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Happy Birthday, Winston Churchill!

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 4:18 am - November 30, 2009.
Filed under: Great Men,World History

Today marks the 135th anniversary of the birth of the greatest man of the century concluded now nearly a decade ago.  On November 30, 1874, Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill was born at Blenheim Palace.  His father was Lord Randolph Churchill, his mother the former Jennie Jerome, the second daughter of the American financier Leonard Jerome.  His very parentage thus embodied the special relationship between the United States and United Kingdom.

Indeed, it was Churchill himself who coined the term to describe the relations between the two powerful Anglophone democracies.

Like a red head born almost exactly 134 years after him, Churchill was two months premature.  (The combination of those two characteristics must be a sign of greatness!)  Like that young Californian, the great Briton had trouble sitting still, traveling to Cuba, India, Sudan and South Africa to fight for his country (and sometimes dubious causes) before his 30th birthday.  He would write about his experiences; his books would earn him fame and fortune.

First elected to parliament in 1900 as a Tory, he broke with his party over tariffs, preferring free trade and the Liberals.  He would rejoin the Conservative Party in 1925, staying with the Tories, through his two terms as Prime Minister and until the end of his life.  Noting that Churchill “stood for Parliament under six labels,” one of his biographers, Paul Johnson wrote that “He was not a party man. . . .  His loyalty belonged to the national interest, and his own.

And Churchill saw the British national interest clearly linked to that of the United States and Western democracies.

While forever associated with the two great wars of the last century, the man himself may well have enjoyed the thrill of battle, but he was well aware of the horrors of war and did his utmost to prevent it.  A warmonger he clearly was not, though he did understand that war was sometimes necessary to prevent even worse evils.

Even before World War I had begun, he “warned in speech and print that it would be a catastrophe for humanity.”  Indeed, it may well have been a worse catastrophe than it was had he as First Lord of the Admiralty in the early 1910s not built a whole new class of warship, the largest ever built at that time, in order to maintain British naval superiority over the (even then-) rapidly rearming Germans.

When, a quarter century later, the Germans, under an even more diabolical leadership, started rearming once again, Churchill, no longer at Admiralty, but instead in the political wilderness, found his pleas to respond aggressively unheard, ignored or dismissed.  In the 1930s, he was a lone voice warning against the Nazi threat.  Had Europeans listened to him, the continent likely would have been spared a great catastrophe and tens of millions of people would have not seen their lives cut short.

Churchill well understood the maxim attributed to the Roman military writer Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus, “If you want peace, prepare for war.”

After standing virtually alone in the 1930s, he would rally a nation in the 1940s and lead it to victory:

In 1940, upon taking the helm of the British government, he rallied a nation, fearful for its future, its survival even, after the swift defeat of its European allies as the Nazis & their allies enslaved nearly all of continental Europe.

Through it all, he never faltered, always held firm, believing that as dark as things appeared, the West would triumph, victory was on the horizon. He stood up to the naysayers of his day and stood strong against tyranny, defending Western civilization and the long English tradition of freedom under the law. He was a friend of the Jews and other then-oppressed peoples.

A blog post does not allow enough space to fully appreciate the greatness of this man.  I haven’t even touched on his great wit or included a sampling of his marvelous prose and his wise and often caustic quips. Even Johnson’s biography at 175 pages doesn’t do him justice.  The official Churchill biography runs to 8 volumes, not counting the 3 volumes of war papers.  

Let me conclude this post with a passage from my even shorter post on this anniversary three years ago:

On this his birthday, let us be inspired by Sir Winston, cognizant of the threats to our freedom and of the power of a great man to lead and inspire a nation with an understanding of his nation’s history (indeed of world history) and a commitment to its traditions, values and freedom, a recognition of the enduring legacy of Western Civilization.



  1. Blenheim Palace

    Or, as some kids today might recognize it, Wayne Manor. TGCpartner has been to Blenheim Palace and I would love to see it myself.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — November 30, 2009 @ 5:57 am - November 30, 2009

  2. As an Australian, a citizen of what was once the British Empire, I feel justified in saying in response to your post: “RULE BRITANNIA!!!”

    I intend no offence or belittlement to the United States and its citizens by doing so, and I apologise if any is taken. To defeat the Kaiser and then Hitler, the British Empire was first strained and then – basically – broken. The assistance, the fortitude, the courage and the heroism shown by your people on behalf of Britain and all her Dominions (including and – in the context of some of the critical battles of the Pacific theatre – especially Australia) can never be repaid and will never be forgotten.

    Such efforts were only possible as a result of the conjunction of the minds of great men – as Churchill to the British Empire, so Roosevelt to the United States. Because of him, the United States lent far more aid to her ally than perhaps would be seemly for a neutral to do; partly because of this, Britain still survived when the United States entered the war.

    Sometimes you cannot shirk from the fight, however much you despise the consequences of fighting, and sometimes you cannot walk away until the fight is won. This is what both men understood. I wonder if their successors understand it today.

    Thank you very much for posting this.

    Comment by perturbed — November 30, 2009 @ 6:06 am - November 30, 2009

  3. I intend no offence or belittlement to the United States and its citizens…None taken mate! England and Australia owe no apologies to us Yanks, we’ve had no better friends and allies through the years.Churchill deserves all the praise we can give his memory. No single man of the twentieth century was more instrumental in saving Western Civilization. We need men like him leading us today, but, instead, we have Neville Chamberlain in the White House.

    Comment by mcswan — November 30, 2009 @ 8:32 am - November 30, 2009

  4. The second world war ended nearly twenty years before I was born, yet I still feel a sense of calm when I read Churchill. I wish we had a president like him. Now, perhaps more than ever.

    President Reagan was not a warmonger, either. He was concerned about the possibility of nuclear war and did what he could to try and prevent it. Like many young people in this country, I failed to appreciate that at the time.

    Today we have a president who promised, during his campaign, to end the current wars but shows every sign of only escalating them. Why the peaceniks continue to believe in people like this is quite amazing.

    Comment by Lori Heine — November 30, 2009 @ 2:18 pm - November 30, 2009

  5. […] Posted in Government. Tags: Freedom, Government, Military, War on Terror, wnston churchill. Leave a Comment » […]

    Pingback by Happy Birthday, Winston Churchill « BUNKERVILLE | God, Guns and Guts Comrades! — November 30, 2009 @ 2:36 pm - November 30, 2009

  6. Thanks for the memory. Evil flourishes when good men do nothing.

    Comment by Lockandload — November 30, 2009 @ 2:45 pm - November 30, 2009

  7. “Why the peaceniks continue to believe in people like [Obama] is quite amazing.” -#4

    Obama, at least up to this point, has the same political gift that Bill Clinton had: to make voters believe that he shared their points of view despite the fact that their acts and policies were contrary to them.

    Clinton signed off on several of the most anti-gay pieces of legislation in recent memory and was openly opposed to gay marriage. He was also a relentless womanizer. Nevertheless, the vast majority of gays and female voters sided with him because they convinced themselves that his actions were not indicative of his views.

    Always remember this when it comes to liberals: it’s not what they do or even say that’s important. It’s their ideological intentions that are to be held in the highest regard.

    Seriously, have you ever seen a President receive so many accolades and awards for his POTENTIAL, rather than his performance record?! If that isn’t backhanded racism, then I don’t know what is.

    Comment by Sharp Right Turn — November 30, 2009 @ 3:34 pm - November 30, 2009

  8. Winston Churchill was indeed the greatest figure of the 20th Century, and had he lived, would be on track to be the greatest of this century as well. He was a true renaissance man; well educated in liberal arts, an historian of classical and european history, a military genius, and proficient in the arts.
    His History of the English Speaking Peoples reveals much about his insights of political history, and his wordsmith is without equal.
    I only regret he was unsuccessful in persuading Roosevelt of the true nature of Stalin and communism.

    Comment by Man — November 30, 2009 @ 6:23 pm - November 30, 2009

  9. The British through him out of office while he was at Potsdam ……. right after the European segment of WWII was over. A terrible mistake. Roosevelt had died in April and was replaced by Truman at Potsdam. What would have happened if only………….. a healthy Roosevelt and Churchill had been at Potsdam laying down the law to Stalin?

    Comment by Charles — November 30, 2009 @ 9:09 pm - November 30, 2009

  10. Indeed a great man. And a very apt Churchill quote for today: “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.”

    Comment by Lesbian Outsider — November 30, 2009 @ 10:13 pm - November 30, 2009

  11. According to Larry King, the greatest hero of the last century is the America hating/communist loving/rape capitol of the world lowlife Nelson Mandela. Oh, I forgot. Nobody watches that jerk anymore.

    Comment by Daniel Middleman — December 1, 2009 @ 12:31 am - December 1, 2009

  12. Sharp Right, spot on about Obama and his potential. Last fall, when I challenged his supporters to identify his accomplishments, they replied he didn’t need any because of his qualities of character–and ability to inspire.

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — December 1, 2009 @ 2:47 am - December 1, 2009

  13. While we’re on the subject of Churchill, let me put in a good word for his history of World War II. Still worth reading, after more than half a century, beginning with its bracing motto:

    In War, Resolution,
    In Defeat, Defiance
    In Victory, Magnanimity
    In Peace, Good Will

    Comment by W Krebs — December 1, 2009 @ 10:48 am - December 1, 2009

  14. Though many libertarians believe we should have stayed out of World War II (???!!!) I think we should have been prepared to get in earlier. When the Brits first called on us for help, we should have been ready, willing and able to help them instead of drilling our few thousand remaining soldiers with toy guns.

    Churchill saw the threat that was coming before a lot of other people did, even in his own country. Had we listened to him, how many millions of those who were slaughtered might have, instead, been saved?

    Comment by Lori Heine — December 1, 2009 @ 2:40 pm - December 1, 2009

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