Churchill, Roosevelt, and the Wartime
The wartime alliance was Winston Churchill's creation. That is a statement about historiography as much as history. Churchill popularized the term 'Special Relationship' in his Fulton speech of 5 March 1946—an eloquent appeal for the USA to perpetuate the wartime Anglo-American alliance into the post-war era.1 He also used his war memoirs, the six-volume history of The Second World War published between 1948 and 1954, in part to develop the same theme by laying 'the lessons of the past before the future'.2
In his memoirs Churchill depicted the wartime alliance as the outgrowth of an underlying cultural unity—the 'English-speaking peoples'. Between the world wars improvident leaders and indifferent publics in both countries had thrown away the hard-won victory. But, he argued, following his own accession to power in 1940 at a time when a 'warm-hearted friend' of Britain occupied the White House, a special relationship blossomed. This 'gradually became so close that the chief business between our two countries was virtually conducted by these personal interchanges between him and me. In this way our perfect understanding was gained.'3 Throughout The Second World War Anglo-American relations generally appear in a roseate hue, with little evidence of suspicion or controversy. Indeed Churchill admitted to Eisenhower that the final volume, which appeared in 1954 when the two men headed their respective governments, had been carefully vetted by him to ensure 'that nothing should be published which might seem to others to threaten our current relations in our public duties or impair the sympathy and understanding which exists between our countries'.4
Originally presented as a paper at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, DC, this chapter
was published in Wm. Roger Louis and Hedley Bull, eds., The 'Special Relationship': Anglo-
American Relations since 1945 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986).
1Winston S. Churchill: His Complete Speeches, 1897–1963, ed. Robert Rhodes James (8 vols.,
New York, l974), vi. 7289.
2 Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War (6 vols., London, 1948–54), vol. i, p. vii.
3 Ibid., ii. 22.
4 Churchill to Eisenhower, 9 Apr. 1953, Presidential Papers, Whitman File, Box 16 (Dwight
D. Eisenhower Library, Abilene, Kansas).