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Historical Highlight: Winston Churchill

historical figure highlight: winston churchill

Date of Birth: November 30, 1874
Died On: January 24, 1965 (age 90)
Cause of Death: Stroke

10 Fascinating Facts About Winston Churchill

  • Was voted the “Greatest Briton” of all time by the people of the United Kingdom
  • Failed his military entrance exam twice
  • Escaped from a prison camp in South Africa
  • It’s believed that he invented the word summit
  • Loved whiskey and cigars
  • Favorite movie was That Hamilton Woman
  • His favorite cat, Jock, was by his side as he died
  • Wore slip-on shoes that gave the appearance they were lace-ups
  • His mother was born in America
  • Was hit by a car on 5th Ave while visiting New York City

Early Years in Parliament and Resignation (1900-1916)

Winston Churchill won the seat of Oldham in the 1900 general election. Originally as a member of the Conservative Party, Churchill opposed many of the party’s policies. This would ultimately lead Churchill to be deselected from his seat by his constituents. In the 1904 general election, Winston Churchill crossed the floor and officially became a member of the Liberal Party.

In 1906, Churchill was voted out as the seat of Oldham but was invited to represent Manchester North West. After two years in this seat was promoted to the Cabinet as the President of the Board of Trade. In October of 1911, Churchill was appointed as First Lord of Admiralty.

After serving in this capacity for a couple of years, Churchill resigned on November 15, 1915, feeling his energies were not being used properly.

Return to Parliament and Political Isolation (1916-1940)

After a four-month hiatus, Churchill returned to the UK from France as becoming restless while serving in the army. He was appointed Minister of Munitions in July of 1917, and then in January of 1919 was appointed to Secretary of State for War and Secretary of State for Air. During this time, he was the main architect of the Ten Year Rule. He also was a strong advocate for the Allied intervention of the Russian Civil War.

After a series of different jobs and titles throughout Parliament, he once again stood for a Liberal seat in 1923, only this time he lost in Leicester. He switched sides once again after his loss in 1923 but quickly became estranged with Conservatives. This would eventually lead to Churchill’s political isolation.

During this time Churchill’s reputation waned. He was viewed negatively by many in Parliament, but the beginning of WWII helped Churchill’s reputation. The day that Britain declared war on Germany, Winston Churchill was appointed as First Lord of the Admiralty once again.

Prime Minister (1940-1945)

After Prime Minister Chamberlain’s debacle in Norway, it became clear through Parliament that Chamberlain was incapable of leading the country through WWII, eventually leading to his resignation. Upon his resignation, Chamberlain, as well as others, recommended Churchill to fill his seat as Prime Minister.

On May 10, 1940, Winston Churchill became the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. At the age of 65, there were concerns about Churchill when he took over. However, many wrote that taking over such an important and demanding position energized Churchill and truly uplifted him as a person.

As he navigated through WWII, Churchill had an outstanding relationship with the United States president Franklin Roosevelt. Although he was vehemently against communism, Churchill sent supplies and tanks to the Soviet Union when they were invaded by Nazi Germany.

Resignation and Second Term as Prime Minister (1951-1955)

With the general election in 1945 looming, Churchill resigned as Prime Minister in response to the Labour Minister’s refusal of the continuation of the wartime coalition. As a result, he accepted the King’s invitation to form a new government, which would become to be known as the Churchill Caretaker Ministry. However, Churchill didn’t have the support of enough Conservatives and would ultimately lose the election of 1945. In the six years between his terms as Prime Minister Churchill served as the Leader of Opposition.

In the general election of 1951 however, Winston Churchill became the Prime Minister once again. During his second term, foreign policy crises were persistent. Colonial issues with Kenya and Malaya were on the forefront. A post-war relationship between Britain and the United States was also a large concern during Churchill’s second term. Trying to remain allies, while not cowering to the Americans heavily weighed on Churchill.

Final Retirement and Death (1955-1965)

For years leading up to his resignation, he had been advised that it was time to retire due to the fact that he suffered multiple strokes. Eventually admitting that both his physical and mental health was declining, he finally retired as Prime Minister in 1955. Throughout the 1940s and 1950s Winston Churchill suffered a series of strokes, and on January 15, 1965, he would suffer his final one. Nine days later on January 24, 1965, Winston Churchill passed away in his London home at the age of 90.

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Historical Highlight: John F. Kennedy

Historical Highlight - John F. Kennedy

Date of Birth: May 29, 1917
Died On: November 22, 1963 (age 46)
Cause of Death: Assassination

9 Fascinating Facts About JFK

  • President Kennedy was a prolific author before his time as President. He wrote the following books:
    • Why England Slept (1940)
    • As We Remember Joe (1945)
    • Prelude to Leadership (1945)
    • Profiles in Courage (1956)
    • A Nation of Immigrants (1959)
    • The Burden and the Glory (1964)
  • He suffered from Addison Disease throughout his life.
  • Bought 1,200 Cuban cigars the day before an Executive Order banned Cuban imports
  • Obsessed with his weight to the point that he traveled with a bathroom scale
  • Donated his entire salary as president to charity
  • Loved playing Bridge and reading James Bond novels
  • Got into a fender bender with Larry King while he was a Senator
  • Was the last president to be sworn in wearing a top hat
  • He was the target of at least 4 assassination attempts

Naval Service

Following his graduation from Harvard, John F. Kennedy entered the Navy. After he completed basic training, he was assigned command of PT-109 in the South Pacific. While in the Pacific, one of the boats he commanded was hit and he was injured. Despite being injured, Kennedy helped a fellow naval officer by swimming them both to safety.

Upon completion of his naval career, Lieutenant Kennedy received multiple awards for heroism. His war medals include: Navy and Marine Corps Medal, Purple Heart Medal, American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, and WWII Victory Medal.

House of Representatives (1947-1953)

Kennedy won the 11th Congressional District in Massachusetts in 1947. The seat became available when U.S. Representative James Michael Curley vacated his seat to become the mayor of Boston. With the backing of his father, Kennedy’s campaign was successful, ending with him taking 73 percent of the vote.

Kennedy served six years in the House of Representatives. His focus was largely on international affairs. While in the House, Kennedy supported many major acts of legislation including the Truman Doctrine, the Labor Management Relations Act, and the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Senate and Presidential Campaign (1953-1963)

As early as 1949, JFK began preparing for a senatorial career. In 1952, Kennedy defeated three-term incumbent Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. by a wide margin to win the seat in the Senate. During his time in the Senate, Kennedy underwent two spinal operations.

While recovering, Kennedy wrote his Pulitzer Prize-winning autobiography, Profiles in Courage. Kennedy also married his wife, Jacqueline, during his second year in the Senate. In 1960, John F. Kennedy formally announced that he would be running for the Democratic presidential nomination. His youth and experience were questioned, but his charisma won many over.

The fact that Kennedy was a Catholic was viewed as a negative to many in the country, but his adamant message of separation of church and state would eventually win over some within the anti-Catholic crowd. Kennedy selected Lyndon B. Johnson as his vice presidential nominee despite opposition from his brother, Robert.

In the first-ever televised presidential debates, Kennedy and Vice President Richard Nixon squared off against each other. The television debates became a turning point for Kennedy, giving him the edge over Nixon. People who listened to the debate on the radio believed that Nixon had won. Kennedy eventually went on to defeat Nixon in one of the closest elections of the 20th century.

Presidency (1961-1963)

The Kennedy Administration began on January 20, 1961. In his inaugural address, he famously said: “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” Kennedy’s address expressed his confidence that his administration would make significant impacts both domestically and abroad. Kennedy’s time in office is remembered as a time engulfed with foreign policy crisis.

The Cold War, the Space Race, the Berlin Wall, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the Bay of Pigs are all vividly remembered as critical times in American history. Kennedy’s domestic program, called the “New Frontier,” promised federal funding for education, medial care for the elderly, economic aid to rural regions, and government intervention to stop the recession. During his time in office, Kennedy was also an advocate for the Civil Rights Movement.


On November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated while on a political trip. While riding in a presidential motorcade, Kennedy was shot once in the back and once in his head by Lee Harvey Oswald. He was immediately rushed to Parkland Hospital where he was pronounced dead 30 minutes later. He died at the age of 46, serving 1,036 days in office.