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Senator Brien McMahon, Statesman from Connecticut, by Kotzky & Fox, ca. 1946

In 1945 the Senate established a Special Committee on Atomic Energy to study the serious issues relating to atomic energy and appointed freshman Senator Brien McMahon of Connecticut its chairman. The committee met in almost daily sessions for five months, gathering testimony about atomic energy and how it might be safely controlled. This graphic-art pamphlet was issued by Senator McMahon’s 1946 re-election committee.

Manuscript Division, Library of Congress

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Regulating Nuclear Technology

The United States ended the war in the Pacific by dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, in August 1945, killing more than 100,000 Japanese civilians and demonstrating the devastating power of these new weapons. Neither Congress nor the public understood the terrifying capabilities of atomic weapons prior to August 1945, as development of the bomb had been shrouded in secrecy. Shortly thereafter, Congress debated how to meet the unprecedented political, social, and economic issues precipitated by the revolutionary development of the atomic bomb and nuclear technology.

Atomic power must be controlled to prevent a push-button war.

Representative Helen Gahagan Douglas of California, Press Release, 1945