The American Vision © 2010
Global Struggles, 1941-1960
Historical Thinking Activities
Assignment: Present Your Opinion on Truman's Decision to Drop the Atomic Bomb
Should the United States have used the atomic bomb against Japan in 1945? Since the end of World War II, many people have debated this issue. Some arguments are based on the motivations people attribute to President Truman and his generals. Other arguments rest on the morality of using the atomic bomb. Finally, some arguments relate to the influence of the decision to use the atomic bomb on the subsequent Cold War and arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union. In this activity, you will study the issue and write a persuasive memo to President Truman arguing one of the following positions:
Assignment Task List
- President Truman should not use the atomic bomb against Japan.
- President Truman should use the atomic bomb against Japan.
Step 1: Review your textbook on the war in the Pacific. This step is critical to help you understand how President Truman and others saw the world at the time they made their decisions. (See especially pages 748-752.)
Step 2: Review primary sources on both sides of the issue to help you decide which position you will take.
Atomic Bomb: Decision
Documents on the Decision to Use Atomic Bombs on the Cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Harry S. Truman Library and Museum
The Decision to Drop the Atomic Bomb
Photography Gallery "Hiroshima" by Hiromi Tsuchida
Library of Congress
Experiencing War: Stories from the Veterans History Project
Office of History & Heritage Resources
The Manhattan Project: An Interactive History
Step 3: Research the arguments. Your task is to make a strong case to President Truman. After you have decided your position on the issue, you need to research that position further. Be sure to take notes and evaluate the reliability of your sources. Review “Evaluating Information” on page R8 of the Skills Handbook.
Step 4: Outline the key points in support of your position.
Step 5: Write a persuasive two-page memo based on your outline.
Step 6: Review your work against the checklist below. Have you included all elements of a well-written memo? Revise as necessary.
|A well-written memo will:|
|•||take a clear position|
|•||demonstrate an understanding of the issue|
|•||present ideas in a well-organized format|
|•||include facts and/or quotations to support the position|
|•||use correct spelling and grammar|