Friday, May 04, 2007

The Churchill Series – May 4, 2007

(One of a series of weekday posts on the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

In October, 1942, Eleanor Roosevelt visited London and other parts of the south of England. Her trip was a great morale boost to the British people. Both Churchill and Clementine expressed to President Roosevelt their appreciation for her visit and their fondness for her personally.

But, as Jon Meacham tells us in Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship, there was one discordant note:

At a small dinner in London, Eleanor and Churchill exchanged words over Loyalist Spain.

“I remarked that I could not see why the Loyalist government could not have been helped, and the prime minister replied that he and I would have been the first to lose our heads if the Loyalists had won – the feeling against people like us would have spread,” Mrs. Roosevelt recalled. “I said that losing my head was unimportant, whereupon he said: ‘I don’t want you to lose your head and neither do I want to lose mine.’”

Then Mrs. Churchill leaned across the table and said: “I think perhaps Mrs. Roosevelt is right”

The prime minister was quite annoyed by this time and said: “I have held certain beliefs for sixty years and I’m not going to change now.”

Clementine, Eleanor recalled, “then got up as a signal that dinner was over.”
We’ve all been at dinner parties where the conversation has suddenly turned quite serious and contentious.

This episode is so revealing of important facets of Winston's, Eleanor's and Clementine’s personalities.

I hope you have a restful weekend.