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James Byrnes

James Byrnes was born on May 2, 1882 in Charleston, South Carolina. He served as a US Senator from 1931-1942. From 1941 to 1942, Byrnes was an associate justice on the US Supreme Court and from 1942 to 1943, he was the Director of Economic Stabilization. Byrnes then served as the Director of the Office of War Mobilization from 1943 to 1945.

As Secretary of State from 1945-1947 and Truman's closest foreign policy advisor in 1945, Byrnes exerted political influence on the decision to use atomic bombs on Japanese cities. At a meeting of the Interim Committee on June 1, 1945 organized to guide final conduct of the war and the post-war reconstruction, Byrnes recommended using the atomic bomb as soon as possible on an urban area. He also recommended that no prior warning be given. Byrnes was also responsible for ensuring that the Manhattan Project had top priority in terms of receiving resources and manpower.

Byrnes believed that the US needed to use the atomic bomb not only to defeat Japan, but also to

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demonstrate American military might to Russia. On Byrnes' rational to use atomic weapons on Japanese cities, Leo Slizard stated, "Mr. Byrnes did not argue that it was necessary to use the bomb against the cities of Japan in order to win the war. Mr. Byrne's view was that our possessing and demonstrating the bomb would make Russia more manageable in Europe."

Contrary to recommendations by the top US expert on Japan, Joseph Grew, and Secretary of War Harry Stimson, Byrnes convinced President Truman to remove any assurances that Japan could retain its emperor, in the Potsdam Proclamation issued on July 26, 1945. On August 14, Japan agreed to surrender. Although the emperor remained, it was under the jurisdiction of General Douglas MacArthur, the Allied Supreme Commander over Japan.

Byrnes died on April 9, 1972 in Columbia.