Monday, April 06, 2009

The Churchill Series - Apr. 6, 2009

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

Readers Note: The post that follows is a modified and updated version of one that ran in July 2006.


In the late summer of 1929, Churchill, out of office following the Conservative’s defeat in that year's general election, embarked on a three month trip across Canada, down the West coast of the United States, and then across America by train to New York.

Churchill was accompanied by his son, Randolph, his brother, Jack, and Jack's son Johnnie.

Clementine was supposed to accompany them. But just before the trip, she had a tonsillectomy. Her physician advised her not to make the ocean voyage and trip across Canada. In those days, a tonsillectomy and the recovery period carried more risks than they do today, especially for adults.

Churchill was keenly disappointed Clementine was unable to accompany him. He loved her company and was eager for them to together see Canada and America and meet many of the countries’ most influential and famous citizens.

Faced with that disappointment, Churchill made the best of the situation. In this case that meant writing Clementine a series of letters in which he described the sights, the people he met and a series of events, planned and unplanned.

The letters are remarkable for their detail, descriptive power, and assessments of many of the famous and not so famous people Churchill met. For example, it was on this trip that Churchill first met William Randolph Hearst, who was so impressed with Churchill that he offered him a contract to write a series of articles for the Hearst papers which Churchill eagerly agreed to do once he heard Hearst’s offering price.

I’m basing the next five Churchill Series posts on the letters he wrote Clementine during the trip. I hope you visit each day. Tomorrow we depart from Southampton aboard the Canadian Pacific steamship
Empress of Australia bound first for Cherbourg and then out across the Atlantic