Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)|
Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, son of Lord Randolph Churchill, first came to public attention as a result of
his escape from a prison in Pretoria during the Boer War. He was a war correspondent and had
His political career began in 1900 with his election to Parliament as a Conservative. He joined
the Liberals over tariff reform proposed by Chamberlain. In 1908 he was appointed president of
the Board of Trade by Asquith and was home secretary in 1910. He was in the Commons until
1923 and a number of ministerial offices including First Lord of the Admiralty in the Asquith
government (1911-15). He served in the trenches of World War I in France in 1915-16, returning
to Parliament in 1917 to serve as minister of munitions under Lloyd George at the time the tank
was being developed. After the war ended he served as secretary for war (1918-21). He was
colonial secretary and was a major player in establishing the Irish Free State.
Out of Parliament from 1922-24, Churchill returned as a Conservative representing Epping in
1924 and was made chancellor of the Exchequer (1924-29) under Baldwin. While chancellor he
returned Britain to the gold standard and was noticed for his part in breaking the General Strike
of 1926. He was again out of office (1929-39) but was a vocal critic of Conservative policy on
India and especially Chamberlain's appeasement of Hitler and Mussolini.
When World War II broke out, Churchill returned to his post at the Admiralty. When Chamberlain
resigned he was asked to form a coalition government which he did in May, 1940 as its prime
minister. Churchill became the voice of Britain during the war, his emotional speeches inspiring
the nation to endure hardship and sacrifice. He had a close friendship with president Roosevelt,
signing the Atlantic Charter in 1941 proclaiming their strategy for the war. Churchill met with
Allied leaders in Casablanca, Washington, Cairo, Moscow and Tehran. He met with Stalin and
Roosevelt in the Crimea in February, 1945 to plan for the final victory over Germany. He
announced the German surrender on May 8th.
Within two weeks the coalition government that Churchill headed was disolved. He was defeated
in a general election in July, 1945, becoming leader of the opposition until October, 1951
when he again became prime minister. He second government was in power until April, 1955
when he resigned.
Following his historic World War II ministry which secured his place in history, and his second
term, Churchill took to writing and painting. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in
1953 for his six volume history of World War II (1948-1954). He also wrote "History of the
English-Speaking Peoples" in four volumes (1956-58).