Harry Truman: 'The Japanese Were Given Fair Warning'

Exactly how the atomic bomb changed the course of history remains a matter of debate. The president who authorized its use says he had no other choice.

Editor’s Note: President Harry Truman’s response to Karl T. Compton's December 1946 article, "If the Atomic Bomb Had Not Been Used."

The White House

December 16, 1946

Dear Dr. Compton:—
Your statement in the Atlantic Monthly is a fair analysis of the situation except that the final decision had to be made by the President, and was made after a complete survey of the whole situation had been made. The conclusions reached were substantially those set out in your article.

The Japanese were given fair warning, and were offered the terms which they finally accepted, well in advance of the dropping of the bomb. I imagine the bomb caused them to accept the terms.

Sincerely yours,
Harry S. Truman