Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Truman, Harry S., 1884-1972; Blandford, John Bennett, 1897-1972; Schwellenbach, Lewis B. (Lewis Baxter), 1894-1948; Forrestal, James, 1892-1949; Acheson, Dean, 1893-1971; Vinson, Fred M., 1890-1953; Hannegan, Robert E. (Robert Emmet), 1903-1949; Wallace,
Cabinet meetings; Nuclear weapons; Nuclear energy; Atomic bomb

Cabinet Meeting Minutes, September 21, 1945. Matthew J. Connelly Papers - Notes on Cabinet Meetings I.

CABINET MEETING, FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 1945.

PROPOSED AGENDA

1. The Atomic Bomb, and the peacetime development of atomic energy.

THE ATOMIC BOMB

THE PRESIDENT

Called upon the Secretary of War to express his views with respect to the atomic bomb.

SECRETARY STIMSON

Said that two steps should be taken in approaching this: (1) Scientific establishment (2) Industrial establishment. Stated that we do not have a secret to give away -- the secret will give itself away. The problem is how to treat the secret with respect to the safety of the world.

UNDER SECRETARY ACHESON

Agreed with Stimson. Stated that there was no alternative.

SECRETARY VINSON

Disagreed and stated that if we give this information away, we should give information with respect to all war gadgets in order to be consistent. Raised the question as to whether we should give everything and receive nothing. Unless other countries give us everything, this would be dangerous. Recalled the sleep which set in after we scrapped our Navy and which existed up to the attack by Japan. If we give away the atomic bomb secret, we might as well forget the idea of compulsory military training, an adequate Army, Navy and Air Force. Believes we should maintain a status quo.

ATTORNEY GENERAL CLARK

Agrees with Vinson we should continue to carry a big stick.

THE PRESIDENT

Pointed out that we are only thinking of an interchange of scientific knowledge -- not contemplating giving away industrial knowledge.

POSTMASTER GENERAL HANNEGAN

Respects the judgment of Stimson.

THE PRESIDENT

Believes relationships are improving between Russia, Great Britain and ourselves. In order to achieve a lasting peace, we must maintain a mutual trust.

SECRETARY FORRESTAL

Believes that there are two viewpoints on the subject which must be considered. One with respect to military usage and one to civilian usage. Agreed to submit a memorandum to the President incorporating his views.

SECRETARY ANDERSON

Inclined to agree with Vinson and believes we should hang on to secret of the bomb.

ABE FORTES [FORTAS]

If we protect the secret of the bomb we will hinder industrial application of atomic energy. Believes that two steps are important: (1) Government policy should be to develop atomic energy for industrial use. (2) It should be kept in mind that when the principles of atomic energy are used industrially, the secret of the atomic bomb will not keep long.

SECRETARY WALLACE

Raised the question as to whether we should follow the line of bitterness or the broad line of peace. Emphasized that science cannot be restrained.

SECRETARY PATTERSON

Agreed with Stimson.

SECRETARY SCHWELLENBACH

Agreed with Stimson.

GENERAL FLEMING

Agreed with Stimson.

GOVERNOR McNUTT

Agreed with Stimson.

LEO CROWLEY

Cannot divorce other features from the atomic bomb. It should be considered together with the industrial development, international cooperation and economic interchange between governments.

JOHN B. BLANDFORD

Agrees with Stimson

J. A. KRUG

Agreed with Stimson but believed that no decision should be made for a period of six months in order to make possible a cooling-off period.

JOHN SNYDER

Agrees with Krug. It should be further studied. We might use this as a medium to find out how far we can depend on cooperation from other nations.

SENATOR MCKELLAR

Agrees with Krug.