Political Science 101 Research Paper: Winston Churchill Customarily accredited with his leadership during the Second World War, Winston Churchill has a secured, integral standing in the ranks of world history. Though important in clearly defining Churchill, his role during the Second World War is narrow in his full political illustration. To better understand Churchill, it is crucial to note his personal background, his political influences and developments, and his political contributions, writings and achievements.
With a greater comprehension of Churchill, one can truly begin to appreciate the mark he left on the world. Churchill’s Personal Background On November 30th, 1874, Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill was born two months prematurely in the extravagant setting of Blenheim Palace, his father’s home. Despite the premature birth, Winston was noted as being a healthy baby boy (Johnson 4). Lord Randolph Churchill, Winston’s father, was a well-renowned conservative politician. Randolph Churchill was well educated, having graduated from Eton and Merton College, Oxford; he was also distinguished as a powerful orator. Johnson 5). Winston’s mother, Lady Jennie Jerome Churchill, was the heiress to the notable American stockbroker Leonard Jerome (Morgan 16). In essence, Churchill was born into an affluent, aristocratic family. However, the monetary affluence of the family played no part in veiling the distance between them. Winston’s childhood was characterized by his parents’ absence, apathy and criticism towards him (Johnson 9). It was Elizabeth Everest, Winston Churchill’s nurse, who was the predominant parental presence in Churchill’s life (Johnson 8).
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She tended to the fundamental duties that Churchill’s parents seemed to ignore. Churchill was not naturally inclined to schooling; his schooldays were marked as the only truly troubled span of his life (Morgan 31). At the age of eight Winston was enrolled in St. Georges in Ascot, a school modeled on Eton College; reportedly, Churchill detested the school and did poorly (Morgan 31). Before he was ten, Churchill was removed from St. Georges and enrolled into Brighton in Brunswick (Morgan 33). Although he liked Brighton, this was not his final attempt at an independent school. After spending hree years at Brighton, Winston was finally enrolled into Harrow, an acclaimed school with ties to the Church of England (Morgan 42). Lord Randolph viewed his son as academically incompetent; he decided to transfer him to the army class, which would prepare him for the Military Cadet School at Sandhurst (Johnson 9). After failing the entrance exam to the Military Academy at Sandhurst twice, Churchill finally passed on his third attempt and was granted admittance to the Academy (Morgan 54). Much to his father’s dismay, Churchill scored eighteen marks too low to become an infantryman; instead, he entered into the cavalry (Morgan 54).
Before Winston was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Queen’s 4th Hussars [Cavalry Division], his father passed away from an ongoing battle with syphilis towards the end of his life (Morgan 71). Churchill, with his father recently departed, had no means of financial income; he turned to wartime journalism as a new source of salary (Johnson 12). Churchill resigned from the army in 1899 (110). With enough money saved up from his wartime writings, he was ready to transcend into the realm of politics; his father had mapped out Churchill’s career in the Army, but Churchill was ready for more.
Political Influences and Development Winston Churchill attributed much of his political prowess to compelling political bodies. Though he did not experience the warmest relations with his father, Churchill does accept him as the preeminent source of political influence. Churchill recounts, “The greatest and most powerful influence in my early life was of course my father. Although I had talked with him so seldom and never for a moment on equal terms, I conceived an intense admiration and affection for him […] I read industriously almost every word he had ever spoken and learnt by heart large portions of his speeches.
I took my politics almost unquestionably from him” (qtd. in Bonham 14). Churchill recognized the political power of his father early on and from that grew his reverence towards him. It is conceivable, even though Churchill and his father were never close, that Churchill ‘took’ his ‘politics’ from his father because of a recognition of his father’s political power and authority. Another important figure who played an influential role on Churchill’s political life was a New York congressman and Tammany Hall politician by the name of Bourke Cockran [whom Churchill et in 1895 on a trip to New York] (Morgan 80). Churchill proclaimed that he based his oratory style on Cockran’s, “In point, in pith, in rotundity, in antithesis and in comprehension […] Bourke Cockran’s conversation exceeded anything I ever heard” (Morgan 80). Churchill’s oration skills played a large role in defining his political strategy; to claim that Bourke Cockran influenced his speaking style is to claim that he fundamentally influenced Winston Churchill.
A third and essentially influential individual who shaped Churchill’s political approach was a Welsh orator and fire brand named David Lloyd George (Sir Winston Churchill par. 7). Many radical elements of Churchill’s political style were accredited to the influence George had on his political career as a liberal; at the time Churchill was renowned for the attacks he made on British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain (Sir Winston Churchill par. 7). After he resigned his commission to the Army in 1899, Churchill immediately pursued a political path.
In 1900, Winston Churchill won his first political position as a Parliamentary Constituency to Oldham (Sir Winston Churchill par. 5). In 1904, Churchill was noted for joining the Liberal party and in 1908 he was promoted to president of the Board of Trade, with a seat in the Prime Ministers Cabinet (Sir Winston Churchill par. 7). Churchill, as a member of the House of Lords, rejected the budget of 1909; in return, Churchill was made president of the Budget League( Sir Winston Churchill par. 9).
During World War I, Churchill held the position of Admiralty (command of the Royal Navy); during Admiralty, Churchill ordered the mobilization of the navy for the imminent threat of a naval war (Sir Winston Churchill par. 10). During World War I, Churchill halted his political career to be commissioned into the Army once again; in 1924 Churchill won the cabinet seat of the Chancellor of the Exchequer [until 1929] and was responsible for all economic and financial matters (Sir Winston Churchill par. 14).
In 1940, after Chamberlain resigned, Churchill took office as Prime Minister; which would be regarded as his highest, most monumental political position (Sir Winston Churchill par. 18). In 1945, before Japan was defeated in World War II, Winston Churchill lost his seat as Prime Minister; though, in 1951 he was reelected [held seat until 1955] (Sir Winston Churchill par. 20). His final political position, before his death, was a Parliamentary Constituency to Woodford (Sir Winston Churchill par. 23).
Contributions, Writings (Speeches) and Achievements Churchill’s role as Prime Minister during World War II, proved to be both his greatest contribution and achievement. To look at Churchill’s position as Prime Minister as a contribution and achievement entails differing viewpoints; all of which focus on his canny leadership qualities. From a worldview, Churchill represented a key obstruction to the Axis powers and their sights of world domination. From the U. S. point of view, Churchill proved to be an outstanding ally.
Though, most importantly in my opinion, Churchill’s single-handed leadership and guidance to the British peoples during World War II expressed Churchill’s devotion to his Country. Churchill instilled courage into his countrymen and women; His speeches and determination for victory gave cause for, “confidence in the outcome of the struggle, strengthened the waverers, and imparted a new inspiration to the staunch of heart” (Broad 89). Churchill’s monumental role in the guiding of Britain victoriously out of World War II has been regarded as an achievement of pure devotion and heroism through the eyes of the world.
One of Churchill’s most important writings during World War II arose as his first speech as Prime Minister to the House of Commons. Churchill’s Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat outlined his keen attention to the war at hand, and provided his personal resolve in fighting the war. Churchill is cited as saying “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat” (qtd. in “Churchill Centre and Museums at the Churchill War Rooms, London”). In this statement, Churchill explains to the British House of Commons, that he intends on giving his full extent of efforts to the war.
This statement carries over to the British peoples in the sense that Churchill knew that full cooperation of the British peoples, despite the anticipated tumultuous outcomes, would lead to a liberating conclusion. Churchill goes on to say, “You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival” (qtd. in “Churchill Centre and Museums at the Churchill War Rooms, London”). At no point in the duration of the war did Churchill even consider the conditional surrender of the British peoples.
He stressed the importance of victory and fighting until victory was achieved; for without victory he knew only death followed in hindsight. Another substantial political contribution Winston Churchill presented in his life time was the contention against the seemingly ever-growing communist threat that manifested at the end of World War II. As an advocate for an ideal of democracy and the free world, Churchill looked to ally with United States against The Soviet Union and its communist satellites (Sir Winston Churchill par. 21).
Churchill’s postwar view of the world was entrenched in the upheaval of peace; in essence, the United States and Britain were to unite against the pestilence of Soviet Communism (Sir Winston Churchill par. 21). He also advocated a European Union, as another form of opposition to Communism(Sir Winston Churchill par. 21). A separate and profound political writing, which also was delivered in the form of a speech by Winston Churchill, came to light in the wake of the fear of Communism. Churchill’s speech, entitled The Sinews of Peace [also known as The Iron Curtain], expressed the dire need to halt the expansion of Communism into the West.
In his speech he offered an urgent warning about the Russians; though he claimed his warning about the growing threat of the Russians would count for little unless it led to action (Broad 513). Churchill in his speech deduced, “an Iron curtain has descended across the continent [Europe, essentially dividing East and West]” (Muller 8). The ever-present threat of communism as described by Churchill prompted the United States to Take action against the Soviet threat, without this speech, much more of Europe may have fell to the clutches of Communist control.
Conclusion Through the fortitude of time, Winston Churchill has come to be renowned as ‘The British Bulldog’. Looking at the nickname initially, before the basic foundation of any research, I took the nickname as a relation to his short, stocky appearance. In fact, after viewing a few pictures of him, I almost immediately jumped to that realm of thought. However, as I began to dwell into my research, it became apparent that the nickname stood for much more. Typically when one thinks of a bull dog, they picture a short brutish dog, with a tenacious bite.
Winston Churchill represented just that, only not just in his outwardly appearance. When Winston Churchill was posed with a problem, he was extremely quick to act. Instead of sitting around and questioning a probable outcome, Churchill was prompted to dive into his best conception of what he thought [and intrinsically knew] was best to do. Like a bulldog’s height or stature, Winston Churchill decision making stature was short and stocky. They may not have been thought out to the fullest extent, but they had an enormous weight behind them. In taking his role as Prime Minister, Churchill knew he had no time to sit around.
Chamberlain, his predecessor who had resigned at the start of World War II, was posed with a great deal of stress at the outburst of war. Assuming command of the Nation at such a dire time, Churchill understood the importance of a short and to the point decision on how to react to the war. He quickly gathered the support of the House of Commons and the British populace with his speeches that represented the courage of the British peoples. In gathering enough courage and support for the war, he quickly translated that in the effort to fight against the axis powers, and draw support from other world powers such as the United States.
Like a bulldog, Winston Churchill was also brutish and tenacious. He had a tenacious and brute attitude towards his enemies and anything he sought to put into effect. The axis powers witnessed his determined resolve in World War II. As a major proponent of victory for the allies, Churchill never gave up on the ideals he set forward. He would never compromise for defeat, just like the tenacity of bulldog. I was surprised to find, when researching Churchill, that Churchill had claimed that the principal influence in his life was actually his father.
To understand that Churchill and his father shared almost nothing in common, and displayed an undoubtedly distant relationship made me wonder if that statement were true. It was stated in my research that Winston’s father, Lord Randolph Churchill, almost despised his son. Winston did poorly in school and disappointed his father gravely because of that. Winston’s father was renowned for his educational background, and it was to his disappointment that his son would never live up to him (at least in Randolph Churchill’s known life).
Winston also disrespected his father’s wishes of becoming an infantryman, when attending the military school at Sandhurst. Instead of becoming an infantryman, Churchill scored low enough just to miss the mark. When posed with the question of why Churchill admired his father so much, I came to the conclusion that it was the fear of his father’s awesomeness of power that prompted Churchill to idolize him. Churchill’s influence from his father played an integral role in the foundation of Winston’s political career; in act, one could conclude that Churchill’s political makeup was formed in light of his father’s. I too shared a distant relationship with my father; because I was raised by my mother, a single parent, I had no knowledge of my father or his legacy. Winston Churchill (though distant from his father) grew up knowing and admiring his father’s legacy. Churchill, perhaps subconsciously, took on his father’s political character. Winston Churchill’s political legacy and charismatic nature may have very well been the by-product of his father’s influence on him.