December 23, 2003 (REVISED Yes) Major Exhibition on Winston Churchill and His Lifelong Ties to the United States Opens at Library of Congress on February 5
Contact: View the exhibition online.
Contact: Helen Dalrymple (202) 707-1940
The Library of Congress will open the first comprehensive exhibition of Churchill material in the United States on Feb. 5, 2004. “Churchill and the Great Republic,” explores the life and career of Sir Winston Churchill and emphasizes his lifelong links with the United States. Displayed in the Northwest Gallery of the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 first Street S.E., Washington, D.C., the exhibition is on view through June 26. It is presented at the Library of Congress in conjunction with the Churchill Archives Centre, Cambridge, U.K. The exhibition is free and open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Saturday.
The exhibition includes more than 200 items, ranging from an historic letter written by Churchill’s ancestor the Duke of Marlborough, in 1706, and the 8-year-old Churchill’s 1883 report card (which indicated that he was at times “very naughty”) to handwritten notes passed between Churchill and Averell Harriman as they rode in a noisy bomber to the 1942 Churchill-Stalin conference. On display for the first time are two items. The first is a previously unknown letter from Churchill to his cousin, the 9th Duke of Marlborough, about his participation in the battle of Omdurman (1898). The second is a version of the world globe made in 1942 that was sent to Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt by U.S. Army Chief of Staff George Marshall as Christmas gifts to facilitate war planning. The two original globes are now at Chartwell and Hyde Park. Additional copies of the globe were produced later, and the globe in this exhibition, from the Library’s Geography and Map collections, came to the Library from the House of Representatives.
In the course of his long and momentous life, Churchill was connected to America by ties of family as well as by experience and belief. His mother, Brooklyn-born heiress Jennie Jerome, was both a great childhood influence and a significant career booster. Churchill came of age during an imperialistic era, both in Britain and the United States, and in 1898 he rode in one of the last great cavalry charges of the British Army, at Omdurman in the Sudan.
He served as First Lord of the Admiralty in 1914, aggressively using British naval power against his country’s enemies during World War I. His experience during the war helped to shape his belief that the hope of the world lay in Anglo-American unity, and he worked closely with American financier Bernard Baruch toward the end of the war to coordinate the war production of the United States and Great Britain.
Prior to America’s entry into World War II, Churchill was back at his former post at the Admiralty and engaged in an unprecedented correspondence with President Roosevelt; these super-secret messages continued after Churchill became prime minister during the darkest days of the war. Together they worked out the arrangements for American aid to Britain short of full belligerency, and they often met in person to direct the combined effort after the U.S. entered the war in December 1941.
In 1963, two years before Churchill’s death, President John F. Kennedy and the U.S. Congress conferred honorary American citizenship upon Churchill, a distinction accorded only once before, to the Marquis de Lafayette.
The six sections of “Churchill and the Great Republic” cover Churchill’s life from his youth through his heroism during the Boer War at the turn of the 19th century, his marriage to Clementine Hozier, his service in the trenches of World War I, his leadership of Great Britain and his relations with the United States during World War II, and finally his last years as a private citizen. The greatest space by far is devoted to World War II: the years leading up to the war, the war itself, and its aftermath.
“An Age of Youth,” describes his early life as a descendant of the Duke of Marlborough, his school years, his first impressions of the United States, and his experiences as a soldier and war correspondent. In addition to Churchill’s early report card, this section includes photographs, posters, newspaper clippings and letters, including a letter Churchill wrote in pencil in 1898 to his cousin, the 9th Duke of Marlborough, about his participation in the Battle of Omdurman. This letter, unknown even to Churchill’s official biographer, has never been published or exhibited.
“Stirring Affairs,” the second section, covers the years from 1900 to 1931, when Churchill married Clementine Hozier, achieved both successes and failures in the political and military realms, and traveled to the United States a number of times. Included here are handwritten notes between Winston and Clementine the morning after their engagement in August 1908; a letter from Theodore Roosevelt saying “Yes, that is an interesting book of Winston Churchill’s about his father; but I can’t help feeling about both of them that the older one was a rather cheap character, and that the younger one is a rather cheap character.”; a letter Churchill wrote to Marlborough in 1912 about the Balkans and the threat of a great conflict; maps and letters related to the 1915 Dardanelles disaster; and a flashlight with bullet damage that Churchill carried in the trenches of World War I.
The third section of the exhibition carries Churchill through the 1930s as he tried to alert his nation and the world to the menace of Hitler and worked to get America involved in the war. It is titled “The Finest Hour.” On view is an original typescript, with changes in Churchill’s hand, of a broadcast after the Munich crisis in which Churchill states “We must arm. Britain must arm. America must arm.” A recording of this broadcast is also available within the exhibition as is Churchill’s “finest hour” speech.
The exhibition moves on to America’s entry into the war after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in the fourth section, “The Sword for Freedom.” Included here is a telegram from Churchill to Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden telling him about the attack on Pearl Harbor; a sound recording of Churchill addressing the U.S. Congress on Dec. 26, 1941; photographs of Churchill’s grandson and namesake; and handwritten notes passed between Churchill and Harriman on a flight to the 1942 conference with Joseph Stalin.
Section Five, “Unity and Strategy,” covers the two-year period from 1943 to 1945, with items that highlight the 1943 Teheran Conference with Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin; the plans for the D-Day invasion, including a map created to deceive the German forces; and, meeting minutes from the Yalta Conference dated Feb. 4, 1945.
The final section of the exhibition covers the last 20 years of Churchill’s life, during which he was turned out of office in 1945 and then returned as prime minister from 1951 to 1955. He continued to maintain Britain’s stance as America’s faithful partner and laid much of the groundwork for the practice of summit meetings attended by leaders of the greatest nations. A sound recording of Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” speech, delivered at Westminster College, Fulton, Mo., on March 5, 1946, can be heard in this section. Letters between Truman and Churchill and Eisenhower and Churchill are also on view in this final section of the exhibition.
Throughout the exhibition, audio stations allow visitors to hear Churchill delivering some of his most famous speeches and video kiosks feature Churchill’s speeches and the ways in which his words influenced people today.
An expanded online version of “Churchill and the Great Republic,” which allows the user to see complete letters and documents rather than only the one or two pages that can be displayed in the exhibition, will be mounted on the Library’s Web site at www.loc.gov/exhibits.
An illustrated brochure will accompany the exhibition, along with a 96-page softcover publication containing essays by Sir Martin Gilbert, Churchill’s official biographer; Allen Packwood, director of the Churchill Archives Centre; and Daun van Ee, historical specialist in the Library of Congress Manuscript Division. The book, which will be available for sale for $19.95 when the exhibition opens, also includes a preface by Mary Churchill Soames, the youngest and only surviving child of Winston and Clementine Churchill.