Winston Churchill's Last Campaign: Britain and the Cold War, 1951-5

By John W. Young | Go to book overview

5
VISITING 'IKE', NOVEMBER 1952-FEBRUARY 1953

THE REPUBLICAN VICTORY

WHEN Eisenhower's victory over Adlai Stevenson in the Presidential election was announced on 5 November 1952, Churchill could not hide his delight, sending a hearty message to his wartime colleague, hoping for 'a renewal of our comradeship . . . for the same causes of peace and freedom as in the past'. Eden, fearful of offending the outgoing Truman administration, vainly tried to persuade the Prime Minister to change the message from 'sincere and heartfelt congratulations' to 'best wishes' but at this Churchill, as observed by Evelyn Shuckburgh, became extremely cross. For him the result not only broke the sense of deadlock in US foreign policy, inevitable in election year, but promised the opportunity of a close working relationship with the White House and the chance to pursue détente with American approval. Once again Eden and others had to face the possibility of a Roosevelt-style relationship between Prime Minister and President1 and the official biographer notes that, from this moment on, Churchill gained 'a new sense of mission: to stay on . . . until he could bring about, by his own exertions, a reconciliation of the two Great Powers', America and the USSR. Arriving at a party that evening, Eden appeared 'fed up and almost hysterical' complaining to a Conservative backbencher, 'I get all the knocks. I don't think I can stand it much longer.'2 Only on 8 November did Churchill write to Truman, saying 'I am very glad we had that final gallop together.'3 Yet, even Churchill did not view the Republican victory as an unmixed blessing. He told 'Jock' Colville soon after that the win 'makes war much more probable'. Again,

____________________
1
Public Record Office (PRO), FO 371/97585/51 (5 Nov.); E. Shuckburgh, Descent to Suez: Diaries 1951-6 ( 1986), 47.
2
M. Gilbert, 'Never Despair': Winston S. Churchill, 1945-65 ( 1988), 773-4; R. R. James (ed.), 'Chips': The Diaries of Sir Henry Channon ( 1967), 470.
3
PRO, FO 800/837 (8 Nov.).

-110-

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