September 20, 2012
By Joe GettlerUPTON, NY — Michael J. Devine, director of the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library, will give a BSA Distinguished Lecture titled “The Atomic Bombs President Truman Did Not Drop: Nuclear Weapons from Hiroshima to the Dismissal of General Douglas MacArthur” at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory on Tuesday, October 9, at 4 p.m. in Berkner Hall.
In 1945, United States President Harry S. Truman became the only person ever to authorize use of atomic weapons in war. During his presidency (1945–1953), Truman insisted on civilian, not military, control over nuclear weapons. He also initiated building and stockpiling a huge atomic arsenal and the development of a second-generation nuclear weapon: the hydrogen bomb. Still, he refused to deploy these weapons during several times of crisis, most significantly during the Berlin Crisis of the late 1940s and the Korean War that began in June 1950.
During his talk, Devine will discuss the events surrounding Truman’s decision to use nuclear weapons at the end of World War II. He will then talk about Truman’s refusal to transfer control of the U.S. stockpile of nuclear weapons from the Atomic Energy Commission to the Department of Defense and Truman’s decisions not to accomplish military goals with this tremendous firepower — decisions that established precedents adhered to by every president since.
Devine has more than 35 years of experience managing historical institutions and he has had works published on American diplomatic history, Illinois history, and the history of the American West. He began his tenure with the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library in September 2001. From 1991 until 2001, he was a faculty member at the University of Wyoming, where he also directed the university’s American Heritage Center. In the fall of 1995, he was a Senior Fulbright Lecturer in Korea, and during the 1998–1999 academic year, the Houghton Freeman Professor of American History at The Johns Hopkins University - Nanjing University Graduate Center in China. From 1985 to 1991, Devine was the Illinois State Historian and director of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency/Illinois State Historical Society. He also served as the Senior Fulbright Lecturer to Argentina in 1983 and president of the National Council on Public History from 1999 to 2000. He earned a master’s degree and Ph.D. in the diplomatic history of the United States at Ohio State University.
BSA Distinguished Lectures are sponsored by Brookhaven Science Associates, the company that manages Brookhaven Lab, to present topics of general interest to the Laboratory community and the public. These lectures are free, and no preregistration is required. All visitors to the Laboratory 16 and older must bring a photo ID.
For more information, call 631-344-2345. The Laboratory is located on William Floyd Parkway, one-and-a-half miles north of Exit 68 of the Long Island Expressway.