The University of Sussex will be holding a one-day symposium, The Special Relationship: Past, Present, Future, on March 7, 2016. Speakers will include Alan Dobson on “The Economic and Political Backdrop to the Fulton Speech,” Steve Walsh on “Churchill and the discursive construction of special Anglo-American relations,” and Sam Edwards on “The Architecture of a Myth: Constructing and Commemorating Churchill’s Special Relationship, c. 1919-66.” Information on the event can be found here.
A Churchill one-man show and Churchill symposium will be held at Washington University in St. Louis on February 12-13, 2016, the closing weekend of the Paintings of Sir Winston Churchill exhibition. “Painting As a Pastime: Banishing the Black Dog,” written and performed by Randy Otto, will be held at the Kemper Art Museum on the Friday evening and the symposium, “The Multifaceted Life and Legacy of Sir Winston Churchill,” will held the next day at the Steinberg Auditorium. The scheduled speakers are Larry Arnn, Warren Dockter, James W. Muller, Michael Neiberg, Simon Read, and Jonathan Sandys. Information on the events is available here.
The December 2015 issue of Vital Speeches of the Day has the article, “The Man Who Made Winston Churchill,” by Hal Gordon, a professional speech writer. Originally delivered as a speech to the World Conference of Professional Speechwriters, the article describes the relationship between Churchill and Bourke Cockran, a politician who was known as America’s greatest living orator. The two met and became friends during Churchill’s trip to the United States and Cuba in 1895. Gordon considers Cockran and Churchill as speakers and includes Churchill’s quote when asked on whom had he based his oratory that ”It was an American statesman who inspired me and taught me how to use every note of the human voice like an organ. He was my model. I learned from him how to hold thousands in thrall.” The web site for Vital Speeches of the Day is available here.
A longer study of Cockran and Churchill’s friendship was published as Becoming Winston Churchill: The Untold Story of Young Winston and his American Mentor in 2007 by Michael McMenamin and Curt J. Zoller.
Warren Dockter, University of Cambridge and author of Churchill and the Islamic World, has a series of videos titled “Talking Churchill” on his YouTube channel. The latest podcast features Dockter’s discussion with Christopher Bell, Dalhousie University and author of Churchill and Sea Power, about the Dardanelles campaign. Another video features an interesting discussion with Richard Toye, University of Exeter and author of several Churchill publications including Roar of the Lion: The Untold Story of Churchill’s World War II Speeches, about the concept of Churchill’s pre-1939 career being as proposed by Robert Rhodes James a study in failure. Dockter’s YouTube channel is available here.
On January 13, 1909 Winston Churchill accompanied by his wife Clementine visited Birmingham where he made a major speech to the Birmingham Liberal Club at a banquet held at the Grand Hotel. Prior to the banquet the Churchills attended a reception where they received gifts to mark their wedding that was held the previous September. Churchill, then serving as President of the Board of Trade in the Liberal government of Prime Minister Asquith, presided at the banquet which had 300 in attendance, including several other members of parliament.
As the dinner was progressing a woman, described as a young lady in a blue silk evening dress named Gladys Keevil, approached the head table and asked Churchill what the government intended to do about the vote for women. When the cabinet minister did not commit to extending the vote, Keevil said, “If you do not make a promise I must remain and protest.” At this juncture several stewards escorted her unwillingly from the room as she called out, “I have come too soon it appears, but I cannot help but protest against the action of the Liberal Government.”
In the speech, which was later published as “The Social Field” in his book Liberalism and the Social Problem, Churchill supported the social reforms he wished to introduce as President of the Board of Trade. To cheers from the audience he resolutely supported the policies of the Liberal government and harshly criticized the actions of the House of Lords whose reform must be an issue at the next election.
On January 10, 1893 the 18-year old Winston Churchill suffered a terrible fall while playing in the forests on the estate of his aunt Lady Wimborne that was near Bournemouth. The dense woods were a great place for a game of chase that he played with his younger brother and cousin. For twenty minutes he was pursued through the woods by the pair. By now tiring and out of breath, Churchill decided to evade his chasers by crossing a “rustic” bridge that stretched over a deep gully. He had reached the middle of the 50 yard bridge when he suddenly realized that the bridge had been a mistake as his pursuers had, in a piece of brilliant strategy, split up. They suddenly appeared at each end of the structure. Capture was imminent, but then “in a flash” Churchill thought he saw his avenue of escape. There were many young trees near the bridge and if he jumped from the bridge to the top of a tree he could slide down with the branches snapping off as he went thus slowing his descent. Churchill fearlessly climbed over the balustrade and hesitated as he considered his predicament. As he wrote in his memoirs at that point “to plunge or not to plunge, was the question.” Of course, being Churchill he plunged. The sound thinking in theory turned out to be reckless in application. He fell 29 feet to the ground, suffering a ruptured kidney among his injuries. Unable to rouse Churchill when they reached him on the ground, his brother and cousin raced to fetch Lady Randolph telling her that Winston had jumped from the bridge and “he won’t speak to us.” The romp in the woods ended with eminent surgeons being summoned, Lord Randolph racing over from Dublin, and Churchill unconscious for three days.
This blog entry is drawn from my article, “The Accidental Churchill: Mishaps, Tumbles and Narrow Escapes” that was published in The Churchillian: The Magazine of the National Churchill Museum (Winter 2012). The journal is available here.
On January 5, 1952 the 77 year old Prime Minister Winston Churchill and his party arrived in New York harbor aboard the liner Queen Mary to start an official visit to the United States. The prime minister’s party included three cabinet ministers, Anthony Eden, Hastings Ismay, and Lord Cherwell, as well as the First Sea Lord Rhoderick McGrigor and the CIGS William Slim. After being taken off the ship by a coast guard cutter, Churchill was transported to the Brooklyn army base for a welcoming ceremony at which he made a set of remarks. Churchill was then escorted to Bennett Field to board President Truman’s DC-6 airplane Independence for the flight to Washington. The British party arrived at National Airport in the American capital at 12:28pm. Truman welcomed Churchill on his arrival and they both made brief speeches in the seven minute ceremony at the airport. The two leaders then went to Blair House, which was serving as the president’s official residence during the reconstruction of the White House. Churchill and Truman had a luncheon at Blair House before going aboard the presidential Williamsburg on the Potomac River for a series of meetings on international events as well as a dinner. These meetings concluded at 10:30 that evening. As he was readying to leave the yacht and retire to the British embassy where he would spend the night, Churchill asked Secretary of State Dean Acheson, “Did you feel that around that table this evening there were gathered the governments of the world – not to dominate it, mind you – but to save it?”