A Strauss speech

Lewis Strauss headed America’s Atomic Energy Commission for three years from 1953 and it is fair to say few have influenced the history of nuclear power as much as he did. Although a complex character, generally the weight of history judges him as a negative force.

On January 21, 1954, the First Lady, Mamie Eisenhower, launched the first nuclear submarine (though the reactor isn’t yet on board at the time) in Connecticut, and of course Strauss speechifies. I wish I could use his hyperbolic, slippery speech, but I can’t, so here’s just one of its paras, one that says so much about him and the mid 50s:

Like the eagle on the Great Seal of the United States which offers in its talons either the olive branch of peace or the thunderbolts of defense, this new vessel is in the same way symbolic. It typifies the Spirit of America in this eleventh year of the Atomic Age. We are strong with the strength of atomic thunderbolts to resist aggression and to forestall tyranny while at the same time we extend the olive branch of a worthy peace – of peace made even more worthy by our purpose to see it enriched with the fruits of man’s inventiveness and ingenuity and good will.


Strauss, Lewis L. 1954. Remarks at the launching of the U.S.S. Nautilus. Folder “Military Research & Application: STR”, Box 54, Entry 67-B1, RG 326, NARA II, College Park, Maryland.

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