Lot 209: Exceptional archive of material concerning the arrangements for Winston Churchill's scheduled trip to America in May 1951, where he was to speak at a bicentennial celebration of Ben Franklin's founding of the University of Pennsylvania's library. Churchill suddenly canceled the speech due to widespread controversy and political turmoil in the US when President Truman relieved General Douglas MacArthur from his command in Korea on April 11. As Churchill wanted to speak on the subject of unity between the United States and Great Britain in the the face of the Korean War and expanding Communist threat, he declined to make the trip as he did not want to intervene in domestic American politics, believing that his message would be better received at a later date. The archive consists of a four-page TLS from Churchill to Harold Stassen, president of the University of Pennsylvania, nine unsigned telegrams from Churchill to Stassen, seventeen telegrams from Stassen to Churchill, and over a dozen additional pieces of correspondence from various figures concerning the event.
The primary piece is the TLS signed "Yours sincerely, Winston S. Churchill," four pages, personal Hyde Park Gate letterhead, April 4, 1951. In part: "As I told you on the telephone, I will deliver the Address at the Bi-centenary in Philadelphia on the night of May 8 (D.V.)…I ask you to provide, as you suggested, a plane to take me from England to New York on the 4th, or possibly the evening of the 3rd, and to bring me back from Washington to England during the evening and night of May 12… For security purposes it is thought important that there should be no publicity about my flying arrangements, and I am still keeping open the unlikely alternative of coming earlier by sea. I hope you will impress non-publicity upon the B.O.A.C….
On the 9th I plan to go to the British Embassy at Washington…May 10, 11 and 12, we shall stay with the British Ambassador, and he makes us both very welcome. During these days I understand I am to see the President. I also look forward to seeing General Marshall, but beyond that I have made no other plans.[…]
While at Washington I should be willing, if desired, to go to the Press Club for an 'off the record' luncheon. I have done this two or three times before, and it always went all right. I have of course a lot of people I must see, but I will fit all that in myself later. The only other engagement which I mentioned to you was possibly the Society of the Cincinnati. This perhaps could be arranged in Washington…
I am expecting from you a whole budget of information about the Bi-centenary, Benjamin Franklin and any suggestions you will make me on these points. Probably I should require about sixty-five to seventy minutes, of which fifteen or twenty would be devoted to the historical and University aspects. I am writing the substance of this both to Bernie and to the Ambassador.
I need not say how grateful I am to you for all the trouble that you are taking about this adventure, and I hope I shall have the life and strength to fulfill it adequately. My message is simple and old, 'United we stand, divided we fall.'"
Includes a retained carbon copy of one of Stassen's letters to Churchill, two pages, April 6, 1951, in part: "The theme of the exhibition expressed in preliminary draft is 'When free men with a common culture unite in action under effective leadership, they are invincible.' The two personalities two hundred years apart—Benjamin Franklin founder and first chairman of the Library and Winston Churchill, Bicentennial speaker, with a presentation of their writings and a reflection of their actions will focus the exhibition." He also requests handwritten notes from Churchill's major speeches, "such as the blood toil tears and sweat or the Fulton Iron Curtain messages," for the exhibition. Although he did not make the scheduled appearance, Churchill did see that the papers requested got to the university for the exhibition in time. Churchill transmitted his cancelation notice through a TLS to Stassen from Ambassador Oliver Franks, in part: "I deeply appreciated the invitation with which you honoured me….Since our arrangements were made, events have happened which make it difficult for me to speak freely as I should have done without becoming involved in United States controversies. I hope therefore that you will allow me to postpone." Other letters include a TLS from Prime Minister Clement Attlee, a TLS from Bernard Baruch, letters from the White House relaying Truman's approval of the planned visit, and other relevant correspondence. In overall fine condition.
RR Auction's Fine Autographs and Artifacts Auction 453
Sunday, 17th May 2015
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