Aiming for Freedom: Analyses of Films on American Slavery and Guidelines for Film Producers

Dedicated to Dr. Matthew J. Clavin, Dr. Trevor Boffone, My very close friends, Jabril Newton and Kyle Nash,  my loving family, my better-half, Emily. And to all my loyal readers. This is an essay I wrote recently for a final exam in my Slavery through Films and Books class and I think it’s the best paper I’ve written so far. Please enjoy. 

Creating Films, like most art, presents a challenge that even the most professional artists will struggle with. The essential goal of the filmmaker is to present a message to their viewer with an abstract presentation that may or may not be recognized or appreciated. In order to make the next great film, one must put themselves in the shoes of the modern moviegoer gathers who gathers his popcorn and best comrades to accompany him to the theater for promises of entertainment. And in the case of American Slavery, it is definitely going to be a challenge to provide something entertaining while possessing a message to audiences. In some of the most popular films on American Slavery, each film has displayed their own unique way of getting their message across: There needs to be a change in regards to how the United States deals with racial matters.

Starting with the 1915 silent film: Birth of a Nation, which tells the story of a dystopian United States where African Americans rise against the Caucasian Americans after the Civil War and Slavery is abolished and it is the rise of the Ku Klux Klan that aim to bring the country to its natural order as a result. With that said, the film wastes no time in portraying African Americans as incompetent, sexually aggressive, and even as comic relief for how bumbling they behave in the film. To add insult to injury, Black characters are mostly played in the film by White actors in black-face which caused much controversy after the film was produced. The film’s main antagonist in the film however, is a mulatto (half-black, half-white) played by a white actor in black-face as a depraved governor with the sole intent of eliminating the “pure white race.”

Essentially the filmmaker, D.W. Griffith’s message when producing this film was that bringing Africans to the United States was one of the worst things to happen to the United States as they were depraved individuals who would inevitably destroy our society. One could safely say that the film was pure propaganda, rather than entertaining, in the sense that its message catered to those that were already at the time xenophobic of African Americans. It pushed boundaries by having some Black actors in the film but the ones that were the most villainous in the film were, as stated earlier, White actors in black-face because Griffith himself knew that the xenophobia amongst white audiences would not allow them to accept an actual Black man to be so close to a White woman in certain scenes of the film; especially since those particular scenes were of a white woman that was to be sexually assaulted by the man of color. And by having a mulatto character portray the main antagonist, signifies that by having one drop of African blood would cause utter chaos. But it was that controversy nonetheless, that made the film such a box-office hit in the very end.

It was not until about two decades later that another film would take a similar but modified stance to Griffith’s theory with the film Gone with the Wind (1939), about a southern woman named Scarlett O’Hara, who is trying to woo a man who continuously refuses to marry her (because he is marrying someone else) during the Civil War and Reconstruction Era. The director, Victor Fleming, argues that African Americans being brought to the United States is not the tragedy, the Civil War was the tragedy. The entire film shows Southern citizens to have pride with the idea of them going to war against the North. However one soldier Rhett Butler, played by Clark Gable, does not buy into panegyrizing this war, even though he has earned an exceptional reputation as a soldier for the Confederate Army. However when asked by Scarlett if Rhett does not “believe in the cause” he responds, “I believe in Rhett Butler, he’s the only cause I know.” Because Rhett does not essentially take sides, thus presenting a mysterious, albeit “cool-guy” demeanor with quick wit, it makes it difficult for one to despise his character but in the film he is looked down upon for not agreeing with the views the others share around him; and that view is that the Southern way of life is being threatened and something must be done in order to stop it.

While the film is not as racist as Birth of a Nation, the film definitely glorifies slavery in a subtle way by showing that slaves in the household were like part of the family by having the house maid, “Mammy”, portray a grand-mother like figure in Scarlett’s life by giving advice and often times in the film, uttering phrases that most African Americans would not even think to say such as, “poor white trash.” Thereby showing the audience that slaves were not entirely mistreated because of the patriarchal analogy to display that slaves really were part of the family. And the only times slaves were mistreated, were when they “actually deserved it” such as the scene where the youngest female African American slave, Prissy, tells in great detail of how she is an expert on delivering babies but moments later when one of the female characters is giving birth, she looks dumbfounded and apologetically screaming, “I don’t know nothin’ ’bout birthin’ babies.” And when she receives a slap on the face from Scarlett as a result of her lie, it plants the idea in the viewer’s head that Prissy got what she deserved. It then makes one question why slaves would desire to escape if they had such manageable lives.

In the late 1970’s a TV miniseries called, Roots (based on the book by Alex Haley) is made that brings to the audience, the cold dark truth of slavery and challenges both the arguments made by Birth of a Nation and Gone with the Wind.  And as opposed to the first two films, this story is told from the Slave’s point of view, where a young African teenager named Kunta Kinte, played by Levar Burton, is kidnapped and brought to the U.S. and sold into slavery where he is introduced to a black “House-Slave” named Fiddler, played by Louis Gossett, Jr.

First and foremost, the miniseries pays special attention to how the slaves after being kidnapped are prepared to be sold such as tarring and feathering, meaning placing searing black tars on the skin of any potential slaves who bear scars or scratches so the slaves are in good condition to be purchased. The importance of Fiddler being a “House-Slave” is that even though he is a black slave, he is allowed special privileges since he has worked for the plantation owner, John Reynolds (played by Lorne Greene) for a very long time. These special privileges include: being able to live in the house of the plantation owner and in the miniseries’ case, having the ability to “break” Kunta of his African spirit (by giving him a new name, “Toby”) and his desire to escape and as a result, conduct himself as a docile slave.

The most powerful and most memorable scene of Roots is when Kunta is tied to be whipped after a failed attempt at escaping, much to Fiddler’s guilt for allowing him to escape and unsuccessful pleas to the plantation owner to not have Kunta flogged. While Kunta is receiving his punishment, the overseer named Ames (played by Vic Morrow) has one of the other slaves execute the flogging and repeatedly tell Kunta to accept his role as a slave and that his name is “Toby.” Kunta has a strong spirit at first and refuses to acquiesce. But it is only a matter of time before he can keep up his strength, leaving the viewer in a position where tears fall out uncontrollably from either admiration of Kunta being able to hold on for so long or minor disdain for the overseer for taking away Kunta’s identity.

Whippings such as these eventually play a great part in films on American Slavery and the more heart-wrenching wails the actor playing the slave lets out, the more powerful the scene becomes. Arguably, the screeching can make audience members more uncomfortable than emotionally moved however. One (and the only) whipping scene in the film Glory (1989), a film about former black slaves joining the Union army during the Civil War, does it perfectly. Denzel Washington’s character Trip, is caught trying to desert (later found out to be a misunderstanding) the war and as punishment, the colonel in charge of the army Shaw (played by Matthew Broderick) is forced to authorize a whipping. And although Shaw does not execute the flogging himself, the most tear-jerking part is the brief showing of scars on Trip’s back from his past beatings as a slave that are foudroyant and while Trip is receiving his punishment, he looks at Shaw with a scornful yet apathetic gaze and maintains eye-contact with Shaw, who does not try to conceal the look of guilt, but does not scream and shows almost no ounce of pain during the flogging but does allow one single tear to fall from his face.

Despite the sorrow that comes from watching a poor slave get beaten to death, it is important for one to note that the story being told is one that is supposed to be something positive. In Glory, it is the story of fighting a war with not white or black men but soldiers, and soldiers of war share a bond that only the closest of friends would only know. So with that in mind, one can expect some positivity in such a film. The essential goal for the filmmaker is to touch the audience with a film that can empathize with the anguish of the slave and their hardship they must endure day in and day out and also shed some light that will get the viewer to see that there is hope for the slave that things will get better.

Steven Spielberg’s Amistad (1997), tries to do just that by telling the story of a number of Africans kidnapped in 1839 by Spanish Slave-Traders and break free from their chains and cause a revolt against their assailants but later find themselves in the U.S. where the courts must decide if they are citizens of Africa that were illegally ascertained or were they to be sold into the U.S. as merchandise. The film does a great job of recognizing the ineptitude of the court case, as the lives of people are at stake and how appalling it is to waste time debating whether or not they are property at the very beginning of the trial. Nevertheless, the film had to show the trials and tribulations before getting to the ultimate happy ending.

Amistad has audiences at the edge of their seats with inspiring speeches (like John Adams, played by Sir Anthony Hopkins, comparing slave-ownership to the oppressive British government during the American Revolution and essentially questioned why revolting against the British seemed logical but a Black slave being oppressed had to be pondered) and moving dialogue such as the main character, Cinque (played by Djimon Hounsou) speaking English for the first time, repeating “Give us, us free!” louder and louder in the court-room.  And while viewers will feel a great sense of satisfaction from the film, historians may criticize the film for its, for lack of a better word, “false advertising.”Especially bearing in mind that the events taken in the film are years before the Civil War and slaves actually are granted their freedom as opposed to more than a handful.

The main fact at hand is that Slavery is in many words, evil. No matter how much film-makers want to present a bright-side to one of the darkest parts of U.S. history, no amount of light can illuminate this. For some, there will always be a deep disdain and burning desire to seek revenge for all the wrong that was done but one has to be careful due to the risk of causing controversy or censorship. That being said, along comes Quentin Tarantino, who has already earned the reputation for causing controversy and pushing boundaries, with Django Unchained (2012).

The film Django Unchained is about a slave named Django, played by Jamie Foxx, that is recruited by a German bounty hunter Dr. Shultz, played by Christoph Waltz, in order to hunt down slave owners and kill them in order to collect their bounty in exchange for his freedom. That plot line alone, grabs the potential viewer’s attention and when they do actually watch the movie, they get so involved in the film because of how something that may have been pictured in ordinary individual’s minds is being brought to a silver screen. The twist however is that Django wants to find and rescue his wife and so as a result, the film becomes more of a love story as opposed to a story about Slavery and Dr. Schultz is willing to help him, so in addition to it being a love story about a hero wanting to rescue his bride, it is peppered with a fraternal element between mentor and pupil.

This is permissible due to the fact that Django Unchained is an entirely fictional movie, although the film does make efforts to be as real as possible for example, reiterating Dr. Shultz’s role as a bounty hunter multiple times upon killing a slave owner to essentially justify his actions as “a man of the law” and not a murderer.  Yet because the film falls into the genre of “Revenge-Fantasy”, it has the volition to go in any direction the writer chooses. Tarantino essentially has full control over what his characters say and that includes horrifying things such as a former slave owner telling Django in a flashback scene, “I like the way you beg, Boy”; and Tarantino uses that to his advantage by making the dialogue from the antagonists so fierce that it may boil the blood of the viewer and root for the hero in the film when Django finally silences his enemies with, “I like the way you die, Boy.”

Injustice, however is the foundation of Slavery in its entirety. And 12 Years a Slave (2013), the most recently released film about Slavery by Steve McQueen based on the memoir from Solomon Northup, illustrates this injustice with a film about a black man that is born a free man, but kidnapped in 1841 and sold into slavery and finally rescued in 1853. Because this film is based on a true story, and historians will attest that incidents such as this were not uncommon, demonstrate how prejudice the white population in the U.S. was to all African Americans free or not.

The film essentially tries to send the same message the book did which was disclose how people in the North were ignorant of slave conditions in the South and when their affliction was surfaced, it gradually made people want to do something about it. 12 Years a Slave as a film itself is very powerful in taking to account how being kidnapped and sold into slavery as a freeman is horrendous as it is, but the truly deplorable aspect of it all is the fact that one is taken away from their family and other loved ones. And much like Django Unchained, the film does its best to inspire animosity in the hearts of the viewers towards the antagonists of the film such as Edwin Epps, an inhumane slave master of the main character’s played by Michael Fassbender, reading a verse from the bible to show a divine precedent that slave owners have amongst slaves:

“’And that servant which knew his Lord’s will… which knew his Lord’s will and prepared not himself… prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes…’ D’ye hear that? ‘Stripes.’ That nigger that don’t take care, that don’t obey his lord – that’s his master – d’ye see? – that ‘ere nigger shall be beaten with many stripes. Now, ‘many’ signifies a great many. Forty, a hundred, a hundred and fifty lashes… That’s scripture!”

The film however does not follow everything that was written in the memoir. The reason for that could be because the book shows that Solomon Northup’s experiences as a slave were not entirely difficult due to his vast intelligence and discretion about his freedom enables him to avoid commotion. If the film were to follow the book to its entirety, it may take away from the overall message that the director is trying to send and that message is that no person of color was safe from the cruelties of slavery and though Solomon spent most of his life as a free man he states in the film that “slavery is an evil that should befall no one.”

The level of melancholy in this film is increased because the film wants to ignore the fact that Solomon in the end regains his freedom because those 12 years that were seized from him will never be regained which is why the film ends with Solomon holding his newborn grandson with tearful eyes and like a soldier returning from war, is unable to come to terms with what he has gone through, so the use of a “happy ending” would be almost a mockery of the entire film. It bears a similar effect with Roots in the sense that in the beginning of 12 Years a Slave, Solomon is whipped within inches of his life until he (like Kunta Kinte) submits and accepts his role as a slave.

However as stated earlier, the amount of whipping in the films can almost become too unbearable to watch for some audiences, because the deafening screams and petrifying scars on their back would cause even the most stoic of individuals to draw in their teeth. Contrasting to that, Denzel Washington’s nonvocal yet award winning performance in Glory when getting whipped show that the mood the actor displays are what help draw the viewer into the movie and essentially forget they are watching a film. Excellent dialogue in a script is one thing but without the right tone in the actor’s voice, makes the film not worth watching. And even the dialogue is not so important, the performance is what says it all, and one can see that from Birth of a Nation, because no one speaks in the film, yet the acting is so intense, portraying Black characters with sinister looks in their eyes and giant lips, that for such a film in that time a controversy was inevitable.

This is not to dismiss the importance of dialogue, however. And films on American Slavery often recall how slaves would talk once upon a time in an almost fractured Southern dialect that if used today, would be very offensive.  Hattie McDaniel’s portrayal of Mammy in Gone with the Wind is the perfect example of that dialect when she says things like: “po’ white trash” and “it jus’ ain’t fittin’.”  Akin to that, Django Unchained has Jamie Foxx (as Django) oversimplify his vocabulary because many slaves were uneducated and if they were educated, had to keep their intelligence to themselves or else it was viewed as a threat to their master as explained by Frederick Douglass in his narrative, “if you teach [a] nigger… how to read, there would be no keeping him. It would forever unfit him to be a slave. He would at once become unmanageable, and of no value to his master.” (Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, 20) Though having to speak with a certain accent may seem trivial to some, even Glory shows the disrespectful nature of such a dialect. Before the whipping to Denzel Washington’s character is authorized, Major Forbes played by Cary Elwes, the second in command to Broderick’s character, Colonel Shaw, mocks Shaw after informing Forbes not to question his authority when allowing Washington’s character to be flogged in front of the other soldiers by speaking in aforementioned dialect: “Well I is sorry, mas’sa. You be the boss-man now and all us chill’ins must learn your ways.”

That unfortunately, was the cold hard truth of how a slave must remain docile with his master and feign happiness or consequences could be dire. That is why Gone with the Wind allowed slaves to portray as (to some extent) part of the family because that is how slaves behaved amongst others but it was not because the slaves wanted to, but because they had no other choice. To quote Frederick Douglass again, who in his narrative explained how it was difficult to trust others as a slave, especially White people because one could never be certain if the person he was talking to was his master, a friend of his master, an overseer, or just someone wanting to get the slave in trouble. In this excerpt from his narrative, Douglass tells the reader briefly a story on how a slave was approached by a White man asking how his master was treating him and the truth was that his master would not feed him that much, unbeknownst to the slave, the White man who he confessed that to was his master and as a result:

“The poor man was then informed by his overseer that, for having found fault with his master, he was now to be sold to a Georgia trader. He was immediately chained and handcuffed; and thus, without a moment’s warning, he was snatched away, and forever sundered, from his family and friends, by a hand more unrelenting than death. This is the penalty of telling the truth, of telling the simple truth, in answer to a series of plain questions.” (Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, 11)

It was not simply just White Americans that slaves had to fear, even fellow slaves or House Negroes like Fiddler (in Roots) whose job it was to “break” Kunta Kinte were potential threats, despite them sharing the same skin color. To put it another way, the object of Slavery was survival and the only means of survival was everyone was to look out for themselves and once they reached that level of superiority as a slave where they earned special privileges, certain Black slaves like Tarantino’s character in Django Unchained, Stephen (a house negro played by Samuel L. Jackson), obtained a moderate case of Stockholm syndrome, meaning that since he grew up with special privileges by the antagonist, Calvin Candie (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) and his parents and even grandparents, he identified as a White person. However Stephen’s skin color bears an appearance that is much darker, almost as it is meant to be ironic to the viewer, that Stephen is so bigoted towards Django after first meeting him by muttering under his breath to Candie, “Cain’t believe you brought a nigger to stay in the Big House. Yo daddy’s rollin’ over in his goddamn grave, right now. Brought a nigger to stay with us. What kinda shit is that?” Because even with special privileges, the house-negroes were still slaves nevertheless. Even though Mammy and Stephen earned the right to speak freely, it was their masters that had the last words and in order to keep their privileges, it behooved them to comply with their master’s orders.

So taking into account all the films listed, the message in each film, while possessing unparalleled ways of getting their point across, bear the same message that a change is necessary to be made in regards to matters of ethnicity. The best way to illustrate that would be to draw specific points from different films. Those points would be the mood the filmmaker wants their audience to leave the theater in, the dialogue used, and how historically accurate the film must be.

In regards to mood, there needs to be a way to combine the level of misery the slave encounters like 12 Years a Slave to some extent, with a level of optimism that things will change for the slave akin to the films, Roots, Glory, and Amistad. And the dialogue and acting has to be fierce but perhaps not with the extremity one may find from Django Unchained and Birth of a Nation. As for the historical accuracy, because it is a film on Slavery one has to be careful to make sure they do not cause too much controversy like Django Unchained however simultaneously avoiding the risk of glorifying slavery as done in Gone with the Wind.

Perhaps the most important part of making a film is that it has to be a piece of art and obtain some abstrusity because the film has to be a reflection of the filmmaker’s voice and conjointly be entertaining for the viewer. That being said, such an art must require an exceptional artist, and one becomes an exceptional artist with a vast knowledge on their subject. And being that the subject at hand is American Slavery, one should expect mixed reactions as Slavery is a controversial topic. Nevertheless, it is a piece of art that hopefully will get the message across that matters of race should change and if no film is able to convince anyone to do something about it, the filmmaker can at least keep repeating the message until their voice is hoarse.

-Mr. Writer

Originally written on the 5th of December, 2015




Capital Punishment: A Double-Edged Sword

This was a paper I wrote at the age of 18 for my American Government class. I really dived into working on this paper and had a lot of help editing it from my good friend Jorge and my brother-in-law, Raymond. It was after this paper that I realized I loved writing and doing research and now, I share it with you guys. Sidenote: my personal beliefs on this topic have differed only slightly, but nevertheless, please enjoy and see how I’ve grown as a writer. 


Throughout ancient history, Capital Punishment has been a common form of justice and continues in worldwide nations and in some states of the U.S. even today. However now that the times have changed, Capital Punishment (or often called: The Death Penalty) has become an extremely controversial topic and people are questioning whether or not the Death Penalty is a proper way of judging criminals.

The meaning of Capital Punishment is defined as a form of punishment in which a criminal is executed based upon the crime they have committed. And at certain times in history, criminals that were sentenced to execution were the ones that were guilty for acts that included: murder, rape, treason and even theft where the executioning methods would vary from time to time and nation.  During the medieval times, the executions would involve the criminal be burned alive. Later on in 18th Century, the French took a more humane approach by inventing the guillotine, where the criminal would be laying down a platform and a humongous blade would come down at the pull of a lever and have the criminal be beheaded. Eventually the more common executioning method was being hanged in different countries. Finally the United States invented both the electric chair and lethal injection as methods of punishment (WiseGeek). Granted, methods of the death penalty have taken more humane approaches as time has taken its course, however there is still a huge controversy in regards to the death penalty, and the question for those that are for the death penalty will still ask “Why? After we have made so many safer ways to execute criminals”

Even after these changes, some argue that the death penalty is unethical because of the possibility of a wrongful execution; there is a fear that the condemned criminal is actually innocent. In contrast, others argue that this kind of punishment provides a good example to other criminals, and it will discourage the crime and murder rate from increasing. Yet these arguments still don’t hinder other states in the U.S. from proceeding with the executions.

Currently 34 states in the United States like: Texas, Maryland and Nebraska still enforce the death penalty while the remaining 16 states have abolished the act of capital punishment like: West Virginia, Michigan and Illinois (Recently abolished in 2011)(Death Penalty Information Center). And while some states like Rhode Island, which was one of the first states to ban the death penalty in 1852, tried to repeal the act (where it was somewhat successful over the years) it has remained banned in the state of Rhode Island since May 9, 1984(Death Penalty Information Center). The state which people are most familiar with by being one of the biggest supporters of the death penalty is Texas and as said earlier; with the changing of times, methods of execution have changed in order to take a less horrifying approach and Texas was no different. From 1923, the Electric Chair was the way the state of Texas would execute their criminals and it was used all the way until about 1964, electrocuting a total of 361 convicted felons. Then in 1982, Texas adopted Lethal Injection and has continued to use it ever since as a better alternative, however still many people (even in the state of Texas) oppose the death penalty because of the accidental execution of an innocent individual (Texas Execution Information).

There was a quote from an episode of The Simpsons, where Homer exclaimed, “And that life was taken away from me, and the taking of a life is Murder. And the punishment for murder is, well it varies from state to state and by race.” As silly and quite droll this statement is, it does also play an important role in the Death Penalty. Statistics show that the race of defendants that were sentenced to death in the United States since 1976 were Caucasian and African Americans came in second and the same statistics were shown in regards to the race of the victims of those that were executed (Death Penalty Information Center). What was particularly strange about the statistics involved in the victim’s race was that:

“In 82% of the studies [reviewed], race of the victim was found to influence the likelihood of being charged with capital murder or receiving the death penalty, i.e., those who murdered whites were found more likely to be sentenced to death than those who murdered blacks”

-United States General Accounting Office, Death Penalty Sentencing, February 1990

Currently, the U.S. death row population has a combining total of over 3000 inmates being sentenced to death with the ethnicity still ranking with more Caucasian Americans being executed than African Americans but the difference between the two is by only 2%. And since the death penalty is such a huge controversy in the U.S. the annual rate of executions vary greatly as shown in the graph below:


“Race of Death Row Inmates Executed Since 1976.” Death Penalty Information Center. Web. 11 Feb. 2012. <;.


The argument still remains whether or not Capital Punishment should be enforced or not. And in order to make a proper decision, one must explore both sides of the issue.

One may believe that those who oppose the death penalty are mostly opposing it on moral grounds. However while that does play a major part in why they are against capital punishment, there must be more to their argument than simply that.

Granted, the use of capital punishment may be a more permanent method to keep criminals off the street as opposed to life in prison. However the economic cost to the tax payers may not be worth that warm feeling inside. According to an article from Dallas Morning News, “Each death penalty case in Texas costs taxpayers about $2.3 million. That is about three times the cost of imprisoning someone in a single cell at the highest security level for 40 years” (Death Penalty Information Center). However this is not just a financial problem in Texas; many other states such as: Maryland, California, and Indiana agree that the states could save a lot more money by using incarceration as a result (Death Penalty Information Center).

Incarceration has also taken its effect on young adults and teenagers that are breaking the law. When an individual under the age of 18 commits a crime or a misdemeanor, they are often sentenced to a Juvenile Correctional Facility where they are tried as a minor. Yet there are cases in which the minor may commit a crime that would be intolerable to adults and as a result, are tried as an adult. And in the case of Thompson vs. Oklahoma, where a man named Charles Keene was brutally murdered by four men including his fifteen year old brother-in-law William Thompson in 1983; the argument was whether or not Thompson should be tried as an adult and be sentenced to death along with the other three members who were held responsible for the murder (Stevens). However the court ruled that Thompson not be tried as an adult because in doing so, it would violate the eighth amendment of the U.S. Constitution involving the prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment. And while the death penalty does not necessarily give an age limit,

“The basis of [having a minor suffer capital punishment] is too obvious to require extended explanation. Inexperience, less education and less intelligence make the teenager less able to evaluate the consequences of his or her conduct while at the same time he or she is much more apt to be motivated by mere emotion of peer pressure than is an adult” (Stevens).

If minors were to be sentenced to capital punishment, it would not only be a careless mistake, but it would also “offend civilized standards of decency to execute a person who was less than 16 years of age” (Stevens).

That being said, many individuals (who were not minors) were found to be wrongfully sentenced to death due to the idea of capital punishment being a more efficient way of getting rid of criminals. Unfortunately, some of these individuals were found to be wrongfully convicted after they were executed; making the death penalty not only wrong but also unfair (Rosenbaum). Things that would cause individuals to be wrongfully convicted include: Prosecutorial misconduct (involving perjury), police misconduct (to which false confessions become coerced or negligent investigations and evidence being suppressed take place), and all leading up to corruption in the court trials (Rosenbaum). An example of an unjust case would be the involvement of a man named Dwayne McKinney, who was wrongly accused and looking at the possibility of a death sentence for murdering a Burger King Manager (FCLEF). McKinney however, ended up avoiding the death penalty due to the mercy from the jury and instead was sentenced to life in prison without parole; after twenty years behind bars, his conviction “was finally cleared by new evidence” (FCLEF).

Those who argue for the death penalty from a religious perspective believe that capital punishment is permissible by God and their evidence to support that is a quote in the Old Testament which states:

“Life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.”

-Deuteronomy 19:21 (Overberg)

The quote is taken to seem that if one person cuts another person’s finger off their hand, then the individual who got his finger cut has the right to do the same to the person who cut his finger first. However, after being interpreted by religious scholars shows that the quote is actually meant to keep order with crime without the use of violence (Costanzo). In contrast to the old testament, “the New Testament, which goes much farther in repudiating revenge…emphasizes love, compassion, mercy, charity, forgiveness” (Costanzo). People that argue from a religious perspective may also forget that the sixth commandment also states, “Thou shalt not kill”, so to essentially use religion as an example of why the death penalty is morally acceptable, can be a contradiction to itself.

The immorality of the death penalty has become recognized internationally as well. Varieties of countries around the Earth have abolished capital punishment and say it, “…has been proved to be contrary to the order and happiness of society by the experiments of some of the wisest legislators in Europe. Such people that agree are: “The Empress of Russia, the King of Sweden, and the Duke of Tuscany,” (Rush). These wise individuals have addressed the problem with capital punishment of its entirely contradictory purpose, “[which] lessens the horror of taking away human life, and thereby tends to multiply murders” (Rush). As a result, some countries like: West Germany, France, Portugal, and the Netherlands keep the death penalty solely for the purposes of treason and piracy (Stevens).

Steps have been taken to abolish the death penalty in the U.S. and those that argue in favor of the death penalty have also taken steps to make capital punishment less inhumane to please those that argue against the death penalty. However these steps taken to make capital punishment morally acceptable do not seem to be enough. However in order for the decision and choices of the death penalty to be properly implemented, it is imperative to take this opportunity to look at the death penalty through the eyes of one who believes that capital punishment should continue.

As stated earlier, capital punishment has been practiced for many years. However, times have changed and people argue that capital punishment is morally unethical. And while some argue with the morality of the issue, there are plausible reasons for others to argue that not executing dangerous criminals would be morally unethical.

The rationale behind having the death penalty as only option for some individuals is that their chances of committing another crime are terminated. Those who oppose the death penalty claim that life in prison would be a better alternative. However, despite the little possibility of the prisoner escaping his/her sentence, the chance for them to find their way back to society still exists. Whereas “capital punishment sets a societal standard that assaults on human life, will not be tolerated” (Goodlatte).

Some question whether or not the methods of executing criminals are cruel and unusual, and for all intents and purposes:


“The execution of a murderer sends a powerful moral message: that the innocent life [they] took was so precious, and the crime [they] committed so horrific that [they] forfeit [their] own life to remain alive. When a killer is sent to the electric chair or strapped onto a gurney for a lethal injection, society is condemning [their] crime with a seriousness and intensity that no other punishment achieves” (Jacoby).


For capital punishment to serve as a positive message to the community, the sentence for the criminals must be applied fairly. While some protest that capital punishment is not applied fairly, others argue that the injustice lies within the court trial. An example to this would be the O.J. Simpson trial in 1994 where the former football star had been accused of murdering his ex-wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ronald Goldman. Various issues during the trials (including O.J. Simpson’s blood being found at the scene of the crime and his faulty whereabouts during the crime) proved Simpson guilty; however he was acquitted for reasons some would deem as “unfair” such as Simpson being able to have some of the best lawyers as a result of his fame and fortune (Skipworth). With that said it also must not be forgotten that O.J. Simpson was an African American which would enable the public to think the jurors are racists for thinking Simpson was guilty. The sympathy in the courts has not only let guilty criminals back on the streets but also has made people forget the fact that the individual has committed a murder.

By using examples such as: insanity, racism, and sexism to prove the innocence of accused individuals, citizens are blinded from the big picture and an unnecessary second chance is offered as punishment. Because those who oppose the death penalty are unable to understand that rehabilitation is not always necessary in some cases, a bad name is given to those who support the execution of such criminals. Take the example of a woman named Betty Lou Beets who was convicted of shooting her fifth husband in order to gain life insurance benefits and later sentenced to death row. During her trials, Beets gained sympathy from supporters because “she claimed that she had suffered years of domestic abuse” (Rapaport). As a result of that saddening story, her supporters also failed to realize that “the police found [Beet’s husband’s] body buried in her front yard… [and] also discovered the body of her fourth husband who had also been shot in the head” (Rapaport). This was not Beet’s first offense, “years earlier she had been convicted of shooting and wounding her second husband” (Rapaport). Even if Beets had suffered years of domestic abuse, one would come to the conclusion that her motive for killing her fifth husband is incomprehensible.

Beet’s domestic abuse is irrelevant to her crime and those who support capital punishment argue that the reasons for prosecuting a guilty convict are indeed relevant to what the said convict is guilty of. Thus the death penalty is able to protect innocent people rather than convict them and “lethal force is met with lethal force for the victim’s sake” (Jacoby). However people against death penalty fear for the accidental sentence of an innocent convict. What they don’t realize is that, “the benefits of [the death penalty] in which judges and juries have the option of sentencing the cruelest or coldest of murderers to death far outweigh the potential risk of executing an innocent person…no matter how depraved the killing or how innocent the victim” (Jacoby).

To respond to the claims of cruel and unusual punishment taken place during the execution of criminals, supporters of the death penalty have done their best to lessen the severity of the executions by using lethal injection. One of the medications used during the procedures is called pancuronium bromide which is “a federally approved medication used routinely in hundreds of thousands of medical procedures in [the United States] every year” (Janek). Critics say that pancuronium bromide is a horrific drug but in actuality, once the pancuronium bromide is injected into the convict, “those drugs paralyze the body’s skeletal muscles… [and] the effect of the drug is to relax the chest wall muscles and the diaphragm in the now unconscious inmate” (Janek).

Personally, my arguments support those that are in favor of the death penalty. I do strongly believe that if an individual has done wrong, they should be held accountable. However economically speaking, I do believe that capital punishment is a stress for tax payers and agree that incarceration would be a more fiscally responsible alternative for convicted felons.

Yet even with all these reasons and alternatives, the debate for the continuation of the death penalty will never be settled due to the fact that the topic is like that of a double edged sword. Should an innocent person be murdered for a crime he/she did not commit? Or should a guilty convict be free to live and in the process risk the life of another innocent individual?

-Mr. Writer

Originally written on April 23, 2012 



  1. “Executions by Year.” Death Penalty Information Center. Web. 11 Feb. 2012. <;.
  2. “History.” Texas Execution Information. Web. 11 Feb. 2012. <;.
  3. “Race of Death Row Inmates Executed Since 1976.” Death Penalty Information Center. Web. 11 Feb. 2012. <;.
  4. “Rhode Island.” Death Penalty Information Center. Web. 11 Feb. 2012. <;.
  5. “States With and Without the Death Penalty.” Death Penalty Information Center. Web. 11 Feb. 2012. <;.
  6. McGuigan, Brendan. “What Is the Death Penalty?” WiseGEEK: Clear Answers for Common Questions. Web. 11 Feb. 2012. <;.
  7. Rogers, Simon. “Death Penalty Statistics from the US |” Web log post. Latest News, Sport and Comment from the Guardian | The Guardian. Web. 11 Feb. 2012. <;.
  8. “Causes of Wrongful Convictions.” Death Penalty Information Center. Web. 23 Mar. 2012. <;.
  9. Costanzo, Mark. “Is Killing Murderers Morally Justified?” Just Revenge: Cost and Consequences of the Death Penalty. New York, New York: St. Martin’s, 1997. Print.
  10. “Costs of the Death Penalty.” Death Penalty Information Center. Web. 23 Mar. 2012. <;.
  11. Friends Committee on Legislative Education Fund. “Attorney Incompetence Makes the Death Penalty Unfair.” The Death Penalty: Opposing Viewpoints. Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven, 2006. Print. Opposing Viewpoints.
  12. Grunfeld, Daniel. “Understanding the Juvenile Delinquency System.” Http:// Public Counsel, 2005. Web. 23 Mar. 2012.
  13. Overberg, Kenneth R. “The Death Penalty Is Not Consistent with Religious Ethics.” The Death Penalty: Opposing Wiewpoints. Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven, 2006. Print. Opposing Viewpoints.
  14. Rosenbaum, Mary I. “Many People Have Been Wrongfully Sentenced to Death in New York.” The Death Penalty. Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven, 2005. Print. An Opposing Viewpoints Ser.
  15. Rush, Benjamin. “The Death Penalty Is Immoral and Should Be Abolished.” The Death Penalty. Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven, 2005. Print. An Opposing Viewpoints Ser.
  16. Stevens, John P. “Executing Juveniles Is Cruel and Unusual Punishment.” The Death Penalty. Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven, 2005. Print. An Opposing Viewpoints Ser.
  17. Goodlatte, Bob. “Executions Deliver Reasonable Retribution.” The Death Penalty: Opposing Viewpoints. Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven, 2006. Print. An Opposing Viewpoints Ser.
  18. Jacoby, Jeff. “The Death Penalty Protects Innocent People.” The Death Penalty: Opposing Viewpoints. Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven, 2006. Print. An Opposing Viewpoints Ser.
  19. “The O. J. Simpson Trial: The Incriminating Evidence.” UMKC School of Law. Web. 10 Apr. 2012. <;.
  20. Rapaport, Elizabeth. “Women Are No Longer Spared the Death Penalty Because of Their Gender.” The Death Penalty: Opposing Viewpoints. Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven, 2005. Print. An Opposing Viewpoints Ser.
  21. Janek, Kyle. “Lethal Injection Should Be Maintained.” The Death Penalty: Opposing Viewpoints. Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven, 2006. Print. An Opposing Viewpoints Ser.
  22. Skipworth, Sean. “Introduction to Government.” Intro to Govt. 2302 Lone Star College: Victory Center, Houston. 1 Feb. 2012. Lecture.


Explosive Decisions: The Use of the Atomic Bomb in World War II

I wrote this paper 3 years ago for a class I took on Chinese and Japanese History (19 years old) and submitted it recently for a World Wars Conference at University of Houston-Downtown. Personally, I have grown as a writer and am disappointed with this essay as I could have done a lot better, but it got me admitted into a professional conference and I had a great time researching for this assignment as well as writing it that I decided to share it with my readers. Please enjoy. 

The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are taught in the school books as a tremendous victory for the United States because of how they essentially stood up to the Japanese and finally were able to end the war. However today, some U.S. Citizens criticize the government for the bombings and share a belief that the United States was wrong for the bombings and that alternative options should have been taken in order to end the war. And the empathetic stories of survivors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki only exacerbate the argument that what the U.S. Government did was a bit extreme. While one cannot turn back time and undo what the United States did, it can still be explored if there were indeed different opportunities for both Japan and the United States in order to at least prevent using the atomic bomb.

From the United States’ perspective there were many warnings sent to the Japanese urging them to surrender or face the consequences. However by using this secret weapon, the U.S. government had knowledge that the attack would bring about many casualties to not only Japanese military targets but also innocent civilians. This was an arduous decision indeed, but there is evidence (such as a letter from President Truman) that the U.S. had justifiable reasons for doing what they did. From the Japanese perspective, the ones who were not militarily involved in the war will say otherwise. This leaves current students who are interested in the study of World War II and historians wondering if the decision made was the correct way to go or if there was another way to end the war without having to produce so many casualties.

In order to get a good glimpse of this past, first one must understand what drove the United States to come to the drastic decision that would change the face of history itself. Starting with December 7, 1941, when Japan attacked a United States deep naval base located on Hawaii called Pearl Harbor, much to the surprise of many. The reason for it being such a surprise was because no one would have seen a reason for Japan to attack the United States. During this time, Japan was in a war with China and had already occupied rural parts of China. And according to a National Geographic documentary, the Japanese wanted the oil fields in the Dutch East Indies and the Philippines because of its strategical location[1] so they could conquer all of China.  And the United States came into the picture because they stood in Japan’s way of all this. So by attacking the United States, the Japanese hoped to essentially cripple them in order for Japan to get the U.S. to back off while Japan could conquer China and by the time the United States healed themselves, China would already be conquered and nothing could be done about it.[2]

Unfortunately for Japan, the attack on Pearl Harbor turned out to be counterproductive in the sense that instead of getting the United States to back off, what it did was unite Americans to fight in the war until the Japanese were defeated. And Japan was far from wanting a war with the United States because they were well aware that they would have a great difficulty in winning the war. The Japanese knew that the more the war went on, the more America would be able to mobilize and inevitably destroy Japan. So in other words, Japan was well aware they were writing a check they could not cash but it didn’t stop them from proceeding with the attack.

Adding on to the fact of Japan being the major aggressor in this war, they even behaved barbarically during the stages of the war and had this murderous mentality in doing so. For example: Japanese soldiers would kill prisoners and even successfully attempted suicide missions with the mindset of suicide being a better option than giving up.  But it is important to note that the United States behaved just as bad by mutilating their Japanese prisoners. In fact, most Americans viewed the Japanese as inhumane, barbaric,[3] and even traitorous (because the leader of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Isoroku Yamamoto, was a Harvard Graduate)[4]. With all that said, one can infer that the hatred the Americans had against the Japanese could have played a part in the decision to drop the bomb on Hiroshima in the sense that the United States essentially had a vendetta against Japan.

Since no side was willing to back down during the war and with “Japan having vowed to fight to the bitter end in the Pacific, despite clear indications (as early as 1944) that they had little chance of winning”[5] it was pretty self-evident that something big was to occur in order for it to finally come to an end. And because in “September 1939, the United States was uniquely positioned to move forward on a bomb project”[6], the war was soon to be over. By 1945, the United States give Japan an ultimatum: “Surrender unconditionally or face prompt and utter destruction.”[7] With that said, Japan was hesitant upon surrendering “unconditionally”, the reasons for this was because of the fear they had of what may happen to their Emperor Hirohito. And granted, the United States did not plan to do anything to the Emperor but when Japan sent a message to the United States saying that there would be an agreement of peace under the condition of having nothing happen to their Emperor, Joseph Ballantine (one of the advisors of President Truman) said, “We can’t agree to that, because the prerogatives of the emperor include everything, and if you agree to that, you’re going to have endless struggle with the Japanese.”[8] It should also be noted that in a post-war interview, Truman stated that a promise to the Emperor Hirohito was presented “through regular channels” that he would not be tried as a war criminal and his title would not be taken away from him but this was wrong; the United States never spoke to the emperor of this and “Truman had somehow forgotten the central issue determining the fate of the war”.[9]

Finally on August 6, 1945, the Japanese city of Hiroshima, located about 500 miles from Tokyo, suffered “prompt and utter destruction” with an “explosion wip[ing] out 90 percent of the city and immediately killed 80,000 people; tens of thousands more would later die of radiation exposure.”[10] With that in mind, it would seem as though an immediate surrender would have taken place but because the Japanese failed to do so, another bomb (More powerful than the one used at Hiroshima)[11] was dropped on the city of Nagasaki three days later. Based on the destruction and devastation caused by the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, one may ask the question whether or not a second bomb was necessary. The answer to that is perhaps, but there is no clear evidence to support that decision.

At the time, the bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki did seem necessary to some because vengeance played an extreme part in executing the bomb with Truman saying: “We have used [these bombs] against those who attacked us without warning at Pearl Harbor, against those who have starved and beaten and executed American prisoners of war, against those who have abandoned all pretense of obeying international laws of warfare.”[12]  Despite the annihilation of a majority of the city in Hiroshima, it was Prime Minister of Britain, Winston Churchill who said, “there never was a moment’s discussion as to whether the atomic bomb should be used or not”[13] So it is no surprise that when President Truman first heard that the bomb on Hiroshima was dropped, his response was not one of pain or remorse. This was before Truman had knowledge of what the bomb was truly capable of and the impact it had on the civilians in Hiroshima however.

This leads historians of today to wonder if the bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were still necessary and the truth is that the day after the first bomb on Hiroshima was dropped, a senator from Georgia named Richard Russell, sent President Truman a telegram essentially telling him that more atomic bombs should be used but Truman rejected this idea saying:

“I know that Japan is a terribly cruel and uncivilized nation in warfare…but I can’t bring myself to believe that, because they are beasts, we should ourselves act in the same manner. For myself, I certainly regret the necessity of wiping out whole populations because of the ‘pigheadedness’ of the leaders of a nation, and for your information, I am not going to do it unless it is absolutely necessary…My object is to save as many American lives as possible but I also have a humane feeling for the women and children in Japan”[14]

Meaning that the United States had essentially made their point by dropping two bombs on Japan and there was no need for there to be more bloodshed. However in a postwar interview, when Truman was asked whether or not any other bombs were planned to be used against Japan as well, Truman responded, “Yes. The other two cities on the list [Niigata and Kokura] would have been bombed.”[15]

One can only imagine what a third or fourth bomb would have done to the people of Japan.  Knowledge of the casualties in Hiroshima and Nagasaki alone, are too much to handle; In Hiroshima there is an estimated total of 135,000 and in Nagasaki were 64,000. But in the end, who is to blame for all this destruction? Of course Truman was the president of the United States during this time, who allowed for the bombs to be dropped but it was

“President Franklin D. Roosevelt [who] authorized the development of the bomb, [and] its progress was overseen by U.S. government representatives, hundreds of American Scientists, and thousands more American staffed the plants that manufactured the components, including fissionable ones, that made the bomb work. American scientists or rather those working in the United States, saw the bomb successfully tested and knew basically what it would do to a city and its residents. President Harry S. Truman…authorized the atomic bombings, with the advice and consent of his closest advisors. The United States can be properly credited with having made the decisive weapon in the Pacific War—and it can be rightly blamed for having unleashed upon the world the special destructiveness of nuclear power.”[16]

But it cannot be forgotten where Japan’s place in History was before and during the Second World War. Before the war, Japan was in the process of modernizing itself after essentially being pushed around one too many times by foreign powers. And one of the key important things Japan wanted to modernize was their military and after the Russo-Japanese war in 1904, Japan had successfully done so and made its place among the world’s great powers. The secret to Japan’s modernization was essentially them borrowing certain political attributes from other countries however its main goal was to assert itself as the World’s Greatest power and become the ultimate sphere of influence. This started with Japan attempting to essentially spread their empire into China in order to insulate against the 1930’s Great Depression but this didn’t sit right with China who was in the process of bringing about a new government[17] and as a result, there was war between Japan and China and as stated earlier, the United States stood in the way of Japan successfully being able to take over China.

In other words, one can say that Japan was responsible for giving the United States a reason to use the bomb because when one carefully reads the terms put in the Potsdam Declaration (the declaration which gave Japan terms to follow upon surrendering) especially one of the numbers that says, “the Japanese military forces, after being completely disarmed, shall be permitted to return to their homes with the opportunity to lead peaceful and productive lives”[18], which does not seem unfair. And another term that says, “We do not intend that the Japanese shall be enslaved as a race or destroyed as a nation, but stern justice shall be meted out to all war criminals, including those who have visited cruelties upon our prisoners” should have given the Japanese a little peace of mind when contemplating whether or not they should accept the surrender terms. It essentially leads to the conclusion that it was perhaps the stubbornness of the Japanese government that led to their inevitable demise.

The question still remains whether or not there were still other options that could have taken place as an alternative to using the bomb. To find the answer to that, one must try to find the reason for the United States stressing upon Japan an “unconditional” surrender. As stated earlier, there were no plans to harm the emperor nor were there plans to enslave any Japanese citizens. So why desire for an unconditional surrender? A good inference could be that the United States wanted to instill fear in the Japanese people because even though they were on the clear losing side of the war, they were still unwilling to back down. When the Japanese were almost to the point of surrendering on the one condition that they knew nothing would happen to their emperor, why couldn’t the United States accept that one term? Secretary of State, James Byrnes answers the question for that in his memoirs, “While equally anxious to bring the war to an end, I had to disagree [to Japan’s condition]…and any retreat from these words [“unconditional surrender”] now would cause much delay in securing their acquiescence”[19]. And according to Tsuyoshi’s “Racing the Enemy”, it appears that

“Truman was well aware that once he insisted upon unconditional surrender in the Potsdam Proclamation, Japan would fight the war to the bitter end…He feared that any negotiations with the Japanese government might be taken as a sign of weakness. Any weakening of the U.S. stand on unconditional surrender might strengthen the war party in Japan, reinforcing their will to fight on… [And] the atomic bomb provided Truman with the answer to the dilemma of imposing unconditional surrender on japan and saving American lives. Thus, [Truman] was eager to use the atomic bomb rather than explore other alternatives”[20]

So to put it another way, there may have been alternative options but based on the situation Truman was in, with Japan not wanting to surrender and having the atomic bomb as this almost magic button that could make all the world’s problems go away (along with many of his confidants perhaps urging him to use it), it seemed as though giving the “go ahead” to dropping the bomb was his only option. That and if there were any other alternatives that could have been taken, the Japanese perhaps would have still continued to fight. It should also be known that Japan also had scientists that were capable of building their own atomic bomb but the only thing that hindered this from happening in Japan was that the scientists were “unenthusiastic about the bomb”.[21]

The aftermath of the surrendering resulted in the U.S. occupying Japan and making sure the terms of the treaty are carried out. And General Douglas MacArthur was put in charge of this occupation and set out to try and transform Japan politically, economically, and socially. Politically he set to make Japan out to become a constitutional monarchy essentially not taking any power away from the emperor Hirohito and allow him to keep his title. Economically he set out to democratize it and socially, he set out to bring equality amongst Japanese citizens.[22] And because the Japanese had such a hatred for the United States during the War, one would expect the Japanese to drag their feet during the Occupation but they instead reacted peacefully and were instead grateful that the United States stuck to their promise that they had no intention to enslave the Japanese citizens and only sought out to bring peace amongst the people of Japan.

Looking back on the past, it seems as though while this war was avoidable, it still ended with peace among the people of Japan and the United States. And despite all the lives lost on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it is quite clear that the United States made the right choice. The fact of the matter is that after the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, the Japanese did not make a declaration of peace until four days after the first bomb and one day after the second bomb was dropped.[23] And one cannot say that the United States did not try to make peace with Japan by urging them to surrender. Even President Truman stated in a letter regarding the bombings, “We sent an ultimatum to Japan. It was rejected… Dropping the bombs ended the war, saved lives, and gave the free nations a chance to face the facts.”[24] So while innocent civilians died as a result of this explosive decision, it was a sacrifice the United States and Japan both were going to have to make.

-Mr. Writer

Originally written on November 29, 2013 at 4:09 P.M.


Works Cited:

“The Atlantic | December 1946 | If the Atomic Bomb Had Not Been Used | Compton.” The Atlantic | December 1946 | If the Atomic Bomb Had Not Been Used | Compton. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Sept. 2013. <;.

“The Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 26 Sept. 2013. <;.

“Potsdam Declaration.” Exploring the History, Science, and Consequences of the Atomic Bomb. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Sept. 2013. <;.

“Truman’s Reflections on the Atomic Bombings.” Exploring the History, Science, and Consequences of the Atomic Bomb. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Sept. 2013.

Rotter, Andrew Jon. “Chapter 4: The United States I: Imagining and Building the Bomb.” Hiroshima: The World’s Bomb. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2008. N. pag. Print.

Rotter, Andrew Jon. “Chapter 3: Japan and Germany: Paths Not Taken.” Hiroshima: The World’s Bomb. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2008. N. pag. Print.

Byrnes, James, “All in One Lifetime” (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1958)*

Catton, Philip. “Second World War in Asia.” Stephen F. Austin State University. 4 Nov. 2013. Lecture.

Hasegawa, Tsuyoshi. “Chapter 5: The Atomic Bombs.” Racing the Enemy: Stalin, Truman, and the Surrender of Japan. Cambridge: Harvard UP., n.d. N. pag. Print.

Cyril Clemens, ed., Truman Speaks (New York: Columbia University Press, 1960),p.69*

Catton, Philip. “The Occupation of Japan” Stephen F. Austin State University. 6 Nov. 2013. Lecture.

Pearl Harbor: Legacy of Attack. Dir. Michael Rosenfeld and Kirk Wolfinger. By Patrick Prentice. Perf. Tom Brokaw, Bob Ballard, Stephen Ambrose. National Geographic’s, 2001. Netflix.

Catton, Philip. “Japanese Imperialism” Stephen F. Austin State University. 7 Oct. 2013. Lecture


* Source copied from source used in “Racing the Enemy”

[1] National Geographic’s Documentary (Netflix)

[2] Catton’s Lecture (Second World War in Asia)

[3] Catton’s Lecture (Second World War in Asia)

[4] National Geographic’s Documentary (Netflix)


[6] “Hiroshima: The World’s Bomb”

[7] Catton’s Lecture (Second World War in Asia)

[8] “Racing the Enemy”

[9] “Racing the Enemy”



[12] “Truman Speaks”

[13] “Hiroshima: The World’s Bomb”

[14] “Racing the Enemy”

[15]“Racing the Enemy”

[16] “Hiroshima: The World’s Bomb”

[17] Catton’s Lecture (Origins of the Sino-Japanese War)

[18] Potsdam Declaration

[19] James Byrne’s “All in One Lifetime”

[20] “Racing the Enemy”

[21] “Hiroshima: The World’s Bomb”

[22] Catton’s Lecture (The Occupation of Japan)

[23] If the Atomic Bomb Had Not Been Used

[24] Truman’s Reflections on the Bomb