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Sir Winston Churchill
1874 - 1965

After a brief but eventful career in the British army, Winston Churchill won election to the British parliament in 1900. He held various high posts in Liberal and Conservative governments during the first three decades of the century. At the outbreak of the Second World War, he was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty. In 1940, he became Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, and remained in office until 1945. He led the Conservatives to victory again in 1951 and resigned as Prime Minister and leader in 1955. However, he remained a Member of Parliament until the general election of 1964, when he did not seek re-election. Along with his skillful leadership during the Second World War, his powerful oratory competes with his books and essays to be his legacy. Author of The World Crisis, The History of the Second World War, and A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, and other works.

Books by Sir Winston Churchill
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Great Republic: A History of the United States (1999)
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Memoirs of the Second World War (1999)
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Click here for an essay by Sir Winston Churchill
For the best part of twenty years the youth of Britain and America have been taught that war was evil, which is true, and that it would never come again, which has been proved false. For the best part of twenty years, the youth of Germany, of Japan and Italy, have been taught that aggressive war is the noblest duty of the citizen and that it should be begun as soon as the necessary weapons and organization have been made. We have performed the duties and tasks of peace. They have plotted and planned for war. This naturally has placed us, in Britain, and now places you in the United States at a disadvantage which only time, courage and untiring exertion can correct.

Dec. 26, 1941 - from a speech to the United States Congress
They will stop at nothing that violence or treachery can suggest.

Dec. 26, 1941 - speaking of the Allies' enemies during World War II in a speech to the United States Congress
In my country as in yours public men are proud to be the servants of the State and would be ashamed to be its masters.

Dec. 26, 1941 - from a speech to the United States Congress
Sure I am that this day, now, we are the masters of our fate. That the task which has been set us is not above our strength. That its pangs and toils are not beyond our endurance. As long as we have faith in our cause, and an unconquerable willpower, salvation will not be denied us.

Dec. 26, 1941 - from a speech to the United States Congress
There is no working middle course in wartime.

Jul. 2, 1942 - from a speech in the British Parliament
... it is the people who control the Government, not the Government the people.

1948 - from a speech delivered in Oslo, Norway
Socialism would gather all power to the supreme party and party leaders, rising like stately pinnacles above their vast bureaucracies of civil servants no longer servants, no longer civil.

1946 - from a speech in the British parliament
You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor and you will have war.

1938 - from a speech responding to Neville Chamberlain's signing of the Munich Agreement with Hitler
It is very much better ... to have a panic feeling beforehand, and then be quite calm when things happen, than to be extremely calm beforehand and go into panic when things happen.

1935 - from a debate with Stanley Baldwin
Elections exist for the sake of the House of Commons and not the House of Commons for the sake of elections.

1953 - from a debate in the British parliament
I hope I shall never see the day when the Force of Right is deprived of the Right of Force.

Solvency is valueless without security, and security is impossible to achieve without solvency.

1953 - from a speech in the British parliament
In finance everything that is agreeable is unsound and everything that is sound is disagreeable.

Our defeats are but stepping-stones to victory, and his victories are but stepping-stones to ruin.

talking about Hitler in a WWII speech
We have not journeyed all this way across the centuries, across the oceans, across the mountains, across the prairies, because we are made of sugar candy.

Dec. 30, 1941 - from a speech to the Canadian Parliament
Nations which went down fighting rose again, but those which surrender tamely are finished.

Jun. 1940 - from a speech to his Cabinet, quoted by U.S. Senator Jack Kemp in a speech to the Claremont Institute on Nov. 30, 1990
The problems of victory are more agreeable than the problems of defeat, but they are no less difficult.

Nov. 11, 1942 - from a speech in the British House of Commons
A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.

I am always ready to learn, but I do not always like being taught.

Dictators ride to and fro upon tigers which they dare not dismount. And the tigers are getting hungry.

Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.

I am ready to meet my maker, but whether my maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.

Some regard private enterprise as if it were a predatory tiger to be shot. Others look upon it as a cow that they can milk. Only a handful see it for what it really is - the strong horse that pulls the whole cart.

You don't make the poor richer by making the rich poorer.

There is only one duty, only one safe course, and that is to try to be right.

The whole history of the world is summed up in the fact that, when nations are strong, they are not always just, and when they wish to be just, they are no longer strong.

I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.

May 13, 1940 - from a speech in the British Parliament, three days after becoming Prime Minister
My friends, I must tell you that a socialist policy is abhorrent to the British ideas of freedom. Although it is now put forward in the main by people who have a good grounding in the liberalism and radicalism of the early part of this century, there can be no doubt that socialism is inseparably interwoven with totalitarianism and the abject worship of the state. It is not alone that property, in all its forms, is struck at; but that liberty, in all its forms, is challenged by the fundamental conceptions of socialism.

1945 - from a pre-election radio broadcast
Canada is the linchpin of the English-speaking world. Canada, with those relations of friendly, affectionate intimacy with the United States on the one hand and with her unswerving fidelity to the British Commonwealth and the Motherland on the other, is the link which joins together these great branches of the human family, a link which, spanning the oceans, brings the continents into their true relation and will prevent in future generations any growth of division between the proud and the happy nations of Europe and the great countries which have come into existence in the New World.

Sep. 4, 1941 - from a speech at a luncheon honouring Canadian prime minister MacKenzie King
The price of greatness is responsibility.

I was brought up in my father's house to believe in democracy. Trust the people - that was his message ... In my country, as in yours, public men are proud to be the servants of the State and would be ashamed to be its masters.

Dec. 26, 1941 - from a speech to a joint session of the U.S. Congress
The greatest lesson in life is to know that even fools are right sometimes.

When great causes are on the move in the world, stirring all men's souls, drawing them from their firesides, casting aside comfort, wealth and the pursuit of happiness in response to impulses at once awe-inspiring and irresistable, we learn we are spirits - not animals.

Jun. 16, 1941 - from a radio broadcast
The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it. Ignorance may deride it. But in the end, there it is.

Many forms of government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.

Nov. 11, 1947 - from a speech in the British House of Commons
A fanatic is one who cannot change his mind and won't change the subject.

Jul. 5, 1954 - quoted in the New York Times
It was said that this was a time when leaders should keep their ears to the ground. All I can say is that the British nation will find it very hard to look up to leaders who are detected in that somewhat ungainly posture.

The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent vice of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.

All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom; justice; honor; duty; mercy; hope.

The only guide to a man is his conscience. The only shield to his memory is the rectitude and sincerity of his actions.

Show me a young Conservative and I'll show you someone with no heart. Show me an old Liberal and I'll show you someone with no brains.

Out of intense complexities intense simplicities emerge.

Never, never, never give up trying.

Last words in his last public speech
The power of man has grown in every sphere, except over himself.

Never give in - never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.

Oct. 29, 1941 - from a speech to the students at Harrow School
... We are still captain of our souls.

Sep. 9, 1941 - from a speech in the British Parliament
Success is the ability to go from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.

If you will not fight for right when you can easily win without blood shed; if you will not fight when your victory is sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.

You see these dictators on their pedestals, surrounded by the bayonets of their soldiers and the truncheons of their police. Yet in their hearts there is unspoken - unspeakable! - fear. They are afraid of words and thoughts! Words spoken abroad, thoughts stirring at home, all the more powerful because forbidden. These terrify them. A little mouse - a little tiny mouse! - of thought appears in the room, and even the mightiest potentates are thrown into panic.

from a radio speech delivered before the outbreak of World War II
Kites rise highest against the wind - not with it.

If you're going through hell, keep going.

Politics are almost as exciting as war, and quite as dangerous. In war you can only be killed once, but in politics many times.

However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.

Out of intense complexities intense simplicities emerge.

An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.

quoted in Reader's Digest, Dec. 1954
If you go on with this nuclear arms race, all you are going to do is make the rubble bounce.

[Describing the difference between capitalists and socialists] We are for the ladder. Let all try their best to climb. They are for the queue. Let each wait his place until his turn comes.

quoted by former U.S. Senator Jack Kemp in a speech to the International Churchill Society on Nov. 7, 1993
The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.

A liberal is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.

Without tradition, art is a flock of sheep without a shepherd. Without innovation, it is a corpse.

Never hold discussions with the monkey when the organ grinder is in the room.

Some men change their party for the sake of their principles; others their principles for the sake of their party.

It is no use saying, 'We are doing our best.' You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary.

The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.

Everyone has his day, and some days last longer than others.

Jan. 1952 - from a speech
When the eagles are silent, the parrots begin to jabber.

I am easily satisfied with the very best.

quoted in The Harper Book of Quotations by Robert I. Fitzhenry
Arm yourselves, and be ye men of valour, and be in readiness for the conflict; for it is better for us to perish in battle than to look upon the outrage of our nation and our altar.

May 19, 1940 - from his first radio broadcast as Prime Minister of England
We must beware of needless innovation, especially when guided by logic.

There is something going on in time and space, and beyond time and space, which, whether we like it or not, spells duty.

No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism.

We must recognize that we have a great treasure to guard. The inheritance in our possession represents the prolonged achievement of the centuries... There is not one of our simple uncounted rights today for which better men than we are have not died on the scaffold or the battlefield. We have not only a great treasure, we have a great cause.

1936 - quoted by U.S. Senator Jack Kemp from Churchill's warnings about Nazi aggression
The empires of the future are the empires of the mind.

A love for tradition has never weakened a nation, indeed it has strengthened nations in their hour of peril.

In critical and baffling situations it is always best to recur to first principles and simple action.

We shall never surrender!

Jun 4, 1940 - from a speech in the British Parliament
If we open a quarrel between the past and the present, we shall find we have lost the future.

from a speech in the British House of Commons
There is no limit to the ingenuity of man if it is properly and vigorously applied under conditions of peace and justice.

Socialism is the philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance and the gospel of envy.

There can be no doubt that socialism is inseparably interwoven with totalitarianism and the abject worship of the state. ... A free Parliament is odious to the socialist doctrinaire.