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On the evening of April 1, 1949, Winston Churchill received the appointment as an honorary lecturer of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the institute’s convocation ceremony held at the Boston Garden. The previous day he had arrived in Boston as part of his 11-day visit to the United States and delivered a major foreign policy speech to an audience of 14,000 people at the Garden. (The speech is available here.) Along with his party he spent the night at a suite on the 16th floor of the city’s Ritz-Carlton hotel. Most of the world’s newspapers on April 1, 1949, except for the Soviet ones which were silent on the topic, commented on Churchill’s speech. In that evening’s convocation ceremony Harold E. Stassen, the president of the University of Pennsylvania and already a perennial candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, made the keynote address. He used the speech to call for a “McArthur Plan in Asia” to replicate the Marshall Plan in Europe. In his remarks Stassen lauded Churchill, who was seated on the platform, as “that contemporary Shakespeare, Burke, and Nelson cast in one dramatic mold.” Following Stassen’s address Churchill received a gold key from Otto E. Kirchner on behalf of the MIT student body and then the honorary lectureship from MIT’s new president Dr. James R. Killian Jr. Declaring himself “off duty tonight,” Churchill made a short address in thanks for the two gifts. After the ceremony, Churchill and his party took the midnight train for New York where they were to board the Queen Mary bound for England the next day.

 

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