Truman and the Atomic Bomb Thesis

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Truman and the Atomic Bomb

Harry S. Truman

Harry S. Truman became the 33rd president of the United States in 1945. He was born in Lamar, Missouri in 1884 but grew up in Independence. He was a prosperous farmer in Missouri until he became a captain in the field artillery in France during World War I. Back in the United States, he married Elizabeth Virginia Wallace. He became active in the Democratic Party. He was elected judge of the Jackson County Court in 1922. He became a senator in 1934. During World War II, he was head of the Senate war investigating committee. This committee looked into the waste and corruption situation. It also saved as much as $15 billion. He remained a senator until chosen by Franklin Delano Roosevelt as his vice-presidential running mate for his fourth term in 1944. They won and Truman became the 34th U.S. Vice President. Less than three months later, President Roosevelt succumbed to massive cerebral hemorrhage. Truman was sworn in to succeed him on the same day. On that day, April 12, 1945, he was quoted as saying: "I felt like the moon, the stars and all the planets had fallen on me."

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Foremost among the things, which fell on his hands, was the dropping of atomic bombs in two Japanese cities in August 1945. The motive was to end World War II. Other international issues were the rebuilding of Europe and Japan; changing American foreign policy; the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Council; the recognizing of Israel as a State; response to the Cold War; and involvement in the Korean War. The major domestic issues he confronted during his term were labor unrest, expansion of the GI bill for returning veterans, the proposal for a national health care and four civil rights executive orders. Only days after the first atomic bombs were dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima, the Japanese surrendered. Two months earlier, he witnessed the signing of the charter of the United Nations, aimed at establishing and preserving world peace.

TOPIC: Thesis on Truman and the Atomic Bomb Assignment

President Truman soon veered away from his predecessor's policies. He presented his 21-point system, which came to be known as the Fair Deal. It proposed the expansion of Social Security, a full employment program, a permanent Fair Employment Practices Act, and public housing and slum clearance. He perceived it as something which:

symbolizes... (his) assumption of the office of the President... (his) own right."

He proved his mettle as a leader in foreign affairs. In 1947, he asked Congress to help Turkey and Greece against the Soviet Union through his Truman Doctrine in 1947. The Marshall Plan was then initiated for massive economic recovery in Western Europe. He provided massive airlift to the people in Western Berlin when the Russians blocked their sectors in 1948. He negotiated for the establishment of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a military alliance to protect Western nations, in 1949. He also offered assistance to South Korea when it was attacked by the Communist government of North Korea in June 1950. He retired in Kansas City where he died at 88 on December 26, 1972. He was voted by the C-Span Poll, consisting of 58 presidential historians, as the fifth best U.S. president. The top four were Abraham Lincoln, FDR, George Washington and Theodore Roosevelt.

The First Atomic Bombs

The first nuclear fission weapons were made from fissionable materials, uranium tetrafluoride and plutonium nitrate. Both are radioactive and toxic metallic elements. They were brought in from Hanford into a secret laboratory in Los Alamos, New Mexico in late 1944. Leading physicist Robert Oppenheimer and his fellow chemists gave form to the materials. The produced 1 gun-type uranium bomb, called "Little Boy," and two implosion-type bomb, called "Fat Man." "Little Boy" contained 135 pounds of 90% pure fissionable material, 2 pounds of which were equivalent to 15-16,000 tons of TNT. As the war with Japan proceeded and when a costly allied invasion appeared clearly possible, President Truman approved the use of these nuclear weapons against selected Japanese targets. The U.S. Army Air Force received the orders for enforcement anytime after August 3, 1945. On August 6, "Little Boy" was detonated over Hiroshima. It caused 100,000 immediate and 200,000 eventual deaths on the ground. "Fat Man," on the other hand, contained 12 pounds of Pu-239, of which only 2 pounds underwent fusion. Its strength was equivalent to 22,000 tons of TNT. It was dropped on Nagasaki 3 days later on August 9, causing 70,000 immediate and 140,000 eventual deaths.

The History of the Atomic Bomb and the Manhattan Project

On August 2, 1939, Albert Einstein and many other scientists informed President Roosevelt about Nazi Germany's efforts to build an atomic bomb by purifying uranim-235. In reaction, the U.S. government set up the Manhattan Project to research on the production of a viable atomic bomb. The initial problem was the production of enough "enriched" uranium to sustain a chain reaction. The ideal uranium-235 was quite difficult to extract. What could be finally refined from uranium ore is more than 99% uranium-238, which is useless for an atomic bomb. The solution was the construction of a massive enrichment laboratory at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Harold Urey and his team, including Ernest Lawrence, at Columbia University created an extraction system, which would separate the lighter and desired uranium-235 from the heavier U-238. When this was done, the result - concept behind atomic fission - had to be tested. The Project took six years, brilliant scientists and more than $2 billion. The scientists were Robert

Oppenheimer, David Bohm, Leo Szilard, Eugene Wigner, Otto Frisch, Rudolf

Peierls, Felix Bloch, Niels Bohr, Emilio Segre, James Franck, Enrico Fermi,

Klaus Fuchs and Edward Teller. Oppenheimer oversaw the creation of the atomic bomb from conception to completion.

The test was the finale of three years of planning and development by the super secret Manhattan Project, which was to change the world forever. It was headed by General Leslie R. Groves, while Oppenheimer directed the scientific team, which was headquartered at Los Alamos, New Mexico. They chose the Alamogordo Bombing and Gunnery Range for the test, code-named "Trinity," on the early morning hours of July 16, 1945. A steel tower that would suspend the bomb, also called "The Gadget," had to be built 100 feet above the ground. Many expressed apprehension over a disastrous reaction in the upper atmosphere and end in the destruction of the earth. Others feared the effects of radioactive fall-outs on the people around the test site or else the entire test would simply fail. Observers, including a medical team, in the surrounding towns monitored the results of the explosion. At 5:29:45 that morning, a white blaze stretched from the Jemez Mountains in northern New Mexico. It turned orange as the atomic fireball shot upwards at 360 feet per second. It turned red and pulsed as it cooled like a mushroom cloud. This mushroom cloud of radioactive vapor formed at 30,000 feet. Below were fragments of jade radioactive glass from the heat of the reaction. The light was so intense that those in faraway areas thought two suns appeared in the skies that morning. Even before the test, a second bomb was already sent to the Pacific to be dropped over the city of Hiroshima.

Motivations, Oppositions and Actions

In May 1945, Nazi Germany already surrendered to the Allies, but Japan continued to fight. AU.S. presidential commission recommended dropping an atomic bomb on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, respectively, to force Japan to surrender. It surrendered on August 14. As a result of the blasts, more than 200,000 died and countless others suffered the effects of radiation from that time to the present. The scientists who invented the atomic bomb themselves opposed the dropping out of fear it would lead to a nuclear arms race. They, instead, recommended turning over the secrets of the bomb to an international agency, which would take responsibility for its use for productive goals only. It could be used to produce energy. They also recommended that the Japanese be warned in detail about the destructive potential of the bomb. However, the Interim Committee, led by Secretary of War Henry Stimson, rejected the recommendations. He, instead, recommended that the bomb be used on Japan.

The rush for an atomic weapon was the response to rumors that Nazi Germany was already producing a similar weapon, which would be used on the Allies. But Nazi Germany had surrendered in May 1945. Russia made good its commitment to join the fight against Japan. it, however, failed to fulfill its commitment to allow free and democratic elections in the Eastern European nations controlled by the Russian army. Some think the expansion of Russian power in Asia motivated the decision of the Interim Committee to drop the bomb. Others also believed racism could have been behind that decision. Japan's attack of Pearl Harbor fostered prejudice against Americans of Japanese… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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