February 1, 2021

On 9 February 1941, Winston Churchill broadcast to the nation and the world about the current state of the war. In his remarks, he referred to the results of the recent election in the United States. President Franklin D. Roosevelt had been re-elected to an unprecedented third term. After his victory, the President sent two emissaries to Britain. The first was Harry Hopkins, his most trusted adviser. The second was Wendell Willkie, the opponent whom Roosevelt had defeated in the election. The reports Hopkins and Willkie made to Roosevelt helped to open the way for the Lend-Lease program. Here follow excerpts from Churchill’s speech leading to the famous peroration:

…A mighty tide of sympathy, of good will and of effective aid, has begun to flow across the Atlantic in support in support of the world cause which is at stake. Distinguished Americans have come over to see thing here at the front, and to find how the United States can help us best and soonest. In Mr. Hopkins who has been my frequent companion during the last three weeks, we have the Envoy of the President, a President who has been newly re-elected to his august office. In Mr Wendell Willkie we have welcomed the champion of the great Republican Party. We may be sure that they will both tell the truth about what they have seen over here, and more than that we do not ask. The rest we leave with good confidence to the judgment of the President, the Congress and the people of the United States.

The other day, President Roosevelt gave his opponent in the late Presidential Election [Mr. Willkie] a letter of introduction to me, and in it he wrote out a verse, in his own handwriting, from Longfellow, which he said, “applies to you people as it does to us.” Here is the verse:

…Sail on O Ship of State!

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Sail on, O Union strong and great!

Humanity with all its fears;

With all the hope of future years,

Is hanging breathless on thy fate!

What is the answer that I shall give, in your name, to this great man, the thrice-chosen head of a nation of a hundred and thirty millions? Here is the answer which I will give to President Roosevelt: Put your confidence in us. Give us your faith and your blessing, and, under Providence, all will be well.

We shall not fail or falter; we shall not weaken or tire. Neither the sudden shock of battle, nor the long-drawn trials of vigilance and exertion will wear us down. Give us the tools, and we will finish the job.

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