In August of 1945, the United States became the first, and only, country to use atomic weapons against an enemy. For this paper, you will assess and evaluate President Truman’s controversial decision to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The assigned reading for this paper, Truman’s Decision to Drop the Atomic Bomb (posted on blackboard) highlights the central issues dividing historians who study the bombings.

NOTE: For this paper, you will NOT be assuming a role – you will simply be evaluating the facts and weighing the evidence and arguments presented in the assigned reading and then developing an argument as to whether or not the bombings were justified. You will be, therefore, writing in the third person, as yourself, and expressing your own views based on the evidence.



The Military Necessity and Utility of the Bombings:

— Was “the bomb” necessary to end/win the war?

— Would Japan have surrendered without the use of atomic weapons?

— Were there viable alternatives to using atomic weapons?

— Did we need to drop TWO bombs?

— Did the bombings save lives?

The Motivation for Using Atomic Weapons:

— Was the use of atomic weapons motivated primarily by military concerns – winning the war?

— What, if any, role did domestic political and/or strategic/diplomatic concerns play?

— What role, if any, did racial prejudice against the Japanese play?


Legacy of the Bombings:

— How should we view these bombings?

— How should his decision to use atomic weapons shape our view of Truman’s presidency?

— Has the use of atomic weapons left a moral stain on American History?

PAPER REQUIREMENTS: Your debate papers should be approximately five pages long (typed and double spaced), and should be in essay form (it should not simply be an outline or list of bullet points). They should be written in the third person and reflect your assessment of the evidence provided in the reading. While your paper should develop a clear argument, I would like to see evidence of your reasoning process and gain an understanding of how you weighed the factual evidence and why you ultimately came to the conclusions that you did. As with our last paper, you want to make the strongest case that you can for your side, while also pointing out any flaws or weaknesses that you find in the arguments made by the other side.

● USING ADDITIONAL SOURCES: You DO NOT have to do any research for this assignment beyond the assigned readings. If you choose to do additional research, it must be used in addition to, and not instead of, the assigned materials, and you MUST PROVIDE FULL CITATIONS for all outside sources that you use (footnotes or endnotes).