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On Monday February 18, 1901, Winston Churchill made his maiden speech in the House of Commons. He had been narrowly elected to parliament as a Conservative for the constituency of Oldham in October 1900 and had taken his seat in the chamber four days earlier. His mother, Lady Randolph Churchill, and four of his aunts were in the Ladies Gallery when Churchill rose to speak at 10:30 that evening from the “corner seat of the second bench above the gangway immediately behind the Ministerial Front Bench.” He spoke right after David Lloyd-George had made a bitter speech attacking the British conduct of the ongoing war in South Africa. In opening his first speech to parliament, in which he too would discuss South Africa, Churchill took note of Lloyd-George’s speech. He compared the bitter tone of the speech with the moderate amendment that Lloyd-George had offered and remarked “it might perhaps have been better, upon the whole, if the hon. Member, instead of making his speech without moving his Amendment, had moved his Amendment without making his speech.” Churchill then discussed ending the war in South Africa and a suitable post-war government, but not without noting that “If I were a Boer fighting in the field—and if I were a Boer I hope I should be fighting in the field.” The comment prompted Joseph Chamberlain, the Colonial Secretary, to remark, “That’s the way to throw away seats.” Churchill’s maiden speech was considered a success and received favourable comment in the newspapers. The full text of the speech can be found online.

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