Winston Churchill |
HIST 1302 |
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Sir Winston Churchill became one of the greatest statesmen in world history. Churchill reached the height of his fame as the heroic prime minister of Great Britain during World War II. He offered his people only "blood, toil, tears, and sweat" as they struggled to keep their freedom. Churchill was also a noted speaker, author, painter, soldier, and war reporter.
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For a soldier, adventure meant fighting. But the only fighting at that moment was in Cuba, where the people had revolted against their Spanish rulers. Churchill used his family's influence to go to Cuba as an observer with the Spanish. He wrote five colorful articles on the revolt for a London newspaper. He returned to London with a love for Havana cigars that lasted the rest of his life.
A British force was being built up in Egypt to invade the Sudan. Churchill got himself transferred to the force, and again obtained a newspaper assignment. In 1898, he took part in the last great cavalry charge of the British army, in the Battle of Omdurman. Churchill returned to England and wrote a book about the Sudanese campaign, The River War.
In 1899 Churchill resigned from the army and ran for Parliament as a Conservative from Oldham, a town in Lancashire, England. But he did not impress the voters of Oldham, most of who were laborers and belonged to the Liberal party. He lost his first election.
The Boer War in South Africa began in October 1899. A London newspaper hired Churchill to report the war between the Boers (Dutch settlers) and the British. Soon after Churchill arrived in South Africa, the Boers ambushed an armored train on which he was riding. He was captured and imprisoned, but made a daring escape. He scaled the prison wall one night, and slipped past the sentries. Then, travelling on freight trains, he crossed 480 kilometers of enemy territory to safety. He became a famous hero overnight.
In 1900, Churchill returned to England and to politics. Oldham gave him a hero's welcome, and the voters elected him to Parliament. In January 1901, Churchill took his seat in the House of Commons for the first time. He soon began to criticize many Conservative policies openly and sharply. In 1904, Churchill broke with his party completely. He dramatically crossed the floor of Commons, amid the howls of Conservatives and the cheers of Liberals, to sit with the Liberals. In the next election, in 1906, Churchill ran as a Liberal and won. During the next few years, Churchill served as undersecretary of state for the colonies, president of the board of trade, and home secretary. His appointment to the board of trade was his first cabinet position.
In 1911, Prime Minister Herbert Asquith appointed Churchill first lord of the admiralty. The build-up of German military and naval forces had convinced Asquith that the admiralty needed a strong leader. Churchill was one of the few people in England who realized that war with Germany would probably come. He reorganized the navy, developed antisubmarine tactics, and modernized the fleet. He also created the navy's first air service. When Britain entered World War I, on Aug. 4, 1914, the fleet was ready.
In 1915, Churchill urged an attack on the Dardanelles and the Gallipoli Peninsula, both controlled by Turkey. If successful, the attack...