Winston Churchill in America

His travels and ties nurtured the special relationship between the United States and Britain

On Winston Churchill's first visit to the United States after Pearl Harbor, he told a joint session of Congress that "I cannot help reflecting that if my father had been American and my mother British, instead of the other way round, I might have got here on my own."

Churchill, more than any other person, turned what had been a tenuous and often uneasy association between the United States and Great Britain—for all the (not always helpful) historical ties—into a special relationship.

Before World War II, isolationism and ethnic partisanship often intruded on any intimacy between the two countries. But Churchill's knowledge of the United States and its people brought his nation and ours together. His understanding of America was to a large extent the product of his visits here. From his first visit in 1895 to his last in 1961, he got to know the country and many of its statesmen, including Presidents from McKinley to Kennedy. His relationship with Franklin D. Roosevelt was one of the key elements of the Allied partnership.

Churchill made and lost large sums of money, and nearly lost his life in an automobile accident, in the United States. In Washington, D.C., he helped to formulate the strategy that won World War II. And he, more than anyone, was responsible for raising awareness of the Soviet danger at the outset of the Cold War, in his famous "Iron Curtain" speech, given at Fulton, Missouri, in 1946. It is an extraordinary record. As former Secretary of State Dean Acheson later wrote, "Mr. Churchill has been one of the few—the very few—who have significantly and beneficently affected the course of events.... How seldom can this be said of anyone!"

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