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Churchill Online – Gold Standard and Stalin-Roosevelt

Finest Hour 106, Spring 2000

Page 44


From: Michael Tombs ([email protected]):

I’m wondering if anyone might know where I can find some material on Churchill’s time as Chancellor of the Exchequer, and on his views on the resumption and effects of the gold standard after World War I.

From: Simon Riordan, UK:

Some suggestions: Peter Clarke, “Churchill’s Economic Ideas, 1900-1930” in Robert Blake and William Roger Louis (eds.), Churchill: A Major New Assessment (1993); Martin Gilbert, Winston S. Churchill, Volume V (1976), especially Chapter 5. And, a little more specialised: D. E. Moggridge, The Return to Gold, 1925: The Formulation of Policy and its Critics (1969), and British Monetary Policy 1924-1931: The Norman Conquest of $4.86 (1972); and R. S. Sayers, “The Return to Gold, 1925” in Pressnell (ed.) Studies in the Industrial Revolution (1960)

From: Ronald I. Cohen ([email protected])

A good place to start would be John Maynard Keynes’s 32-page pamphlet, The Economic Consequences of Mr. Churchill (London, Woolf, 1925); Churchill’s first Budget Speech (28 April 1925) and the follow-up speeches of 30 April and 1 May; the speeches of 4 and 5 May 1925 on the Gold Standards Bill. All are collected in Robert Rhodes James’s Complete Speeches, Vol. IV, at pp. 3556 and following. Sir Hubert Douglas Henderson was another very vocal critic of the day. I am not sure which of his works may provide the best perspective on Churchill’s term as Chancellor of the Exchequer but perhaps his revised edition of Supply and Demand (London, Nisbet, c.1932) may be apposite. He would surely have written in the periodical press of the day on the subject. Churchill’s other Budget Speeches as Chancellor of the Exchequer were delivered in 1926, 1927, 1928 and 1929, and all are in the Complete Speeches.

From: John Cutcher ([email protected]):

This may be slightly specialized but I highly recommend A Monetary History of the United States by Milton Friedman and Anna Schwartz. It touches on Britain’s return to the gold standard somewhat peripherally, but it does contain a fascinating comparison of America’s return to the gold standard in 1879 with the British experience in the 1920s. Friedman and Schwartz comment that the usual view of the British experience is that the British erred in maintaining the pre-WWI value of the pound, which was too high and thus deflationary, producing a slump in the British economy. They point out that the USA had essentially the same monetary deflation in the 1870s, yet underwent a boom.

The relevance of all this is that historians should not be so quick to label Churchill’s policy as an obvious failure.


From: Prof. Brian Villa, University of Ottawa ([email protected]):

Is there really any good evidence that Churchill had a significantly different policy than Roosevelt towards Stalin? Where is the evidence that Churchill before 1946 ever contemplated a serious confrontation with Stalin? Over what? I suggest we start a new thread: What is the evidence that Churchill was prepared to be more confrontational with the Soviets at Yalta than were FDR and the American diplomatic establishment? Let me now lay out a few elements that might stimulate discussion.

The view that Churchill differed from Roosevelt and was blocked by the Americans was first advanced by Chester Wilmot, based on no particular evidence, and by Elliot Roosevelt, who said his father was upset at Churchill’s inclination to be confrontational and confessed to working to block Churchill. What sort of sources were Wilmot and Roosevelt’s son?

The other major evidence was provided by Churchill’s physician, Lord Moran, in his published diaries, particularly in his recollections of remarks Churchill made in the British Legation in Teheran in 1943. The view that Churchill was not very anti-Soviet and easily caved in to Roosevelt is made by John Charmley in his more recent works, Churchill: The End of Glory and Churchill’s Grand Alliance. Where is the good evidence and the good argument?

From: Dr. John Mather ([email protected]):

This tends to bear in my view on the health, both physical and mental, of the principals participating at Yalta and its aftermath. If there was a sharp policy difference between Churchill and Roosevelt, then certainly it would have placed a serious strain, both in the process of the meetings and for the individual principals who were the prime spokesmen.

From: Prof. “Warren Kimball, Rutgers University ([email protected]):

Another thread to weave: was Churchill’s soft-underbelly strategy (which his military advisers simply laughed at—though not in front of Churchill) aimed at keeping the Soviets out of eastern Europe, or at keeping British interests in Greece and the eastern Mediterranean protected by limited Russian influence in the southern Balkans? And didn’t Churchill (as much as FDR) grossly underestimate Stalin’s brutality and crudeness in dealing with eastern Europe? (Hint—what was WSC telling Anthony Eden after Yalta with regard to Rumania?)

From: Editor ([email protected]):

After Yalta, Churchill told Anthony Eden not to criticize the Russians over their actions in Rumania because he had a deal with Stalin on Greece (where WSC had gone the previous Christmas to negotiate an end to the Communist rebellion) and he didn’t want this “messed up.” This seems fairly curious, since Churchill had pretty much wrapped up the Greek situation by Yalta time. Perhaps he thought Stalin would restoke the rebellion, possibly overestimating Stalin’s influence in Greece. Prof. Kimball believes this instruction shows Churchill no different from Stalin in pursuing his own nations “interests.” We have had this argument before! Professor Kimball suggests in his excellent book, Forged in War, that Churchill’s “soft underbelly” proposals were apparently not so silly after all: “the threat of a second front in Italy achieved what Stalin had been asking for since 1941: die diverting of significant German forces away from the Russian front.” (p. 218) 

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