Great Britain and the United States: A History of Anglo-American Relations, 1783-1952

By H. C. Allen | Go to book overview

CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION

I

"THESE two great organizations of the English-speaking democracies, the British Empire and the United States, will have to be somewhat mixed up together in some of their affairs for mutual and general advantage. For my own part, looking out upon the future, I do not view the process with any misgivings. I could not stop it if I wished; no one can stop it. Like the Mississippi, it just keeps rolling along. Let it roll. Let it roll on full flood, inexorable, irresistible, benignant, to broader lands and better days."1Winston Churchill's words of August, 1940, embody the confidence with which Americans and Englishmen regarded the future of Anglo-American relations after they fought together as allies in World War II. Indeed, Anglo-American friendship until it was subjected, for the first time since 1940, to notable strain by the China crisis which began in 1949, came almost to be taken for granted on both sides of the Atlantic. This was, perhaps, natural. The two peoples had always been conscious, even when serious disagreements existed between them, of their peculiar relationship. In 1843, for example, Dickens heard England referred to as that "unnat'ral old parent", and by 1900 in England, and soon thereafter in America, the idea of war between the two countries had come to be almost unthinkable.

But though it may have become natural by 1945 to take Anglo- American friendship as read, things have not always been thus. Two wars have been fought between the two nations, and, as late as the Venezuela dispute of 1895, Anglo-American disagreements were numerous and sometimes sharp. But by degrees, as the years passed, friendship triumphed over these obstacles, though the triumph was not one of sentiment alone, for only a wide complex of causes, political, economic, social--the totality in fact of Anglo-American intercourse-- made it possible. Happily, the intimacy of Anglo-American relations is by no means solely dependent upon the powerful but sometimes

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1
Winston S. Churchill, War Speeches 1940-1945 ( London, 1946), p. 35.

-17-

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