Winston Churchill Essay, Research Paper
Sir Winston Spencer Churchill
Winston Churchill was born in 1874 and died, aged ninety, in 1965. He was active in British politics for almost sixty years and was twice Prime Minister. He was a soldier, an artist, a historian, and a journalist, as well as a politician. He was a man of great mental energy, of vivid imagination, and powerful ambition. He was frequently the center of stormy political activity; criticism and abuse were often showered upon him. But he died respected and mourned not only by his own nation, but by the world, for which he had done so much when he led the fight against Nazi tyranny and refused to surrender or to despair of victory. (Gilbert 13)
On November 30, 1874, Winston Spencer Churchill was born to Lord Randolph Churchill and Jennie Churchill at Blenheim Palace. In 1888, he was placed in Harrow School.
At the end of his first year at Harrow, the boy?s grades were still the lowest in his class. Reluctantly his father gave up any notion of Winston?s following in his own footsteps. Remembering his son?s passion for playing at war, Lord Randolph asked him if he was still interested in the army. Winston was delighted over the thought that his father recognized his military genius. The sad truth that his father
considered him hopeless in any other field never occurred to the self-assured lad. (Manchester 13)
He was then sent to Sandhurst, a Royal Military Academy, in 1893. He joined the army and began selling articles to the Daily Graphic. In 1898, his first book, The Malakand Field Force, was published. The next year he resigned from the army to enter politics.
July 6, 1899 Churchill lost his first election as a Conservative candidate. When the Boer War broke out, the London Morning Post sent Churchill as a reporter. A month after arriving in South Africa he was captured by the Boers but made a daring escape. When he returned to England in 1900 he ran for election again and won. ?Entering Parliament in 1901, he rose in the course of a very few years to a position in which every major event in England?s affairs was part of his life story? (Coolidge 1).
Churchill joined the Liberal party in 1904, after other Conservatives pushed for a Tariff Reform. The next year the Conservative party was defeated in the House of Commons and the Liberals offered Churchill the seat of Under Secretary for the colonies.
In 1906, Churchill published another book, this one being a biography of his father, Lord Randolph Churchill who died in 1895.
In 1908, the Prime Minister appointed Churchill as the President of the Board of Trade, which was his first seat in the cabinet. Later that year he married Clementine Hozier. In July of 1909 their first child, Diana, was born. Churchill was promoted again in 1910 as Home Secretary, which made him responsible for law and order. In the
May of 1911 the Churchills had their first son, Randolph.
October of 1911 brought Churchill a new position, First Lord of Admiralty. ?In the Cabinet Churchill argued with his colleagues to get money for the expansion of the Navy? (Jones 16). He felt that there had to be an expansion of the navy to compete with Germany?s increase in sea power. In 1914, he strongly backed the Irish Home Rule by threatening rebellious Ulster Protestants with the Royal Navy. He was greatly criticized for his extreme method of solving the Irish problem. On August 4, 1914, war with Germany began and Churchill?s expanded Navy was ready for war.
Churchill was removed from the Admiralty in 1915 because of his failed plan to seize the Dardanelles from Germany. The Dardanelles haunted Churchill for years because he was removed from office before his full plan had been executed. After he was not included in the new War Cabinet, Churchill resigned from the government and joined the fighting in France during the November of 1915. Six months later he left the army to begin politics again. He felt he had learned a great deal from being in the trenches. Churchill used this knowledge to make critical speeches about the slaughter he had seen in the trenches.
He championed the grievances of the men at the front and urged a more vigorous military policy. On May 10, 1917, the House of Commons held a Secret Session, wanting to discuss detailed aspects of the conduct of the war out of German earshot. Churchill made a powerful speech, pleading to lead with Lloyd George not to allow further lack of planning to lead to more slaughter without any visible gain. Lloyd George quickly took Churchill into his confidence and began
discuss with him ?every aspect of the war and many of his secret hopes and fears.?(Gilbert 66)
His speeches helped him return to the British government. In July of 1917, Lloyd George, the Prime Minister, made Churchill Minister of Munitions. When given the position, Churchill began to urge the development of modern weapons such as tanks, machine guns, and airplanes to end the war quicker.
When he was made Secretary of War after WWI, he favored the British intervention in the Russian Civil War. He feared the spread of the Bolshevik ideas, but did not realize that the Russians would unite against any foreign interference. He also reacted strongly to the IRA who wanted to force independence on the whole of Ireland.
After he was appointed Colonial Secretary in February 1921, he worked for peace in Ireland by urging other members of the Cabinet to support a truce. A truce was achieved in July of that year.
In 1922, Churchill loses his seat in the Cabinet due to a conservative shift in the government. He used his free time to write The World Crisis, his study of the First World War. In 1924, he joined the Epping Conservatives and was elected back into the House of Commons. The Prime Minister then appointed Churchill as Chancellor of the Exchequer, the position that Churchill?s father had held. He then wanted to make Britain more prosperous and reduce unemployment. Churchill did this by reducing defense spending which reduced taxes.
Due to economic problems from 1924 to 1929, the Conservatives lost the election and Churchill was out of the office. He wrote his autobiography My Early Life in 1930, which helped to keep him occupied. The next year he resigned from the Conservative party, which he felt was not going anywhere. When Hitler came to power in 1933, Churchill warned against German rearmament. He also published his first volume of Malborough, a biography.
When Britain declared war on Germany in 1939, Churchill was reappointed First Lord of Admiralty. After Chamberlain resigned from government on May 10, 1940,
Churchill became the new Prime Minister and Minister of Defense.
On 13 May 1940, in his first speech in the House of Commons as Prime Minister,
Churchill made clear both the dangers Britain faced and his government?s
determination to overcome them: I would say to the House, as I said to those who
have joined this Government: I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and
sweat?. You ask what is our policy? I will say: It is to wage war, by sea, land
and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us: to wage
war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: Victory ? victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror victory, however long and hard the road may be? (Jones 40)
In the June of 1940, Churchill had to make a painful decision. He was forced to pull English troops out of Dunkirk because of German advances. When France surrendered to
Germany on June 22, England began to defend against a German invasion. Churchill made more insightful speeches to help prepare the English public for a difficult war.
Should the invader come to Britain, there will be no placid lying down of the people in submission before him as we have seen, alas, in other countries. We shall defend every village, every town, and every city. The vast mass of London itself, fought street by street, could easily devour an entire hostile army; and we
would rather see London laid in ruins and ashes than that it should be tamely and
abjectly enslaved?(Jones 42)
On July 3, Churchill ordered the seizer or destruction of all French fighting-ships to stop the ships from falling into German hands. The same day German air attacks began on Britain. England underwent three months of intense German air attacks that England tried to stop using their own air force. During the bombings, Churchill visited bombed areas and saw to it that generous compensation was paid to the people who lost houses or businesses.
Churchill?s good relations with Roosevelt paid off in August 1940 when Parliament arranged to lease British bases to the United States in exchange for the ability to buy vital materials like steel on credit. In 1941 a German attack on Russia in June and a Japanese attack on the United States in December gained Britain two new allies. On December 26, 1941, while in Washington D.C. for a speech to the American Congress about an alliance, Churchill suffered a mild heart attack. He did not return to England for another twenty days.
In January 1943, Churchill met Roosevelt at Casablanca in Morocco. There they made a decision to demand unconditional surrender from Germany, Italy, and Japan.
The danger was that this would make the enemy resist longer ? but in fact, Churchill very soon explained that unconditional surrender did not mean brutal
treatment of defeated enemies. He told the House of Commons on 22 February 1944: Unconditional surrender means that the victors have a free hand. It does not mean that they are entitled to behave in a Barbarous manner, nor that they wish to blot out Germany from among the nations of Europe? (Jones 50)
After meeting with Stalin and Roosevelt in November of 1943 at the Tehran Conference, the ?big three? agreed that D Day would take place at the beach of Normandy, France in early June of 1944. June 6, 1944 the allies landed in France and took control of the beach. Germany began to worry and started to fire their new weapon, the rocket, on London on September 8.
The Yalta Conference, held in February of 1945, was the last time Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin met before the war ended. The United States agreed to give Stalin anything he wanted in Europe for their support against Japan. Churchill also confirmed an agreement with Stalin, giving him control of Rumania and Bulgaria.
The war had finally taken its toll on Franklin on April 13, 1945 when he died. After hearing this, Churchill later wrote, ?When I received these tidings? I felt as if I
had been struck a physical blow?(Jones 56). Franklin?s death put more pressure on Churchill to end the war with Germany.
The war with Germany ended on 8 May 1945. Surrounded by cheering crowds of Londoners, Churchill made one of his shortest speeches from a balcony in Whitehall: God bless you all. This is your victory! It is the victory of the cause of freedom in every land. In all our long history we have never seen a greater day
than this. Everyone, man or woman, has done their best. Everyone has tried. Neither the long years, nor the dangers, nor the fierce attacks of the enemy, have in any way weakened the independence resolve of the British nation. God bless you all. (Jones 56)
On July 26, 1945 the results from the general election came in. The Labour Party had won. Churchill resigned as Prime Minister that night in disgust. He became the Leader of the Opposition. One of his first major speeches as the Leader of the
Opposition was made in support of the Americans? decision to use the atomic bomb on Japan.
There are voices which assert that the bomb should never have been used at all. I cannot associate myself with such ideas. Six years of total war have convinced most people that had the Germans or Japanese discovered this new weapon, they would have used it upon us to our complete destruction with the utmost alacrity. (Jones 57)
While out of office, Churchill kept busy by making speeches, painting, and writing. In 1946, he made his ?Iron Curtain? speech at Fulton, Missouri that explained how Europe had been separated by the Russian government. This speech had a strong
affect on the American publics few of Russia. In 1947, the Royal Academy accepted two of Churchill?s paintings, and in 1948 the first volume of his The Second World War was published.
In 1949, Churchill suffered from several strokes after attending the first Consultative Assembly for Western Europe at Strasbourg. News of the strokes was kept from the media to avoid the thought of an unfit leader for the Conservatives. Then in 1951 the Conservatives won the election and Churchill was made Prime Minister once again.
As Prime Minister ?he ended nationalization of the steel and auto industries but maintained most other socialist measures instituted by the Labour government? (?Churchill?). In the April of 1953, Queen Elizabeth II made Churchill Knight of the Garter, which made him Sir Winston Spencer Churchill. Two months later Churchill had another stroke and slowly recovered. In the October of 1953 he won the Nobel Prize for Literature.
On April 5, 1955 Churchill resigned as Prime Minister for health reasons. He wrote the first volume of History of the English Speaking Peoples in 1956 and also won the Charlemagne Prize for contributing to European unity. In 1963, the United States made Churchill an honorary citizen of the United States. Then on January 24, 1965, Sir Winston Spencer Churchill died of a stroke at the age of ninety. Queen Elizabeth II ordered that he should be given a state funeral with a magnificent procession.
Winston Churchill was an important leader who helped England through two World Wars. Militarily and politically he helped to push England to two important victories over Germany that would have changed the shape of Europe forever. His strong will and stubbornness helped the British public fight the long hard battle against Germany without giving into defeat.
As a war correspondent in London during the worst days of the blitz, I saw what one great human being ? namely, Winston Churchill ? could do to hold together a
nation literally on the verge of being annihilated. I heard him speak in Parliament
a dozen times, and I saw him in the streets after nights of incessant bombing. The
valiant spirit of this man fused the ruined city and the shattered populace into one
rocklike symbol of defiance. (Reynolds 165)
Sir Winston Spencer Churchill will always be known in England as a great war leader and hero.
?Churchill, Sir Winston Leonard Spencer 1874-1965?. http://tceplus.com/churchil.htm.
23 May 2000
Coolidge, Olivia. Winston Churchill ? An Intimate Portrait. New York: Harcourt, Bruce
& World, Inc, 1965.
Gilbert, Martin. Winston Churchill. New York: The Dial Press, Inc, 1967.
Jones, Madeline. Churchill. London: Batsford Academic, 1980.
Manchester, William. The Last Lion. Boston: Little, Brown & Company, 1983.
Reynolds, Quentin. Winston Churchill. New York: Random House, 1963.