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Winston Churchill (Page 2)

A Biography of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

By

Winston Churchill (Page 2)

Franklin D. Roosevelt (left) and Winston Churchill (right) in Quebec, Canada (September 12, 1944).

(Picture courtesy the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.)

Churchill Forced Out of Politics

Churchill was devastated to have been forced out of politics. Although he was still a member of Parliament, it just wasn't enough to keep such an active man busy. Churchill went into depression and worried that his political life was completely over.

It was during this time that Churchill learned to paint. It started as a way for him to escape the doldrums, but like everything Churchill did, he worked diligently to improve himself. Churchill continued to paint for the rest of his life.

For nearly two years, Churchill was kept out of politics. Then, in July 1917, Churchill was invited back and given the position of Minister of Munitions. In 1918, Churchill was given the position of Secretary of State for War and Air, which put him in charge of bringing all the British soldiers home.

A Decade in Politics and a Decade Out

The 1920s had its ups and downs for Churchill. In 1921, he was made the Secretary of State for the Colonies but only a year later he lost his MP seat while in the hospital with acute appendicitis.

Out of office for two years, Churchill found himself leaning again toward the Conservative Party. In 1924, Churchill once again won a seat as an MP, but this time with Conservative backing. Considering he had just returned to the Conservative Party, Churchill was quite surprised to be given the very important position of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the new Conservative government that same year. Churchill held this position for nearly five years.

In addition to his political career, Churchill spent the 1920s writing his monumental, six-volume work on World War I called The World Crisis (1923-1931).

When the Labour Party won the national election in 1929, Churchill was once again out of government. For ten years, Churchill held his MP seat, but did not hold a major government position. However, this didn't slow him down.

Churchill continued to write, finishing a number of books including his autobiography, My Early Life. He continued to give speeches, many of them warning of Germany's growing power. He also continued to paint and learned bricklaying.

By 1938, Churchill was speaking out openly against British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's plan of appeasement with Nazi Germany. When Nazi Germany attacked Poland, Churchill's fears had proved correct. The public once again realized that Churchill had seen this coming.

After ten years out of the government, on September 3, 1939, just two days after Nazi Germany attacked Poland, Churchill was asked to once again become the First Lord of the Admiralty.

Churchill Leads Great Britain in WWII

When Nazi Germany attacked France on May 10, 1940, it was time for Chamberlain to step down as Prime Minister. Appeasement hadn't worked; it was time for action. The same day that Chamberlain resigned, King George VI asked Churchill to become Prime Minister.

Just three days later, Churchill gave his "Blood, Toil, Tears, and Sweat" speech in the House of Commons. This speech was just the first of many morale boosting speeches made by Churchill to inspire the British to keep fighting against a seemingly invincible enemy.

Churchill spurred himself and everyone around him to prepare for war. He also actively courted the United States to join in the hostilities against Nazi Germany. Also, despite Churchill's extreme dislike for the communist Soviet Union, his pragmatic side realized he needed their help.

By joining forces with both the United States and with the Soviet Union, Churchill not only saved Britain, but helped save all of Europe from the domination of Nazi Germany.

Falls Out of Power, Then Back in Again

Although Churchill was given credit for inspiring his nation to win World War II, by the end of the war in Europe, many felt that he had lost touch with the daily lives of the people. After suffering through years of hardship, the public didn't want to go back to the hierarchical society of pre-war Britain. They wanted change and equality.

On July 15, 1945, the election results from the national election came in and the Labour Party had won. The following day, Churchill, age 70, resigned as Prime Minister.

Churchill remained active. In 1946, he went on a lecture tour in the United States that included his very famous speech, "The Sinews of Peace," in which he warned of an "iron curtain" descending upon Europe. Churchill also continued to make speeches in the House of Commons and to relax at his home and paint.

Churchill also continued to write. He used this time to start his six-volume work, The Second World War (1948-1953).

Six years after resigning as Prime Minister, Churchill was again asked to lead Britain. On October 26, 1951, Churchill began his second term as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

During his second term as Prime Minister, Churchill focused on foreign affairs because he was very worried about the atomic bomb. On June 23, 1953, Churchill suffered a severe stroke. Although the public wasn't told about it, those close to Churchill thought he would have to resign. Surprising everyone, Churchill recovered from the stroke and got back to work.

On April 5, 1955, 80-year-old Winston Churchill resigned as Prime Minister due to failing health.

Retirement and Death

In his final retirement, Churchill continued to write, finishing his four-volume A History of the English Speaking Peoples (1956-1958). Churchill also continued to give speeches and to paint.

During his later years, Churchill earned three impressive awards. On April 24, 1953, Churchill was made Knight of the Garter by Queen Elizabeth II, making him Sir Winston Churchill. Later that same year, Churchill was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Ten years later, on April 9, 1963, U.S. President John F. Kennedy awarded Churchill with honorary U.S. citizenship.

In June 1962, Churchill broke his hip after falling out of a his hotel bed. On January 10, 1965, Churchill suffered a massive stroke. After falling into a coma, he died on January 24, 1965 at age 90. Churchill had remained a member of Parliament until a year before his death.

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