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Atomic Bomb Development

Working for the welfare of the United States was a confusing and difficult job when Truman took it on as President. Within months of taking office, he was forced to the most fateful decision made by any President in the country's history- the decision to use nuclear weapons against Japan. What Truman knew of the strategic direction of the war he had learned chiefly through his service in the Senate, especially as chairman of the Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program. So important a secret as that of the Manhattan Project's war-stopping work on the atomic bomb had not been shared by Roosevelt with his vice-president. After Germany's defeat, the fall of Japan could be seen as inevitable. But political and military decisions vital to the future of the country and the world remained to be made. On Japan alone there were serious issues to be resolved: "Such questions as the timing of, and the price to be paid for, the defeat of Japan, the occupation of the enemy nations, and the use of the atomic weapon had to be settled by the new commander-in-chief."1(May 182)

In 1940, a research team at Berkeley, California, discovered the artificial element plutonium, extractable from raw uranium, and both being fissionable, were the two keys to the bomb. The news was soon forthcoming: "On December 6, 1941, the President of Harvard University, chemist James B. Conant, announced to a select group in Washington the inauguration of a full-scale secret government program, code-named the Manhattan Project, to obtain enough fissionable material to build a bomb."2 With Manhattan Project underway, it was unlikely that one man, even a President, could have stopped it. Research and development had cost $2 billion, an unprecedented sum for a single military or civilian purpose, and scientists and military leaders were eager to use the product.

At the beginning of 1942, the responsibilities of the Metallurgical ...

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Atomic Bomb Development. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 22:47, July 01, 2022, from