Churchill in Minnesota

by Todd Ronnei

This article first appeared in the Fall 2001 issue of Minnesota History, published by the Minnesota Historical Society. While the text remains virtually unchanged, it is presented here with appropriate links and illustrated with covers from my collection rather than the article's original photographs.

January 1901. The daily newspapers in Minneapolis and St. Paul reported the antics of Vice-President Elect Theodore Roosevelt on a big-game hunting trip. Scandal had rocked the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where a congressional investigating committee was trying to determine if hazing by upperclassmen had caused the death of two cadets. Cadet Douglas MacArthur, who had survived the hazing, steadfastly denied that it could have killed his classmates. A new baseball league, the American Association, was being formed in New York. On the international front, reports from England described the progressively worsening condition of 81-year-old Queen Victoria, whose life was slowly slipping away. Locally, the political scene was abuzz with speculation about whom the state legislature would select to fill the vacant U.S. Senate seat (popular election of senators was still a dozen years away); former state Attorney General Moses E. Clapp was the surprise pick.

In addition to the news of the day, the papers carried a single column of advertisements for “Amusements.” In this era before movies and major sporting events, Twin Citians looking for a night out could spend the evening enjoying the performing arts: theater, operas, vaudeville, poetry readings, or lectures. On the lecture circuit a young man from England was making his way across the United States and Canada, speaking in major cities on the subject of his country’s recent military struggles in South Africa’s Boer War. Just 26 years old and recently elected to Britain’s House of Commons, the young man knew his subject well, for he had been under fire in South Africa. Captured by the Boers, he had made a spectacularly daring escape. In some cities his lectures were met with indifference or hostility, but in Minneapolis and St. Paul enthusiastic full houses greeted this rising star on the global political scene. The young man’s name was Winston Churchill.

Churchill in 1900
Winston Churchill, December 1900:
A portrait taken in Boston
Churchill–the man who would lead Britain four decades later in the dark days of World War II–already had made an international name for himself by the time he arrived in Minnesota in early 1901. Born in 1874 to Lord Randolph Churchill and the American Jennie Jerome, Winston had the standard upbringing for a child of Britain’s formidable upper class. Raised primarily by a nanny, he received little affection from his parents, but he adored and tried to please them, especially his father. In his father’s eyes, however, Winston was usually a failure. Judging his son not clever enough for a life at the bar, Lord Randolph decided that Winston should seek a military career. Accordingly, he entered the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst at age 18, graduated in 1895, and was commissioned as a cavalry officer. Three years later, while attached to the 21st Lancers, he saw action in the Sudan, where he participated in the British army’s last great cavalry charge at Omdurman.1

Churchill wrote extensively of his experiences, sending highly detailed letters to his mother who, by prior arrangement, made them available to London’s Morning Post for publication. He was paid handsomely for these reports from the front. Upon resigning his commission and returning to England, he used the money to finance an unsuccessful campaign for a seat in Parliament in 1899. Later that same year, the long simmering conflict in South Africa between the British and the Boers (descendants of the original Dutch settlers, who viewed the British as unwelcome occupiers of their territory) finally erupted in war. To Churchill, this meant opportunity, and he immediately contracted again with the Morning Post to be its South African correspondent. Arriving in Cape Town on October 31, 1899, he spent the first two weeks trying to get close to the action, mostly without success.2

Churchill Captured by the Boers
Cover marking the 100th anniversary of Churchill's capture by the Boers,
postmarked November 15, 1999, Ladysmith, Wisconsin.
All that changed early on the morning of November 15. Churchill had boarded an armored troop train heading toward Ladysmith, where the Boers had laid siege to British forces.  Boer artillery attacked his train near Chieveley, derailing several cars and blocking a British retreat. Chaos ensued, and troops began to panic. With the consent of the commanding officer and his friend, Capt. Aylmer Haldane, Churchill stepped in. Amid flying bullets Churchill had the train’s engineer clear the tracks by ramming the derailed cars out of the way, directed the transfer of injured troops to the engine’s tender, and rode back with them to the nearest station. Churchill then headed back to the ambush scene on foot to assist those still pinned down by Boer fire.3

He did not make it. A Boer soldier on horseback approached him, rifle at the ready. Churchill reached for his pistol but discovered he had left it on the train. He recalled in his 1930 autobiography, My Early Life, “I thought there was absolutely no chance of escape, if he fired he would surely hit me, so I held up my hands and surrendered myself a prisoner of war . . . ‘When one is alone and unarmed,’ said the great Napoleon, in words which flowed into my mind in the poignant minutes that followed, ‘a surrender may be pardoned.’”4

The Boers took Churchill and their other prisoners to Pretoria. From a makeshift prison, Churchill repeatedly petitioned for his release–he was, he protested, just a reporter. But the Boers knew who was responsible for saving the British troop train, and they knew what a prize they had in Churchill (who was allowed to continue sending dispatches to London). Denied freedom, Churchill joined Capt. Haldane and another British soldier, Sgt.-Maj. Brockie, in their attempt to escape on the night of December 12. Churchill went first and made it over the wall undetected, but the other two could not follow. A sentry, not realizing that Churchill had already slipped over, stopped Haldane and Brockie. Reluctantly, Churchill decided to press on alone. Making his way to the streets of Pretoria, he headed for the train station, hoping to stow away on a freight train headed for Portuguese East Africa, safely out of Boer territory.5

After a nine-day ordeal of surreptitious travel under harsh conditions on foot and on trains, after keeping a vulture at bay, hiding in a rat infested mine shaft, among dirty coal sacks, and in a shipment of wool, Churchill finally made it to neutral territory. On December 23 he entered British-controlled Durban, where he was given a hero’s welcome. His exploits during the train ambush and his escape from captivity had received wide publicity, making him famous not only in South Africa but all over the English-speaking world. While he could have gone home to bask in his glory, Churchill elected to continue his work for the Morning Post, at the same time accepting an offer to join the South African Light Horse regiment. Now he would no longer be just an observer but a combatant as well. For the next six months he served with distinction, fighting in numerous battles and sending his vivid reports back to England.6

Churchill’s celebrity status brought him two offers while he was still in South Africa. He accepted one without hesitation–to stand for election again for a seat in Parliament. The second offer came in a letter from Maj. James B. Pond, an American agent with the Lyceum Lecture Bureau, asking him to visit the United States to recount his war experiences. Churchill entrusted Pond’s letter to his mother for safekeeping: “Now please don’t let this thing be thrown away,” he wrote to her, adding that she should check Pond’s credentials.7

In June 1900 Churchill joined the force that was “marching to Pretoria,” where Boer forces had capitulated. Since he had once been a captive himself, he eagerly took responsibility for freeing 180 British soldiers still held prisoner. One of the men he liberated that day, Capt. Fitz Herbert, had been a prisoner since December 15, just three days after Churchill had escaped. Fitz Herbert was married to a Minneapolis woman, the former Mary O. Wilson, who was in Minnesota awaiting her husband’s safe return.8

Churchill Elected to Parliament
Cover marking the 100th anniversary of Churchill's election to Parliament,
postmarked October 1, 2000, Oldham, South Dakota.
With Pretoria secured, Churchill ended his soldier-reporter tour of duty in South Africa in July and returned to England to begin laying the groundwork for his run for Parliament. He did not have long to wait. General elections were called for the fall, and Churchill campaigned as a Conservative for one of two seats in the city of Oldham. In a closely contested four-man field, Churchill came in second and was elected on October 1, 1900.9

Despite his election triumph, Churchill had a big problem: money. No one in Britain earned a living being in Parliament because the job paid nothing. Honourable Members usually had other means of support–inherited fortunes or thriving business interests. Churchill had neither, and although he did have significant income from his writing, it was not enough. Between being elected in October and taking his seat the following February, Churchill had to raise cash quickly. He had anticipated this as early as July, however, and had made some preliminary arrangements. As soon as the election was wrapped up, he finalized plans for a lecture tour across Britain that began in late October. “The War As I Saw It” was a great success because audiences at home were eager to hear him speak, and his financial rewards were substantial.

After a month Churchill suspended his English tour and sailed for America, where he hoped his lectures would prove equally lucrative. Maj. Pond, who had recruited Churchill in South Africa, had been deemed an acceptable agent by Churchill, having successfully arranged American tours for authors Arthur Conan Doyle and Mark Twain. Churchill’s instructions to Pond set forth the conditions of their arrangement.

I shall leave the whole arrangements of the Tour to you, but at the same time, you must not drag me about too much and I don’t want to wear myself out by talking to two-penny–half-penny meetings in out of the way places. In all my social engagements I shall exercise my entire discretion . . . I don’t want to be dragged about to any social functions of any kind nor shall I think of talking about my experiences to anybody except when I am paid for so doing.10

Churchill Elected to Parliament
One of the gems of my collection.
An actual cover from Churchill's tour, addressed to Senator Depew at his Washington, D.C. home, postmarked December 9, 1900. I suspect the cover was addressed by Major Pond in his own hand. Pond's letter stationery for the tour looked liked this.

Churchill arrived in New York on December 8, 1900, where he had a friend from his first visit to the United States in 1895, the former and future Congressman W. Bourke Cockran. Cockran took Churchill to Albany to dine with Governor and Vice-President Elect Theodore Roosevelt. One would think that Roosevelt, the old Rough Rider who charged up San Juan Hill, might have taken a shine to a fellow cavalry officer, but such was not the case. TR found Churchill much to his disliking, writing to a friend months later, “I saw the Englishman Winston Churchill here, and . . . he is not an attractive fellow.”11 A few days later, in Washington, New York Senator Chauncey M. Depew (an old friend of Churchill's maternal grandfather, Leonard Jerome) introduced Churchill to the first of many U.S. presidents he would meet in his life, William McKinley.

Churchill Meets McKinley
Churchill Meets T. Roosevelt
 WSC and William McKinley: the current president
(Click cover for larger image)

WSC and Theodore Roosevelt: the next president
(Click cover for larger image)

After receiving a favorable review for his first lecture in Philadelphia, Churchill next spoke at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, where he was introduced by another Pond client, Mark Twain. Twain, who had recently celebrated his sixty-fifth birthday on the same day Winston celebrated his twenty-sixth, began by telling the audience he thought Britain had “sinned” by getting into a war with the Boers, just as the U.S. had sinned by crushing the so-called “Philippine Insurrection.” In spite of that, he had warm words for Churchill:

Mr. Churchill will tell you about the South African War, and he is competent to tell you about it. He was there and fought through it and wrote through it, and he will tell you his personal experiences . . . Mr. Churchill by his father is an Englishman, by his mother he is an American, no doubt a blend that makes the perfect man. England and America; we are kin. And now that we are also kin in sin, there is nothing more to be desired. The harmony is perfect–like Mr. Churchill himself, whom I now have the honor to present to you.12

Churchill Meets Mark Twain
The centennial of Churchill's New York lecture, where he was introduced by Mark Twain.
Cover postmarked December 12, 2000, New York, N.Y.

In Boston, Winston Churchill met Winston Churchill, the popular American novelist with whom he shared a name (but no then-known ancestors). The Boston Herald gave their meeting front-page treatment, calling the two men “fast friends.” Later when they dined together, their common name led to a mix-up with the bill, which was presented to the British Churchill by mistake.13

Despite early success, the lecture tour soon hit a few bumps. Churchill quickly grew disenchanted with Pond, feeling the “vulgar Yankee impresario” was not being generous enough with the receipts. They had a row in Toronto, with Churchill going “on strike” and threatening to pack up and go home if the situation were not corrected; it was. Also irritating to Churchill was the promotion of the lectures and the venues that were booked. Writing to his mother on New Year’s Day 1901, he described his frustrations:

For instance last week, I arrived to lecture in an American town & found Pond had not arranged any public lecture but that I was hired out for 40 to perform at an evening party in a private house–like a conjuror. Several times I have harangued in local theatres to almost empty benches. I have been horribly vulgarised by the odious advertisements Pond and Myrmidons think it necessary to circulate–and only my cynical vein has helped me to go on.

A week later Churchill again wrote his mother, “I have got to hate the tour very much indeed, and if it were much longer I do not think I would be able to go through with it.”14

Another aspect of the American tour that distinguished it from the British tour was the temper of the audiences. As Twain had alluded in New York, most Americans were historically wary of British colonialism and sympathized with the Boer cause. While Churchill resolutely defended British actions, he never denigrated the Boers, for whom he had the utmost respect. In city after city, when Churchill showed a slide of a Boer soldier and said, “This is the gentleman who gave us so much trouble in South Africa,” the audience would begin to cheer and clap. “You are quite right to applaud him; he is the most formidable fighting man in the world,” Churchill would respond. His fairness, coupled with a sharp sense of humor, usually won over his audience, if not to the British cause, then at least to Churchill himself.15

1901 Chicago cover
Cover postmarked Chicago, January 12, 1901:
Churchill lectured there that day.
Things got a little rowdy in Chicago, the lecture-tour stop before Minneapolis. Many Irish were in attendance for his January 12 lecture, and Churchill found their collective attitude to be distinctly anti-British. With the crowd unruly, Churchill decided to placate them by altering history. Describing a hopeless battle where defeat seemed certain, Churchill intoned, “In this desperate situation the Dublin Fusiliers arrived! Trumpeters sounded the charge and the enemy were swept from the field.” The audience fell silent and then cheered wildly, giving no more grief to the speaker. And, as the Minneapolis Journal noted, it was not just Irishmen who gave Churchill trouble in Chicago. At the next day’s lecture, an elderly man shouted at him, “I am an Englishman and I want Mr. Churchill to tell you Americans of the impudence of the ultimatus which [Boer leader] Mr. Kruger sent to the English government before the war.” The audience waited in silence to see if Churchill would rise to the challenge and speak harshly of the Boer leader. Churchill demurred, saying, “I do not follow the gentleman, but I am sure that this is neither the place nor the time for an acrimonious or controversial discussion of a thing which has passed into history.” The Journal continued, “His words were received with great enthusiasm and for a minute he was loudly cheered.”16

West Hotel
The West Hotel, Minneapolis.
A postcard from 1906.
Churchill arrived in Minneapolis on Friday, January 18, 1901, and checked into the West Hotel. Designed by LeRoy Buffington for the corner of Fifth and Hennepin, the West had opened in 1884 as the city’s “first truly grand hotel.” Boasting 407 luxuriously furnished rooms and 140 baths, the hotel featured an immense and opulent lobby, claimed to be the largest hotel lobby in the nation. The West had housed many dignitaries before Churchill’s arrival, including Twain and delegates to the 1892 Republican National Convention.17

Churchill had scarcely settled into his room when there was a knock at the door. A reporter from the Minneapolis Tribune had arrived to interview him, interrupting his bath preparations–or, in the parlance of the time, before he had “completed his toilet.” (Throughout his life, baths were important to him, but they usually did not interrupt his work; many a World War II dispatch was dictated from the tub.) On this occasion, however, the bath would wait, as Churchill gave the reporter his views on the present state of affairs in South Africa. “Boer Cause Is Hopeless, Says Winston Churchill” was the headline of the article that appeared the next day. Churchill gave a detailed assessment of the current war situation but no recounting of his personal war experiences. For that, one had to pay.18

Churchill in Minneapolis
Cover marking the 100th anniversary of Churchill's Minneapolis lecture,
postmarked January 18, 2001, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Churchill’s lecture at 8:15 that Friday evening was at the Lyceum Theater, down the street from his hotel on Hennepin between Seventh and Eighth Streets. Ticket prices ranged from 50 cents for the cheapest seats to $1.50 for the most expensive, the equivalent today of about $10.00 to $30.00. After an introduction by a member of the sponsoring Teachers’ Club, Churchill delivered his talk, illustrated with about 100 slides projected by a “magic lantern,” an early slide projector that used a kerosene lamp to illuminate glass slides holding photographic images.

His audience that night was not disappointed. His lecture, according to the Journal, “was as absorbingly interesting as it was unaffected and unhackneyed. A story of thrilling occurrences was told in the most direct, colloquial fashion . . . The frequent flashes of humor were the features of the lecture.” The review in the St. Paul Dispatch was equally favorable. “Lieut. Churchill seems English only in one thing, and that is his accent. His sense of dry humor is peculiarly American. He is open-hearted and perfectly fair in speaking of the good qualities of the Boers as fighters. What he does not admire about them he leaves unsaid.” Continuing with an example of Churchill’s humor, the Dispatch reported:

Mr. Churchill’s description of the strategic manner in which the Boers utilized the kopjes [natural rock outcroppings] in their military operations proved as humorous as it was illustrative. The kopje . . . when covered with determined riflemen presented a most formidable obstacle. As soon as the Boers were driven from the summit of a kopje they would hurry down on the other side, where their horses were in waiting to convey them to another kopje, where they would quickly intrench themselves and wait for the next onslaught of the foe. “And as the kopjes are arranged in circles,” added Mr. Churchill, “they eventually get back to the first kopje, and that explains why the war goes on such a long time.”19

James Carleton Young
James Carleton Young:
"The King of Books"
His lecture completed, Churchill went to the home of James Young at 1600 Second Avenue South (today a location occupied by the Minneapolis Convention Center), where a small dinner party took place. How Churchill came to be invited to dine with Young, his wife, and five others is not known, but it almost certainly was a pleasant evening, for Young was a brilliant, successful, and well-traveled man.20

Born in Iowa in 1856, James Carleton Young was the son of a prominent and popular Iowa Republican politician who never lost an election. Valedictorian at age 19 of his graduating class at Cornell College in 1876, James immediately established himself in the real estate business, acting as an agent for various railroads intent on buying land for new lines. By 1892 his various real estate concerns amounted to a million-dollar business. Young had also traveled extensively: in 1878 he was the youngest commissioner to the Paris International Exposition. He returned to Europe in 1882, and in 1884 toured Europe and Asia as well.21

Young was more than a successful real estate mogul, however. He was also a dedicated bibliophile. But his collection of books was no ordinary assemblage. Each volume had been inscribed by its author, and his quest to expand the collection led to contacts with authors all over the world, earning him the appellation “the King of Books.” One wonders if Young’s dinner guest that evening in January 1901, the future recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature, signed any one of his then five books for Young’s collection.22

Churchill in St. Paul
Cover marking the 100th anniversary of Churchill's St. Paul lecture,
postmarked January 19, 2001, St. Paul, Minnesota.
The next evening, Churchill gave his lecture in St. Paul at People’s Church, on the corner of Pleasant Avenue and Chestnut Street. People’s Church was a frequently used venue for public gatherings because its main auditorium could seat 2,500 (3,500 with extra chairs), making it the largest first-class meeting place in St. Paul at the time. As in Minneapolis, Churchill’s lecture was well received, and he got a good review in the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The paper also made note of Churchill’s concluding remarks on the rapidly declining condition of Queen Victoria, who was in the sixty-fourth year of her reign. The imminent loss of the only British sovereign most people could remember elicited eloquence from Churchill (if not a bit of patriotic schmaltz): “A greater loss than fertile province or loss upon the field of battle threatens us at this time. I can but ask the American people to hope with us that the new century may not dawn with one of the greatest losses the world could ever know–the loss of our sovereign, the Queen Victoria.”23

Visiting Young’s house again the next day, Churchill spoke “most feelingly” to a reporter about the queen’s condition. “I cannot say how deeply I am affected by her majesty’s illness. I am sure that you here would join most sincerely in mourning our loss, if she is taken away.” He then went on to discuss the political implications her death could bring. “In the event of the queen’s demise, the natural sequence would be the dissolving of parliament,” he said. “There is absolutely no question that the Conservatives would again be in power if another general election were ordered,” adding, “there is not, I am sure, a member, Conservative or Radical, that cares to go through another general election. We are only now recovering from one.”24

The prospect of having to be re-elected to Parliament must have been distressing. Churchill had been elected the previous October by a very thin margin, and he could not assume that he would win again. Another election campaign would be exhausting, even for a young man, and would immediately reduce the writing and speaking profits that he hoped would sustain him for several years. Faced with these uncertainties, Churchill cabled London for information. The response was positive: Parliament would not be dissolved when Victoria died. Members had merely to swear their allegiance to the new monarch, and the government could continue.25

Queen Victoria Dies
Cover marking the 100th anniversary of Queen Victoria's death,
postmarked January 22, 2001, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
On Sunday evening, January 20, Churchill left the Twin Cities for Winnipeg, the next stop on his tour. Victoria expired on Tuesday, January 22, prompting Churchill to write his mother: “So the Queen is dead. The news reached us at Winnipeg and this city far away among the snows–fourteen hundred miles from any British town of importance began to hang its head and hoist half-masted flags.” Churchill also asked his mother about the propriety of writing the new king, Edward VII. “I contemplated sending a letter of condolence and congratulations mixed, but I am uncertain how to address it and also whether such procedure would be etiquette. You must tell me.” His business finished in Winnipeg, Churchill boarded a southbound train heading to St. Louis for the next lecture.26

With a layover in Minneapolis, Churchill again returned to James Young’s home for dinner and conversation. Joining them that evening was British poet and essayist Richard Le Gallienne, who had spoken in St. Paul the night before on an American lecture tour of his own. Naturally, the focus of their discussion was the death of Victoria and what it would mean to the British Empire. Young was certain the Empire would soon begin to crumble; Churchill was adamant that nothing of the sort would happen. Both took such strong positions on the matter that they agreed to put their money where their mouths were. Young produced a piece of his stationery from his desk, sat down, took out a pen, and wrote the following:

Mr. James C. Young bets Mr. Winston Churchill one hundred pounds even that within ten years from this date the British Empire will be substantially reduced by loss in Australia or Canada, or India equal to a quarter by population of one of these provinces: in other words that the British Crown will lose one quarter of India or of Canada or of Australia, before ten years are gone.”27

Young dated and signed the document, Churchill countersigned it, and Le Gallienne signed as a witness. As it turned out, Churchill was the more prophetic one that evening. The queen’s death had no serious consequences; it would take two world wars and a wave of nationalism before the Empire met its end. It is not recorded whether Churchill ever collected his 100; by 1911 he was occupied with his duties as Home Secretary and unlikely to have remembered the wager made on a cold winter night in Minnesota ten years before.

Not everything about Winston Churchill’s visit to the Twin Cities was favorable. A few days before his initial arrival in the Twin Cities, Capt. Fitz-Herbert, the British officer Churchill had freed from the Boer prisoner-of-war camp, was killed in fighting near Kaalfontein. In one of the captain’s last letters to his wife in Minneapolis, he described Churchill’s role in securing his freedom. With the very man who had rescued her husband now nearby, the grief-stricken widow approached Churchill through an intermediary to learn whatever she could about her husband. Perhaps Churchill’s mood was affected by the tour, or perhaps the connection with the dead officer was not made evident. Churchill refused the invitation, saying that he did not know the officer in question, had not seen him killed, and did not know why “the woman” should wish to see him. Rebuffed, the captain’s family made public their displeasure with Churchill.28

While Churchill was in Winnipeg, the Minneapolis Journal reported the incident on Tuesday, January 22, in an article headlined: “Dislike the M. P.–Minneapolis Folk Don’t Like the Ways of Churchill.” Sympathetic with the widow and indignant with Churchill’s cavalier manner, the article stated, “The eagerness of the widow to see one who so intimately knew the scenes in which her husband had moved and was so intimately connected with her interests in the war was, of course, natural.” Maybe Churchill’s rejection of the meeting was due to snobbery, the Journal conjectured, but “considering that the family of the dead officer dates back as far as the Marlborough family [Churchill’s ancestors] and has as good a record at the least . . . it is argued that Mr. Churchill could not have refused the courtesy of an interview from any feeling that there was any difference in rank.” The Journal also took Churchill to task for not responding quickly to another invitation from “certain well-known Minneapolis people.” 29

If the Minneapolis press ended their coverage of Churchill’s visit on a sour note, the St. Paul press remained generally amenable. In the St. Paul Dispatch’s “A Side Talk With Winston Churchill” on January 22, the editorial writer poked a little fun at the young man’s attire: “Seen immediately after luncheon, he was badly dressed in dark blue clothes, morning clothes which calmly ignored style and fit.” With prophetic foresight, the writer nevertheless saw a special future for him:

Talk? Well, as he himself said, he has talked until he was hoarse, talked with earnestness, with enthusiasm, with good hard sense, talked with the talk of a man who has observed widely and carefully, with the fullness of a man who has stored away a large amount of information.

The man who judges Churchill in advance and sets him down as a mere lad, with a lad’s bumptiousness and nothing more, will find himself badly mistaken.

The young man’s diction is something choice, abundant and refreshing. It is far above the commonplace. It smacks nothing of the hustings; it is not ordinary nor familiar, and by the time Winston Churchill is forty he will be a notably good talker in a parliamentary body which affords in its leaders the ablest debaters and orators in the world.30

Writing about the man who would become, arguably, the greatest orator of the twentieth century, the editorialist for the St. Paul Dispatch seems like a visionary.

Winston Churchill concluded his North American tour in New York on January 31, 1901, and sailed for England on February 2, the day of Queen Victoria’s funeral. He would not have time to visit America again until 1929, the Twin Cities until 1932. The young man, already rich in accomplishment and recognition, was just getting started.

Queen Victoria Dies
Cover postmarked New York, N.Y., February 2, 1901.
Churchill sailed back to England from New York on that day.

End Notes

  1. Martin Gilbert, Churchill: A Photographic Portrait (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1988), caption to photograph 15.
  2. Celia Sandys, Churchill Wanted Dead or Alive (New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc., 1999), 3243.
  3. Capt. Aylmer Haldane to Chief of Staff, Natal Field Force, Jan. 3, 1900, quoted in Randolph S. Churchill, Winston S. Churchill, Youth, 18741900 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1966), 448.
  4. Winston S. Churchill, My Early Life: A Roving Commission (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1958), 252.
  5. Sandys, Churchill, 9398.
  6. Sandys, Churchill.  This book by Churchill’s granddaughter is one of the better accounts of Churchill’s adventures in South Africa. Chapters 11 to 15 describe the period (January 2 to July 7, 1900) Churchill did dual duty as soldier and reporter.
  7. Martin Gilbert, Churchill: A Life (New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1991), 124.
  8. Minneapolis Journal, Jan. 22, 1901, p. 5.
  9. Gilbert, Churchill: A Life, 133135.
  10. Robert H. Pilpel, Churchill in America 18951961, An Affectionate Portrait (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1976), 3435.
  11. Pilpel, Churchill, 38.
  12. Pilpel, Churchill, 39.
  13. Pilpel, Churchill, 4550. While in Boston, Churchill also took time to sit for a photographic portrait. Only one other photograph of Churchill is known from his 190001 visit to North America; it pictures Churchill on a New York City street, sitting in a cab.
  14. Winston Churchill to Lady Randolph Churchill, Jan. 1, 1901, quoted in Randolph Churchill, Churchill, 526527; Pilpel, Churchill, 52.
  15. Pilpel, Churchill, 38; St. Paul Pioneer Press, Jan. 20, 1901, p. 4.
  16. Pilpel, Churchill, 5455; Minneapolis Journal, Jan. 16, 1901, p. 7.
  17. Larry Millett, Lost Twin Cities (St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1992), 16667. The West was the hotel in Minneapolis. Despite competition from newer and better hotels, including the Radisson, which opened in 1909, the West remained popular through the 1920s, struggled with bankruptcy in the 1930s, and was finally razed in 1940. Today the West site is a parking lot adjoining the relocated Schubert Theater building.
  18. Minneapolis Tribune, Jan. 19, 1901, p. 4.
  19. Minneapolis Journal, Jan. 20, 1901, p. 6; St. Paul Dispatch, Jan. 19, 1901, p. 10.
  20. Minneapolis Journal, Jan. 19, 1901, p. 6.
  21. The Biographical Dictionary and Portrait Gallery of Representative Men of Chicago, Minnesota Cities and the World’s Columbian Exposition (Chicago: American Biographical Publishing Co., 1892), 85052.
  22. Albert N. Marquis, ed., The Book of Minnesotans: A Biographical Dictionary of Leading Living Men of the State of Minnesota (Chicago: A. N. Marquis & Co., 1907), 571; Little Sketches of Big Folks (n. p., 1907), 440; St. Paul Pioneer Press, Jan. 8, 1918, p. 1.
  23. Millett, Lost Twin Cities, 20809; St. Paul Pioneer Press, Jan. 20, 1901, p. 4. A 1940 fire destroyed the building, and the site has been consumed by Interstate 35E.
  24. St. Paul Pioneer Press, Jan. 21, 1901, p. 4.
  25. St. Paul Pioneer Press, Jan. 23, 1901, p. 2.
  26. Winston Churchill to Lady Randolph Churchill, Jan. 22, 1901, quoted in Randolph Churchill, Churchill, 528.
  27. Pilpel, Churchill, 55. The original document is in the Bettmann Archive; it is reproduced in Richard Harrity and Ralph G. Martin, Man of the Century: Churchill (New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1962), 62.
  28. Minneapolis Journal, Jan. 15, 1901, p. 6.
  29. Minneapolis Journal, Jan. 22, 1901, p. 6.
  30. St. Paul Dispatch, Jan. 22, 1901, p. 8.
Text of article 2001 Minnesota Historical Society. Used by permission.
Images of covers 2004 Todd Ronnei. All rights reserved.


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