The Decision to Drop the Atomic Bomb

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The Decision to Drop the Atomic Bomb

On December 7, 1941, Japan bombed the United States naval facility known as

Pearl Harbor. This attack brought the United States into World War Two. Within the

four years that followed, the United States--under the presidency of Franklin D.

Roosevelt-- researched and developed an atomic bomb. This was known as the

Manhattan Project. Such a bomb was more powerful and destructive than any ever

known to man. After FDR died on April 12, 1945, the decision to drop the bomb was left

in the hands of the new president, Harry S. Truman. On July 25, 1945, President

Truman gave the order to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. Twelve days

later, an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, exploding with the force of 15,000

tons of TNT and reaching 5400 degrees Fahrenheit instantly (Gup 80). Six days later,

Nagasaki was hit with a second atomic bomb. These decisions changed society's

perception of warfare for generations to come. Thousands of lives were ended. Most of

these were civilians and prisoners of war. There were several alternatives to dropping the

bomb. The introduction of this weapon began a nuclear arms race. Some say that the

atomic bomb saved lives, yet thousands were killed. President Harry Truman made the

wrong decision in dropping the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki because the

bombs killed thousands of civilians.

When the bomb hit Hiroshima, 350,000 people were exposed (Gup 89). The

population of the city of Hiroshima was about 290,000. Of these, 40,000 were military

and 20,000 were Korean forced laborers. There have even been records showing that

there were at least 23 American ...

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...: From Reconstruction to the Present. San Diego,

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Gordon, Thomas and Max M. Witts. Enola Gay. New York: Stein and Day, 1977.

Gup, Ted. "Hiroshima- Up From Ground Zero." National Geographic August

1995: 78-99.

International Law -- Bombing of Civilians. [Online] Available 3/4/98. (note: in-text

documentaion listed as, "Laws")

The Outline of Atomic Bomb damage in Hiroshima. [Online] Available 3/8/98. (note: in-text documentaion

listed as, "Hiroshima")

Stokesbury, James L. "World War II." World Book Encyclopedia. 1992 ed.

Szilard, Leo. Atomic Bomb: Decison -- Szilard Petition Version 1, July 3, 1945. [Online]

Available 3/4/98.
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