Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Churchill Series - Apr. 16, 2008

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

In response to yesterday's post, one of you noted Treasure Island was one of the books Churchill read.

Yes, he did. As boy and man, it was one of his favorite books. Thank you, Anon Commenter.

Now today's post - - -

During the winter of 1931/32 Churchill made an extensive lecture tour in the United States.

It was on that tour that Churchill was struck and almost killed by a taxi while crossing New York’s Fifth Avenue.

During a lengthy convalescence, part of which was spent in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, Churchill and his bodyguard, Scotland Yard Detective Inspector Walter Thompson, realized they had not registered or received permits for the pistols they carried.

They agreed Thompson would take the pistols down to Police headquarters and set matters right.

When Thompson returned to the Waldorf, he explained to Churchill what had happened.

The police had been very polite but they’d made it clear people were not supposed to carry guns in the city.

Thompson protested that extremist groups, some active in the Untied States, had repeatedly threatened to kill Churchill. Not only that, Thompson had read in the morning’s paper of five murders just the previous day.

The police said they understand his position but there were still those laws.

Thompson continued pressing. Soon he was told the Police Chief himself would speak to him.

The Chief had been briefed on the problem. “We can’t give you official permission,” he told Thompson. Then he added: “But if you have to use weapons just let us know and we will square it for you.”

Churchill took it all in before telling Thompson the Americans were “an amazing people.”
Tom Hickman, Churchill's Bodyguard. (pgs. 70-71)


Anonymous said...

I love reading about WSC; he's one of my special heroes. I've read a great deal about him, but was not aware that he had been caught in the clutches of New York's infamous "Sullivan Law." That law, like many of the gun control laws of the 19th and early 20th centuries, was aimed at minorities. In the Jim Crow South, ordinances were passed to keep guns out of black hands, but in New York City, the bosses were worried about all those suspicious eastern Europeans. While the South has shed its Jim Crow past, Gotham continues to enforce a law that makes it easier for armed thugs to prey upon the disarmed citizenry. Since the Supremes are expected to rule shortly that the Second Amendment does--as Charlton Heston famously maintained--guarantee the right to bear arms to the individual citizen, not just the National Guard or the Coast Guard Reserve, there may be some changes made in New York's gun laws. One can only hope. I'm sure Sir Winston wondered why there was such a foolish law.
Tarheel Hawkeye