AUTHORStimson, Henry L.
TITLEThe Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb
PERIODICAL TITLEHarper's Magazine
DATE PUBLISHED1947
VOLUME NUMBER194
ISSUE NUMBER1161
PAGE NUMBERS96-107
ISSN0017-789X
Web Access
Available online from Harper's Magazine


This seminal article written by former Secretary of War, Henry Stimson, became the "official" document of the United States government on the decision to use the atomic bombs on Japan. Written as a result of the public's reaction to the use of the bombs, it describes the events beginning in the fall of 1941 that led to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Stimson summarizes his meeting with Presidents Roosevelt and Truman and the meeting of the Interim Committee and its scientific advisory panel that included Robert Oppenheimer, Enrico Fermi, Arthur Compton, and Ernest Lawrence. He gives the view of the United States towards Japan in July, 1945, immediately before the bombing. He indicates that there was much discussion about the use of the bomb and also about the terms for Japanese surrender. The article concludes with Stimson's personal summary of the events and the hope that nuclear weapons will never be used again. McGeorge Bundy assisted in writing the article, and James Conant, president of Harvard, edited it heavily.


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