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Presidential Executive Orders

Executive Order 9981: Desegregation of the Armed Forces, 1948
By United States Army
Aug 10, 2006, 10:54pm

On 26 July 1948, President Harry S Truman signed Executive Order 9981, establishing the Presidens Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Services. It was accompanied by Executive Order 9980, which created a Fair Employment Board to eliminate racial discrimination in federal employment.

US Army
Segregation in the military services did not officially end until the Secretary of Defense announced on 30 September 1954 that the last all-black unit had been abolished. However, the presidens directive put the armed forces (albeit reluctantly) at the forefront of the growing movement to win a fully participatory social role for the natios African-American citizens.

The true fulfillment of the entire scope of Executive Order 998equality of treatment and opportunitactually required an additional change in Defense Department policy. This occurred with the publication of Department of Defense Directive 5120.36 on 26 July 1963, 15 years to the day after Truman signed the original order. This major about-face in policy issued by Secretary of Defense Robert J. McNamara expanded the militars responsibility to include the elimination of off-base discrimination detrimental to the military effectiveness of black servicemen.


Whereas it is essential that there be maintained in the armed services of the United States the highest standards of democracy, with equality of treatment and opportunity for all those who served in our countrs defense:

Now, therefore, by virtue of the authority invested in me as President of the United States, and as Commander in Chief of the armed services, it is hereby ordered as follows:

1. It is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin. This policy shall be put into effect as rapidly as possible, having due regard to the time required to effectuate any necessary changes without impairing efficiency or morale.

2. There shall be created in the National Military Establishment an advisory committee to be known as the Presidens Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Services, which shall be composed of seven members to be designated by the President.

3. The Committee is authorized on behalf of the President to examine into the rules, procedures and practices of the armed services in order to determine in what respect such rules, procedures and practices may be altered or improved with a view to carrying out the policy of this order. The Committee shall confer and advise with the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of the Army, the Secretary of the Navy, and Secretary of the Air Force, and shall make such recommendations to the President and to said Secretaries as in the judgement of the Committee will effectuate the policy hereof.

4. All executive departments and agencies of the Federal Government are authorized and directed to cooperate with the Committee in its work, and to furnish the Committee such information or the services of such persons as the Committee may require in the performance of its duties.

5. When requested by the Committee to do so, persons in the armed services or in any of the executive departments and agencies of the Federal Government shall testify before the Committee and shall make available for use of the Committee such documents and other information as the Committee may require.

6. The Committee shall continue to exist until such time as the President shall terminate its existence by Executive Order.

Harry S Truman
The White House
July 26, 1948
Source: United States Army (Redstone Arsenal)

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Presidential Executive Orders
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