Dear Professor Einstein:

The Emergency Committee of Atomic Scientists

in Post-War America

"Our Hope for Survival Depends on You Alone": Fears and Hopes

The Committee’s appeal for help stirred deep emotions in many of those who received it. Many supporters wrote to Einstein in a personal, even intimate tone, expressing everything from fear, confusion, despair, and hope about the new atomic reality they found themselves living in. Clarence Avey, a Methodist minister, confided to Einstein that “I am terrified by what I see in the daily press.” C. J. France echoed the sentiment of many when he wrote simply: “I am afraid.” Numerous correspdents feared the Committee was the nation's only hope: as Jean Noland despaired, "Unless your Committee is effective, God help us all."

For many their fear sprang from admitted ignorance or bewilderment about the facts of atomic energy. Florence Angell admitted that she was “pitiably confused” as a layman. R. D. Hoffman repeated the refrain of many correspondents when he confessed that he “knew little of atomic energy, except that it is a force capable of doing tremendous harm to mankind, if not destroying it completely…”

Many respondents wrote with feelings of despair, depression, or pessimism, either about the bomb itself or the potential for success by the Committee. Edward King felt that “this is the most discouraging time within the memory of living people,” and Reed Bain lamented that he was “greatly depressed.” Of the many writers who had little hope, however, almost all still found the motivation and the means to support Einstein by sending funds, showing that they had at least a glimmer of faith. Mary Bethune, of the National Council of Negro Women, writes with her own hope kindled by reading the Committee’s literature, and exclaims that “we together can stem the tide...approaching us.” Minot Morgan, a Presbyterian minister, wrote that he was so “deeply stirred” by the Committee’s first official statement that he read it from the pulpit during Sunday worship to inspire others. Through the despair and anguish, the Committee stood as a beacon of hope to many.

The Response
"Our Hope for Survival Depends on You Alone": Fears and Hopes