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The Manhattan Project is the codename given to the Americans who led develop the atomic weapon. Also, the British provided the Americans with information to develop the first nuclear weapons; this was due to the British needing American resources when World War II started in 1939 to 1945 and the fact the British did not have the resources nor the capabilities during the war to successfully launch this kind of project. In many ways, the British Empire was becoming a paper tiger due to the growing nationalism in India. The United States, the strongest superpower in human history, could not win the war in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2022, and the belief that the British Empire could continue is laughable. It would also be able to maintain its overseas empire in the 1930s in Canada, Australia and other dominions and practically be independent, excluding their foreign policy. Most of the work of the Manhattan project took place in Los Alamos in New Mexico and not in the city of New York, which the Manhattan project was named after a burrow in that city. The project itself was also started because of the possibilities and fears that the Nazi preoccupation with experimental technologies such as the jet engine could lead to the development of atomic weapons, which the Nazis were pursuing with the development and use of heavy water in the manufacturing process of nuclear weapons however the British successfully sabotaged these efforts during the war.

Manhattan Project

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This is a guest post by writer Jonathan Riley. Find out more about him on his Medium page, as well as his LinkedIn, and his blog.

The American government under Frederick D. Roosevelt pursued the creation of nuclear weapons because US intelligence agencies and operatives believed that Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party were pursuing their own creations of nuclear weaponry. In response to this, President Roosevelt set up the Advisory Committee on Uranium tasks with researching weaponry using uranium. Based on the committee’s findings, the US government started funding research at Columbia University, which focused on radioisotope separations known as uranium enrichment part of the development chain of nuclear weapons in 1939. The advisory committee also underwent several name changes in 1940; it was called the National Defence Research and then changed again in 1941 to the Office of Research and Development. The Army Corps of engineers finally joined the Office of Research and Development in 1942 to start developing the Manhattan project from August 1942 to August 1945 to develop the first atomic weapons before the Axis powers of Nazi Germany, Italians and the Japanese Empire.

Julius Robert Oppenheimer was chosen to lead the Manhattan project United States government originally gave the project a budget of $6000, but it rose to $2 billion by the end of the war in 1945. The locations of the main research facilities for the project were New Mexico, Tennessee, and Washington DC, as well as research facilities in Canada, used for atomic tests for the weapons development program. Ultimately the Manhattan project was a great success with the destruction of Hiroshima on 6 August 1945, which killed between 75,000 to 135,000 Japanese citizens and Nagasaki on 9 August of that same year which killed between 60,000 to 80,000 people. These two cities were selected because the US military deliberately did not attack these two Japanese cities because they were an experiment to see what kind of damage would be visited upon cities undamaged by traditional air bombing campaigns. The original bombs called Little Boy destroyed Hiroshima, and Fat Man destroyed Nagasaki’s estimated that 100,000 people were killed instantly when the destination. With the success of the first atomic weapons, Julius Robert Oppenheimer stated I had become the destroyer of worlds. With this being the case, it can be argued that more lives were actually saved with the destruction of two cities listed to the Japanese surrender on 2 September 1945, just over a month after the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. 

It’s believed that any invasion of Japan would have been a bloodbath for the American and Allied armies, most likely dwarfing any campaign which took place during the invasion of France during the D-Day landings. It also should be mentioned that the Japanese army was still very much intact and that the Americans, during the island-hopping campaign led by Douglas MacArthur, the commander of the Pacific, deliberately avoided confrontations with the Imperial Japanese Army and that the Japanese army successfully won the war in mainland China in 1945 and that the war itself would have dragged on into the late 1940s. During the war itself, About 298,000 Americans died. Among the Axis powers, there were about 4,200,000 German deaths and approximately 1,972,000 Japanese deaths. Altogether 16,112,566 Americans fought in World War II. In comparison to the American Civil War, 1861 to 1865, Roughly 2% of the population American population was killed with an estimated 620,000 men, and in World War I, 1914 to 1918, only 116,516 were killed. With all these American lives taken into account, the Manhattan Project and the American strategy for winning the war in Europe and the Pacific was a colossal success.

Cite This Article
"The Manhattan Project: What Led To It?" History on the Net
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January 27, 2023 <https://www.historyonthenet.com/the-manhattan-project-what-led-to-it>
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