Sir Winston Churchill was one of the most prominent politicians of the 20th century in the United Kingdom. He was surely the most famous Prime Minister of the 20th century. His personality compounded talented author, outstanding speaker, artist, and a great leader that managed to escape Britain’s defeat and even be among the winning nations at the end of World War Two.
Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill was born on the 30th of November, 1874 in Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire in the family of Lord Randolph Churchill and Jennie Jerome. Winston’s father was a famous Tory politician, descendent of John Churchill (1st duke of Marlborough, the hero of the wars against French Louis XIV). Winston’s mother was the daughter of a prominent American financier Leonard W. Jerome.
Churchill was a very poor student at school that later resulted his father to make young Winston to join the military. Here again he did not show great results and passed the entrance examination to the Royal Military College only from the third try. However, he took studying at college seriously and graduated 20th in class out of 130. After graduating from college Winston Churchill joined the 4th Hussars and ended up in Cuba reporting on Cuban independence war from Spain. A couple of months later Churchill returned back home from Cuba and left for India along with his division. In India he for the first time he experienced being a soldier and a journalist at the same time.
The future prime minister decided to finish his career in the military and go into politics. For the living he wanted to write articles for different newspapers and magazines. The tradition to lose for the first time did not fail for Churchill when he tried to be elected as a Conservative at Oldham. Instead of a Conservative at Oldham Winston found himself in South Africa reporting on the South African War for British newspaper The Morning Post. Not being lucky was sort of a story of Churchill’s life, this time he was captured by Boers as a prisoner in military prison in South Africa. However, he managed to escape from the prison which later made him nearly a hero when he went back home.
After coming back from Africa he decided to run for the Parliament again in 1900. This time he achieved his goal. Being a member of the Parliament Churchill experienced difficulties with public speaking as he had a speech defect (that he actually never lost). It was a big challenge for him but it did not break him up and he never left oratory art.
In 1904 due to some disagreements with his party members over trade tariffs Churchill had to join the Liberals. In the new spot he quickly gained popularity for his brave debates with those who argued with him. In 1908 Churchill became the president of the Board of Trade. That same year Winston Churchill married (the first and the last time) Clementine Hozier.
At the Board of Trade, Churchill became a leader in the movement of Liberalism away from laissez-faire toward social reform. He finished up the law that set an eight hour working day for miners. He also initiated the bill that would set the minimum wages for different types of workers. In 1908 Churchill forced the rejection of the budget of 1909 by the House of Lords (which really was sensational) due to high level of taxation. Very shortly Churchill became a president of the Budget League. Tories were really furious about Churchill’s great progress and his permanent terrific speeches. In 1910 Churchill became a Home Secretary. On this position he faced everlasting strikes of workers. In 1911 he was appointed to the First Lord of the Admiralty. The very same year after German’s provocative sending a gunboat to Morocco, which was France colony, was persuaded by French to help them out if Germany attacks them in the future. Same year, Churchill sort of smelling the gunpowder of the upcoming enormous conflict decided to expand the British navy. As 1914 approached Churchill assured that the Royal Fleet was ready for the war was not a surprise for him at all. In 1915 Churchill failed the Dardanelles campaign that was greatly blamed for. In late 1915 Churchill resigned from the government and went to the Front. Being even a lieutenant colonel in the army he could not use his full capacity in the military. In 1916 he decided to Parliament as a private member. One year later Churchill had the office of Minister of Munitions where developed the use of tanks. In 1919 his next job was to be the Secretary of War. Everyone was greatly surprised when Churchill tremendously decreased the military budget. What was even more surprising is that Churchill as a zealous anti-Bolshevik made allies with Russia. In 1922 Churchill had his appendicitis attacks that greatly damaged his health and due to that failed the elections and eventually was left with nothing. He once said about that period of time „without an office, without a seat, without a party, and even without an appendix.“ Even then Winston Churchill was not broken. He returned to painting and writing. That is when The World Crisis was written. In 1923 Churchill got back to what he could not live without – politics. Couple of years later he received a position of Chancellor of the Exchequer. He was not very strong in finance that actually led to a number of incidents during the time at this position. The major trouble was a general strike that took place in 1926. In 1929 the government fell.
The second time for Churchill happened the period when he was out of politics. However, he found it rather relieving. Now it was perfect time to write again what he actually did. This time his work was Marlborough: His Life and Times that was about his ancestor. Main point of the book was to defend his antecedent against the criticism of some historians. Meantime a threat from a fascist Germany was getting greater. His intuition did not fail this time either. However, his warnings were ignored this time as well. In early 1939 Churchill and his group created a truly national coalition and the country had actually accepted him as a main spokesperson.
All Churchill’s experience at his numerous positions seemed to be some kind of rehearsal for something greater. This „greater“ was the Second World War. Churchill was the person to be in charge of Britain actions during the largest military campaign in the human history.
Great Britain declared war on Nazi Germany on September 3, 1939. On the same day Churchill was appointed back to his old position First Lord of Admiralty. The President of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was in the office at that time, congratulated Churchill with his position on September 11 to which Winston the head of the British fleet immediately replied. That is when their famous correspondence had started.
As Germany was invading more countries Chamberlain who was the Prime Minister of England at that time resigned from the office. Chamberlain really wanted Lord Halifax to be his successor but Halifax made up some excuses and rejected the proposition. It was obvious that this position was waiting for Churchill. Winston Churchill was ready to direct the nation.
Now Churchill focused on the real handling the war. He used Parliament as the tool to convince the public and comfort it. For the first time Prime Minister Churchill spoke to the House of Commons on May 13. That is when one of his famous quotes „I have nothing to offer you but blood, toil, tears and sweat“ was recorded. He accomplished what he promised y completely dedicating himself to the nation the war was over. Churchill did not really care who was an ally as long as they helped and shared his goals and ideas. One of the most important allies that Britain gained during the Second World War was the United States. It was Churchill’s principle idea to get the United States to help Britain. One of the most important events for Churchill and probably for Great Britain in the entire 20th century was the Battle of Britain. Now, Churchill was at fighter headquarters having everything that was going on in his personal control and at the same time trying to cheer up the nation. That was the time when the entire nation completely accepted him as a leader.
Another important strategic point for Churchill was when Hitler started to attack the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941. Churchill did not reject what he previously saying about communism, nevertheless, he promised support to the Soviet people. His plan to create an alliance between Great Britain, United States, and the Soviet Union seemed to work out. However, it only became true in May 1942 when the Anglo-Soviet pact of mutual assistance was negotiated. The day that changed the whole perception of the war by Churchill was December 7, 1941 when Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Then Churchill and Roosevelt totally agreed that it was time to launch the strategic alliance.
After the war was over Churchill had to get back to politics. This time the nation viewed him as a war leader but not the party leader. It resulted a great defeat at the elections. This time seats of Churchill’s party in the Parliament were reduced to 213 out of 640.
Churchill was really shocked by such an outcome; he did not predict it this time. Even in this situation Winston Churchill found his place. He got a role of the leader of parliamentary opposition. Churchill now devoted himself to foreign relations. For the next couple of years Churchill was a peacetime Prime Minister. Meantime he was writing his The Second World War that he finished in 1953. Talking about 1953, it was a very important year for Winston Churchill. It was the year of coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Churchill received two greatest awards: the Order of the Garter and the Nobel Prize for Literature. However, it was a difficult year for Churchill in terms of health. On April 5, 1955 Churchill resigned from the office.
On April 9, 1963 Winston Churchill received the unique honorary U.S. citizenship from the U.S. Congress. He died in London on January 24, 1965 and buried in Bladon churchyard in Oxfordshire.
Churchill is known in the world’s history as one of the greatest politicians and orators. He had so many positions in the governing body of England that not many politicians can even think of. He was a leader that left a significant mark not only in the British history but the also in the world’s. Sir Winston Churchill was a man of so many talents that people can only admire him and read his famous quotes.
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