Churchill's Political Offices, 1906 - 1955
Undersecretary of State for the Colonies
9 Dec 1905 - 24 Apr 1908. Chief assistant to the Colonial Secretary with responsibility for directing all colonial affairs worldwide. Since the Colonial Secretary at this time was Lord Elgin, Churchill was the nominal spokesman (much to Elgin's angst) on colonial matters in the Commons.
President of the Board of Trade
24 Apr 08-14 Feb 10. Equivalent to U.S. Secretary of Commerce. Appointment date is the official one, but per the rule of the day, Churchill had to refight his Manchester seat to confirm this Cabinet office. He lost on 23 April, but was elected MP for Dundee on 9 May.
Secretary of State for the Home Department
14 Feb 10-25 Oct 11. Responsible for police, prisons and the state of criminal law (and some odd archaic roles such as looking after wild birds in Scotland and determining if English and Welsh towns are cities), but once much larger. Roy Jenkins calls it "a plank of wood out of which all other domestic departments have been carved," including today's Agriculture, Environment, and Employment ministries.
First Lord of the Admiralty
25 Oct 11-28 May 15, 3 Sep 39-26 May 40. Civilian head of the Navy; Secretary of the Navy in U.S.
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
28 May 15-11 Nov 15. An office unique to Great Britain: a sinecure appointment whose only serious duty is appointing County magistrates.
Minister of Munitions
16 Jul 17-15 Jan 19. Supplying adequate ammunition to forces at the front was so important during the Great War that the task was given Ministerial status.
Secretary of State for War
15 Jan 19-14 Feb 21. Civilian head of the Army; Secretary of the Army in the U.S.
Minister of Air
15 Jan 19-1 Apr 21. Civilian head of the Air Force.
Secretary of State for the Colonies
14 Feb 21-Oct 22. Head of the Colonial Office. Churchill's work was largely devoted to the Middle East and Ireland (which was not a colony), rather than traditional areas like Africa and the West Indies.
Chancellor of the Exchequer
7 Nov 24-30 May 29. Equivalent to U.S. Secretary of the Treasury; considered to be the next office down from the Prime Minister, housed at No. 11 Downing Street.
Minister of Defence
10 May 40-26 Jul 45, 26 Oct 51-1 Mar 52. Roughly like U.S. Secretary of Defense but Churchill purposely left it ill-defined, with war, navy and air ministers under him. The position, rather more precisely defined, went to General Alexander the following March.
Coalition PM 10 May 40-23 May 45; Conservative PM 23 May 45-26 Jul 45; Conservative PM 26 Oct 51-5 Apr 55. Head of government (but not also head of state as with U.S. Presidents) and leader of the majority party in Parliament. (Trick question: how many times was WSC Prime Minister? Technically three, not two.)