Don’t Know Much About® Benjamin Harrison

Born on August 20, 1833, the 23rd President of the United States, Benjamin Harrison.

Benjamin Harrison, 23rd President of the United States. 1889-1893 (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Benjamin Harrison, 23rd President of the United States. 1889-1893 (Circa 1896; Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.)

The grandson of the 9th President, William Henry Harrison –the first President to die in office– and great-grandson of a signer of the Declaration of Independence, namesake Benjamin Harrison V. Harrison was born in North Bend, Ohio, on the farm that his grandfather had given to his father. An attorney , he volunteered to serve when the Civil War broke out and commanded a regiment of volunteers that saw heavy fighting in Georgia during Sherman’s “March to the Sea.” He was promoted to brigadier general, and was one of the string of Ohio-born Civil War veterans who became president (Grant, Hayes, Garfield, and McKinley are the others.)

Harrison won one of the most controversial elections in history, defeating incumbent Grover Cleveland in 1888 despite losing the popular vote in an election tainted by accusations of ballot-box stuffing and other irregularities.

“I could not name my own Cabinet. They had sold out every place to pay the election expenses.” –William Henry Harrison, following his election (Source: Paul Boller, Jr., Presidential Campaigns)

In 1892, Cleveland defeated Harrison and returned to the White House he had left four years earlier.

Fast Facts–

*Seen as cold and aloof, he was known as the “White House Iceberg.”

*In 1889,  the Indian Appropriation Act opened up millions of acres of territory, once Indian land, and led to the settlement of Oklahoma and later the Dakotas. The following land rush led to heightened warfare between native nations and the federal government. The death of Native American leader Sitting Bull and the massacre of hundreds of Sioux at Wounded Knee (December 29, 1890), both took place during Harrison’s term.

*In part because of that land rush, more states were admitted under Harrison than under any president since Washington: North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Washington in 1889; Idaho and Wyoming in 1890.

*Electric lights were installed in the White House during  Harrison’s term. And in 1891, the White House got its first Christmas tree. Harrison also liked to dress as Santa Claus for his grandchildren.

*Harrison’s first wife, Caroline Scott Harrison, died of tuberculosis in the White House just weeks before Harrison lost his bid for reelection. He later married Mary Dimmick, the niece of his first wife.

 

Read more about Harrison and his administration in Don’t Know Much About® History and Don’t Know Much About® the American Presidents.

Don't Know Much About® History: Anniversary Edition (Harper Perennial and Random House Audio)

Don’t Know Much About® History: Anniversary Edition (Harper Perennial and Random House Audio)

Don't Know Much About® the American Presidents (Hyperion Paperback-April 15, 2014)

Don’t Know Much About® the American Presidents (Hyperion Paperback-April 15, 2014)

Bill Clinton, born August 19, 1946

Born on August 19, 1946,  William Jefferson Clinton, the 42nd President of the United States.

William Jefferson Clintonm 42nd President of the United States

William Jefferson Clinton, 42nd President of the United States (1993-2001)

Born in Hope, Arkansas, a few months after his father died, Bill Clinton wanted to be president from a very early age. As a boy he was obsessed with politics, and met John F. Kennedy at the White House as part of the “Boy’s Nation” program in 1963. In 1978, he became the youngest governor in the nation and Arkansas history.

President Clinton is also the answer to this week’s Who Said It Quiz.

Fast Facts

*Clinton is the only President who was a Rhodes Scholar.

*He and Vice President Al Gore were the first president and vice president from the Baby Boom Generation. Clinton was the third youngest president after Theodore Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy.

*Clinton’s 1997 inaugural ceremony was the first broadcast live on the Internet.

To renew America, we must revitalize our democracy. This beautiful Capital, like every capital since the dawn of civilization, is often a place of intrigue and calculation. Powerful people maneuver for position and worry endlessly about who is in and who is out, who is up and who is down, forgetting those people whose toil and sweat sends us here and pays our way. Americans deserve better. And in this city today there are people who want to do better. And so I say to all of you here: Let us resolve to reform our politics so that power and privilege no longer shout down the voice of the people. Let us put aside personal advantage so that we can feel the pain and see the promise of America. Let us resolve to make our Government a place for what Franklin Roosevelt called bold, persistent experimentation, a Government for our tomorrows, not our yesterdays. Let us give this Capital back to the people to whom it belongs.

William J. Clinton: “Inaugural Address,” January 20, 1993. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project.

*The second president to be impeached. Clinton was charged with perjury and obstruction of justice related to testimony given under oath in a sexual harassment suit. The Senate, in a largely party-line vote, acquitted him.

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Hillary Clinton sworn in as U.S. Senator from New York with Bill Clinton, Chelsea Clinton, and Al Gore. (January 3, 2001 Photo Courtesy of the Clinton Presidential Library.)

*His wife, Hillary Clinton, was the first first lady to ever run for public office, becoming U.S. Senator from New York. After campaigning for the presidency in 2008, she lost the nomination to Barack Obama, who then selected Hillary Clinton as his first secretary of state.

Despite the controversies over his relationship with a White House intern and other women, Bill Clinton left office with high public approval ratings, a balanced budget and twenty-two million jobs created in eight years –growth spurred by the technology revolution and a housing boom. The American people seemed willing to accept Bill Clinton for what he had done in his private affairs and separate that from his public performance.

Whether that relationship carries over to a place beside his wife as first woman to be elected president is one of the fascinating questions of our time.

The William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum is located in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Read more about the life and administration of Bill Clinton in Don’t Know Much About® History and Don’t Know Much About® the American Presidents. 

Don't Know Much About® the American Presidents (Hyperion Paperback-April 15, 2014)

Don’t Know Much About® the American Presidents (Hyperion Paperback-April 15, 2014)

Don't Know Much About® History: Anniversary Edition (Harper Perennial and Random House Audio)

Don’t Know Much About® History: Anniversary Edition (Harper Perennial and Random House Audio)

Who Said It? (8/17/2014)

 William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton, 42nd President of the United States

President William Jefferson Clinton “Remarks to the Convocation of the Church of God in Christ” Memphis, Tenn. (November 13, 1993)

 

Under the leadership of the First Lady, we have produced a comprehensive plan to guarantee health care security to all Americans. How can we expect the American people to work and to live with all the changes in a global economy, where the average 18-year-old will change work seven times in a lifetime, unless we can simply say we have joined the ranks of all the other advanced countries in the world; you can have decent health care that’s always there, that can never be taken away? It is time we did that, long past time. I ask you to help us achieve that.

But we have so much more to do. You and I know that most people are still working harder for the same or lower wages, that many people are afraid that their job will go away. We have to provide the education and training our people need, not just for our children but for our adults, too. If we cannot close this country up to the forces of change sweeping throughout the world, we have to at least guarantee people the security of being employable. They have to be able to get a new job if they’re going to have to get a new job. We don’t do that today, and we must, and we intend to proceed until that is done.

Source: Miller Center/University of Virginia

The 42nd President of the United States, William J. Clinton was born on August 19, 1946 in Hope, Arkansas.

The Clinton health care plan to provide coverage to all Americans became the center of a controversy over the reach of the program and the involvement of First Lady Hilary Rodham Clinton.

The legislation flamed out, done in by Congressional objections and an intense advertising campaign mounted by the health insurance industry. One year after this speech was delivered, the Republicans took control of the House of Representatives and Senate for the first time in 40 years. In 1998, President Clinton was impeached by the House but acquitted by the Senate in February 1999.

Read more about Clinton’s life and presidential administration in Don’t Know Much About® the American Presidents

Don't Know Much About® the American Presidents (Hyperion Paperback-April 15, 2014)

Don’t Know Much About® the American Presidents (Hyperion Paperback-April 15, 2014)

Friday Pop Quiz: Who was US President when the Panama Canal opened?

1914 Gatun Trial Lockage (Photo Courtesy of Panama Canal History Museum)

1914 Gatun Trial Lockage (Photo Courtesy of Panama Canal History Museum)

Answer: Woodrow Wilson

Thomas Woodrow Wilson 28th POTUS(1918) Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Thomas Woodrow Wilson 28th POTUS (1918) Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

The Panama Canal opened officially on  August 15, 1914. The planned festivities were largely cancelled due to the outbreak of World War I a few weeks earlier, and Wilson did not attend the ceremony.

“The 10-year endeavor cost $375 million and 5,609 lives, and to many it became the new symbol of American imperial power.” Scott Bomboy, “After 100 Years, Panama Canal Still Symbolizes Executive Power”

While the Canal opened during Wilson’s first term, its creation was largely the result of Theodore Roosevelt’s  efforts, as he described it to a group in 1911.

“The Panama Canal would not have been started if I had not taken hold of it, because if I had followed the traditional or conservative method I should have submitted an admirable state paper occupying a couple of hundred pages detailing all of the facts to Congress and asking Congress’ consideration of it,” he said. “In that case there would have been a number of excellent speeches made on the subject in Congress; the debate would be proceeding at this moment with great spirit and the beginning of work on the canal would be 50 years in the future. Fortunately the crisis came at a period when I could act unhampered. Accordingly, I took the Isthmus, started the canal and then left Congress not to debate the canal, but to debate me.” –Theodore Roosevelt in 1911 (Source: “After 100 Years, Panama Canal Still Symbolizes Executive Power”  National Constitution Center (August 15, 2014)

Here is an animation demonstrating how the locks in the canal work from PBS “American Experience: TR: The Story of Theodore Roosevelt”

The Panama Canal History Museum has a large collection of photographs and documents about the canal.

Don’t Know Much About “V-J Day”

New York City celebrating the surrender of Japan. They threw anything and kissed anybody in Times Square., 08/14/1945. Credit: National Archives.

New York City celebrating the surrender of Japan. They threw anything and kissed anybody in Times Square., 08/14/1945. Credit: National Archives.

“I have received this afternoon a message from the Japanese Government…”

President Harry Truman, News Conference (August 14, 1945) Complete Transcript from Harry S. Truman Library and Museum

At 7 PM on August 14, 1945, President Truman told reporters gathered in the White House that Japan had surrendered. The War in the Pacific was over.

Pres. Truman Announces Japan's Surrender (Photo Credit National Archives)

Pres. Truman Announces Japan’s Surrender (Photo Credit National Archives)

 

For more images and information see this post from the National Archives.

 

 

Who Said It? (8/11/2014)

John F. Kennedy, Berlin, Germany (June 26, 1963)

Construction of the Berlin Wall began on August 13, 1961 (Photo Source: JFK Presidential Library and Museum

Construction of the Berlin Wall began on August 13, 1961 (Photo Source: JFK Presidential Library and Museum

Construction of the Berlin Wall began on August 13, 1961. 

“There are many people in the world who really don’t understand, or say they don’t, what is the great issue between the free world and the Communist world. Let them come to Berlin. There are some who say that communism is the wave of the future. Let them come to Berlin. And there are some who say in Europe and elsewhere we can work with the Communists. Let them come to Berlin. And there are even a few who say that it is true that communism is an evil system, but it permits us to make economic progress. Lass’sie nach Berlin kommen. Let them come to Berlin.”

Source: “The Cold War in Berlin,” John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

President John F. Kennedy (1961)

President John F. Kennedy (1961)

Nearly two years later, Kennedy traveled to the divided city and gave one of his most memorable speeches, most famous for the phrase he used: “Ich bin ein Berliner.” 

A card he held had the words spelled phonetically.

President Kennedy used this handwritten note card while delivering his speech to the people of Berlin on June 26, 1963 at Rudolph Wilde Platz.  On it he phonetically spelled German phrases from his speech, including "Ish bin ein Bearleener" Source: JFK Library and Museum

President Kennedy used this handwritten note card while delivering his speech to the people of Berlin on June 26, 1963 at Rudolph Wilde Platz. On it he phonetically spelled German phrases from his speech, including “Ish bin ein Bearleener” Source: JFK Library and Museum

 

Don’t Know Much About® Herbert Hoover

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 “We are challenged with a peace-time choice between the American system of rugged individualism and a European philosophy of diametrically opposed doctrines— doctrines of paternalism and state socialism. . . . Our American experiment in human welfare has yielded a degree of well- being unparalleled in all the world. It has come nearer to the abolition of poverty, to the abolition of fear of want than humanity has ever reached before.” –Herbert Hoover, “Campaign Speech” (October 22, 1928)

Herbert and Lou Henry Hoover in their Washington, DC home the morning after he was nominated to run for president (1928). (Courtesy: The Herbert Hoover Presidential Library & Museum)

Herbert and Lou Henry Hoover in their Washington, DC home the morning after he was nominated to run for president (1928). (Courtesy: The Herbert Hoover Presidential Library & Museum)

 

Born on August 10, 1874, Herbert Clark Hoover, the 31st president of the United States.   Herbert Hoover was born into a Quaker family in Iowa,  and orphaned at nine. He went to live with relatives in Oregon. A college education at Stanford led to a career in the mining industry and a great personal fortune. You may know that he was the Republican president when the Stock Market crashed in 1929 and he attempted to lead the country through the first years of the Great Depression. Hoover was defeated by Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932. But you may not know that Hoover was considered a hero and savior to millions of people. First during World War I, he had organized food relief programs in war-torn Belgium.  Later, in the aftermath of World War I,  Russia was in the throes of Europe’s greatest calamity since the days of the Black Plague . More than five million died in the new Soviet Russia when famine struck. In 1921,  Herbert Hoover led America’s response to the “Great Famine,” subject of this PBS documentary and is credited with saving millions of lives. Hoover gets hard knocks for the hard times of the Depression and his flawed response to the problems confronting America. But others assess him more generously. Historian Richard Norton Smith once noted:

“Herbert Hoover saved more lives through his various relief efforts than all the dictators of the 20th century together could snuff out. Seventy years before politicians discovered children, he founded the American Child Health Association. The problem is, Hoover defies easy labeling. How can you categorize a ‘rugged individualist’ who once said, ‘The trouble with capitalism is capitalists; they’re too damn greedy.’ ”  (“Remembering Herbert Hoover,” New York Times, August  10, 1992)

President Hoover died on October 20, 1964 in New York City. He was 90 years old. This is his New York Times obituary. The Herbert Hoover Presidential Library & Museum offers archival materials and online exhibitions.

Some Fast Facts about Herbert Hoover:

✱ Hoover was the first president born west of the Mississippi.

✱ His wife, Lou, was the only female geology major at Stanford when they met. They later collaborated on a translation from Latin of a mining and metallurgy text, De Re Metallica, published in 1912. While they lived in China, the Hoovers lived through the 1900 Boxer Rebellion and both learned Chinese, and they sometimes spoke to each other in Chinese at the White House.

✱ Hoover’s inaugural in 1929 was the first to be recorded on talking newsreel.

✱ Hoover was the first of two Quaker presidents. (The other was Richard M. Nixon.)

You can read more about Hoover in Don’t Know Much About® the American Presidents (Hyperion Books/Random House Audio)

Don't Know Much About® the American Presidents (Hyperion Paperback-April 15, 2014)

Don’t Know Much About® the American Presidents (Hyperion Paperback-April 15, 2014)

Friday Pop Quiz: Who was Gerald Ford’s Vice President?

Nelson A. Rockefeller (1908-1979)

Gerald Ford and Nelson Rockefeller Meet in the Oval Office March 12, 1975 (Source: White House; photographer Ricardo THomas)

President Gerald Ford and Vice President Nelson Rockefeller Meet in the Oval Office March 12, 1975 (Source: White House; photographer Ricardo Thomas)

With the resignation of Richard M. Nixon on August 9, 1974, Vice President Gerald Ford became President.  He then nominated Rockefeller, the former governor of New York to become his vice president under the terms of the 25th Amendment, ratified in 1967 to deal with issues of presidential succession and disability.

Before ratification of the 25th Amendment, there was no constitutional mechanism for replacing a vice president who either became president or died in office. Section 2 of the Amendment reads:

Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.

When Spiro Agnew resigned as Nixon’s vice president in 1973, Ford became the first man to become vice president under this amendment. When Ford replaced Nixon as president, Rockefeller became the second.

I’ve known all the Vice Presidents since Henry Wallace. They were all frustrated, and some were pretty bitter. 
—Nelson Rockefeller

(Source: U.S. Senate)

Elected to four terms as Governor of New York, Rockefeller was born into the family whose wealth came from John D. Rockefeller, founder of the Standard Oil Company and once America’s wealthiest man. For many years, Rockefeller was among the most powerful Republican leaders and a contender for the presidency.  He had also been considered for the vice presidency several times.

Nelson Rockefeller died early in 1979 in headline-making fashion:

“On Sunday, January 27, 1979, New Yorkers awoke to the news that Nelson Rockefeller had died of a heart attack at the age of 71 while working at his office in mid-town Manhattan. In the days ahead, as dignitaries and associates sang his praises, the actual circumstances of Rockefeller’s death began to emerge: he had died in his townhouse while in the company of a young female staff assistant 45 years his junior. Her delay in calling the paramedics stirred endless speculation, leaving many questions unanswered.”

Source: American Experience (PBS) “The Rockefellers”

Don’t Know Much About® the Tonkin Resolution

What was the Tonkin Resolution? 

Photograph taken from USS Maddox (DD-731) during her engagement with three North Vietnamese motor torpedo boats in the Gulf of Tonkin, 2 August 1964. (Courtesy of the U.S. Naval Historical Cente)r

Photograph taken from USS Maddox (DD-731) during her engagement with three North Vietnamese motor torpedo boats in the Gulf of Tonkin, 2 August 1964. (Courtesy of the U.S. Naval Historical Cente)r

 

Fifty years ago, on August 7, 1964, Congress approved a resolution that soon became the legal rationalization for the Vietnam War. (New York Times story)

It came in August 1964 with a brief encounter in the Gulf of Tonkin, the waters off the coast of North Vietnam. where , the U.S. Navy posted warships loaded with electronic eavesdropping equipment enabling them to monitor North Vietnamese military operations and provide intelligence to CIA-trained South Vietnamese commandos. One of these ships, the U.S.S. Maddox was reportedly fired on by gunboats from North Vietnam.

Lyndon B. Johnson (March 1964) (Photo: Arnold Newman, WHite House Press Office)

Lyndon B. Johnson (March 1964)
(Photo: Arnold Newman, White House Press Office

Coming as it did in the midst of LBJ’s 1964 campaign against hawkish Republican Barry Goldwater, President Johnson felt the incident called for a tough response. Johnson had the Navy send the Maddox and a second destroyer, the Turner Joy, back into the Gulf of Tonkin. A radar man on the Turner Joy saw some blips, and that boat opened fire. On the Maddox, there were also reports of incoming torpedoes, and the Maddox began to fire. There was never any confirmation that either ship had actually been attacked. Later, the radar blips would be attributed to weather conditions and jittery nerves among the crew.

According to Stanley Karnow’s Vietnam: A History, “Even Johnson privately expressed doubts only a few days after the second attack supposedly took place, confiding to an aide, ‘Hell, those dumb stupid sailors were just shooting at flying fish.’”

Johnson ordered an air strike against North Vietnam and then called for passage of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. This legislation gave the president the authority to “take all necessary measures” to repel attacks against U.S. forces and to “prevent further aggression.” The resolution not only gave Johnson the powers he needed to increase American commitment to Vietnam, but allowed him to blunt Goldwater’s accusations that Johnson was “timid before Communism.”

The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution passed the House unanimously after only forty minutes of debate. In the Senate, there were only two voices in opposition. What Congress did not know was that the resolution had been drafted several months before the Tonkin incident took place. In June 1964, on LBJ’s orders, according to journalist-historian Tim Weiner,

Bill Bundy, the assistant secretary of state for the Far East, brother of the national security adviser, and a veteran CIA analyst, had drawn up a war resolution to be sent to Congress when the moment was ripe.” (Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA, p. 280)

Congress, which has sole constitutional authority to declare war, had handed that power over to Johnson, who was not a bit reluctant to use it. One of the senators who voted against the Tonkin Resolution, Oregon’s Wayne Morse, later said,

“I believe that history will record that we have made a great mistake in subverting and circumventing the Constitution.”

After the vote, Walt Rostow, an adviser to Lyndon Johnson, remarked,

“We don’t know what happened, but it had the desired result.”

In January 1971, Congress repealed the Gulf of Tonkin resolution as popular opinion grew against a continued U.S. military involvement in Vietnam

Since Vietnam, United States military actions have taken place as part of United Nations’ actions, in the context of joint congressional resolutions, or within the confines of the War Powers Resolution (also known as the War Powers Act) that was passed in 1973, over the objections (and veto) of President Richard Nixon.”

The War Powers Resolution came as a direct reaction to the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, as Congress sought to avoid another military conflict where it had little input.

“The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution and the Limits of Presidential Power”  National Constitution Center

In 2005, the National Security Agency (NSA) issued a report reviewing the Tonkin incident in which it said  “no attack had happened.” (Weiner, p. 280)

The National Endowment for the Humanities website Edsitement offers teaching resources on Tonkin and the escalation of the Vietnam War.

Read more about Vietnam, LBJ and his administration in Don’t Know Much About® History and Don’t Know Much About® the American Presidents

Don't Know Much About® the American Presidents (Hyperion Paperback-April 15, 2014)

Don’t Know Much About® the American Presidents (Hyperion Paperback-April 15, 2014)

Don't Know Much About® History: Anniversary Edition (Harper Perennial and Random House Audio)

Don’t Know Much About® History: Anniversary Edition (Harper Perennial and Random House Audio)

 

August 6-”Hiroshima Day”

Copyright © 2005 - 2013 AJ Software & Multimedia. All Rights Reserved. This project is part of the National Science Digital Library and was funded by the Division of Undergraduate Education, National Science Foundation Grant 0434253.

The Atomic Bomb Dome-Hiroshima (Photo Courtesy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki Remembered)

 On August 6, 1945, the New York Times asked:

“What is this terrible new weapon?”

(Source, New York Times, August 6, 1945: “First Atomic Bomb Dropped on Japan”)

The story followed the announcement made by President Truman:

“SIXTEEN HOURS AGO an American airplane dropped one bomb on Hiroshima, an important Japanese Army base. That bomb had more power than 20,000 tons of T.N.T. It had more than two thousand times the blast power of the British “Grand Slam” which is the largest bomb ever yet used in the history of warfare.”

August 6, 1945

President Harry S. Truman (Photo: Truman Library)

President Harry S. Truman
(Photo: Truman Library)

(“Statement by the President Announcing the Use of the A-Bomb at Hiroshima”: Truman Library and Museum)

 

The first atomic bomb was exploded in a test at Alamogordo, New Mexico, on July 16, 1945.  President Truman, who had taken office upon the death of President Roosevelt on April 12 without knowledge of the Manhattan Project or the atomic bomb’s existence, was alerted to the success of this test at a meeting with Churchill and Stalin at Potsdam, a city in defeated Germany. (See this recent post on Potsdam)

The atomic bomb was detonated over Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.  A second device, a plutonium bomb, was used on the city of Nagasaki on August 9. Japan surrendered on August 14.

Almost since the day the first bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, critics have second-guessed Truman’s decision and motives. A generation of historians have defended or repudiated the need for unleashing the atomic weapon.

What history has confirmed is that the men who made the bomb really didn’t understand how horrifying its capabilities were. Of course, they understood the destructive power of the bomb, but radiation’s dangers were far less understood. As author Peter Wyden tells it in Day One, an account of the making and dropping of the bomb, scientists involved in creating what they called “the gadget” believed that anyone who might be killed by radiation would die from falling bricks first.

In less than one second, the fireball had expanded to 900 feet. The blast wave shattered windows for a distance of ten miles and was felt as far away as 37 miles. Over two-thirds of Hiroshima’s buildings were demolished. The hundreds of fires, ignited by the thermal pulse, combined to produce a firestorm that had incinerated everything within about 4.4 miles of ground zero.

(Source: Hiroshima and Nagasaki Remembered.  Copyright © 2005 – 2013 AJ Software & Multimedia. All Rights Reserved. This project is part of the National Science Digital Library and was funded by the Division of Undergraduate Education, National Science Foundation Grant 0434253.)

The estimated death toll was eighty thousand people killed instantly in Hiroshima; as many as 90 percent of the city’s nurses and doctors also died instantly. (By 1950, as many as 200,000 had died as a result of long-term effects of radiation.) The death toll in Nagasaki also reached 80,000 by the end of 1945.

Today should not be a day to argue about the politics of the bomb. It should be a day of solemn remembrance of these victims. And of contemplating the horrific power of the weapons we create.

The City of Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Museum offers an English language website with a history of Hiroshima and the effects of the bombing.

You can read more about Hiroshima and the dropping of the atomic bombs in Don’t Know Much About History and more about President Truman in Don’t Know Much About the American Presidents.

Don't Know Much About the American Presidents (2012) (From Hyperion and Random House Audio)

Don’t Know Much About the American Presidents (2012)
(From Hyperion and Random House Audio)

Don't Know Much About History (Revised, Expanded and Updated Edition)

Don’t Know Much About History (Revised, Expanded and Updated Edition)