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Proceedings of the International Churchill Societies 1994-95

Introduction to Arthur Schlesinger by William Manchester

IN THE summer of 1939 von Ribbentrop told Churchill, "If there’s war, the Italians will fight on Germany’s side." After a pause Churchill replied, "That’s fair; we had them last time."

Well, Churchill was right. But historical analogies are slippery parallels. When president-elect Kennedy was forming his government he said he had always thought of Roosevelt’s advisors as towering figures. And then in mock disdain he said, "Now I realize they were just men like you, Arthur."

John Kennedy could be as hard on his friends as he was on himself, but in this instance he was wrong. There has never been anyone like Arthur Schlesinger. His career defies anyone else’s. There has been too much of it. He is too many men. In sum he is our premier intellectual celebrity. A prolific writer who sees history as literature, a premier exponent of twentieth century Liberalism, and a lightning rod for those who, without understanding that Liberalism is a marriage of idealism and pragmatism, scorn "Liberal" as a dirty word.

Throughout his career he has remained true to his father’s faith in reasoned democracy, his distrust of absolutes. Thus he has become the sharpest critic of shallow revisionists who manipulate, distort, and fabricate the historical record to serve their ideologies.

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Proceedings of the International Churchill Societies 1994-95

"A Supremely Blessed and Happy Human Being"
The Lady Soames DBE
Winston-and-Mary-ChurchillWinston and Mary Churchill aboard the Prince of Wales © IWM

I am, as I am sure is Winston and all our family, touched and pleased that the International Churchill Society in the United Kingdom should choose to mark in such a splendid and special way the 120th anniversary of Winston Churchill’s birth. And I do thank you, David, so very much for inviting me to be your guest and to propose the toast to our Society.

Because it has fallen to my lot to be Winston Churchill’s child, and now of my parents’ five children, sadly the only survivor, I feel I have a unique testimony to give about Winston Churchill as a human being. But I have made myself some quite stern rules: I am loath to stray beyond the frontiers of my daughterly knowledge; and I strenuously deny myself the luxury of imagined conversations or apocryphal jokes and anecdotes. I see my humbler, but perhaps not unnecessary task, as that of trying to keep focused my father’s personality and image. I sometimes feel that his character and personality have become embalmed in his fame and in the legend which already attaches to his hero-figure. I know that his place in history is secure, but that I leave (though not necessarily without reservations) to the historians.

Tonight, as we celebrate the 120th anniversary of his birth, I would like to dwell on some aspects of my father’s vivid personality, on his long enduring zest for life, and on that warmth whose glow I still feel through the passing years.

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Proceedings of the International Churchill Societies 1994-95

A Variety of Recollections

The Rt. Hon. The Lord Jellicoe, KBE, DSO, MC, FR
Lord-JellicoeGeorge Patrick John Rushworth Jellicoe, 2nd Earl Jellicoe - © NPG, LondonI rise a little unsteadily, as is all too often my sorry won't after such a spiffing dinner as we have just had. I am reminded only too vividly of a little incident which befell this jaded old boy when he was a polished young gentleman in Paris some forty-eight years ago. One day in that summer of 1946, David Stirling, that marvellous chap, founder of the SAS, rang me out of the blue to ask if I would accompany him to Paris the following weekend to receive our French gongs. I dutifully replied that nothing would please me more. We arranged to meet early the next Sunday morning. David was a bit late as he had to climb into some accommodating lad's flat to find his passport which he had left there the night before. We were still late when we arrived at Le Bourget and late too when we arrived at Les Invalides where the presentation was to take place.

I had asked David what was the dress for the occasion and he had replied that pinstripe and bowler hat was the order of the day. So when we arrived at Les Invalides, I was a bit put out to find a thin line of beautifully uniformed officers already drawn up. Indeed, we felt proper Charlies as we strutted all too conspicuously in our bowler hats and pinstripes across the square to join the line.

As we did so, a tall gangling figure, whom I assumed was General de Gaulle, came down the line dishing out gongs. As he drew opposite me I puffed out my chest proudly and expectantly, but nothing happened. There was a moment or two to me of anguished and embarrassed silence and then he went on, saying as he did so, "Je regrette infiniment, monsieur, mais je n'ai rien pour vous." ("I'm sorry, sir, but I have nothing for you.")

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Paper presented to the Daughters of the American Revolution, Halifax Chapter

October 13, 2016
Charlotte, North Carolina 

by D. Craig Horn
Winston Churchill"In War, Resolution; In Defeat, Defiance; In Victory, Magnanimity; and in Peace, Good Will." This phrase appears on the frontispiece of Churchill's magnificent "History of the Second World War." It is an apt description of the character and foresight of three great leaders in three successive centuries of our modern history: George Washington in the 18th Century, Abraham Lincoln in the 19th Century and Winston S. Churchill in the Twentieth Century.

Each was born within a decade of the passing of his predecessor and each held his predecessor in high regard for leadership, tenacity and character. Each cast a long shadow for succeeding generations.

George Washington became the Father of his Country because he represented the Noble Democratic American, a strong-willed, skilled soldier who spoke softly and fought bravely. Abraham Lincoln kept the flame of Liberty burning brightly; he spoke decisively, and gave voice to the principles of Freedom and Democracy. And Winston Churchill, the half-American and all- British Bulldog, stood alone in opposition to perhaps the most vile and despotic regime to have ever threatened the freedoms of not just England but of all free people and the principles that we all hold dear.

All three spent long years out of the limelight until a national crisis propelled them back into the arena. For Washington, it was Shay’s Rebellion and the failure of the Articles of Confederation. For Lincoln, it was the national crisis resulting from the threat of spreading slavery and dissolution of the Union. And for Churchill, it was the outbreak of the Second World War. All three men believed they had been prepared by experience and appointed by history to confront the task before them - a task that was nothing less than the salvation of freedom and the maintenance of a constitutional government.

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