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Today in history: August 6
In 1945, President Truman changed history by authorizing the use of an atomic bomb
President Truman ordered the first atomic bomb strike on this date in 1945.
President Truman ordered the first atomic bomb strike on this date in 1945. Keystone/Getty Images

Aug. 6, 1945: On President Harry Truman's orders, an atomic bomb was dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. A second atomic bomb was dropped three days later on Nagasaki; the devastating attacks hastened Japan's surrender in World War II.

Truman decided to drop the bomb after being told that an invasion of Japan would cost "at minimum 250,000 U.S. casualties and might cost as much as a million." The president already knew that U.S. and Allied casualties in two recent battles — Iwo Jima and Okinawa — were horrendous: approximately 77,469 killed and wounded.

You can see the gleaming silver B-29 that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima — the Enola Gay — at the Smithsonian's Udvar-Hazy Museum in Virginia.

Aug. 6, 1965: President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act, guaranteeing blacks the right to vote. The impact of the Voting Rights Act was clear: Black voter turnout in Mississippi went from 6 percent in 1964 to 59 percent in 1968.

Quote of the day

"I am president now, and tired of being kicked around." -William Howard Taft

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