Interim Committee Log (July 20th to September 12th)


20 July 1945:

Mr. Roger Makins handed me the document I attached yesterday afternoon. It is a draft of a statement prepared for release by the Prime Minister after “Use Day,” and he thinks it is now in the possession of the Prime Minister at Potsdam. He wanted to know if I had any comments or criticism to make. I told him I would like to review it and see him today carefully.

In the meantime, I showed it to General Groves, and we both agreed that there was no objection to it, as we could see in the light of present conditions. Accordingly, when Mr. Makins came to see me this afternoon, I told him that neither General Groves nor I saw any objections to the draft and that if the Prime Minister decided he wanted to use it, I would be glad to recommend to Secretary Stimson that he give his consent or that he attempt to procure the consent from higher levels if that is the consent of the Quebec Agreement.

Mr. Makins said that was very satisfactory to him. He would advise London that General Groves and I have read it, that we see no objection, and that we will be prepared to recommend favorably (if present conditions are not changed) if we hear further from him that the Prime Minister decides that he wants to use the statement.

In this connection, I told Mr. Makins, as I understand it, we have not received any formal approval of our draft of the statement for the President and Secretary Stimson, that the time may be getting short and that I hoped I would be able to clear the record so there would be no question about “mutual” consent as to the statements. He said the comments had been approved by the British here in Washington and by Sir John Anderson and that he has no doubt they are finally approved for all practical purposes. But as Ambassador Halifax said at the last meeting of the Policy Committee, the Prime Minister might want to consider them and that he, Mr. Makins, would not, therefore, wish to say right now that they were consented to by the British. He said, however, given our desire to clear the record as to those two statements, he would cable London in the hope that we could get formal consent from whomever it may be necessary to receive such support.

As to the third statement which I proposed to issue, the so-called “Scientific Statement,” I reminded Mr. Makins that by the action of the Policy Committee, all that is necessary is a certificate from Sir James Chadwick that the statement comes within the rules with British and Americans concerning such a release. He indicated that the memorandum which he left with me yesterday and which I delivered to General Groves today was intended to suggest that while the British did not like the idea of a scientific release, nevertheless, if we decided to issue it, they would consider the rules approved so that the only question remaining is whether Sir James Chadwick will certify that the proposed statement comes within the rules.

6 August 1945:

When the four o’clock news release came out, Mr. Harrison called General Surles and told him he was surprised to see so many releases on the giant bomb. Mr. Harrison told General Surles that it was his opinion that only the President’s and the Secretary’s releases were to have been issued today. General Surles stated that there had been several, in addition, that had come over from General Groves’ office. He instructed General Surles to issue statements with the Secretary or Mr. Harrison once cleared.

Mr. Harrison then called General Groves and expressed surprise at the number of releases. General Groves also said he was surprised and agreed that no more should be put out. Mr. Harrison instructed General Groves that layoffs would only be issued once they had been cleared with the Secretary or Mr. Harrison in the Secretary of War’s absence. Mr. Harrison also talked to Colonel Considine and gave him the same orders.


18 August 1945:


I’ve included for you the attached letter and memorandum to Secretary Byrnes. I emphasized that the subject matter in Paragraph 1B was a matter which would require early consideration and decision by the Administration, especially given the Oppenheimer letter addressed to Secretary Stimson and dated August, which he read. He was so interested in it that he asked me to leave a copy with him; this I did. Secretary Byrnes believed it would be difficult to do anything on the international level at present and that, in his view, we should continue the Manhattan Project with full force until Congress has acted on the proposed Bill. He also said we should continue our efforts and negotiations on behalf of the Combined Development Trust. In his opinion, the whole situation justifies and requires continuing all our efforts on all fronts to keep ahead of the race. For that reason, he said he would ask the President to sign a memorandum which Mr. Marbury and General Groves are preparing to request Mr. Snyder, Director of Mobilization, formally approve a continuation of all necessary expenditures by the Manhattan District or the Combined Development Trust.

Secretary Byrnes felt so strongly about all of this that he requested me to tell Dr. Oppenheimer that his proposal about an international agreement was impractical and that he and the rest of the gang should pursue their work full force. I told Secretary Byrnes that I understood from Dr. Oppenheimer the scientists prefer not to do that (superbomb) unless ordered or directed to do so by the government on the grounds of national policy. However, I thought to work in the Manhattan District could proceed the way he wants in improving present techniques without raising the question of the “super” until after Congress has acted on our proposed Bill.

George L. Harrison

29 August 1945:

Harrison met with the Secretary of State at 9:30 and left with him the following papers:

  1. History of Negotiations Leading to the Quebec Agreement.
  2. The Quebec Agreement.
  3. The Combined Development Trust Agreement.
  4. Minutes of the Combined Policy Committee.
  5. Aide Memoire between F.D.R. and W.C.
  6. Membership and Terms of Reference of the British Advisory Committee on Tube Alloys.

8 September 1945:


Mr. McCloy visited the State Department this morning to see Mr. Acheson at 9:00. Before leaving; I asked him please to press Mr. Acheson on starting the Atomic Energy bill on its way. I emphasized its importance, especially considering that other Congressmen, Senators, and Representatives are preparing or discussing training their accounts.

I reminded Mr. McCloy of our conversation with Secretary Byrnes last Sunday, September 2, when it was understood between us all (Mr. Acheson being present) that the State Department would carry the ball rather than the Interim Committee or the War Department.

I also told Mr. McCloy about my two conversations with Mr. Acheson this week when I asked him to take the necessary action. Mr. Acheson thought that he needed more authority from the Secretary of State. Still, I reminded him that in our conversations with Secretary Byrnes, it was clearly understood that the State Department would proceed with introducing and handling the bill in Congress. On the second day, I spoke to Mr. Acheson (September 6, 1945); I called to his attention that the newspapers were already talking about individual Members of Congress introducing their bills and that I thought it very important to proceed as fast as possible. Mr. Acheson told me he would look into it and see what he could do about hurrying it.

When Mr. McCloy returned this morning, he got the same impression that I did, that Mr. Acheson was very timid about it, that he needs to know what committee to turn to or to whom he should go for the introduction of the bill. Mr. McCloy reminded him that that was now the State Department’s job but that if he wanted any advice or help from us, the Interim Committee or the War Department would gladly give it to him. This was in line with our agreement with Secretary Byrnes.

George L. Harrison

11 September 1945:

Herbert Marks, an assistant to Mr. Acheson, came over to see Arneson at 4:15 P.M. He had been trying to find at the State Department certain documents Harrison had taken over to Secretary Byrnes on 29 August. Marks read in Arneson’s office the Quebec Agreement, the Combined Development Trust Agreement, the 8 March 1945 Minutes of the Combined Policy Committee, and the papers in the Brazilian file. These documents cleared up any doubts he had about the joint participation of the United Kingdom in our agreement with Brazil, and he saw no reason why the exchange of letters between the British and ourselves should not go forward. He stated, however, that Mr. Acheson probably would want the transmittal letter signed by the Secretary of War and redrafted to include a paragraph tying the exchange of letters with the British into the Quebec Agreement, The Combined Development Trust Agreement, and the Minutes of the Combined Policy Committee. He proposed to redraft the letter along these lines and send it for the Secretary of War’s signature.

Regarding legislation, Marks stated that Acheson wanted to discuss the proposed bill with Harrison at some length and that Marks would probably want to discuss it with Arneson in the next day or so.

12 September 1945:

Harrison spoke with the Secretary of War this morning concerning relations with Russia on the atomic bomb and the problem of securing action on the proposed legislation. Harrison handed Secretary Dr. Oppenheimer’s letter, which strongly argues for a positive approach to Russia. Regarding legislation, Mr. Harrison gave the Secretary a memorandum setting forth the present status and expressing concern over the failure of the State Department to take action. In elaborating his messages, Harrison pointed out that General Groves is having difficulty retaining his best scientists because of continuing uncertainty as to the future course of the government in this field and attractive employment offers from universities. The Secretary noted this point on the memorandum from Harrison, which he took with him to the White House.

The Secretary discussed these matters with the President at 3:00 P.M. and left with him the memorandum on relations with Russia, the Oppenheimer letter, and Harrison’s message on the legislative situation.

Captain Davis, who has been working with Marbury on the bill, and Lt. Arneson met with Marks from the State Department at 3:15 P.M. to brief him on the background of the legislation. When he left, Marks stated that he felt he had a good picture of the thinking that had gone into the bill’s various provisions but needed to be more apparent when he thought the State Department would take action. He said the next step would be for the President to call the Secretary of War and the Acting Secretary of State to discuss the matter.

Original at: