August 2, 1939: Einstein Writes to FDR Urging Atomic Action
On this day in 1939, physicist Albert Einstein sent a letter to FDR urging the United States to take immediate action in atomic research, fearing that Nazi Germany had already begun to create an atomic bomb. Upon receipt of the letter, Roosevelt created the Uranium Committee which soon thereafter began work on the secret atomic program known as the Manhattan Project. The effort resulted in the development of nuclear weapons that the U.S. used on Japan at the end of the war.
Einstein, a pacifist, grew to regret his letter to FDR and founded the Emergency Committee of Atomic Scientists to warn the public of the dangers of nuclear weapons, promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and ultimately work toward world peace.
Learn more about all the Roosevelts with preview videos from Ken Burns’s The Roosevelts.
Photo: (1) Library of Congress. (2) Albert Einstein’s Aug. 2, 1939, letter to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library