Posted Wednesday night, March 14, 2018.
Winston Churchill campaigning for re-election to the House of Commons in the spring of 1945. He’d hope to have an American friend with him on the campaign trail. Photo courtesy of Express/Getty Images via NPR.
In early April of 1945, with the war in Europe coming to a close---FDR was predicting a German surrender by the end of May. He wasn’t optimistic enough. VE Day turned out to be May 8.---Roosevelt was looking forward to a trip to San Francisco to oversee the opening session of the newly formed United Nations and following that a visit to Great Britain. Over in England, Winston Churchill was looking forward to hosting his friend the President of the United States. He asked Sam Rosenman, a Roosevelt speechwriter, aide, and sometime emissary who was in London but was scheduled to head home soon to a deliver a two-part message to the President.
The first part was more formal, quasi-official, the British Prime Minister assuring the American President of a warm welcome from the British people. The second part was personal, Winston both ribbing his friend Franklin and expressing his affection. From “Franklin and Winston” by Jon Meacham:
“Here is the second thing I want you to tell him,” Churchill continued, Rosenman noted, “a bit sheepishly.”
“Do you remember when I came over to your country in the summer of 1944 when you election campaigning was beginning? Do you remember when I arrived, I said something favorable to the election of the President, and immediately the associates of the President sent word to me in no uncertain terms to ‘lay off’ discussing the American election? Do you remember I was told that if I wanted to help the President get re-elected, the best thing I could do was keep my mouth shut; that the American people would resent any interference or suggestion by a foreigner about how they should vote?”
With what Rosenman called “one of his most engaging laughs,” Churchill said, “Now what I want you to tell the President is this. When he comes over here in May I shall be in the midst of a political campaign myself; we shall be holding our own elections about that time. I want you to tell him that I impose no such inhibitions upon him as he imposed upon me. The British People would not resent---and of course I would particularly welcome---any word that he might want to say in favor of my candidacy.”
I imagine FDR would have roared when he heard that. Sadly...
...Rosenman would never have a chance to deliver Churchill’s message.
“Franklin and Winston:An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship” by Jon Meacham is available at Amazon, in paperback and for kindle, and as an audiobook from Audible.