Groves, Leslie R. (Leslie Richard), 1896-1970

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Lieutenant General Leslie Richard Groves Jr. (17 August 1896 – 13 July 1970) was a United States Army Corps of Engineers officer who oversaw the construction of the Pentagon and directed the Manhattan Project, a top secret research project that developed the atomic bomb during World War II.

The son of a U.S. Army chaplain, Groves lived at various Army posts during his childhood. In 1918, he graduated fourth in his class at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and was commissioned into the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In 1929, he went to Nicaragua as part of an expedition to conduct a survey for the Inter-Oceanic Nicaragua Canal. Following the 1931 earthquake, Groves took over Managua's water supply system, for which he was awarded the Nicaraguan Presidential Medal of Merit. He attended the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, in 1935 and 1936; and the Army War College in 1938 and 1939, after which he was posted to the War Department General Staff. Groves developed "a reputation as a doer, a driver, and a stickler for duty" and in 1940 he became special assistant for construction to the Quartermaster General, tasked with inspecting construction sites and checking on their progress. In August 1941, he was appointed to create the gigantic office complex for the War Department's 40,000 staff that would ultimately become the Pentagon.

In September 1942, Groves took charge of the Manhattan Project. He was involved in most aspects of the atomic bomb's development: he participated in the selection of sites for research and production at Oak Ridge, Tennessee; Los Alamos, New Mexico; and Hanford, Washington. He directed the enormous construction effort, made critical decisions on the various methods of isotope separation, acquired raw materials, directed the collection of military intelligence on the German nuclear energy project and helped select the cities in Japan that were chosen as targets. Groves wrapped the Manhattan Project in security but failed to prevent the Soviet Union from conducting a successful espionage program that stole some of its most important secrets.

After the war, Groves remained in charge of the Manhattan Project until responsibility for nuclear weapons production was handed over to the United States Atomic Energy Commission in 1947. He then headed the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project, which had been created to control the military aspects of nuclear weapons. He was given a dressing down by the Army Chief of Staff, General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower, and told that he would never be appointed Chief of Engineers. Three days later, Groves announced his intention to leave the Army. He was promoted to lieutenant general just before his retirement on 29 February 1948 in recognition of his leadership of the bomb program. By a special Act of Congress, his date of rank was backdated to 16 July 1945, the date of the Trinity nuclear test.

Shortly after his retirement from the Army in February 1948, Groves accepted a position as vice president of research and development at Remington Rand (later Sperry Rand) in South Norwalk, Connecticut. He retired from the company in August 1961 on his sixty-fifth birthday. He wrote a book on the Manhattan Project, titled Now It Can Be Told: The Story of the Manhattan Project, published in 1962. Moving back to Washington in 1964, he continued to distance himself from the public spotlight, with the exception of providing written commentary on publications on the Manhattan Project.

In February 1970, Groves, Vannevar Bush, and James B. Conant were awarded the Atomic Pioneer Award by President Richard M. Nixon for their contributions to nuclear development and research during World War II. The award ceremony marked Groves’s last public appearance, as his health had been deteriorating. He suffered a severe heart attack on 13 July 1970 and died at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Following a service at the Fort Myer Old Post Chapel, he was buried at Arlington National Cemetery next to his brother Allen.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
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referencedIn National Broadcasting Company, Inc., Collection. 1953 - 1962. Motion Picture Films. 1953 - 1962. THREE, TWO, ONE, ZERO National Archives at College Park
referencedIn United States. Office of Scientific Research and Development. S-1 Files. Bush - Conant File. letter, Bush to Gen. Leslie R. Groves, 11/13/42. Denver Art Museum
referencedIn Morrison, Philip. Oral History interview with Philip Morrison, 2002. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Bush, Vannevar, 1890-1974. Oral history interview with Vannevar Bush, 1964. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Martin J. Sherwin Collection Relating to J. Robert Oppenheimer, 1910-2006, (bulk 1931-2006) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
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referencedIn Groves-Griffith-Chaffin family papers, 1823-ca. 1945. U.S. Army Heritage & Education Center
referencedIn Mark, Carson. Oral history interview with J. Carson Mark, 1976 June 8. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Sperry Corporation. Records, 1893-1976 (bulk 1927-1965). Hagley Museum & Library
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referencedIn Evans, Robley Dunglison, 1907-. Oral history interview with Robley D. Evans, 1972 May 2 to 14 June 1978. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
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creatorOf Groves, Leslie R., 1896-1970. Letter, 1946 Jan. 22. Smithsonian Institution. Libraries
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referencedIn Nix, Foster Cary, 1905-. Oral history interview with Foster Cary Nix, 1975 June 27. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
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referencedIn J. Robert Oppenheimer Papers, 1799-1980, (bulk 1947-1967) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
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creatorOf Speech before the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission, June 14, 1946, 1946 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Greenewalt, Crawford H., 1902-1993. Personal papers, 1948-1992. Hagley Museum & Library
creatorOf Groves, Leslie R., 1896-1970. Letter, 1946 Jan. 22. Smithsonian Institution. Libraries
referencedIn Brobeck, William Morrison, 1908-. Oral history interview with William M. Brobeck, 1975 June 19 to 1 February 1976. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn Smyth, Henry De Wolf, 1898-1986. Atomic energy for military purposes, 1945 [typescript]. Hagley Museum & Library
referencedIn "March of Time" Collection. 1934 - 1951. "March of Time" Assorted Films. 1935 - 1953. The Harry Truman Administration National Archives at College Park
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referencedIn The Nation, records, 1879-1974 (inclusive), 1920-1955 (bulk). Houghton Library
referencedIn Oppenheimer, J. Robert, 1904-1967. J. Robert Oppenheimer papers, 1799-1980 (bulk 1947-1967). Library of Congress
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referencedIn David Goldin Collection. 1932 - 1952. Audio Recordings of Radio Broadcasts of Speeches, Interviews, Combat Reports, Special Events, Public Affairs, and Entertainment for U.S. Troops. 1932 - 1952. GENERAL GROVES
referencedIn J. B. Matthews Papers, 1862-1986 and undated David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
referencedIn Robert S. Norris collection, 1898-2003 Hoover Institution Archives
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creatorOf Groves, Leslie R., 1896-1970. Letter and photograph. Smithsonian Institution. Libraries
referencedIn Reynolds, Wallace B. Oral history interview with Wallace B. Reynolds, 1975 December 12. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
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Relation Name
associatedWith Atomic Energy for Industry Conference (1954 : Atlanta, Ga.) corporateBody
associatedWith Baruch, Bernard M. (Bernard Mannes), 1870-1965. person
associatedWith Bradbury, Norris Edwin, 1909-1997. person
associatedWith Brobeck, William Morrison, 1908- person
associatedWith Brookhaven National Laboratory. corporateBody
associatedWith Buck, Pearl S., (Pearl Sydenstricker), 1892-1973 person
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associatedWith Eagles, Edward P., person
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associatedWith Evatt, Herbert Vere, 1894-1965 person
associatedWith Farrell, Thomas Francis, 1891-1967 person
associatedWith Froman, Darol Kenneth, 1906- person
associatedWith Greenewalt, Crawford H., 1902-1993. person
associatedWith Hancock, John M., (John Milton), 1883-1956 person
associatedWith Jennerjohn, Dale J., 1922- person
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associatedWith Mark, Carson. person
correspondedWith Matthews, J. B. (Joseph Brown), 1894-1966 person
associatedWith Matthias, Franklin T. (Franklin Thompson), 1908-1993. person
associatedWith Morrison, Philip. person
associatedWith Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus, 1756-1791. person
associatedWith National Industrial Conference Board. corporateBody
associatedWith Nation (New York, N.Y. : 1865). corporateBody
associatedWith Nix, Foster Cary, 1905- person
associatedWith Norris, Robert S. (Robert Stan) person
correspondedWith Oppenheimer, J. Robert, 1904-1967. person
associatedWith Parsons, William Sterling, 1901-1953. person
associatedWith Patterson, Robert Porter, 1891-1952. person
associatedWith Pegram, George Braxton, 1876-1958. person
associatedWith Pierce, William J. person
associatedWith Pierce, William J. person
associatedWith Rea, Charles E. person
associatedWith Reynolds, Wallace B. person
associatedWith Schreiber, R. E. (Raemer Edgar) person
correspondedWith Seaborg, Glenn Theodore, 1912- person
associatedWith Searls, Fred, 1888-1968 person
associatedWith Sherwin, Martin J. person
associatedWith Sherwin, Martin J. person
associatedWith Smyth, Henry De Wolf, 1898-1986. person
associatedWith Sperry Corporation. corporateBody
associatedWith Swope, Herbert Bayard, 1882-1958 person
associatedWith Tolman, Richard Chace, 1881-1948 person
associatedWith United Nations. Atomic Energy Commission. corporateBody
memberOf United States. Army corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Office of Scientific Research and Development. S-1 Files. Bush - Conant File. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. War Dept. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Albany NY US
Washington, D. C. DC US
Subject
Nuclear energy--Addresses, essays, lectures
Legion of Merit (Military decoration)
Manhattan Project (U. S.)--History
Nuclear weapons--Addresses, essays, lectures
Technology--History
Veterans--Interviews
Manhattan Project (U.S.)
Nuclear arms control--Addresses, essays, lectures
Nuclear energy--Research--Laboratories
Nuclear nonproliferation--Addresses, essays, lectures
Distinguished Service Medal (U.S.)
Manhattan Project
Occupation
Lieutenant General
Project director
Army officers
Activity

Person

Birth 1896-08-17

Death 1970-07-13

Male

Americans

English

Information

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Ark ID: w63z8z4t

SNAC ID: 85508944