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LECTURE SERIES: Jon Meacham: Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt in...
Wed, June 7, 2017, 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM EDT
Jon Meacham: Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt in the White House
FDR Ornament Year at WHHA
Co-sponsored by the National Churchill Library and Center, George Washington University
June 7, 2017
On October 6, 1965, a group of Winston Churchill’s American friends presented a bust of the British premier to President Lyndon Johnson and First Lady Ladybird Johnson for display in the White House. Churchill had died in January, less than two years after being named an honorary American citizen by late President John F. Kennedy. Gazing on his image, Johnson remarked that Churchill certainly would have been “a resident of this house” if he had been born in the United States. The bust remains in the White House to this day, symbolizing his enduring friendship for the United States as well as his enduring legacy to the executive mansion.
Churchill first visited the White House in December 1941, a few weeks after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and Hitler’s declaration of war on the United States had brought the two countries—long friends—into open alliance. President Franklin D. Roosevelt prepared for the visit by setting aside a second floor sitting room—walls festooned with maps—for his guest. He also warned his wife Eleanor that there would need to be “good champagne and brandy in the house and plenty of whiskey.” Churchill was a challenging guest for Eleanor and many of the White House staff—Eleanor later wrote that “it was astonishing to me that anyone could smoke so much and drink so much and keep perfectly well”—but he and the president got on famously. This visit, which lasted through and past Christmas (Churchill would speak at the national Christmas Tree lighting ceremony at the White House), established the foundations for the coalition that won World War II.
Acclaimed presidential historian Jon Meacham, author of Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship (Random House, 2003), is the featured speaker at this luncheon and book discussion at historic Decatur House, conducted in partnership with The National Churchill Library and Center at George Washington University. It commemorates Winston Churchill’s visits to and ongoing presence in the White House, and particularly celebrates his relationship with Roosevelt, who graces the WHHA Christmas Ornament for 2017.