A Petition to the President of the United States

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This petition and its importance

This petition, signed by Leo Szilard and others, is sent to the President of the United States, who serves as the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. The petition was raised by the scientists who designed the atomic bombs, who were well aware of the potential effects of using the bombs. According to Szilard, physicists suggested an alternative plan of action for the war in light of the destructive consequences of the use of atomic bombs. To start with, the president is made aware of the power of the atomic bombs, a secret best known to the scientists. Then they urged him to first reveal the details of the power of the atomic bombs to the Japanese and request them to surrender. Thereafter, warn them that if they cannot yield to his request, they leave them no option but to make use of the atomic bombs. Szilard in his petition effectively employs the use of pathos and logos to make the president and Japan to rethink about their decisions, and he also has strong ethos considering the devastating effects of the use of the atomic bombs.

Logos: The logical reasoning

The logic of using the atomic bombs is stated by the scientists who explain that its use may prompt similar situations in the future. Owing to that, anytime rival powers in possession of the atomic bombs may uncontrollably make use of them leading to a continuous annihilation crisis. Moreover, the crisis will not only be channeled to other states, but will affect all nations exposed to it, including the United States itself. Given that the United States took the lead in atomic power development, it will be obligated to channel all its resources be it moral or material to manage the crisis (Bernstein). Therefore, the scientists proposed that since the United States was in possession of the material strength drawn from the lead, it should take the obligation of restraining the use of the atomic bombs. Otherwise, if it violates this obligation, it will harshly be judged by the world at large, leading to the weakening of its moral position. Consequently, it would be hard for the nation to live up to its responsibility of containing such forces of destruction.

Pathos: The emotional appeal

The Japanese were to be informed of the power of the atomic bombs; hence the decision was left in their hands to choose whether to continue with the war or surrender. The United States had the atomic bombs at their disposal; it was for the president to choose the appropriate course of action for his country. Szilard asserts that if Japan refused to surrender, then it would force the president to order for the use of the atomic bombs, however with considerations of the involved moral responsibilities. Here the scientists give an alternative to the president and closely followed it with the attached moral responsibility with the intention of swaying the president's attention. In addition to this, he is also reminded of his historical place for future use. This implies that his decision will be recorded in books to be used as a future reference. In both cases, the parties involves are given open options which they need to choose with considerations to their consequences.

Ethos: The credibility of the scientists

The petition was presented to the president by scientists; people who had participated in the development of the atomic bombs. They are aware of the composition of the bombs and the magnitude of their effects. First, they concur with the majority that the use of the atomic bombs maybe the most effective method of speedily bringing the war in conclusion. Considering the dangers of using the atomic bombs on Japan, they feel that it may be unfair to make use of the bombs without informing the Japanese nation (Bernstein). This is what leads them into proposing that Japan should be made aware of the US intentions and given a chance to choose. The petition placed Japan at a compelling position in which they are advised to look forward to peaceful devotions, or the otherwise would be devastating.

The persuasive power of the petition

To sum it up, Szilard's petition statements were guided by morality in a way that he left it to the president to think about an appropriate course of action. In fact, he wanted the president also being a human being, to consider his action and the consequences that might come along with it. He persuaded him not to consent to the use of the atomic bombs in the war not only by taking a moral stand on the issue, but also carrying out his duty as the United States commander-in-chief. Throughout this petition, Szilard employs the use of ethos and logos effectively in his appeal that the president should consider his proposal. It is obvious that the president in his right mind will be compelled to give in to the petition and impede the use of the atomic bombs in the war, not unless Japan refuses to surrender.

Works Cited

Bernstein, Barton. Leo Szilard: Giving Peace a Chance in the Nuclear Age. Physics Today 40.9 (1987): 40. Academic Search Premier.

Szilard, Leo and cosigners. A Petition to the President of the United States. Atomicarchive.com. 2011. Web. 13th July 2017.

Szilard, Leo and Cosigners. A Petition to the President of the United States. U.S. National Archives: 2011. Print.

January 13, 2023

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