Winston Churchill1

Thesis Statement

Churchill, the master British statesman, stood alone against fascism and renewed the worlds, faith in the superiority of democracy.

Sir Winston Churchill

The political history of the 20th century can be written as the biographies of six men: Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, and Mao Zedong. Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. The first four were totalitarians that made or used revolutions to create monstrous dictatorships. Roosevelt and Churchill differed from them in being democrats. And Churchill differed from Roosevelt—while both were war leaders. Churchill was uniquely stirred by the challenge of war and found his fulfillment in leading the democracies to victory.

Winston Churchill was born on Nov. 30, 1874, at Blenheim Palace, the famous palace near Oxford built by the nation for John Churchill, 1st duke of Marlborough, the great soldier. Blenheim, named after Marlborough’s grandest victory (1704), meant much to Winston Churchill. In the grounds there he became engaged to his footer wife, Clemintine Ogilvy Hozier. He later wrote his historical masterpiece, The life and Times of John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, with the archives of Blenheim behind him.

His father, Lord Randolph Churchill, was a younger son of the 7th duke of Marlborough. His mother was Jennie Herome, and as her mother, Clara Hall, was one-quarter Iroquois, Sir Winston had an Indian strain in him. Lord Randolph, a brilliant Conservative leader who had been chancellor of the exchequer in his 30’s, died when only 46, after ruining his career. His son wrote that one could not grow up in that household without realizing that there had been a disaster in the background. It was an early spur to him to try to make up for his gifted father’s failure, not only in politics and in writing, but also on the turf. Young Winston, though the grandson of a duke, had to make his own way in the world, earning his living by his tongue and his pen. In this he had the comradeship of his mother, who was always courageous and undaunted.

In 1888 he entered Harrow, but he never got into the upper school because, always self-willed, he would not study classics. He concentrated on his own language, willingly writing English essays, and he afterward claimed that this was much more profitable to him. In 1894 he graduated from the Royal Military College at Sandhurst. He then was commissioned in the 4th Hussars. On leave in 1895, he went for his first experience of action to serve as a military observer and correspondent with the Spanish forces fighting the guerillas in Cuba.

Rejoining his regiment, he was sent to serve in India. Here, besides his addiction to polo, he went on seriously with his education, which in his case was very much self-education. His mother sent out to him boxes of books, and Churchill absorbed the whole of Gibbon and Macaulay, and much of Darwin. The influence of the historians is to be observed all through his writings and in his way of looking at things. The influence of Darwin is not less observable in his philosophy of life: that all life is a struggle, the chances of survival favor the fittest, chance is a great element in the game, the game is to be played with courage, and every moment is to be enjoyed to the full. This philosophy served him well throughout his long life. In 1897 he served in the Indian army in the Malakand expedition against the restless tribesmen of the North-West Frontier, and the next year appeared his first book, The Story of the Malakand Field Force. In the same year, 1898, he served with the Tirah expeditionary force, and came home to seek service in General Kitchener’s campaign for the reconquest of the Sudan. Once again young Churchill managed to play the dual role of active officer and war correspondent. As such he took part of Omdurman in one of the last classic battles of earlier warfare; cavalry charges, a thin red line of fire against clouds of fanatical dervishes. The Battle of Omdurman was the end of a world. Once more Churchill wrote it up, and the whole campaign, in The River War, a fine example of military history by an eyewitness. He made enemies among the professional soldiers by his frank criticisms of army defects. He entertained