His U.S. Entry Customs Declaration For the Trip Which Defined the Cold War and Shaped the Next 40 Years of History.
Though he left office on July 27, 1945, Churchill retained huge prestige and influence on the international stage. At the encouragement of President Harry Truman and others, he determined to take his first post-war trip to the United States in early 1946, and on that trip would mix important business with pleasure....
Though he left office on July 27, 1945, Churchill retained huge prestige and influence on the international stage. At the encouragement of President Harry Truman and others, he determined to take his first post-war trip to the United States in early 1946, and on that trip would mix important business with pleasure. Sailing from England on January 9 onboard the luxury liner Queen Elizabeth, the Churchills arrived in New York to much applause and attention on January 14. After arriving he renewed old friendships, painted, swam in the ocean, and visited Cuba. He also lobbied for an American reconstruction loan for Britain, began negotiations for arrangements to publish his wartime memoir, and made a series of speeches on key topics of the day. Then he traveled to Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, and spoke there on March 5. His speech was a call for closer Anglo-American cooperation in the post-war world, but because of Churchill’s characterization of the threat of Soviet expansionism, eloquently captured in one of the phrases he used – “Iron Curtain” – it became one of the most significant addresses in the history of oration. He memorably stated, “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia, all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere…”
By crystalizing the danger presented by the Soviet Union and making it clear that the western world was in fact already divided into conflicting spheres of influence, Churchill defined not just the threat but the existence of the Cold War itself. After this speech, its reality could no longer be denied, and it governed international affairs for more than the 40 years to come.
Then as now, U. S. immigration law required all arriving international passengers to complete and present a customs declaration form. Churchill as well as other travelers liked to get this paperwork out of the way in advance, and for this memorable trip he did so. Document Signed, 11 by 27 inches, London, December 27, 1945, giving some very interesting responses to the questions on the form. His occupation he lists as “Member of Parliament” and his visa “Diplomatic.” His address he offers not as Chartwell but as “28, Hyde Park Gate, London.” His health is “Good,” his eyes “Blue” and his hair “Grey.” He affirms that he is not “a person who believes in or advocates the overthrow by force or violence of the Government of the United States.” Interestingly, under the section “Whether ever before in the United States; and if so when and where? (Last residence or visit only),” he mentions his last visit to President Roosevelt, both in Washington and at his New York home: “Sept. 1944, Hyde Park, D.C., 2 days only.” It appears that the responses on the form, though not the signature portion, were originally filled out by Churchill and then written over more boldly by his Private Secretary Nina Sturdee, who has also signed the form as witness. The signature section has not been written over.
This is a marvelous and extremely rare memento of Churchill’s epically important speech, and of one of his visits to the United States.
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