The Place to Find All Things Churchill

1901 – 1914: Rising Star

The Liberties Of Britain

January 10, 1910. Friends’ Institute, Birmingham

I have come before you to-night for one reason. I think it is time that Birmingham should strike another blow in defence of the liberties of Britain.

The Metropolis of the Midlands has always been a historic centre from which all the principal steps in the extension and consolidation of democratic government in our country have been driven forward. It was so in 1832, in 1867, and in 1885, and now, in 1910, Birmingham is not going to be unworthy of its sires [cries of “No”]; is not going feebly and pusillanimously to allow the rights which they won to be filched away from them. Read More >

The Approaching Conflict (The Coming Election)

January 29, 1909 (dated January 30 in Liberalism and the Social Problem)

Liberal Meeting, Victoria Hall, Nottingham

We are met together at a time when great exertions and a high constancy are required from all who cherish and sustain the Liberal cause. Difficulties surround us and dangers threaten from this side and from that. Exultant enemies are gathering: weak friends are nervous or disheartened. Voices are raised in counsels, both equally unwise, of impatience or of lassitude. From such a situation you may emerge triumphant, but to do that there will have to be, in leaders and in followers, shrewd clear plans of action, true stout-hearted comradeship, and unwearying determination. [Cheers] Read More >

Liberalism And Socialism

May 4, 1908. Kinnaird Hall, Dundee

This speech deserves particular attention for it was made during an important period of Churchill’s career and reflects his transition from concentration on foreign affairs to social problems. — RRJ

This is a great meeting – [hear, hear] – and it augurs well for our cause. [Applause.] I am very sorry that there is no more room in the hall, because I have seen outside a great many gentlemen – [a Voice – “Why did you not keep the women out?”] – who are electors, and who earnestly desired to be present, but I think the great gathering which is assembled here, which fills this spacious building, is a sign that the Liberal cause has behind it the driving power that is necessary for victory. [Applause.] And, gentlemen, this election is one of special and peculiar importance. We meet together to take a decision which will be judged by the whole country.[Applause.] You will have many votes to cast in your lives, but I think it is no exaggeration to say that the vote which you will cast on Saturday will be probably the most important vote which as citizens of Dundee you will have to record. [Hear, hear.] Don’t let it be wasted. Don’t let it be misapplied. [Hear, hear.] Let it go to support the good old cause and strengthen the hands of the Government now doing good work. Let it be a solid vote a vote which makes its effect felt, not only on the politics of the day but on the whole politics of this island in which we live for the year or two years to come. Read More >

The Free Trade League

February 19, 1904. Free Trade Hall, Manchester

This speech, which lasted for more than one and a half hours, was described by The Times as “one of the most powerful and brilliant he has made.” —RRJ

We are met to consider a very momentous question – whether the name of the great Free-trade Hall is to be altered, and whether the statue of Sir Robert Peel is to be pulled down and replaced by the statue of Sir Howard Vincent. [Laughter.] All last week the House of Commons was engaged in discussing this matter, and although our debate was robbed of some of its animation through the regrettable absence of the two principal protagonists of Protection, I do not think any Free-trader can feel much dissatisfaction either with the course of the debate or with its result. [Cheers.] Only a month ago the Chancellor of the Exchequer [laughter], I think it more complimentary if I allude to him by his title than by his name [laughter], told the electors of Stalybridge that although the Unionist Free-traders might make a great splash in the autumn campaign in the country they would be put in their proper places as soon as Parliament met. But what happened! We went to Parliament to find the great Protectionist party-the party that was sweeping the country, only the country did not know it [laughter], and what did we find! We found that Tariff Reformers whose eloquence had been so much praised, whose rhetoric was so convincing, were such powerful orators that when they rose to address the House of Commons the members hurried out of the Chamber by the nearest way.[Laughter.] Read More >

Army Reform

May 13, 1901. House of Commons

Churchill reiterated his Liverpool speech in Oxford on 25 April, and in letters to The Times on 30 April and 2 May. On 13 May, in a crowded House of Commons, he delivered an assault on Brodrick which, as he later wrote, “marked a definitive divergence of thought and sympathy from all those who thronged the benches around me.” The speech had been meticulously prepared and learned by heart, as Churchill had sent the text in advance to The Morning Post. It was a dangerous move, as there was no guarantee that he would be called by the Speaker.

—Sir Robert Rhodes James

I find myself differing on this occasion from the right Hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean [Sir Charles Dilke], and although we are on different sides of the House, I regret that I do not differ from him in the right way at all. He is very anxious to increase the cost of the Army. Read More >

The Maiden Speech

February 18, 1901. House of Commons

After his Oldham victory, Churchill went on an extended lecture tour in Britain, the United States and Canada. He returned on February 10 exhausted, but with the knowledge that he had acquired, through his lecture fees and royalties from his books, nearly £10,000.

Churchill’s maiden speech was made on February 18th immediately after an inflammatory speech by David Lloyd George. “He had a moderately phrased amendment on the Order paper,” Churchill wrote in My Early Life, “but whether he would move it was not certain.” As Lloyd George continued, Churchill related that “a sense of alarm and even despair crept across me. Then Mr. Thomas Gibson-Bowles whispered to me, ‘You might say instead of making his violent speech without moving his moderate amendment, he had better have moved his moderate amendment without making his violent speech.’ Manna in the wilderness was not more welcome. It fell only just in time. “(My Early Life, 364).

In the course of the speech Churchill said. “If I were a Boer. I hope I should be fighting in the field. ” Joseph Chamberlain muttered back, “That’s the way to throw away seats.” The speech was successful; immediately afterwards he met Lloyd George for the first time.

—Sir Robert Rhodes James

Churchill Centre Note: Churchill in his autobiography was too modest. He demonstrated at least twice in this Maiden Speech in response to interruptions—one to his mention of the controversial Sir Alfred Milner, once in regard to Irish nationalism—that he was fast on his feet and able to respond with humor and clear knowledge of the issues.

Vanity Fair CartoonI understood that the hon. Member to whose speech the House has just listened, had intended to move an Amendment to the Address. The text of the Amendment, which had appeared in the papers, was singularly mild and moderate in tone; but mild and moderate as it was, neither the hon. Member nor his political friends had cared to expose it to criticism or to challenge a division upon it, and, indeed, when we compare the moderation of the Amendment with the very bitter speech which the hon. Member has just delivered, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the moderation of the Amendment was the moderation of the hon. Member’s political friends and leaders, and that the bitterness of his speech is all his own. Read More >

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