student movements of the day, his encounters with inmates in jail, and his daily experiences during imprisonment give texture to his storied life.
Gordon K. Hirabayashi (1918-2012) was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in May 2012. He was professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Alberta, in Edmonton. James A. Hirabayashi (1926-2012) was professor emeritus of Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University. Lane Ryo Hirabayashi is professor of Asian American Studies and the George and Sakaye Aratani Professor of the Japanese American Incarceration, Redress, and Community at UCLA.

"A Principled Stand makes an important contribution to understanding both Gordon Hirabayashi's life and the horrible episode in this country's history that was the internment."
-Lorraine Bannai, Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality, Seattle University School of Law

"I never look at my case as just my own, or just as a Japanese- American case. It is an American case, with principles that affect the fundamental human rights of all Americans."
-Gordon K. Hirabayashi


Part I. An Issei-Nisei Family
1. Hotaka to Seattle
2. Growing Up in America
3. "You're Going to College"

Part II. Challenges and Incarceration
4. World War II
5. Arraignment Summons
6. King County Jail
7. King County Jail Mates
8. Jail Visitations
9. World War II Interracial Marriage
10. Prison Meditations 1
11. Pretrial
12. Seattle Federal District Court
13. U.S. Supreme Court
14. Out on Bail
15. Thumbing to Jail
16. Catalina Federal Honor Camp
17. Federal Prison Again

Part III. The Postwar Years and Vindication
18. Early Postwar Experiences
19. Coram Nobis

Appendix 1. Major Publications
Appendix 2. Professional Positions, Honors, and Awards
Glossary of Names
Further Reading
About the Coauthors

"A long-awaited and richly satisfying memoir that emerges from a dark place in Northwest history. . . . The book puts you there, as a good novel does."
-Mike Dillon, City Living

"Hirbayashi's . . . struggle and case have been analyzed every which way-but one. It has not been, until A Principled Stand, The Story of Hirabayashi v. United States, that readers have had access to Hirabayashi's reflections at the time of his resistance."
-Peter Monaghan, The Chronicle of Higher Education

"A fascinating look into the inner workings of how one man, with the support of his Christian supporters, took on the U.S. government and ultimately won."
-Martha Nakagawa, Rafu Shimpo

"The book successfully reminds us of the struggles needed to secure our freedoms today."
-Publishers Weekly

"A Principled Stand proves that boxes of paper hauled from home to home and stored in closets and garages can eventually become the meat of history. . . . A valuable book, highly recommended."
-Paula Becker,

"[T]he authors succeed in one of their main goals: letting people get to know Gordon the person, not merely Gordon the plaintiff in a noted legal case. . . .A Principled Stand should be added to the growing number of quality, firsthand accounts of that era."
-Troy Reeves, Oral History Review

"What a treat it is to spend a few hours with three of the finest minds that have ever addressed Japanese American history....[in this] memoir constructed out of the World War II diaries of Gordon Hirabayashi and other documents."
-Paul Spickard, Oregon Historical Quarterly

"A Principled Stand is more than the story of an important wartime incarceration case; it is also the story of a remarkable person...a must read not only for scholars of Asian American history but also for those interested in the relationship between faith and social justice. The book has lessons for us all."
-Stephanie Bangarth, Pacific Historical Review