Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The Churchill Series - Jan. 2, 2008

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

The holidays are over. I hope yours were wonderful and that your 2008 is a safe, healthy and productive year.

Now to work. Here's a pop quiz.

Who was the first American President to write Churchill a letter?

If you answered, "Roosevelt," you're right provided you meant President Theodore Roosevelt.

TR and Churchill met in Dec., 1900 when Roosevelt was New York's Governor and America's Vice President-elect. Churchill was twenty-six and had recently been elected to his first Parliament.

American friends of Churchill's family had arranged for the visit with Roosevelt.

TR hosted Churchill at dinner in the Governor's Mansion in Albany. He later told a friend, "Although (Churchill) is not an attractive fellow, I was interested in some of the things he said."

Nine years later, President Theodore Roosevelt was preparing to pass the duties of that office on to his successor, William Howard Taft. Afterwards, he would embark on a lengthy hunting trip to Africa.

When Churchill learned of TR's plans, he sent him a copy of his latest book, My African Journey, which had been serialized on both sides of the Atlantic. The front cover contained an engraving of Churchill, gun in hand, standing over a rhinoceros he'd shot.

TR responded:

My dear Mr. Churchill:

Thru (Ambassador) Reid, I have just received the beautiful copy of your book, and I wish to thank you for it. I had read all the chapters as they came out, and with a great deal of interest; not only the chapters upon the very difficult and important problems of the Government itself, but also the hunting chapters and especially the one describing how you got that rare and valuable trophy, a white rhinoceros head.

Everyone has been most kind to me about my proposed trip to Africa.

I trust I shall have as good luck as you had.

Again thanking you, believe me,
Sincerely yours,

Theodore Roosevelt

December 13, 1909.
Martin Gilbert, Churchill and America. (Free Press, 2005) ( pgs. 36, 50-51)


Anonymous said...

Please check your arithmetic. Sir Winston was born in late 1874, so he could not have been 21 years of age in 1900.

JWM said...

Dear Anon,

You are right and I was wrong.

I've made the age correction as well as eliminating the reference to Churchill as a recent Sandhurst grad and newly-commissioned officer.

Thank you for pointing out my error.