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Harry S. Truman

Harry S. Truman was born on May 8,1884 in Lamar, Missouri. From 1917-1919, he served as a soldier in World War I. Truman began his political career as a county judge and then served as a US Senator from 1935-1941. On April 12, 1945, Truman became President after the death of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He was elected to serve a second term in 1948.

Truman was the only head of government who actually used a nuclear weapon in warfare. After entering into office, he learned of the atomic bomb and had to decide whether or not to use it. Although he knew that Japan was seeking to surrender, he chose to use the bomb on two Japanese cities in short succession.

On August 6, 1945, the American bomber Enola Gay dropped "little boy," detonating a gun-type uranium bomb over Hiroshima and immediately killing approximately 70,000 people. The act marked the public start of the Nuclear Age, leading to the production of nuclear weapons by many countries and changing the reality of warfare. Upon learning the news of the destruction of Hiroshima, Truman remarked, "This is the greatest thing in history."

On August 9, 1945, "fat boy," a plutonium implosion device, was exploded over Nagasaki. The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki put in perspective how easily the world could be

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More on the Web
Alsos Digital Library for Nuclear Issues
Harry S. Truman Library and Musuem 
Harry S. Truman Books 

See Also
Harry S. Truman Diary: April 12, 1945 to August 11, 1945


Recognizing the overwhelming destructive potential of nuclear weapons, on November 15, 1945, Truman issued a joint statement with Prime Ministers Clement Attlee of Great Britain and Mackenzie King of Canada calling for a United Nations Atomic Energy Commission. In 1946, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution creating an Atomic Energy Commission to make proposals for the peaceful uses of atomic energy and for the elimination of weapons of mass destruction.

During the Korean War, at the request of General McArthur, President Truman approved the use of nuclear weapons on Manchuria if large numbers of Chinese troops joined in the fighting or if bombers were launched from Manchurian bases. On November 15, 1950, Truman revealed that he had ordered the US Atomic Energy Commission to develop a hydrogen bomb, which was first tested at Enewetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands on November 1, 1952.

Truman's second term ended in 1952 and he died on December 26, 1972 in Kansas City, Missouri.