Documents and Debates: The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb



On July 16, 1945, the USS Indianapolis slipped away from its moorings on Mare Island, California, headed for the South Pacific. The USA navy command so closely guarded the ship’s mission that not even its Captain, Charles B McVay, III, knew its true nature. Ten days later, the Indianapolis arrived at Tinian Island within the Northern Marianas. The crew unloaded its valuable cargo – half the world’s provide of U-235 and all of the parts essential to construct an atomic bomb. The bomb, nicknamed Little Boy, was assembled on Tinian, loaded onto a bomber named the Enola Homosexual, and dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, August 6, 1945. The blast instantly killed 80,000 individuals. Three days later – August 9 – a second bomb devastated Nagasaki, Japan. Pressed by a naval blockade of the house islands, the USSR’s entry into the conflict towards Japan, and the atomic disaster’s impression, Japan surrendered on August 14, 1945. The conflict was over.
Peace got here too late for almost 900 members of the USS Indianapolis’s crew. After delivering the bomb, the ship patrolled the waters close to Guam then struck out for the Philippine Islands. On the night time of July 30, 1945, a mere 4 days after dropping its cargo on Tinian, a Japanese submarine put two torpedoes into the ship’s hull, killing 300 crew members immediately – the remainder went into the water. A collection of wartime snafus prevented phrase from reaching potential rescuers that the Indianapolis was lacking. For 3-and-a-half days, survivors trod water, dying from dehydration, saltwater poisoning, and sharks. Solely 316 survived – the biggest single-ship naval catastrophe in United States historical past.
Practically all the things linked to this primary wartime use of an atomic bomb appears stranger than fiction – from the weapon’s improvement to the Indianapolis’s horrific destiny. The Indianapolis was in California to restore harm attributable to a kamikaze assault of Okinawa in March of 1945, making it the appropriate candidate to ship the bomb.  At its peak, the Manhattan Mission, the event effort that created the bomb, employed 125,000 employees, unfold throughout the nation from Oak Ridge, Tennessee, to Chicago, Illinois, and Los Alamos, New Mexico. The mission price $2B, a staggering sum within the Forties. It was so secret, even Vice-President of the USA Harry S. Truman was unaware of its existence when he was sworn in as President following Franklin Roosevelt’s loss of life in April of 1945.
Truman needed to stand up to hurry shortly. He met with different Allied leaders in Potsdam three months after turning into President. Whereas on the convention, scientists in New Mexico efficiently examined a reside bomb, then notified Truman, who knowledgeable USSR premier Joseph Stalin. Truman confided to his diary that the information didn’t appear to shock Stalin. We now know that Stalin knew concerning the American progress as a result of he had spies at Los Alamos. Now Truman confronted some of the consequential choices in American presidential historical past. Ought to this new weapon, with its super damaging energy, be utilized in hopes of shortening the conflict with Japan?
Truman sought recommendation earlier than making the choice from an Interim Committee, composed of scientists and navy leaders, charged with contemplating the ethical, political, and navy implications of utilizing the bomb. The Interim Committee beneficial to Secretary of Warfare Henry Stimson on June 21 “that the weapon be used towards Japan on the earliest alternative, that or not it’s used with out warning, and that or not it’s used on a twin goal, particularly, a navy set up or conflict plant surrounded by or adjoining to properties or different buildings most vulnerable to break.” (Doc A)
The navy various to utilizing the bomb was an invasion of Japan’s predominant islands, just like the D-Day invasion of France in June of 1944. Common Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Allied Commander in Asia, informed Truman that “eventually a decisive floor assault should be made.” Casualty predictions for the deliberate invasion horrified the brand new President. Truman went to his grave, insisting that utilizing the atomic bomb, lethal because it was, saved extra American and Japanese lives than it price. (Doc B)
The paperwork in Educating American Historical past’s Quantity II, Chapter 23: The Resolution to Use the Atomic Bomb set Truman’s resolution within the context of the protracted Pacific Warfare and seize a lot of the reasoning behind it. Studying the paperwork, college students grow to be vicarious decision-makers critiquing the considering of vital scientific, navy, and political leaders as they contemplate whether or not to make use of probably the most damaging weapon the world has ever identified to finish earth’s most catastrophic conflict.
Paperwork on this chapter embrace:
A. The Scientific Panel of the Interim Committee, Suggestions on the Rapid Use of Nuclear Weapons, June 16, 1945
B. Minutes of Conferences held on the White Home on Monday, June 18, 1945
C. Proclamation Defining Phrases for Japanese Give up, Potsdam, July 26, 1945
D. President Harry S. Truman, Press Launch Alerting the Nation Concerning the Atomic Bomb, August 6, 1945
E. J. R. Oppenheimer to Secretary of Warfare Henry Stimson, August 17, 1945
We now have additionally offered audio recordings of the chapter’s Introduction, Paperwork, and Examine Questions. You’ll discover these simply beneath the headings for every factor of the chapter. These recordings assist literacy improvement for struggling readers and the comprehension of difficult textual content for all college students.
Educating American Historical past: We the Lecturers weblog will function chapters from our two-volume Paperwork and Debates in American Historical past with their accompanying audio recordings every month till recordings of all 29 chapters are full. Following right now’s submit on Quantity II, Chapter 23, we flip, on March ninth, to Quantity I, Chapter 10: The Market Revolution and (The Delusion Of) Free Labor. We invite you to proceed following this weblog intently, so it is possible for you to to make the most of the brand new audio function because the recordings grow to be accessible.
Entry the assets, paperwork, and readings right here.
 
 
 



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