December 30, 2022

How Churchill Saw Himself Answering to God

Seventy years ago this month Prime Minister Winston Churchill traveled to Washington for meetings with outgoing President Harry Truman and incoming President Dwight Eisenhower. On 10 January, Truman hosted a stag dinner for Churchill at the White House that included Defense Secretary Robert Lovett. The President’s daughter Margaret later recalled the following conversation, although she did not explain how she knew what was said at a “stag” dinner!

Without warning, Mr. Churchill turned to him [Truman] and said: “Mr. President, I hope you have your answer ready for that hour when you and I stand before St. Peter and he says, ‘I understand you two are responsible for putting off those atomic bombs. What have you got to say for yourselves?’”

Robert Lovett asked: “Are you sure, Prime Minister, that you are going to be in the same place as the President for that interrogation?”

Mr. Churchill said: “Lovett, my vast respect for the Creator of this universe and countless others gives me assurance that He would not condemn a man without a hearing.”

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Mr. Lovett: “True, but your hearing would not be likely to start in the Supreme Court, or, necessarily, in the same court as the President’s. It could be in another court far away.”

Mr. Churchill: “I don’t doubt that, but, wherever it is, it will be in accordance with the principles of English Common Law.”

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