As I’m returning today from San Francisco where I celebrated the 2nd anniversary of the California red-head mentioned in this post, I have not had time to write an original post celebrating Winston Churchill, so will repost the piece I wrote last year to make the occasion. At the end, I added a bit about his first day as Prime Minister.
Today marks the 136th anniversary of the birth of the greatest man of the century concluded just about 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. (more…)