Acheson and Empire: The British Accent in American Foreign Policy

By John T. McNay | Go to book overview

1

Champion of Empire

Nobody ever loses the stampwhich the age of
youthful impressions has imposed on him.

—OTTO VON BISMARCK

In the twilight of the Victorian era, the British imperial government found itself engaged in a bloody struggle against insurgents in South Africa. In the Boer War, as the effort to put down the insurgency came to be known, settler farmers of German-Dutch ancestry battled British troops to a standoff, only to have the full force of the empire brought down on them in the spring of 1902. British forces did what was necessary to gain victory, including burning villages, herding people into concentration camps, and committing other forms of ruthlessness. The victory won the empire few admirers internationally, but one of those few was a boy in Middletown, Connecticut, Dean Gooderham Acheson, son of the localEpiscopalpriest. The boy had nothing but sympathy for the British and their empire, as he fondly recalled years later.

The nine-year-old Acheson's espousal of the British cause in the Boer War earned him the scorn of “erstwhile friends” in largely Irish Catholic Middletown. “Our appealing Tommies, Kipling's absent-minded beggars, ” Acheson recalled, were seen in pro-Boer Middletown as “bullies bent on crushing the sacred flame of liberty, as in Ireland, and starving women and children in `concentration' camps.” 1. This ill treatment at the hands of neighbors shattered Acheson's “innocent and eclectic enjoyment

____________________
1.
Acheson, Morning and Noon, 11-12. The use of “Tommies” to refer to typicalprivate soldiers in the British army has its origins in a story in the Illustrated London News, July 7, 1883. The story told of the return from India of Pvt. Tommy Atkins. In 1892, Rudyard Kipling generalized the term in his popular poem “Tommy, ” which contains the line: “God Bless you Tommy Atkins, We're all the world to you” (Oxford English Dictionary, vol. 18, 2d ed., pp. 213-14).

-11-

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Acheson and Empire: The British Accent in American Foreign Policy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Acheson and Empire - The British Accent in American Foreign Policy *
  • Contents *
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Champion of Empire 11
  • 2 - The Special Relationship 39
  • 3 - Bonds of Loyalty 61
  • 4 - The Ulster Connection 81
  • 5 - The Kashmir Connection 101
  • 6 - The Iran Connection 129
  • 7 - The Egypt Connection 158
  • 8 - Epilogue 193
  • Bibliography 203
  • Index 217
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