Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill (1974-1965) was most known for his time as the Prime Minister from 1940 to 1945. He also served a second term in this office from 1951 to 1955. However, his first term was significant for his efforts and role in the Allied Nation’s victory during the Second World War. Still, Churchill accomplished other feats also from receiving a Nobel Prize in Literature to reforms in the labour standards. He also left a legacy of coalition, freedom, political programs, and memorable speeches and literary works.
Winston Churchill was born on 30 November 1974 in Blenheim Palace in Oxforshire, England. His parents were Lord Randolph who was the second son of the 7th Duke of Marlborough and American-born Jennie Jerome who was the daughter of a financier. His family were not rich as his father did not have a title or property. Hence, he was born into a family without status, privilege, and wealth.
As a child, Churchill was closer to his nanny Elizabeth Everest than his parents. He adored Everest and considered her his confidante. However, he still admired his father who served as a statesman although this admiration was not reciprocated. Lord Randolph expressed disappointment in his son. In terms of his mother whom many described as a great beauty was focused on social functions. As such, she had limited interactions and time with Winston.
In terms of education, Churchill attended a boarding school at St. George. By 1882, he finished his primary education at his second school called Brighton. In 1888, he enrolled at Harrow. During this time, he did not excel in class except in history and English.
In his early life, Churchill had an experience in the military as he joined the army in Cuba, the United States, India, Sudan, and Egypt from 1895 to 1899. His first experience was being a 2nd lieutenant for a cavalry unit called the 4th Queen's Own Hussars regiment. When he was 21 years old, he was stationed in Bombay India and by 1898, he was in Cairo to join the campaign against a Sudanese military group. This experience also led Churchill to his other profession as a writer. Some of his published works include The Story of the Malakand Field Force (1898), Savrola (1900) World Crisis (1923-1931) Great Contemporaries (1937) The Second World War (1948-1953), and A History of the English-Speaking Peoples (1956-1958) amongst others.
In 1904, Churchill and his wife Clementine met for the first time. Four years after, they got married. By 1909, they had their first child Diana (1909–1963) followed by Randolph (1911–1968), Sarah (1914–1982), Marigold (1918–1921), and Mary (1922–2014).
Political Career before becoming Prime Minister
Winston Churchill began his political career when he won his first elections in October 1900. Here, he at age 25 gained a seat in the House of Commons. He was a member of the Conservative Party from 1900 to 1904. He joined the Liberal Party next until 1910. As a member of the Liberal Party, he oversaw the granting of independence of the Orange River Colony. It was possible because he served as the Undersecretary of State for the Colonial Office.
In 1908, he became the president of the Board of Trade under the new Prime Minister Herbert Asquith. Churchill pushed for social reform during his time as the Board of Trade president. Some of the work he also did include the bill that imposed an 8-hour workday for miners. In 1911, he assisted in the passing of the Parliament Act 1911 that limited the House of Lords’ powers.
The next political positions Churchill held were the Home Secretary of the United Kingdom (1910-1911) and First Lord of Admiralty (1911-1915). As the Home Secretary, he made reform programs in prisons such as differentiating criminal and political prisoners and creating libraries in prisons. As the First Lord, he focused on improving naval preparations and morale by creating reforms. He retired as the First Lord to join the Army in 1915.
During the First World War, Churchill served as the Minister of Munitions from 1917 to 1919. Here, he was responsible for the management and coordination of munition distribution. He streamlined the processes and production of munitions. The next political position he held was the Secretary of State for Air and War from 1919 to 1921. One of his major acts during this time was demobilizing the British Army.
By the 1923 general elections, Churchill did not win a seat in Parliament. However, he rejoined the House of Commons as a member of the Conservative Party. At the time, he served as thee Chancellor of Exchequer. The problem was that this position required a background in finance and economics. Churchill did not have this background which led to his lapses and shortcoming. Some of the outcomes of his actions and choices included unemployment and deflation as well as the general strike in 1926.
Political Career as Prime Minister
From 1929 to 1939, Churchill was out of office although he was still politically active and voiced his views and concerns with the government. However, he became the British Prime Minister on 10 May 1940. This term lasted until 1945. It was a significant time as the Second World War began in 1939. As Prime Minister, Churchill had a tall task of tackling this problem affecting the United Kingdom and the international community. As history had shown, he was capable and made efforts in ending the war.
The circumstances also made Churchill a war leader that rallied the British people. Such is the case with his three speeches during the Battle of France. One speech became an iconic line worldwide namely Churchill saying that the allies would show that “This was their finest hour.”
He also helped in shaping strategies and plans after the war through the creation of a coalition. He was successful in making an alliance with the United States and the Soviet Union among others. The conferences and agreements he joined and made also helped in leading the Allies to victory. One significant agreement was the Destroyers for Bases Agreement which led to the United States providing Britain with 50 destroyers. As such, it bolstered the defence and strength of the British forces. Likewise, these conferences such as First Washington Conference (1941), Tehran Conference (1943), and Yalta Conference (1945) shaped the future of the post-war world.
In his second term from 1951 to 1955, one of his major accomplishments of Churchill was the construction of 300,000 houses annually through his Minister of Housing and Local Government. Other facets of his tenure focused on foreign affairs and the preservation of the positive ties between the United Kingdom and the United States. It was also during his second term when he received his Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953.
In 1955, Churchill retired from politics. The Queen offered life peerage, but Churchill declined. As early as 1941, he experienced a decline in his health. It continued after his second term as Prime Minister. On 24 January 1965, he passed away in his home in Hyde Park which was followed by a state funeral conducted.
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