February 5, 2015

“…you must remember how much money means to me…”

Money, or his lack of it, was very much on Churchill’s mind after his election to Parliament for Oldham on 2 October. Thereafter, he toured the country during the remainder of the three-week polling period speaking on behalf of many Conservative candidates, including Balfour and Chamberlain. Of a proposed lecture tour in England after the election concluded, he wrote to his mother, “But you must remember how much money means to me and how much I need it for political expense and other purposes, and if I can make £3000 by giving a score of lectures on the big towns throughout England on the purely military aspect of the [Boer] war, it is very hard for me to refuse….”

Churchill didn’t refuse and ended up with over £3700 for twenty-nine speeches during a thirty-day period in November. In one speech, he defended British tactics in South Africa against accusations that they constituted “atrocious barbarities…[in] violation of all the practices of civilised warfare,” stating that “the justification of the measures resorted to in order to put an end to guerrilla warfare is that no methods, however stringent, or painful, or severe, can possibly cost so much misery as the continuance of the anarchy and disorder now prevailing.”

Churchill had even higher hopes for a lucrative pay day from a North America tour. As he wrote his mother: “I will not go to the United States unless guaranteed at least £1000 a month for three months and I should expect a great deal more. Five thousand pounds is not too much for making oneself so cheap.” It was not to be. In the event, he was to clear only £1600 in a tour which started on 8 December and continued through 2 February 1901.

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