The decision to drop the atomic bomb

Essay by Gregory BassoA+, April 1997

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On July sixteenth 1945 a cloud of smoke rose up above the desert in New

Mexico. It was less than a month later when that same cloud of smoke rose up above the

murdered bodies of at least 78,000 Japanese in the city of Hiroshima. Three days later at

least 38,000 more were killed in the city of Nagasaki by the same deadly bomb and again

the same ominous cloud of mushroom-like smoke arose. The dropping of these ruinous

bombs led to the almost unconditional surrender of the Japanese. The question that

plagued the world was, "did we have to drop the bombs?". Was Truman right in his

decision to drop a weapon with inconceivable power on two cities inhabited mostly by


In 1938 the United States got word that the Germans were producing the

technology for an atomic bomb. We then started our own research project on nuclear

weapons, its code name was "The Manhattan District (project)."

The Manhattan District

received heavy government funding after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Most of the top

scientists in America worked on this project to develop the first atomic bomb. Major

General Leslie Groves directed the Manhattan Project. J. Robert Oppenheimer, a

physicist, headed the making and testing of the bomb in New Mexico. It was when the

bomb was tested on July sixteenth 1945, that the United States of America realized the

great power they had in hand.

Many of the scientists who worked on or knew about the Manhattan

Project did not approve the use of the weapon without a demonstration or warning the

enemy about its power. Dr. Leo Szilard, who once advised Roosevelt on the possibility of

an atomic bomb, now advised Roosevelt against dropping the bomb. Szilard wanted

Roosevelt to use an alternative method, or at...