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Essay/Term paper: Winston churchill

Essay, term paper, research paper:  History Essays

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Winston Churchill


Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill was born at Blenheim Palace on Nov. 30,
1874. His father was Lord Randolph Churchill, who descended directly from the
1st duke of Marlborough, of whom Winston was to write a biography. His mother
was Jennie Jerosme, an American. Churchill's childhood was unhappy. He spent
most of his time at school, something he didn't really love. His teachers
caracterized him as bright, but stubborn and obstinate. He loved to read history
and poetry, however, and was fascinated by soldiers and battles. From childhood
he had an extraordinary memory. Winston Churchhill didn't want to go to
university. Instead, he enrolled in the Royal Military College at Sandhurst. He
graduated in 1894. After service in Cuba and India, he worked as a war-
correspondent in Northern India, Sudan and in South Africa, where he was
captured by the Boers. His daring escape made him an overnight celebrity.

Churchill always wanted to become a politician. His wish came true in 1900, when
he was elected to the Parliment as a Conservative, and he quickly made his mark.
His political sympathies began to change, however, and he "changed sides" in
1904, when he abandoned the Conservative party for the Liberals. When the
Liberals came to power in 1905, Churchill entered the government as secretary of
state for the colonies. In 1908, the year of his marriage to Clementine Hosier,
he became a member of the cabinet as president of the Board of Trade. Winston's
political missions became more and more important, in 1910 he became a member of
the Admirality. In 1913-1914 Churchill completed British naval preparations for
war. During World War Churchhill made some fatal mistakes in war strategy. This
was one of the main reasons that he was removed from the Admirality when the
Conservatives (many of whom now detested him) joined the government in 1915.
After a period of active military service in France, he was re-elected in the
Parliment. He became minister of munitions under the prime minister David Lloyd
George. He subsequently served as secretary of state for war and air and for the
colonies and helped negotiate the treaty that created the Irish Free State. But
he lost both his office and his seat in Parliament when Lloyd George's coalition
government fell in 1922.

Over the next year or two, Churchill gradually moved back into alliance with the
Conservatives. He used to remark with a mischievous twinkle, "Any fool can rat,
but I flatter myself that it takes a certain ingenuity to re-rat." Returning to
Parliament in 1924, he was offered the post of chancellor of the exchequer in
Stanley Baldwin's Conservative government (1924-1929). It was in this position
Churchill maybe made his biggest mistake as a politician: He revalued the pound,
giving the currency a fixed value against other currencies, to better the rather
poor economic situation. Churchill took this step with many misgivings, and it
proved a mistake, worsening the poor economic situation. Afterward he made
efforts to heal the grand failure with labor, but he was never entirely
successful. Between 1929 and 1939 Churchill did not hold office. He disapproved
violently of Baldwin's Indian policy, which pointed toward eventual self-
government. At the same time he warned against the ambitions of Nazi Germany
and urged that Britain should match Germany in air power. As World War II drew
nearer, his warnings were seen to be justified. When general war broke out in
September 1939, Churchill was offered his old post of first lord of the
Admiralty by Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. Following the unsuccessfull
allied attempt to "remove" the Germans from Norway (for which Churchill had
large responsibility) Chamberlain determined to resign. Churchill replaced him
as prime minister as Germany invaded the Low Countries on May 10, 1940.

The prime minister Winston Churchill was largely responsible for many aspects of
war policy. He established personal relations of the highest value with U.S.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt who began to supply arms and weapons to Britain
immediately after the British army lost most of its equipment at Dunkerque (June
1940). In the late summer of 1940, as the Battle of Britain raged and no one
knew whether Britain would be invaded, Churchill daringly diverted an armored
division, one of only two in Britain, to the Middle East. Although no one had
been a more convinced opponent of the USSR than Churchhill, he decided
immediately to give help to the Soviet Union when it was invaded by Germany in
the summer of 1941. The entry of the United States into the war at the end of
the same year gave the Allies the advantage in greater resources. But the new
shape of the alliance also meant that Britain's influence was bound to decrease
as the USSR and the United States joined in with full power. Churchill was
determined that the slaughter that he had seen in World War I should not be
repeated. That is why he refused to attempt an invasion of mainland Europe
until North Africa and the Mediterranean had been cleared of the enemy. The
Allied invasion of Sicily and Italy, "the soft underbelly of the Axis," finally
began in the summer of 1943, to be followed a year later by the Normandy
invasion, the "Operation Overlord". By this time, however, Churchill carried
less weight at conferences and in the general formation of war strategy. For
example, Churchill did not then foresee the full Soviet threat. At the time of
the Yalta Conference (February 1945), Churchill had high confidence about
Soviet intentions. He soon came to a different opinion, and in 1946 he spoke
of the "iron curtain" that had descended across Europe. Although Churchill
wished to keep the wartime coalition government in power, a general election was
called in Britain in July 1945. Then, after the unconditional surrender of
Germany and just before the final collapse of Japan, the Conservatives lost the
election. When the first results were received, showing a substantial swing to
the Labour party, Churchill was taking a bath. He remarked: "There may well be
a landslide and they have a perfect right to kick us out. That is democracy.
That is what we have been fighting for. Hand me my towel."

The Labour party took office with a large majority after World War II. Churchill
was somewhat hurt by this, he felt that the electors had rejected him as their
leader, and he determined to reverse it. By the end of 1951 he was back in
power, with a small majority. Although he never quite matched in this last
phase as prime minister the performance of his wartime days, his energy in the
first year or two remained astonishing. Churchill gave authority to the
administration, only his presence as prime minister helped to stop criticism.
People had great respect for Winston. In July 1953, soon after his knighthood,
when he could add "Sir" to his name, he suffered a stroke. Sir Anthony Eden,
whom Churchill had long wanted as his follower as prime minister, was himself
ill at the time, and part of Churchill's motive in remaining in office was
doubtless to ensure that Eden was not cheated of his succession. Churchill
finally left office in April 1955, and Churchhill's favourite follower Eden
became prime minister of Great Britain. Sir Winston's last ten years, marked by
a worse and worse health, were occupied by occasional travel, a little painting,
and the publication of his "History of the English Speaking People" (1956-58).
This was the last of his many notable writings, which included "Lord Randolph
Churchill" (1906), "The World Crisis" (1923-29), "My Early Life" (1930),
"Marlborough" (1933-38), and "The Second World War" (1948-54), which was maybe
his greatest work ever. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1953.
Churchill occupied to the end the affections of the British people, symbolizing
the magnificent national performance in heroic days. Sir Winston Churchill was
maybe England's greatest leader (and biggest sigar-smoker) ever, and as
Britain's leader through most of World War II, he personified resistance to
tyranny. Sir Winston Churchill died on Jan. 24, 1965, 70 years to the day after
his father, at the age of 90

Sources: The new Grolier Multimedia Enclycopedia
Aschehoug og Gyldendals mini-ettbinds leksikon


 

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