Unofficial emblem of the Manhattan project, 1946
Unofficial emblem of the Manhattan project, 1946

First nuclear test explosion, July 16, 1945
First nuclear test explosion, July 16, 1945

Event Summary



The Manhattan Project was the effort by American scientists and military personnel to develop the atomic bomb.


See short descriptions of the Manhattan Project from the following sites offering different perspectives

American Museum of Natural History

U.S. Department of Energy

AtomicArchive.com

Nuclear Files.org

Los Alamos History

The Manhattan Project: Making the Atomic Bomb from AtomicArchives.

The Manhattan Project (and Before) from NuclearWeaponsArchive,org


primary_sources.PNGPrimary Sources


Female_Rose.pngLilli Hornig, Dies, A-Bomb Researcher Lobbied for Women in Science, New York Times (November 21, 2017)


Atomic Bombings of Japanese Cities

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Hiroshima after the Atomic Bomb, March 1946


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See World History II.27 for more on the atomic bombing

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104 German rocket scientists in 1946, including Wernher von Braun
104 German rocket scientists in 1946, including Wernher von Braun

Operation Paperclip


The Secret Intelligence Program to Bring Nazi Scientists to America
  • Project Paperclip brought hundreds of German scientists and engineers, including Wernher von Braun, to the United States in the first decade after World War II.
    • The Germans who designed and built the V-2 rocket and other “wonder weapons” for the Third Reich proved invaluable to America’s emerging military-industrial complex.
      • Many prominent scientists were enthusiastic supporters of the Nazi regime or even participants in war crimes, but US national security advocates rationalized their inclusion in the Paperclip program despite internal opposition and public condemnation.

Project Paperclip: The Dark Side of the Moon, BBC News


Billboard encouraging secrecy amongst Oak Ridge nuclear workers, 1940s
Billboard encouraging secrecy amongst Oak Ridge nuclear workers, 1940s

The Origins of the National Security State



Lecture by Professor Christian Appy, University of Massachusetts Amherst Department of History, "The Atomic Origins of America's National Security State: How Nuclear Weapons Produced an Imperial Presidency and Degraded Democracy," April 4, 2017
  • The secrecy and concentrated power under which the first atomic weapons were created provided a model for the post-World War II permanent national security state, presided over by presidents invested with unprecedented power.
    • Their exclusive authority to produce and use atomic weapons-codified by the Atomic Energy Act of 1946-led to further expansions of presidential powers not conferred by the constitution.
      • The authority to launch globe-threatening weapons has led to a wide range of additional assertions of power unaccountable to the public or its elected representatives, including covert overthrows of foreign governments, secret bombings of foreign nations, unilateral abdication of treaties, warrantless surveillance of American citizens, and routine circumvention of Congress's constitutional power to declare war.