Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Winston Churchill: The 'secret' brother

Winston Churchill's brother was airbrushed out of history, his father was unfairly vilified and his scandalous mother cheated her sons out of their inheritance – a new book rewrites the troubled story of one of Britain's greatest families, says historian Andrew Roberts

Hundreds of books have been devoted to the life of Winston Churchill but there are still many unexplained aspects of his family's story.

Now a fascinating new book by the husband-and-wife historians John and Celia Lee, who were granted unique access to the private papers of Winston's nephew, the late Peregrine Churchill, is set to challenge common misunderstandings about the family dynamic.

In particular, reintroducing Winston's little-known younger brother, Jack, into the story, has proved to be the key to appreciating the truth about several mysterious aspects of the astonishing tale of the Spencer-Churchills. The myths that grew up around them were not, it seems, only peddled by envious detractors or credulous gossips.

Jack, the father of Peregrine and born six years after his more famous brother, has largely been forgotten but he is vital to understanding this complicated family. His low profile is partly due to Winston himself. Much of the writing about his childhood draws upon his autobiography, My Early Life. This hugely readable and amusing story, published in 1930, was how he wanted the world to see him, but it needs to be read with a critical eye.

In one extraordinary passage Winston describes how, on a holiday in Switzerland, he and ''another boy" climbed out of their boat to swim in a lake. The boat then started to drift away, leaving both in danger of drowning. Through great exertion, Winston managed to secure the boat and rescue the ''other boy". According to Peregrine, Jack was that other boy; but why would Winston not make this clear?

The Lees believe it seems to be one of several examples of Winston ''airbrushing" Jack out of the story. Yet there is no question that the brothers loved each other dearly. The evidence is there in the letters they exchanged throughout their lives. This is despite the fact that Lord and Lady Randolph Churchill's letters to Winston show that as he turned into a rather naughty and underachieving schoolboy, his exasperated parents frequently held Jack up as an ideal role model. The younger brother was consistently successful and well-behaved at school.

One of the accepted truths about the Churchill family is that Lord Randolph was a neglectful father because of his stressful political career and his Victorian attitudes towards child-rearing. It has even been claimed that he positively disliked his children, who were 20 and 14 when he died, aged 45 in 1895, supposedly from syphilis. (The Lees claim he was suffering from an undetected brain tumour.)

This caricature of an uncaring father is swept away by the Lees' study of the correspondence Lord Randolph maintained with his sons and with others about them throughout his frenetic but short life.

In fact, if anyone should be criticised it is their mother Jennie (née Jerome), an exuberant American socialite who, as the new book reveals, effectively robbed her sons of some £16,800 of income that was rightfully theirs – the equivalent of about £850,000 today.

Lord Randolph had made his will in 1883, leaving his estate in a trust fund for the benefit of his wife while she lived, and for his two sons and their children after her death. But he also inserted a clause that said if Jennie were to marry again, "his sons or their children should have access to the trust fund in order to help his or her advancement in the world".

Yet the Lees have discovered that Jennie deceived her sons about the true nature of Lord Randolph's will to fund her extravagant and hectic social life through a series of ruinously expensive loans.

For years Winston and Jack were led to believe that their father had left no provision for them in his will, except that they would inherit a small trust fund after the death of their mother. Jack craved a career in the Army but was forced to become a partner in a City firm for financial reasons, and even had to delay his marriage to the beautiful Lady Gwendeline Bertie because he lacked the money to marry.

It was only in February 1914 that the truth was discovered. Wrestling with his mother's chaotic finances as she divorced her second husband, George Cornwallis-West, Jack took the opportunity to read his father's will in detail. He was astonished to find that he and Winston could have claimed up to £600 a year each (around £30,000 today) from the trust fund since Jennie's second marriage in 1900. Jennie had systematically expropriated her children's inheritance for 14 years.

In a restrained but forceful letter of rebuke to his mother, Jack let her know how pained he was at her dishonesty: ''We had always thought that Papa was very wrong in not making any provision for us during your life," he wrote. ''It makes a considerable difference finding that Papa's will was not made – as we were always led to suppose – carelessly and without any consideration for us. It is quite clear that he never thought that while you were single you would be unable to pay us an allowance, and the clause in the will covered the situation – which did actually arise – of your remarriage."

Jennie's spendthrift habits were essential in her quest for social supremacy. Much of this quest, the authors argue, involved making herself available to Edward, Prince of Wales, as his ''favourite" during the 1890s.

From soon after Lord Randolph's death until early 1898, the prince regularly visited Jennie at her house, 35a Great Cumberland Place, where she lived mostly alone. Winston was with his regiment in India; Jack was either at Harrow or living with a family in France to learn the language. ''Tum Tum", as Jennie called the 20-stone prince, would send her billets-doux announcing that he would call at five ''for tea". He made particular reference to a geisha dress he wished her to wear for him, which the Lees identify as a kimono that slipped off easily.

When Jennie finally found herself ousted as the prince's ''maîtresse en titre" by the beautiful Alice Keppel, she sought solace by promptly seducing George Cornwallis-West, widely believed at the time to be the prince's illegitimate son. When Alice gave birth to a child by Edward, Jennie married George, a handsome man born in the same year as her elder son. It was to prove a happy match until he fell in love with the actress Mrs Patrick Campbell.

After that Jennie devoted much of her time, and money, to advancing the career of Winston into politics, while guiding Jack away from the Army and university and into the drudgery of a City office where he was intended to ''make millions" for the rest of the family.

Jennie's scandalous lifestyle has fed many other Churchill myths, in particular concerning her behaviour both before and during her marriage to Lord Randolph. Only recently, a newspaper article headlined "Was Winston Illegitimate?" referred to the widespread belief that Winston was born just seven months after the marriage. Given that such premature babies were unlikely to survive in 1874, Jennie must have been pregnant at the time of her wedding.

Celia Lee seems to be the first author who has bothered to make the simple calculation that the period from the wedding day to that of the birth was 230 days – one day short of the 33 weeks of normal pregnancy. Babies born at that stage are perfectly viable, so another scurrilous story is exploded.

It also seems likely that Jennie was unable to carry her babies to full term because her second son was also brought into the world early. Jack's health was precarious and early on a close family friend, John Strange Jocelyn, 5th Earl of Roden, was called upon to stand as godfather. For this act of kindness, he is routinely cited as Jack's father.

In fact he is only one of several men other than Lord Randolph rumoured to be the father, including the 7th Viscount Falmouth and Count Charles Kinsky. These stories are all examined in turn by the Lees, and the likely sources and reasons for their persistence investigated and refuted. Lord Randolph made enough enemies in his political life and, it seems, among the family of one of his wife's sisters, Leonie Leslie, to spawn a sustained campaign against his character.

Lord Randolph's life appears to show that he had no doubt about his sons' paternity; on the contrary he went to a great deal of trouble to secure a good future for them. He was increasingly disappointed with Winston, who seemed incapable of applying himself to the work necessary for his advancement in the world, but none the less steered him into the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, where he did begin to prosper.

He also arranged interviews for Jack with Field Marshal Lord Roberts, and put him into the Army Class at Harrow. Although Jack's chance of a long-term Army career was later denied him, the younger Churchill was able to join the yeomanry cavalry, the Oxfordshire Hussars. He also served in the South African Light Horse during the Boer War, and on the Western Front and at Gallipoli in the First World War.

Jack Churchill emerges from this fascinating book as an engaging and honourable man who dealt well with the mixed blessing of having a very great man as an elder brother. He was a constant support to Winston, and was able to shield the family from some of the worst effects of the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the ensuing Great Depression, although Winston never referred publicly to this.

Jack also did an enormous amount of research work to assist in the writing of Winston's biography of Lord Randolph Churchill – again, there is not a word of this in the acknowledgements.

Winston would comment on how Jack, who died in 1947, liked to wear military uniforms, but seems never to have reflected on how his younger brother's chosen profession was sacrificed to Winston's advancement. While there was no deliberate malice in any of this, the Lees believe he could be quite thoughtless about his brother.

The Lees rightly conclude that Winston Churchill is the ''Greatest Briton" by inherent right and acclaim, but they add that he was sustained through life by a loving, good-natured and resilient brother, whose story is told here in full for the first time, along with a fine array of hitherto-unseen family photographs.

The Lees have done Churchillian history a great service with their diligence, throwing light on a part of the story that has not hitherto been fully understood.


Thursday, October 25, 2007


Dems credited with starting group that attacked both blacks, whites


The original targets of the Ku Klux Klan were Republicans, both black and white, according to a new television program and book, which describe how the Democrats started the KKK and for decades harassed the GOP with lynchings and threats.

An estimated 3,446 blacks and 1,297 whites died at the end of KKK ropes from 1882 to 1964.

The documentation has been assembled by David Barton of Wallbuilders and published in his book “Setting the Record Straight: American History in Black & White,” which reveals that not only did the Democrats work hand-in-glove with the Ku Klux Klan for generations, they started the KKK and endorsed its mayhem.

“Of all forms of violent intimidation, lynchings were by far the most effective,” Barton said in his book. “Republicans often led the efforts to pass federal anti-lynching laws and their platforms consistently called for a ban on lynching. Democrats successfully blocked those bills and their platforms never did condemn lynchings.”

Further, the first grand wizard of the KKK was honored at the 1868 Democratic National Convention, no Democrats voted for the 14th Amendment to grant citizenship to former slaves and, to this day, the party website ignores those decades of racism, he said.

“Although it is relatively unreported today, historical documents are unequivocal that the Klan was established by Democrats and that the Klan played a prominent role in the Democratic Party,” Barton writes in his book. “In fact, a 13-volume set of congressional investigations from 1872 conclusively and irrefutably documents that fact.

“Contributing to the evidences was the 1871 appearance before Congress of leading South Carolina Democrat E.W. Seibels who testified that ‘they [the Ku Klux Klan] belong to the reform part – [that is, to] our party, the Democratic Party,’” Barton writes.

“The Klan terrorized black Americans through murders and public floggings; relief was granted only if individuals promised not to vote for Republican tickets, and violation of this oath was punishable by death,” he said. “Since the Klan targeted Republicans in general, it did not limit its violence simply to black Republicans; white Republicans were also included.”

Barton also has covered the subject in one episode of his American Heritage Series of television programs, which is being broadcast now on Trinity Broadcasting Network and Cornerstone Television.

Barton told WND his comments are not a condemnation or endorsement of any party or candidate, but rather a warning that voters even today should be aware of what their parties and candidates stand for.

His book outlines the aggressive pro-slavery agenda held by the Democratic Party for generations leading up to the Civil War, and how that did not die with the Union victory in that war of rebellion.

Even as the South was being rebuilt, the votes in Congress consistently revealed a continuing pro-slavery philosophy on the part of the Democrats, the book reveals.

Three years after Appomattox, the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, granting blacks citizenship in the United States, came before Congress: 94 percent of Republicans endorsed it.

“The records of Congress reveal that not one Democrat – either in the House or the Senate – voted for the 14th Amendment,” Barton wrote. “Three years after the Civil War, and the Democrats from the North as well as the South were still refusing to recognize any rights of citizenship for black Americans.”

He also noted that South Carolina Gov. Wade Hampton at the 1868 Democratic National Convention inserted a clause in the party platform declaring the Congress’ civil rights laws were “unconstitutional, revolutionary, and void.”

It was the same convention when Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, the first grand wizard of the KKK, was honored for his leadership.

Barton’s book notes that in 1868, Congress heard testimony from election worker Robert Flournoy, who confessed while he was canvassing the state of Mississippi in support of the 13th and 14th Amendments, he could find only one black, in a population of 444,000 in the state, who admitted being a Democrat.

Nor is Barton the only person to raise such questions. In 2005, National Review published an article raising similar points. The publication said in 1957 President Dwight Eisenhower, a Republican, deployed the 82nd Airborne Division to desegregate the Little Rock, Ark., schools over the resistance of Democrat Gov. Orval Faubus.

Further, three years later, Eisenhower signed the GOP’s 1960 Civil Rights Act after it survived a five-day, five-hour filibuster by 18 Senate Democrats, and in 1964, Democrat President Lyndon Johnson signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act after former Klansman Robert Byrd’s 14-hour filibuster, and the votes of 22 other Senate Democrats, including Tennessee’s Al Gore Sr., failed to scuttle the plan.

Dems’ website showing jump in history

The current version of the “History” page on the party website lists a number of accomplishments – from 1792, 1798, 1800, 1808, 1812, 1816, 1824 and 1828, including its 1832 nomination of Andrew Jackson for president. It follows up with a name change, and the establishment of the Democratic National Committee, but then leaps over the Civil War and all of its issues to talk about the end of the 19th Century, William Jennings Bryan and women’s suffrage.

A spokesman with the Democrats refused to comment for WND on any of the issues. “You’re not going to get a comment,” said the spokesman who identified himself as Luis.

“Why would Democrats skip over their own history from 1848 to 1900?” Barton asked. “Perhaps because it’s not the kind of civil rights history they want to talk about – perhaps because it is not the kind of civil rights history they want to have on their website.”

The National Review article by Deroy Murdock cited the 1866 comment from Indiana Republican Gov. Oliver Morton condemning Democrats for their racism.

“Every one who shoots down Negroes in the streets, burns Negro schoolhouses and meeting-houses, and murders women and children by the light of their own flaming dwellings, calls himself a Democrat,” Morton said.

It also cited the 1856 criticism by U.S. Sen. Charles Sumner, R-Mass., of pro-slavery Democrats. “Congressman Preston Brooks (D-S.C.) responded by grabbing a stick and beating Sumner unconscious in the Senate chamber. Disabled, Sumner could not resume his duties for three years.”

By the admission of the Democrats themselves, on their website, it wasn’t until Harry Truman was elected that “Democrats began the fight to bring down the final barriers of race and gender.”

“That is an accurate description,” wrote Barton. “Starting with Harry Truman, Democrats began – that is, they made their first serious efforts – to fight against the barriers of race; yet … Truman’s efforts were largely unsuccessful because of his own Democratic Party.”

Even then, the opposition to rights for blacks was far from over. As recently as 1960, Mississippi Democratic Gov. Hugh White had requested Christian evangelist Billy Graham segregate his crusades, something Graham refused to do. “And when South Carolina Democratic Gov. George Timmerman learned Billy Graham had invited African Americans to a Reformation Rally at the state Capitol, he promptly denied use of the facilities to the evangelist,” Barton wrote.

The National Review noted that the Democrats’ “Klan-coddling” today is embodied in Byrd, who once wrote that, “The Klan is needed today as never before and I am anxious to see its rebirth here in West Virginia.”

The article suggested a contrast with the GOP, which, when former Klansman David Duke ran for Louisiana governor in 1991 as a Republican, was “scorned” by national GOP officials.

Until 1935, every black federal legislator was Republican, and it was Republicans who appointed the first black Air Force and Army four-star generals, established Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday as a national holiday, and named the first black national-security adviser, secretary of state, the research reveals.

Current Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said: “The first Republican I knew was my father, and he is still the Republican I most admire. He joined our party because the Democrats in Jim Crow Alabama of 1952 would not register him to vote. The Republicans did. My father has never forgotten that day, and neither have I.”

Barton’s documentation said the first opponents of slavery “and the chief advocates for racial equal rights were the churches (the Quakers, Presbyterians, Methodists, etc.). Furthermore, religious leaders such as Quaker Anthony Benezet were the leading spokesmen against slavery, and evangelical leaders such as Presbyterian signer of the Declaration Benjamin Rush were the founders of the nation’s first abolition societies.”

During the years surrounding the Civil War, “the most obvious difference between the Republican and Democrat parties was their stands on slavery,” Barton said. Republicans called for its abolition, while Democrats declared: “All efforts of the abolitionists, or others, made to induce Congress to interfere with questions of slavery, or to take incipient [to initiate] steps in relation thereto, are calculated to lead to the most alarming and dangerous consequences, and all such efforts have the inevitable tendency to diminish the happiness of the people.”

Wallbuilders also cited John Alden’s 1885 book, “A Brief History of the Republican Party” in noting that the KKK’s early attacks were on Republicans as much as blacks, in that blacks were adopting the Republican identity en masse.

“In some places the Ku Klux Klan assaulted Republican officials in their houses or offices or upon the public roads; in others they attacked the meetings of negroes and displaced them,” Alden wrote. “Its ostensible purpose at first was to keep the blacks in order and prevent them from committing small depredations upon the property of whites, but its real motives were essentially political … The negroes were invariable required to promise not to vote the Republican ticket, and threatened with death if they broke their promises.”

Barton told WND the most cohesive group of political supporters in America now is African-Americans. He said most consider their affiliation with the Democratic party long term.

But he said he interviewed a black pastor in Mississippi who recalled his grandmother never “would let a Democrat in the house, and he never knew what she was talking about.” After a review of history, he knew, Barton said.

Citing President George Washington’s farewell address, Barton told WND, “Washington had a great section on the love of party, if you love party more than anything else, what it will do to a great nation.” “We shouldn’t love a party [over] a candidate’s principles or values,” he told WND.

Washington’s farewell address noted the “danger” from parties is serious.

“Let me now … warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party, generally. … The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism,” Washington said.