December 15, 2021

Finest Hour 192, Second Quarter 2021

Page 04

By David Freeman, April 2021

Winston Churchill met more American presidents than most American presidents. The articles in this issue show that, of the fourteen presidents who served from 1897 to 1977, all but three had some form of direct contact with Churchill. At the time of Churchill’s first visit to the White House in 1900, there was no Oval Office. At the time of his last visit to the United States in 1961, Churchill had become too frail to accept an invitation from President Kennedy to be flown to the White House.

Much has been written about Churchill’s dealings with US presidents. Churchill wrote on the subject himself, but he also wrote about the American presidency in his History of the English-Speaking Peoples, and this issue begins with a look at how he sized up those who served as the American chief executive before his own time. The same article records Churchill’s first presidential encounters, only one of which was substantial and is described in The World Crisis.

Where possible, this issue looks at what US presidents have written about Churchill. Sadly, Franklin Roosevelt did not live to write his memoirs. Included instead, therefore, is the full text of Churchill’s generous eulogy for FDR in the House of Commons. Harry S. Truman did produce two volumes of autobiography, but he was also the only US president ever to have visited Churchill at Chartwell. Katherine Carter describes this unique event.

Dwight D. Eisenhower knew Churchill through war and peace. His assessment of Churchill as a war leader is reproduced here, as are John F. Kennedy’s remarks at the time Churchill was made an honorary US citizen. Lyndon B. Johnson presided when a bust of Churchill was donated to the permanent collection of the White House. Angela Baker tells the story about this surprisingly overlooked piece of art.

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Richard M. Nixon and Gerald R. Ford both left written accounts of their memories of Churchill from the 1950s, which are reproduced here in full. Timothy Riley then documents the many associations between American presidents and America’s National Churchill Museum. Finally, we mark the passing of HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, with a look at some of his Churchill connections.

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