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1946 - 1963: Elder Statesman

March 5, 1946.

Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri

Listen to the full speech from the BBC Archives
churchill trumanWinston S Churchill and Harry S Truman make their way to Westminster College.
This speech may be regarded as the most important Churchill delivered as Leader of the Opposition (1945-1951). It contains certain phrases- "the special relationship," "the sinews of peace " - which at once entered into general use, and which have survived. But it is the passage on "the iron curtain" which attracted immediate international attention, and had incalculable impact upon public opinion in the United States and in Western Europe. Russian historians date the beginning of the Cold War from this speech. In its phraseology, in its intricate drawing together of several themes to an electrifying climax- this speech may be regarded as a technical classic. – Robert Rhodes James

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September 19, 1946. University of Zurich

churchill zurich 19-sep-1946I wish to speak about the tragedy of Europe, this noble continent, the home of all the great parent races of the Western world, the foundation of Christian faith and ethics, the origin of most of the culture, arts, philosophy and science both of ancient and modern times. If Europe were once united in the sharing of its common inheritance there would be no limit to the happiness, prosperity and glory which its 300 million or 400 million people would enjoy. Yet it is from Europe that has sprung that series of frightful nationalistic quarrels, originated by the Teutonic nations in their rise to power, which we have seen in this 20th century and in our own lifetime wreck the peace and mar the prospects of all mankind.

What is this plight to which Europe has been reduced? Some of the smaller states have indeed made a good recovery, but over wide areas are a vast, quivering mass of tormented, hungry, careworn and bewildered human beings, who wait in the ruins of their cities and homes and scan the dark horizons for the approach of some new form of tyranny or terror. Among the victors there is a Babel of voices, among the vanquished the sullen silence of despair. That is all that Europeans, grouped in so many ancient states and nations, and that is all that the Germanic races have got by tearing each other to pieces and spreading havoc far and wide. Indeed, but for the fact that the great republic across the Atlantic realised that the ruin or enslavement of Europe would involve her own fate as well, and stretched out hands of succour and guidance, the Dark Ages would have returned in all their cruelty and squalor. They may still return.

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November 18, 1946.

I am very glad to be invited to support the Prime Minister in calling for subscriptions to the British memorial to President Roosevelt. The House of Commons would gladly have voted all the money needed but it was thought better that the Fund should be made up by small subscriptions so that very large numbers of people could have a chance to take their share. In the great republic across the Atlanticthe head of the State is also the head of a Party, in the midst of all the controversies of partisan politics. But over here, in Britain, we only knew him as a world-statesman who was a friend in need and a friend indeed to our country and to the causes of freedom and civilisation which were our cause and which were his cause.

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March 31, 1949.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Boston, Massachusetts

churchill mit1949I am honoured by your wish that I should take part in the discussions of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. We have suffered in Great Britain by the lack of colleges of University rank in which engineering and the allied subjects are taught. Industrial production depends on technology and it is because the Americans, like the prewar Germans, have realized this and created institutions for the advanced training of large numbers of high-grade engineers to translate the advances of pure science into industrial technique, that their output per head and consequent standard of life are so high. It is surprising that England, which was the first country to be industrialized, has nothing of comparable stature. If tonight I strike other notes than those of material progress, it implies no want of admiration for all the work you have done and are doing. My aim, like yours, is to be guided by balance and proportion.

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August 17, 1949. Strasbourg

I must congratulate the Assembly upon the high level maintained during this debate. Not only have the speeches been full of thoughts which have their own particular value because they have been contributed from so many angles, but also there have been successful attempts at oratory which have triumphed over the acoustic conditions which, I must tell you, are none too good and which will, I trust, be subject to development, like all the rest of our proceedings.

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March 1, 1955. House of Commons

This was the last great speech made by Churchill in the House of Commons. It was listened to with deep respect and almost total silence in a packed Chamber. It contains the last of the remembered Churchill phrases "... safety will be the sturdy child of terror, and survival the twin brother of annihilation".  The two final sentences may be regarded as Churchill's farewell to the House of Commons and to the British people.

I beg to move, 'That this House approves the Statement on Defence, 1955, Command Paper No. 9391.'

This Motion stands in my name, and it is supported by my right hon. Friends the Foreign Secretary, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the Minister of Defence.

We live in a period, happily unique in human history, when the whole world is divided intellectually and to a large extent geographically between the creeds of Communist discipline and individual freedom, and when, at the same time, this mental and psychological division is accompanied by the possession by both sides of the obliterating weapons of the nuclear age.

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Declaration of Citizenship

April 9, 1963.

Response by President John F. Kennedy and the Response by Winston Churchill

Declaration of Honorary Citizen
of United States of America


WHEREAS Sir Winston Churchill, a son of America though a subject of Britain, has been throughout his life a firm and steadfast friend of the American people and the American nation; and

WHEREAS he has freely offered his hand and his faith in days of adversity as well as triumph; and

WHEREAS his bravery, charity and valor, both in war and in peace, have been a flame of inspiration in freedom's darkest hour; and

WHEREAS his life has shown that no adversary can overcome, and no feat can deter, free men in the defense of their freedom; and

WHEREAS he has by his art as an historian and his judgment as a statesman made the past the servant of the future;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOHN F. KENNEDY, President of the United States of America, under the authority contained in an Act of the 88th Congress, do hereby declare Sir Winston Churchill an honorary citizen of the United States of America.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States of America to be affixed.

DONE at the City of Washington this ninth day of April, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and eighty-seventh.


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