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Bush’s Bust

Does a new Churchill bust in the White House fulfill the UK statesman’s dream?

March 8, 2002

Does a new Churchill bust in the White House fulfill the UK statesman's dream?

As one of the greatest British statesmen, Winston Churchill makes an unlikely candidate to be featured at the White House. A descendent of John Churchill, the 1st Duke of Marlborough who checked Louis XIV’s endeavor to conquer Europe back in 1704, Churchill could hardly have been more British.

He was twice a Conservative Prime Minister of Great Britain, upheld the ideals of the British Empire — and ardently supported the monarchy.

Yet, fate would have it that his father, Lord Randolph Churchill, a younger son, and thus not heir to money and the dukedom, did what many of the impoverished upper-class members and indeed many of his own family did.

He got himself an American wife — and a rich one at that. Jennie Jerome, daughter of the New York business tycoon Leonard Jerome, became Lady Randolph Churchill. That made young Winston — born in 1875 — technically half-American.

Sixty-five years later, this half-American boy became Britain’s Prime Minister. He rallied his countrymen against Nazi Germany in his historic “We will never surrender” speech. It was this tenacity that evidently inspired Mr. Bush to display Churchill’s bust in the Oval Office.

Winston Churchill’s White House ambitions became evident during a visit to Washington in 1941, after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. At the occasion, he delivered a speech before a Joint Session of the U.S. Congress and said: “I cannot help reflecting that if my father had been American and my mother British, instead of the other way around, I might have got here on my own.” At the time, nobody got the hint.

But now, thanks to George W. Bush’s request, Churchill has made it, at last, into the nerve center of U.S. politics. Old Winston — in bust form, no less — will be able to watch over a titanic struggle that is similar to the one he experienced over half a century ago. This is as close as he can reasonably get to the U.S. Presidency.

Yet, according to, a time capsule — to be opened by the U.S. President in 2063 on the 100th anniversary of Churchill’s honorary U.S. citizenship — is buried under the statue of Winston Churchill at the British Embassy in Washington D.C. Who knows what surprise the old man might have up his sleeve.

Bear in mind that Winston Churchill was supposedly born premature. His parents had barely been married seven and a half months when Winston arrived on the scene. What if his father was an American and his mother just pretended it was Lord Randolph Churchill? As a U.S.-born citizen, Winston would have had all chances to become U.S. President.