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... government (1924 - 1929). He was least happy in his office and ill at ease with economic affairs. During the whole of the disastrous period of 1929 - 1939, Churchill was out of office. During these years of political frustration he wrote his major works: Marlborough; the first draft of A History of the English-Speaking Peoples: a vivid and characteristic autobiography, My Early Life; a revealing and suggestive book, Thoughts and Adventures; and a volume of brilliant, if generous, portrait sketches, Great Contemporaries (W.
Manchester, pp. 218) He also began to collect his speeches and newspaper articles warning the country of the wrath to come. No one would take heed of his reiterated warnings of the folly of attempting to appease Hitler and of the necessity to bring together a Grand Alliance against the aggressor powers before it was too late. Baldwin and Chamberlain were too solidly entrenched in power in shift. Churchill tried to rally the right-wing Conservatives against Baldwins liberal Indian policy, and he backed Edward VIII against Baldwin at the time of the kings abdication in 1936.
These weapons broke in his hands, and only lost him support. Appeasement went on the bitter end. When war came in 1939, Churchill was inevitably recalled, as first lord of the admiralty. The signal went round the fleet, Winston is back, a quarter of a century after his first going to the post. But the first wave of German military power overwhelmed Poland in September, and in the spring of 1940 the tidal wave overwhelmed northwester Europe, followed shortly afterward by the fall of France.
On May 10, 1940, in the midst of this cataract of disaster, Churchill was called to supreme power and responsibility by a spontaneous revolt of the best element in all parties. He, almost alone of the nations political leaders, had had no part in the disaster of the 1930 s, and he really was chosen by the will of the nation. For the next five years, perhaps the most heroic period in Britains history, he held supreme command, as prime minister and minister of defense, in the nations war effort. At this point his life and career become one with Britains story and its survival. At first, until 1941, Britain fought on alone. Churchill's task was to inspire resistance at all costs, to organize the defense of the island, and to make it the bastion for an eventual return to the continent of Europe, whose liberation from Nazi tyranny he never doubted.
He breathed a new spirit into the government and a new resolve into the nation. Upon becoming prime minister he told the Commons: I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat: you ask, what is our policy? I will say: It is to wage war, by sea, land, and air, with all our might. You ask, what is our aim?
I can answer in on word: Victory. Meanwhile he made himself the spokesman for these purposes among all free peoples, as he made Britain a home for all the faithful remnants of the free continental governments. These included the Free French, for Churchill had himself picked out Charles De Gaulle as the man of destiny. But Churchill's personal relationship with President Franklin D. Roosevelt was Britains lifeline. Britain had lost most of her army equipment in the fall of France and during the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk in June.
Roosevelt rushed across the Atlantic a supply of weapons that made a beginning. By the autumn of 1940, Churchill was convinced that Germany could not bring off the invasion of Britain. Secure in this conviction, he took the momentous decision to send one of the only two-armored division left in Britain to Egypt, to hold the land bridge to the East. Submarine warfare had placed a severe strain on the British navy, and Roosevelt again came to Britains aid with the lease of 50 destroyers (W. Manchester pp. 346). Churchill took the grievous decision to cripple the French fleet at Oran, Algeria.
He could not take the risk of the French navy being taken over by the Germans, for this probably would have been the end of Britain. The turning point of the war came in 1941, when Churchill took advantage of his opponents mistakes. Hitlers invasion of Russia brought Russia into the war, and Churchill seized the opportunity of welcoming a powerful ally with both hands. Japans attack on Pearl Harbor brought the United States into the war, and Hitler made the mistake of declaring war on the United States.
Churchill's unforgettable speech to Congress after Pearl Harbor express something of the inspiration and high resolve in the face of mortal danger that he had given his countrymen while they had fought on alone for over a year. The Grand Alliance to combat aggression that he had had in mind from the 1930 s was now a fact. Churchill made himself the linchpin, journeying uncomplaining between Roosevelt and Stalin, though an older man that either. It was possible now to plan the liberation of the world from the aggressors. He and Roosevelt set forth their war aims in the Atlantic Charter, signed aboard the U. S.
S. Augusta off Newfoundland in August 1941. The first results of Allied cooperation were the landings in North Africa, the rounding up of the Nazi forces there, and the invasion of Sicily and Italy, the soft under-belly of the Axis. It proved harder going than was expected, supporting Churchill's opposition to the opening of a second front in the west. Not until the summer of 1944 were the preparations complete for the invasion of Normandy, to break open Hitlers Europe. Churchill had always had an acute personal interest in combined operations, and he regarded the mobile Mulberry harbors as in large part his own idea.
Only the personal order of King George VI prevented the prime minister from landing with the landing forces on D-day. The last year of the war saw the famous partnership between Churchill and Roosevelt dissolving. Churchill looked to the shape of things that would emerge after the war, with the immense accession of strength to Russia and to communism in Europe. At the summit conferences in Teheran and Yalta, Churchill was grieved to find the president not supporting him in his struggle with Stalin to contain Russian expansion after the war. On the surrender of Germany in May 1945, Churchill rod around London in the victory celebrations, but, as he wrote, there was foreboding in his heart (S. Mansfield, pp. 189) Before the surrender of Japan, Churchill's wartime government broke up, and the Labour party won a large majority in the general election of July 1945.
Churchill was deeply affected by this blow, though it was in no sense a vote of censure upon him but upon 20 years of Conservative rule. He continued to enjoy esteem as leader of the opposition Conservative party. He turned to writing a personal history, the Second World War, and to painting, exhibiting regularly at the Royal Academy. Though he was out of office, his prestige was a major asset to his country. In his famous iron curtain speech at Westminster College in Fulton, Mo. , he warned the West against Russias aims and the aggrandizement of communism make a plea for cooperation between the English-speaking peoples as the only hop of checking it. This aroused a storm of controversy in the United States, but events soon confirmed Churchill's view of the world picture.
On Oct. 26, 1951, at the age of 77, he again became prime minister, as well as minister of defense. As the conservatives held a very small majority and Britain faced very difficult economic circumstances, only the old mans willpower enabled his government to survive. He held on to see the young Queen Elizabeth II crowned at Westminster in June 1953, himself attending as a Knight of the Garter, an honor he had received a few weeks earlier. In 1953, also, he received the Nobel Prize in literature. On April 5, 1955, in his 80 th year, he resigned as prime minister, but he continued to sit in Commons until July 1964.
Churchill's later years were relatively tranquil. In 1958 the Royal Academy devoted its galleries to a retrospective one-man show of his work. On April 9, 1963, he received, by special act of the U. S. Congress, the unprecedented honor of being made an honorary American citizen. When he died in London on Jan. 24, 1965, at the age of 90, he was acclaimed as a citizen of the world, and on January 30 he was given the funeral of a hero.
He was buried at Blade, in the little churchyard near Blenheim Palace, his birthplace. Manchester, William Raymond. The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Vol. I, Visions of Glory. 1874 - 1932: Dell Publishing Company Incorporated, May 1984. 925 pp. The first volume of the best-selling biography of the adventurer, aristocrat, soldier, and statesman covers the first 58 years of Churchill's life. Manchester, William Raymond.
The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Vol. II, Alone 1932 - 1940: Dell Publishing Company Incorporated, Sept. 1989. 768 pp. Mansfield, Stephen. Never Give in: The Extraordinary Character of Winston Churchill; Cumberland House. Sept. 1996. 225 pp. A new study of Churchill's leadership skills produces an inspirational account of the man whose shadow fell large across the world stage half a century ago.
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