Death of Brien McMahon

U.S. #1200 was issued on the 10th anniversary of McMahon’s death.

Connecticut senator and chairman of the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy Brien McMahon died on July 28, 1952, in Washington, DC.

McMahon was born on October 6, 1903, in Norwalk, Fairfield County, Connecticut. After graduating from Yale law school he practiced law, and then became a city judge in 1933. He went on to serve as a special assistant to the Attorney General of the United States and later Assistant Attorney General of the U.S., in charge of the Department of Justice Criminal Division.

In 1944, McMahon was elected to the U.S. Senate. He was re-elected in 1950, and served until his death. McMahon served as chairman of the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy. In 1945 he introduced a bill that would put control and development of nuclear technology into civilian, rather than military, hands. President Truman signed the Atomic Energy Act of 1946 (sometimes called the McMahon Act) establishing the United States Atomic Energy Commission. The AEC directed the development and use of atomic energy for both military and civilian purposes.

U.S. #1200 FDC – McMahon Plate Block First Day Cover.

In 1952, McMahon proposed the creation of an “army” of young Americans to serve as “missionaries of democracy.” The proposal served as one of the inspirations for the Peace Corps, established in 1961.

Also in 1952, McMahon launched a campaign to run for president. His slogan was “The Man is McMahon” and his slogan “to insure world peace through fear of atomic weapons.” However, he was soon diagnosed with cancer and died on July 28, 1952.

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  1. Thank you for the history lesson. I believe there is a a high school named after this gentleman in his home state of Connecticut.

  2. Regarding the slogan: “to insure world peace through fear of atomic weapons.”.
    In my life experience “fear of anything” has not brought about much positive and certainly not peace.

    1. We all rightly are taught as children to fear things that are dangerous. “Don’t stick fingers or tools into electrical outlets, don’t go anywhere with strangers, don’t eat food from damaged cans, etc. Yes, the healthy “fear” that leads to avoidance is indeed healthy. Politicians do sometimes seek to manipulate us through fear (as Hitler did), so we must always seek to separate truth from lies and only fear the things that can hurt us.

  3. To truly understand the significance of what this man and the creation of the AEC, you have to put yourself in 1946. The United States and the worl had just completed a 9 year war in which as many as 100 million people had been killed maimed or driven out of their homes and nations were bankrupt and trillions of dollars worth of infrastructure had been destroyed on 4 continents. Then to end the war this absolutely awesome surprise secretly developed weapon is dropped twice to destroy entire cities and their inhabitants. Our War Department and victorious Army were the only ones to have this weapon although we suspected the Soviet Union had spies and had captured many of the German scientists who were working on the same weapons. To now take the same physics of the atom into civilian control aimed at providing peaceful use of that awesome power away from the military was a both brilliant and challenging political strategic move to initiate and lead. That act has severed America well for 70 years — all thru the production of hydrogen and neutron warheads of the 50s and 60s during the MADD Cold War competition with USSR then China, and the construction of safe nuclear energy power generators with extraordinary inspection and safeguards providing the cleanest and least expensive electricity to power American industry, business, and homes.

  4. Thank you, Dean and Mr Michael Toler. ‘Fear’ has not really brought any peace to any society at any time-Korean War, Vietnam, Gulf, etc. The Germans were working on nuclear technology before the Americans, they were also involved in technology concerning time-travel: The Bell. Also, remember the paperclip 700.

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