Truman’s Decision Part I – All Things Considered: Imagine that it is August 1945, and you are an advisor to President Truman. You have been asked to help him decide whether or not to use a devastating new weapon, the atomic bomb



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Death of Japanese Civilians






Death of Japanese Soldiers






Death of American Civilians






Death of American Soldiers






Damage to the land/environment






Loss of economic production






Reputation of the United States






Ending the war quickly






Sending a “message”






Impact on the Japanese people






Impact on the American people






Part II – Written Response: Use information obtained in this activity and your WWII notes to respond to the following prompt.

Prompt – What would your advice to President Truman have been and why?

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Part III – Reading Article: Read each of the following articles to determine President Truman’s reasoning for using atomic bombs on Japan at the end of WWII.

A. “The weapon is to be used against Japan between now and August 10th. I have told the Sec. of War, Mr. Stimson, to use it so that military objectives and soldiers and sailors are the target and not women and children. Even if the Japs are savages, ruthless, merciless and fanatic, we as the leader of the world for the common welfare cannot drop this terrible bomb on the old capital or the new.

He and I are in accord. The target will be a purely military one and we will issue a warning statement asking the Japs to surrender and save lives. I’m sure they will not do that, but we will have given them the chance. It is certainly a good thing for the world that Hitler’s crowd or Stalin’s did not discover this atomic bomb. It seems to be the most terrible thing ever discovered, but it can be made the most useful.”



Diary entry written by President Truman on July 25, 1945
B. “The Japanese began the war from the air at Pearl Harbor. They have been repaid many fold. If they do not now accept our terms they may expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth.”

Excerpt from a public statement by President Truman, August 6, 1945
C. “Having found the bomb, we have used it. We have used it against those who attacked us without warning at Pearl Harbor, against those who have starved and beaten and executed American prisoners of war, against those who have abandoned all pretense of obeying international laws of warfare. We have used it in order to shorten the agony of war, in order to save the lives of thousands and thousands of young Americans.”

Excerpt from a public statement by President Truman, August 9, 1945
D. “I know that Japan is a terribly cruel and uncivilized nation in warfare but I can’t bring myself to believe that, because they are beasts, we should ourselves act in the same manner. For myself, I certainly regret the necessity of wiping out whole populations because of the ‘pigheadedness’ of the leaders of a nation and, for your information, I am not going to do it until it is absolutely necessary…”

Excerpt from a letter written by President Truman to Senator Richard Russell, who had asked that

Japan be bombed again after the initial strike (Hiroshima).
Part IV – Written Response: Use information obtained in this activity and your WWII notes to respond to the following prompt.

Prompt – Explain Truman’s reasons for using the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Use text evidence from each of the documents (A. – D.)

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