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Churchill and the Great Republic
Interactive Exhibition About the Exhibition Read More About It Acknowledgements Text Version
  Forebears and Family
Warrior for Empire
Visits to America
American Presidents
The Communicator
The Politician
World War II
Cold Warrior
The Long Sunset
Visits to America
First Visits
Shortly before his twenty-first birthday, in November 1895, Churchill visited the United States on his way to his first military adventure, in Cuba. He travelled by steamship to New York, where he stayed for more than a week. In New York, he enjoyed his first taste of American high society, attending parties and social events and meeting people of wealth and power. In 1900 Churchill returned for a comprehensive lecture tour across the eastern United States and Canada. His aim was to capitalize on his fame as a British hero of the Boer War. The tour did not generate the profits Churchill had hoped, and he encountered American opposition to British action in South Africa. Yet it introduced him to the elite of American society, including Mark Twain, Theodore Roosevelt, and President William McKinley.
Related Objects
Winston Churchill to Jack Churchill, November 15, 1895
Winston Churchill to Lady Randolph Churchill, December 21, 1900
Major James B. Pond to Mrs. Cornwallis West, November 2, 1900
J. E. Purdy. Winston Churchill, 1900
Theodore Roosevelt to Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., May 23, 1908
Return to America
The Conservative government was defeated in 1929, and Churchill, now out of office, was in need of income. After an absence of almost thirty years, he crossed the Atlantic and undertook an extensive lecture tour of North America. This trip included his only visit to the West Coast of the United States, where he was lavishly entertained in California by William Randolph Hearst. Churchill also experienced Prohibition first hand and was in New York in time to witness the Wall Street crash. The collapse of the American stock market, in which Churchill had invested, wiped out any financial gains from the tour. Churchill was now increasingly dependent on his writing and public speaking to sustain his lifestyle. He returned to America for yet another lecture tour in December 1931, but suffered a further setback when he was seriously injured by a car on New York's Fifth Avenue. With characteristic resilience, he turned the episode to his advantage by writing about it for the newspapers.
Related Objects
Winston Churchill to Clementine Churchill, September 18, 1929
Winston Churchill to Clementine Churchill, September 29, 1929
Winston Churchill to Professor Frederick Lindemann, December 24, 1931
Professor Frederick Lindemann to Winston Churchill, December 30, 1931
Winston Churchill. "New York Misadventure." Daily Mail, January 5, 1932
Wartime Visits
Within days of the Japanese surprise attack on the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Churchill (now Prime Minister) undertook a dangerous transatlantic journey on the HMS Duke of York. He arrived in America on December 22, in time to spend Christmas at the White House. On December 26, Churchill gave an historic address to a joint session of Congress to win support for his concept of the war. In public, he seemed to epitomize the "bulldog" fighting spirit. In private, the strain was taking its toll, and that very evening Churchill suffered a mild heart attack. Before the end of World War II, Churchill would visit the United States four more times.
Related Objects
Extract from notes for Winston Churchill's address to U.S. Congress, December 26, 1941
Winston Churchill addressing U.S. Congress, December 26, 1941
Winston Churchill. Address before U.S. Congress, 1941
Winston Churchill with Harry Hopkins, 1942
Anonymous note to Winston Churchill, with envelope, postmarked June 21, 1942
W. Averell Harriman, May 6, 1943
Winston Churchill addressing joint session of Congress, 1943
Acme Newspictures. The Churchills Meet Some WAC's, 1943
Cold War Visits
Although out of office during the late 1940s Churchill visited the United States for both business and pleasure. After arriving on January 14, 1946, he renewed old friendships, painted, swam in the ocean, and visited Cuba. He also lobbied for an American reconstruction loan for Britain, began negotiations for arrangements to publish his wartime memoir, and made a series of speeches on important topics. By 1951, Churchill was reinstalled as British Prime Minister. He continued his visits to the United States, stressing his themes of Anglo-American brotherhood and opposition to communism.
Related Objects
Acme. Churchills Arrive in U.S. for Vacation, 1946
Dwight D. Eisenhower and Winston Churchill, 1946
Associated Press. Rain-spattered Churchill Gazes at Statue, 1946
Winston Churchill. Speech to the Virginia General Assembly, March 8, 1946
Associated Press. Churchill Places Wreath on Grave, 1946
Associated Press. Meeting of Three Old Friends, 1953
United Press. "Irish Minute Men" Picket Churchill, 1953
Associated Press. A Flower for the President, 1953
Final Visits
In May 1959, at the age of eighty-four, Churchill returned to the United States as a personal guest of the President Eisenhower. He crossed the Atlantic by jet plane, was entertained at the White House, and flew with the President by helicopter to Gettysburg where Churchill viewed the Civil War battlefield, about which he had written, from the air. It was all a far cry from the steamships and carriages of his first American visit. Churchill returned to the United States in 1961, for his final visit, on board the yacht of Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis. In New York he was able to see his old friend Bernard Baruch, but his weakened condition did not permit him to accept President John F. Kennedy's invitation to be flown to Washington.
Related Objects
President Dwight D. Eisenhower to Sir Winston Churchill, May 26, 1959
Briton Hadden and Carol to Sir Winston Churchill, May 1959
Ed Ford. Churchill & Baruch Talk in Car in Front of Baruch's Home, 1961
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