Origins of the Cold War
Read the following Document and answer the Primary Source Document Questions that follow.
The following is an excerpt from a letter sent by Henry Wallace to President Truman, July 23, 1946. From the Harry S Truman Papers, Harry S Truman Library, Independence, Missouri. Henry Wallace, a former Vice President of the United States, was a critical observer of US policies during the start of the Cold War. He believed US actions were as much to blame as Soviet actions in the starting of the Cold War.
“How do American actions since V-J Day appear to other nations? I mean by actions the concrete things like $13 billion for the War and Navy Departments, the Bikini tests of the atomic bomb and continued production of bombs, the plan to arm Latin America with our weapons, production of B-29s and planned production of B-36s, and the effort to secure air bases spread over half the globe from which the other half of the globe can be bombed. I cannot but feel that these actions must make it look to the rest of the world as if we were only paying lip service to peace at the conference table.
These facts rather make it appear either (1) that we are preparing ourselves to win the war which we regard as inevitable or (2) that we are trying to build up a predominance of force to intimidate the rest of mankind. How would it look to us if Russia had the atomic bomb and we did not, if Russia had 10,000-mile bombers and air bases within a thousand miles of our coastlines, and we did not?
Our basic distrust of the Russians, … stems from differences in political and economic organization…I am convinced that we can meet that challenge as we have in the past by demonstrating that economic abundance can be achieved without sacrificing personal, political and religious liberties.
Our actions to expand our military security system-such steps as extending the Monroe Doctrine to include the arming of the Western Hemisphere nations, our present monopoly of the atomic bomb, our interest in outlying bases and our general support of the British Empire-appear to them as going far beyond the requirements of defense.”
Henry A. Wallace, Letter Sent to President Truman, July 23, 1946
Primary Source Document Questions:
- What is the main idea contained within this document?
- What is going on in the country/world when this document was written?
- Is this document a reliable source? Why or why not? (Is there bias?)
- Who said this? When did they say it?
- What are 2 facts that you have learned in class or on your own that you can connect to this document?
- How does this primary source contribute to our understanding of the time frame and/or history?