Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Churchill Series - May 22, 2008

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

Churchill’s family ties to America were many. His biographer, Martin Gilbert, tells us something about them:

In 1963, in a message sent when he was eighty-three years old, Churchill remarked with pride to President John F. Kennedy that the story of his association with the United States went back nearly ninety years “to the day of my father’s marriage.”

That marriage took place in Paris on 15 April 1874. The bridegroom, Lord Randolph Spencer Chruchill, was the son of a British duke. The bride, Jennie Jerome, was the daughter of an American millionaire – although at that precise moment Leonard Jerome’s fortune has taken a temporary dip. […]

The first member of [Jennie’s] family to settle in America was an Englishman, Timothy Jerome, who reached America from the Isle of Wight in 1710, a descendant of Huguenot Protestants who had fled France for Britain three generations earlier.

One of Winston Churchill’s great-great-grandfathers, Lieutenant Reuban Murray, had served during the American Revolutionary War in the 17th Connecticut Regiment and the 7th Connecticut Regiment and the 7th Albany Regiment, New York Militia. […]

Leonard Jerome and his brother Lawrence married two sisters. Lawrence Jerome’s son, William Travers Jerome – Churchill’s second cousin – was to become a reforming District Attorney of New York who refused to bow to the dictates of Tammany Hall, with its strong political control. In 1906 he sought to be nominated as Governor of New York, but was unsuccessful.

The biographer of Churchill’s mother, Ralph G. Martin, speculates that if Travers Jerome had won the nomination and the governor ship on 1906, “he might well have been nominated by the Democrats for President in 1912 instead of Woodrow Wilson.” […]

In 1865, from the window of their house on East Twenty-sixth Street, Jennie and her two sisters watched as the horse-drawn coffin of the assassinated President Abraham Lincoln passed in solemn procession on the street below.
All three of Leonard Jerome’s daughters married Englishmen.

I think Churchill had it right when, in his December 26, 1941 address to a Joint Session of Congress, he said:
By the way, I cannot help reflecting that if my father had been American and my mother British instead of the other way around, I might have got here on my own. (laughter)

In that case this would not have been the first time you would have heard my voice.(laughter)In that case I should not have needed any invitation. But if I had it is hardly likely that it would have been unanimous. (laughter) So perhaps things are better as they are.
Martin Gilbert, Churchill and America. (pgs. 1-4) Churchill's address to Congress can be found here.