Right here, in little old Fulton, MO, the two leaders of the free world (in 1946) visited for a day.
That’s right, President Truman and Prime Minister Winston Churchill came here by train:
Why here; you’re thinking? The college invited Churchill to present him with an honorary degree. Truman was made aware and he endorsed the offer with a brief note. Who knows why Churchill said yes? Perhaps he saw it as an opportunity to speak to middle America. Or perhaps he wanted to show some appreciation for American sacrifices in WWII.
Whatever the reason, this museum exists to forever recall that day. Even more interesting is that the museum is housed in a church moved from London after the war. Damaged by the blitz this small Christopher Wren designed building was moved to this campus (Westminster College) at the end of the war.
This was the church post WWII:
Today it looks like this:
The museum is on the lower level. It briefly presents Churchill’s entire life:
Born into a family of means (his father was a duke) he unfortunately was second born thus getting no title nor riches. Raised by nanny he had little interaction with his parents as a child. One interesting fact is that his mum was American.
Not much of student, Churchill did excel at military matters–he attended the Sandhurst military school in his teens:
He longed to be in a military campaign eventually fighting in the Sudan and later the Boer War in South Africa:
He became a war correspondent and a soldier. Paid for reporting not serving. Inside of a year he was worth 10,000 pounds–a small fortune 100 years ago.
Prior to WWI he entered his true calling — politics and he married Clementine the love of his life:
Entering parliament, he was first a conservative; later switching to the liberal party.
During this period he referred to himself as a glow-worm:
During WWI he held low level cabinet roles until he endorsed a debacle in the Dardanelles (Turkey today). This episode was the focus of the film “Gallipoli “. (See it if you can–it starred a much younger Mel Gibson)
This affair forced him out of the cabinet in disgrace. He then enlisted in the army and fought with honor in France until the end of the war:
He saw the future of air planes in war and did begin flying lessons. Clementine stopped this effort because it was not a safe endeavor. Interestingly, it would be Churchill who helps the RAF get funding which in turn led to the eventual defeat of Germany’s Luftwaffe during the battle for Britain.
Churchill is most famous as a wartime Prime Minister. This pre-American period is noted as the:
Try as he might it was not until Pearl Harbor occurred that he could get America in the war:
Hitler was to his greatest nemesis:
He forged alliances with Russia and America to defeat the Axis powers: Germany, Italy and Japan.
Churchill however, loses the prime minister seat once the war ends. People loved him, but loved socialism more. The war had shown them that government could be trusted to run health, finances, etc.
Though elected one more time in the 1950’s he spent most his postwar years writing and painting:
It was the “Cold War” that made Churchill come to Fulton.
He saw a limited future if an alliance was not fashioned out the postwar era:
This and many other photos show his resolve.
His speech in Fulton became most famous for coining the term “iron curtain” which referred to the Soviets control over Eastern Europe.
He called the relationship between Great Britain and America special. And he was forever in debt to President Roosevelt for our helping with the defeat of Adolf Hitler:
He died in 1965–it was announced rather simply:
One final exhibit worth noting is a section of the Berlin Wall which everyone should see:
This museum is a gem. Get to Fulton so you too can see some history.