and the Bomb
"Dear Harry," Jimmy Byrnes in Spartanburg, South Carolina, began a telegram he sent to the nation's new president the evening of April 12, 1945. "I will be [at the] Office [of War] Mobilization tomorrow. If I can be of service, call on me." Byrnes found no inappropriateness in sending a telegram to the new thirty-third president of the United States familiarly addressed as "Harry." After all, less than nine months earlier, the junior senator Harry Truman had come to Byrnes' hotel suite and rehearsed for Byrnes the speech he had expected to deliver in Chicago nominating Byrnes for the vice presidency. And from another historical perspective, Jimmy Byrnes in the hectic hours after FDR's death on April 12, can perhaps be forgiven for writing to Harry S. Truman in a familiar, and possibly slightly patronizing, manner. On the afternoon that Franklin Roosevelt died, the former "assistant president" was in possession of a crucial fact that he knew was unknown to Truman: that the United States was manufacturing the world's first atomic bomb.
Truman first heard of the bomb's existence the same night that Byrnes sent his telegram to the White House, when Secretary of War Henry Stimson stayed behind after a brief meeting in the Cabinet Room following