People & Events|
President Harry Truman (1884-1972)
Harry S. Truman was active in Democratic Party politics for many years before first being elected to the U.S. Senate in 1934. During the Second World War he headed the Senate war investigating committee. As President Roosevelt's Vice President he knew nothing of the development of the atomic bomb. But within months of assuming the office of President of the United States on April 12, 1945, he became the first and only American leader to authorize the use of atomic weapons against an enemy target. The first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6th; on August 9th a second A-bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. Although publicly Truman always defended his decision to use atomic weapons against Japan, by the end of his presidency he was voicing concerns about the impact the bombs would have on future wars. In his last State of the Union address, he said: "For now we have entered the atomic age and war has undergone a technological change which makes it a very different thing from what it used to be. War today between the Soviet empire and the free nations might dig the grave not only of our Stalinist opponents, but of our own society, our world as well as theirs...The war of the future would be one in which man could extinguish millions of lives at one blow...Such a war is not a possible policy for rational men."