McKenna: World History
Decision to Drop the Atomic Bomb
Short Essay Assignment
Name: _________________________________________ Total Points: 30 points
Vice-President Harry S. Truman became president of the United States after President
Franklin D. Roosevelt died in April, 1945. Shortly after becoming president, Truman was
faced with one of the most difficult decisions of his life: whether or not he should use the
newly invented atomic bomb against Japan in an effort to save American lives and end
World War II.
Scientists told President Truman that approximately 20,000 Japanese would die and many
homes and factories would be destroyed if he used the atomic bomb. In reality the first
atomic bomb killed 80,000 - 100,000 people and destroyed five square miles in
Hiroshima. Three days later, the second atomic bomb killed 40,000 people in Nagasaki.
Thousand more died later as a result of injuries and from exposure to radiation.
Was the atomic bomb a necessary evil? Use the chart below to analyze the pros and cons.
Then, in a short essay (3 paragraphs), explain what you would have decided and why.
Specifically, answer this question: If you had been the President of the United States
during WWII, what would you have decided and why?
Option 1: Use the atomic bomb Option 2: Don’t use the atomic bomb
Pros It would probably end the war Thousands of innocent Japanese civilians
with Japan and save the lives of would not be killed.
hundreds of thousands of
Cons It would mean the death of The American military would have to
thousands of innocent civilians. invade Japan. About 500,000 American
It would do extensive damage to soldiers would probably die in this attack.
the city of Hiroshima. Even more Japanese civilians and soldiers
would also die.
McKenna: World History
Grading Excellent Acceptable Minimal Unacceptable
Criteria (8-10 points) (5-7 points) (2-4 points) (0-1 points)
Content Fully answers the Answers Answers question Does not answer
question and questions and with little to no question and does
provides provides some supporting details not provide
substantial supporting for decision supporting details
supporting details for
details for decision
Organization Essay is very Essay is Organization of Organization of
clearly organized generally essay is often essay is mostly
into paragraphs; organized into unclear; transition unclear; transition
information paragraphs; words are not words are not
flows in a logical appropriate appropriately used; introduction
sequence; transition used; introduction or conclusion is
transition words words are used; and/or conclusion missing
are used appropriate is minimal or
effectively; introduction inappropriate
introduction and and conclusion
conclusion are are provided
Mechanics Flawless Some minor Careless spelling, Significant
spelling, spelling, punctuation, or spelling,
punctuation, and punctuation, or grammar mistakes punctuation, or
grammar grammar that somewhat grammar mistakes
mistakes that affect the reader’s that seriously
do not affect ability to affect the reader’s
the reader’s understand the ability to
ability to author’s purpose understand the
understand the author’s purpose
McKenna: World History
*This is just a sample outline. You can use this template or create your own outline. I
highly recommend you jotting down some notes before you begin writing your essay.
*Don’t forget to see me for extra help if you are having trouble. You can find me in
Trailer 11 during 3rd, 6th, and 7th periods or in A373 during 4th and 5th periods. If you
would like to work after school, please see me to schedule a time/place.
Paragraph #1: Introduction
The atomic bomb is (in your own words, describe what it is, what it could be used
for, why it is dangerous, etc.)________________________________________________
In 1945, United States President, Harry S. Truman, had to decide whether to use the
newly created atomic bombs against Japan in an effort to end World War II. Had I been
the President of the United States at that time, I would have decided _________________
(this should simply be a statement of why you would make that decision).
Paragraph #2: Body (Supporting Details/Evidence)
This paragraph should repeat WHAT decision you would make and WHY, providing
supporting evidence to make your argument. Explain why your decision would be the
best alternative for ending World War II. Be sure to use complete sentences and support
your decision with evidence from class discussions, the class textbook, and the articles.
Paragraph #3: Conclusion
Conclude your essay with summary remarks.