Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Mark Walker




atomic weapons, nuclear war, bombings, Pacific theater, Cold War


This thesis examines the issues and controversies that the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki caused in the United States. Four chapters all deal with different periods in the history of these controversies. The first chapter deals with the actual decision to drop the bomb and the American public’s initial reactions, while the second chapter deals with subsequent reactions as the topic got more controversial. One of these topics include Henry Stimson’s article entitled “The Decision to Use the Bomb,” which attempted to justify the use of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The third looks at the beginnings of the Cold War and its consequences, including the Cuban Missile Crisis. The last chapter examines more modern issues such as Chernobyl and the ultimate fear of nuclear war. The most useful primary documents found for this thesis included declassified documents during the Cold War, diaries and correspondences between leaders, and articles from those who saw Hiroshima first hand. Many letters written between world leaders, diaries and articles released to the public proved very helpful in figuring out just how the most powerful people in the world were reacting to the bombings. Many of these controversies happened more than fifty years ago including the Cuban Missile Crisis, so it is very fortunate that so many documents from the CIA have been released to the public to enjoy. From this research I have concluded that the history of atomic weaponry is a long and complicated one, even though it has all happened in the 20th century. I came across many documents and books that contained shocking facts and stories that I didn’t know were possible. We did not need to drop any nuclear weapons on Japan, and later on, during the 60’s, we were much closer to nuclear war than many thought.