Part 9

July 28 thru Aug. 9, 1945

The following are excerpts from Sec. of War Henry Stimson's diary and papers that have relevance to the atomic bombing of Japan. This is by no means a complete collection of such references from Stimson's diary and papers. These excerpts are published here with the authorization of the Yale University Library. The diary and papers can be found in the Henry Lewis Stimson Papers, Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library, New Haven, Conn. The diary and papers can also be found in the Library of Congress, Washington, DC and in the Center For Research Libraries, Chicago, IL.

For information about the prior Henry Stimson diary and papers, click Stimson Diary and Papers, Part 1.

[I have included some explanatory and contextual comments for the excerpts. My writing is in brackets and italics, as I have done with this paragraph.]

[Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the Smyth Report]

July 28, 1945 Diary Entry [On this date Stimson returned to Washington, DC from the Potsdam Conference]:

"[Special Assistant to Stimson] Harvey Bundy called me in the afternoon about the progress of affairs in S-1 after a consultation which he had had with [George] Harrison [Special Consultant to Stimson] and Gen. [Leslie] Groves [The general in charge of the Manhattan Project]. Everything seems to be going well."

July 30, 1945 Diary Entry:

"After a short rest I took up with Bundy, Harrison, [Arthur] Page [an assistant to Stimson], and Groves the draft of the Presidential announcement of S-1 [to be delivered by President Truman after the a-bomb was used on Japan]. We made some changes in it which were induced by the difference of psychology which now exists since the successful test [on July 16]. I did not realize until I went over these papers now what a great change that [test] had produced in my own psychology. We put some more pep into the paper and made it a little more dramatic and then sent a telegram to the President telling him what we had done and asking for his authority, and also sent him by special courier a draft of the revised paper. There was a great deal more that I had to learn as to the plans because of changes which had been crystallized while I was away."

[The above remark is an apparent reference to several key events regarding the a-bomb that had occurred during the previous two weeks:

July 31, 1945 Diary Entry

"[Acting Sec. of State] Joe Grew came around at nine-thirty to talk over State Department matters with me. He has been having a rather hard time, poor fellow, with his chief away [Sec. of State James Byrnes was not yet back from the Potsdam Conference]. So we had a good many things to talk over and I brought him up to date on what had happened as to my trip [to the Potsdam Conference] and as to S-1. I was glad to find that he was thoroughly in support of the views which I have developed in regard to the treatment of Japan."

[The above statement may be a reference to Stimson's wish to let Japan keep their emperor in order to bring the war to a swifter conclusion; see the July 24, 1945 entry in Stimson Diary Part 8].

"After he departed Harvey Bundy and George Harrison and I settled down to the consideration of my own proposed statement as to S-1 [the statement Stimson would make after the a-bomb was used on Japan]. This has been revised since the original draft and much improved and I did not have any trouble with it."

"After I returned from my [horseback] ride I was called up by Joe Grew who said that there had been submitted to him a proposed speech by General [Henry "Hap"] Arnold [who was in charge of the Army Air Force] for a celebration of Army Air Force Day, of which Grew read to me the opening portions. It seemed to be virtually a new ultimatum to Japan made by Arnold at a dinner celebrating the Air Forces achievement. Grew told me that it had been brought to him for clearance and he had questioned the advisability of such a speech. I told him I thoroughly endorsed his position and asked him not to clear it. The President having spoken in warning to Japan, this would in my opinion simply mess up matters and obscure the whole situation. I then called up both [Army Chief of Staff General George] Marshall [who was Arnold's boss] and Arnold and, being unable to get them, I conveyed my message to them to Colonel Frank McCarthy [one of Marshall's aides] who was at the [War] Department. I told him that the speech should not be made in that form at all or in any form approaching a warning to Japan; that the President having spoken, nobody else should intervene now. He promised to get the word at once to both Marshall and Arnold."

August 1, 1945 Diary Entry: [The Smyth Report is reluctantly created]

"As soon as I arrived at the [War] Department I called in General Marshall and asked him whether he had received my message through McCarthy and he told me that he had and that the speech had been changed and made in an entirely different form."

"I then took up with Harrison, Bundy and Groves the third paper to be issued in S-1, namely that of the scientists ["Atomic Energy For Military Purposes", commonly known as the Smyth Report]. The draft of this paper is about two hundred pages long - manifestly so big that I cannot possibly read it now, and I therefore went over the skeleton of it and the pros and cons of making any speech (as to which I am very doubtful) with my three consultants. The aim of the paper is to backfire reckless statements by independent scientists after the demonstration of the bomb. If we could be sure that these could be controlled and avoided, all of us would much prefer not to issue such a paper. But under the circumstances of the entire independence of action of scientists and the certainty that there would be a tremendous amount of excitement and reckless statement, Groves, who is a very conservative man, had reached the conclusion that the lesser evil would be for us to make a statement carefully prepared so as not to give away anything vital and thus try to take the stage away from the others. We debated long over the situation for it is a very difficult question and all of us recognize its difficulty. Rules have been drawn under which this present paper has been formulated. I went over those rules and then postponed the matter until tomorrow when I shall have a talk with [James] Conant [an advisor for the Manhattan Project], Groves, Bundy, and some of Groves' assistants [Richard Tolman, W.S. Schurcliff, and Paul Fine] on the whole matter. I am of course much influenced by the fact that Groves has reached a decision in favor of the statement."

[Groves, who was normally very secretive about a-bomb information, later gave his reasons for issuing the Smyth Report (Leslie Groves, "Now It Can Be Told", pg. 348-349):

August 2, 1945 Diary Entry:

"...at eleven-thirty I had a meeting with Harrison, Bundy, Groves, Conant, Sir James Chadwick [the head British scientist on the Manhattan Project], Roger Makins [a British member of the Combined Policy Committee (on atomic energy)], Dr. Richard Tolman (Groves' chief helper), and [Stimson's aide Colonel William] Kyle with reference to the proposed statement [on the atomic bomb] to be made by the scientists [the Smyth Report] after the President's statement and mine have been given out. This was a tough nut to crack. I had been very doubtful about it and I knew that some of the others, including the British, also had been doubtful. On the other hand, Conant and the scientists were very strongly in favor of making such a statement and there had been great care taken in the formation of it so that, although it was long and rather appalling at first sight, they all assured me there was nothing given out which would play into the hands of any of our national competitors. We talked it over and, largely because of my confidence in the conservatism of General Groves, I gave my consent to its being published."

"Today I showed to Marshall the report on policy towards Japan which [Edgar] Crossman [of the Civil Affairs Division] had brought me. It had been written by [Air Force] Colonel [de Forest] Van Slyck. I told him that I did not know who the writer was but I thought it was a very good paper. Later I found from Marshall the General [Douglas] MacArthur [who was in charge of U.S. Army forces in the Pacific] has advised somewhat the same policy in dealing with the Japs."

[The above mentioned report recommended that the Allies "retain the Emperor" for two reasons:

"The day was full of conferences with Harrison, Bundy, and others in regard to the coming S-1 operation which is set for tomorrow night." [That was the first day Stimson thought the a-bomb might be used on Japan. For the estimated timetable on a-bomb use, see the July 23, 1945 Diary Entry in Stimson Diary, Part 8; see also the order to drop the a-bombs at the Nuclear Files web site at http://www.nuclearfiles.org/docs/1945/450725-handy-spaatz.html].

August 3, 1945 Diary Entry:

"I had conferences with Harrison, Bundy, [Assistant Sec. of War for Air Robert] Lovett, and Colonel [John] Stone [Chief of the Pacific Branch of the Army Air Force Operational Plans Division] of the Air Staff on the scientists' proposed report [the Smyth Report], Lovett being bitterly opposed to the publication of it."

August 4, 1945 Diary Entry:

"This was a troubled day because of constant messages from the [War] Department chiefly about S-1 [weather conditions over Japan had delayed the dropping of the a-bomb; see Martin Sherwin, "A World Destroyed", pg. 232] but also with Chanler [sic; Colonel William Chandler, Acting Director, Civil Affairs Div. of the War Dept.] about the Van Slyck paper above mentioned [on Aug. 4 Stimson had told Chandler to take a copy of the Van Slyck report to Acting Sec. of State Joseph Grew; Stimson discussed the report with Grew by phone that day and asked Grew to read it]. The result was that I did not get as much rest as I should have. The S-1 operation was postponed from Friday night [Aug. 3] until Saturday night and then again Saturday night until Sunday."

August 6, 1945 Diary Entry: [The Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima]

"A very rainy day but in the morning I got the news that the S-1 operation was successful. Marshall called me on the telephone to tell me of the success of the operation; also General Groves and Harrison. I talked again and again on the telephone as to various phases of the operation and the giving out of the President's release and my own release. The President's release was rewritten by taking out the word "destroy" as to the target. Altogether I had ten telephone talks with Washington during the day as follows [Stimson was at his farm, Highhold, on Long Island]:

7:45 AM - General Marshall phoned; General Groves and Mr. Harrison present.

9:25 AM - Harrison phoned re radio to the President notifying him bomb had been dropped and rewriting his release. [President Truman was returning from the Potsdam Conference, crossing the Atlantic Ocean on the U.S.S. Augusta at the time of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.]

11:05 AM - Harrison phoned re President's release; Groves and [Major General Alexander] Surles [head of the Bureau of Public Relations] also talked.

11:30 AM - Harrison phoned re another radio to the President re releases.

12:05 PM - Harrison phoned re press release re bomb damage.

4:00 PM - Harrison phoned re propaganda campaign against the Empire and General [Thomas] Farrell's authority for same [Farrell was on Tinian Island getting information from the Enola Gay crew on the damage done to Hiroshima so the U.S. could make a public announcement about it; see Leslie Groves, "Now It Can Be Told", pg. 327-331.]

4:00 PM - Kyle phoned re weather, [Assistant Sec. of War John] McCloy's return [he was away on an inspection tour of western Europe and would return to the U.S. on Aug. 10], Grew's call [probably Grew's request to meet with Stimson regarding the Van Slyck paper] and making appointment with the President [for Aug. 8].

4:10 PM - Talked with General Marshall re operations in the Pacific other than those covering the big bomb.

4:30 PM - Kyle talked on the phone re statement appearing in the "Times-Herald". Also talked with Lovett re communiques from the Pacific.

5:35 PM - Talked with Lovett about "Swan" paper re Pacific; also with Kyle re Grew's request to see me.

It was a rainy day and I didn't miss much by my occupation on the telephone."

August 7, 1945 Diary Entry:

"Mabel [Stimson's wife] and I took off from Mitchel Field for Washington and landed in Washington at four o'clock after a terrible bump from a thunder storm which we skirted on the way. There I had a conference with Lovett, Harrison, Bundy, Surles and Kyle with regard to the publicity on the atomic bomb which apparently is very full."

August 8, 1945 Diary Entry:

"...when I got back to Washington the immediate plunge into work set me back again and this morning I had a rather sharp little attack at five o'clock in the morning which worried me so that I sent for [General] Kirk [one of Stimson's physicians] who came on his way downtown at eight and came again in the afternoon at five o'clock with [Major] Robb [another of Stimson's physicians], who however carefully examined me and reassured me as to my condition." [Stimson may have not been very reassured; at the top of this diary page he wrote "Heart attack"].

"I had a meeting in the Pentagon Building with Bundy, Harrison and Surles as to the new publicity of the atomic bomb which has come in and seems to be terrific."

"I took these papers over to my conference with the President, memorandum of which conference is annexed hereto." [To read the memorandum, click Memo on the a-bombing and getting Japan to surrender].

"After I had gone through this matter with the President I told him of my condition of health and that my doctors felt that I must take a complete rest and that I thought that that meant leaving the [War] Department finally in a short time. He couldn't have been nicer about it than he was or more friendly. He told me he wanted me to stay; he said he wanted me to be at his side and to be present when the war was over as he hoped it would be very soon, and he told me to take a month's rest when I wanted to but to come back to him when I could."

"After the conference I told General Marshall of the general effect of it and also Harvey Bundy. I then went home to a late lunch and spent the afternoon resting and dictating up my correspondence and getting ready to go off tomorrow to what I hope will be a thorough rest. The conference this afternoon with General Kirk and Major Robb was very encouraging and I hope to have good luck in my rest."

[In an Aug. 8, 1945 letter that Stimson wrote to President Truman after their meeting that day, Stimson expressed his gratitude to Truman for understanding his need for rest. Stimson also expressed his regret for leaving town:]

"I feel very much like a deserter in the middle of battle, but at least the battle is now going pretty thoroughly our way and victory is I trust not far around the corner." (Henry Lewis Stimson Papers, Yale University Library, New Haven, Conn., microfilm reel 113, pg. 180).
[Stimson also told Truman that if he was needed while out of town the War Department could contact him].

August 9, 1945 Diary Entry: [Handling public demands for demobilization; the Smyth Report; the atomic bombing of Nagasaki]

"When I reached the office this morning I found that the affirmative news for the press conference was so light that Surles thought we had better call the conference off and simply have me make a direct statement on the effect of the success of the atomic bomb on the future size of the Army. It seems as if everybody in the country was getting impatient to get his or her particular soldier out of the Army and to upset the carefully arranged system of points for retirement which we had arranged with the approval of the Army itself. The success of the first atomic bomb and the news of the Russians' entry into the war which came yesterday [Russia declared war on Japan on Aug. 8] has rather doubled this crusade. Every industry wishes to get its particular quota of men back and nearly all citizens join in demanding somebody to dig coal for the coming winter. The effect on the morale of the Army is very ticklish... I could see in my recent trip to Europe [in July to the Potsdam Conference] what a difficult task at best it will be to keep in existence a contented army of occupation and, if mingled with the inevitable difficulties there is a sense of grievance against the unfairness of the government [in releasing soldiers from the Army], the situation may become bad. Consequently the paper that we drew last night and continued today was a ticklish one. The bomb and the entrance of the Russians into the war will certainly have an effect on hastening the victory. But just how much that effect is on how long and how many men we will have to keep to accomplish that victory, it is impossible yet to determine. There is a great tendency in the press and among other critics to think that the Army leaders have no feeling for these things and are simply determined to keep a big army in existence because they like it, and therefore it is ticklish to run head on into this feeling with direct counter criticism. Therefore we tried to draft a paper which would make the people feel that we appreciated their views as well as ours..."

[A copy of Stimson's above mentioned statement can be found at Press release on the a-bombing and demobilization].

"The press conference thus being off at ten o'clock, I went over to the White House to meet the President who had called a hearing on whether or not we should put out a scientists' statement as to the making of the atomic bomb. It was a very difficult question for the President and he handled it with great courage and skill. We had given him all the support that we could in the care with which the statement was drawn so as not to give away any secret which would really help a rival to build on our foundations. But the subject was so vast and the scientists' report was so voluminous that it was impossible for a layman like the President or Byrnes or myself to determine this question and we had to rely upon the opinions of our scientific advisers. I had been through with a preliminary meeting last week in which I sounded out the British scientists as well as our own, and today the President listened to Dr. [Vannevar] Bush, Dr. Conant [Manhattan Project advisors], General Groves, and George Harrison, while Byrnes and I also sat in. After he had heard them all, with great promptness and decision he decided to act on the recommendation of the scientists that the statement [the Smyth Report] should be published at once."

"After that meeting was over I conferred with Byrnes in an adjoining room. I had asked for this meeting for the purpose of showing him the paper that I had received from Crossman drawn by deForest Van Slyck and the letter and article which I had received from Stanley Washburn. These papers each in their way advocated strongly and intelligently a sympathetic handling of the Japanese in negotiating a surrender [an interesting point from Stimson - to end the war, some degree of negotiation would be necessary]. The difficult thing is to get negotiators together and I urged very strongly on Byrnes that he should make it as easy as possible for the Japanese."

"We had news this morning of another successful atomic bomb being dropped on Nagasaki. These two heavy blows have fallen in quick succession upon the Japanese and there will be quite a little space before we intend to drop another. During that time I hope something may be done in negotiating a surrender. I have done the best I could to promote that in my talks with the President and with Byrnes and I think they are both in full sympathy with the aim."

"Tomorrow we [Stimson and his wife] hope to get off for a long rest to Highhold and St. Hubert's." [St. Hubert's was a club in the Adirondack Mountains of New York state where Stimson sometimes went to relax. But Stimson's departure would be delayed; just as he was about to leave on Aug. 10, the first Japanese offer to surrender arrived.].

To continue reading Henry Stimson's diary and papers, click Part 10.

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