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A Petition to the President of the United States

In a petition dated July 17, 1945, Leo Szilard and 69 co-signers at the Manhattan Project "Metallurgical Laboratory" at the University of
Chicago urged President Harry S. Truman to consider his moral responsibilities, and not merely expediency, in deciding whether to use
the atomic bomb.

This is an image of Szilard's historic petition, scanned from a copy of the original in the U.S. National Archives. The remainder of the 70
signatures appeared on additional pages, which are not included here. A text version of the petition, including the names of all signers, is
available below.

Source: U.S. National Archives, Record Group 77, Records of the Chief of Engineers, Manhattan Engineer District, Harrison-Bundy File, folder #76.

July 17, 1945

                                    A PETITION TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES

Discoveries of which the people of the United States are not aware may affect the welfare of this nation in the near future. The liberation of atomic power which has
been achieved places atomic bombs in the hands of the Army. It places in your hands, as Commander-in-Chief, the fateful decision whether or not to sanction the
use of such bombs in the present phase of the war against Japan.

We, the undersigned scientists, have been working in the field of atomic power. Until recently, we have had to fear that the United States might be attacked by
atomic bombs during this war and that her only defense might lie in a counterattack by the same means. Today, with the defeat of Germany, this danger is averted
and we feel impelled to say what follows:

The war has to be brought speedily to a successful conclusion and attacks by atomic bombs may very well be an effective method of warfare. We feel, however,
that such attacks on Japan could not be justified, at least not unless the terms which will be imposed after the war on Japan were made public in detail and Japan
were given an opportunity to surrender.

If such public announcement gave assurance to the Japanese that they could look forward to a life devoted to peaceful pursuits in their homeland and if Japan still
refused to surrender our nation might then, in certain circumstances, find itself forced to resort to the use of atomic bombs. Such a step, however, ought not to be
made at any time without seriously considering the moral responsibilities which are involved.

The development of atomic power will provide the nations with new means of destruction. The atomic bombs at our disposal represent only the first step in this
direction, and there is almost no limit to the destructive power which will become available in the course of their future development. Thus a nation which sets the
precedent of using these newly liberated forces of nature for purposes of destruction may have to bear the responsibility of opening the door to an era of devastation
on an unimaginable scale.

If after this war a situation is allowed to develop in the world which permits rival powers to be in uncontrolled possession of these new means of destruction, the
cities of the United States as well as the cities of other nations will be in continuous danger of sudden annihilation. All the resources of the United States, moral and
material, may have to be mobilized to prevent the advent of such a world situation. Its prevention is at present the solemn responsibility of the United States --
singled out by virtue of her lead in the field of atomic power.

The added material strength which this lead gives to the United States brings with it the obligation of restraint and if we were to violate this obligation our moral
position would be weakened in the eyes of the world and in our own eyes. It would then be more difficult for us to live up to our responsibility of bringing the
unloosened forces of destruction under control.

In view of the foregoing, we, the undersigned, respectfully petition: first, that you exercise your power as Commander-in-Chief, to rule that the United States shall not
resort to the use of atomic bombs in this war unless the terms which will be imposed upon Japan have been made public in detail and Japan knowing these terms has
refused to surrender; second, that in such an event the question whether or not to use atomic bombs be decided by you in light of the considerations presented in this
petition as well as all the other moral responsibilities which are involved.

                                                  Leo Szilard and 69 co-signers
Signers listed in alphabetical order, with position identifications added:
1. DAVID S. ANTHONY, Associate Chemist                                            36. NORMAN FREDERICK MODINE, Research Assistant
2. LARNED B. ASPREY, Junior Chemist, S.E.D.                                       37. GEORGE S. MONK, Physicist
3. WALTER BARTKY, Assistant Director                                                  38. ROBERT JAMES MOON, Physicist
4. AUSTIN M. BRUES, Director, Biology Division                                      39. MARIETTA CATHERINE MOORE, Technician
5. MARY BURKE, Research Assistant                                                        40. ROBERT SANDERSON MULLIKEN, Coordinator of Information
6. ALBERT CAHN, JR., Junior Physicist                                                     41. J. J. NICKSON, [Medical Doctor, Biology Division]
7. GEORGE R. CARLSON, Research Assistant-Physics                             42. WILLIAM PENROD NORRIS, Associate Biochemist
8. KENNETH STEWART COLE, Principal Bio-Physicist                           43. PAUL RADELL O'CONNOR, Junior Chemist
9. ETHALINE HARTGE CORTELYOU, Junior Chemist                            44. LEO ARTHUR OHLINGER, Senior Engineer
10. JOHN CRAWFORD, Physicist                                                             45. ALFRED PFANSTIEHL, Junior Physicist
11. MARY M. DAILEY,Research Assistant                                                46. ROBERT LEROY PLATZMAN, Chemist
12. MIRIAM P. FINKEL, Associate Biologist                                             47. C. LADD PROSSER, Biologist
13. FRANK G. FOOTE, Metallurgist                                                          48. ROBERT LAMBURN PURBRICK, Junior Physicist
14. HORACE OWEN FRANCE, Associate Biologist                                 49. WILFRED RALL, Research Assistant-Physics
15. MARK S. FRED, Research Associate-Chemistry                                  50. MARGARET H. RAND, Research Assistant, Health Section
16. SHERMAN FRIED, Chemist                                                                51. WILLIAM RUBINSON, Chemist
17. FRANCIS LEE FRIEDMAN, Physicist                                                52. B. ROSWELL RUSSELL, position not identified
18. MELVIN S. FRIEDMAN, Associate Chemist                                      53. GEORGE ALAN SACHER, Associate Biologist
19. MILDRED C. GINSBERG, Computer                                                 54. FRANCIS R. SHONKA, Physicist
20. NORMAN GOLDSTEIN, Junior Physicist                                           55. ERIC L. SIMMONS, Associate Biologist, Health Group
21. SHEFFIELD GORDON, Associate Chemist                                        56. JOHN A. SIMPSON, JR., Physicist
22. WALTER J. GRUNDHAUSER, Research Assistant                             57. ELLIS P. STEINBERG, Junior Chemist
23. CHARLES W. HAGEN, Research Assistant                                        58. D. C. STEWART, S/SGT S.E.D.
24. DAVID B. HALL, position not identified                                               59. GEORGE SVIHLA, position not identified [Health Group]
25. DAVID L. HILL, Associate Physicist, Argonne                                     60. MARGUERITE N. SWIFT, Associate Physiologist, Health Group
26. JOHN PERRY HOWE, JR., Associate Division Director, Chemistry     61. LEO SZILARD, Chief Physicist
27. EARL K. HYDE, Associate Chemist                                                     62. RALPH E. TELFORD, position not identified
28. JASPER B. JEFFRIES, Junior Physicist, Junior Chemist                        63. JOSEPH D. TERESI, Associate Chemist
29. WILLIAM KARUSH, Associate Physicist                                            64. ALBERT WATTENBERG, Physicist
30. TRUMAN P. KOHMAN, Chemist-Research                                       65. KATHERINE WAY, Research Assistant
31. HERBERT E. KUBITSCHEK, Junior Physicist                                     66. EDGAR FRANCIS WESTRUM, JR., Chemist
32. ALEXANDER LANGSDORF, JR., Research Associate                       67. EUGENE PAUL WIGNER, Physicist
33. RALPH E. LAPP, Assistant to Division Director                                    68. ERNEST J. WILKINS, JR., Associate Physicist
34. LAWRENCE B. MAGNUSSON, Junior Chemist                                 69. HOYLANDE YOUNG, Senior Chemist
35. ROBERT JOSEPH MAURER, Physicist                                               70. WILLIAM F. H. ZACHARIASEN, Consultant

     Source note: The position identifications for the signers are based on two undated lists, both titled "July 17, 1945," in the same file as the petition in the
     National Archives. From internal evidence, one probably was prepared in late 1945 and the other in late 1946. Signers were categorized as either
     "Important" or "Not Important," and dates of termination from project employment were listed in many cases. It is reasonable to conclude that the lists
     were prepared and used for the purpose of administrative retaliation against the petition signers.

Copyright Notice: The original of this document is believed to be in the public domain. Its transcription and formatting as an e-text, however, is copyright
1995-1998 by Gene Dannen (