I posted earlier today a blog item about how Franklin Roosevelt’s death changed the vice presidency for the better.
Vice President Harry Truman became president upon FDR’s death in April 1945. He took office, asked his Cabinet to pray for him and then set about finishing off the Axis Powers as World War II came to an end. Nazi Germany surrendered just about three weeks after FDR’s death. The Pacific combat remained to be fought.
But he knew next to nothing about the secrets that FDR took with him to the grave. One of them involved the Manhattan Project. Imagine the conversation taking place between Secretary of War Henry Stimson and the president of the United States.
Stimson: Uh, Mr. President? I’ve got something to discuss with you.
Truman: Sure, Henry. What is it?
Stimson: Well, sir, we’re developing this bomb out in New Mexico. We’ve been working with really smart fellow: Bob Oppenheimer, Enrico Fermi, Albert Einstein, to name just three.
Truman: Bomb? We’ve got all kinds of bombs. We dropped them by the thousands every day in Europe and we’re still doing so in the Pacific.
Stimson: But Mr. President, this bomb is a big one. Really, really big. It’s an atomic bomb. I mean, when it explodes, it registers enough firepower to equal several thousand pounds of dynamite.
Truman: Holy s***, Henry. One bomb equals all that power?
Stimson: Yes sir. We’re going to detonate one of them in July out in Alamogordo. It’ll be the first one. If it works, we’re going to propose something quite dramatic.
Truman: And that is … ?
Stimson: We think we ought to use it on Japan. Send them a message that if they keep fighting we’ll use it again and again. Mr. President, we don’t think the Japanese will have the stomach for many of these.
Truman: OK, Henry, we’ll wait to see how the test blast goes and then we’ll make that call.
The test went off successfully. Less than a month later, President Truman issued the order to bomb Hiroshima. The Enola Gay took off on Aug. 6. Three days later, Nagasaki was demolished by the second A-bomb — and the rest is history.
God bless President Truman.