Rochester, New York: University of Rochester, 1941. First edition. Paperback. This scarce pamphlet is the first published appearance of Winston S. Churchill's speech of 16 June 1941, early in Churchill’s Second World War premiership and nearly half a year before the United States formally entered the war. The speech was broadcast from 10 Downing Street on the occasion of Churchill receiving an Honorary Degree of Laws from the New York State's University of Rochester. Churchill had assumed the Premiership just a year earlier on 10 May 1940. By 16 June 1941, Churchill had led his nation for a frightful, solitary year since the fall of France. Britain would continue to stand alone against Hitler's Germany until the United States formally entered the Second World War after the 7 December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.
Courting American empathy and support was of critical importance. In particular, severe merchant shipping losses to German U-Boats in April and May of 1941 were a spur "to press continually for a wider American contribution to Britain's war effort..." (Gilbert, Vol. VI, p.111) Churchill's speeches conveyed the political determination of the British government and steadfastness of the British people to an American nation not yet fully engaged in the war. Given that Churchill’s mother was born in Rochester and Franklin Delano Roosevelt had served as Governor of New York State, this Broadcast address to a New York University, which might otherwise seem obscure, was a timely opportunity.
In his speech Churchill spoke of "sense of kinship and of unity", and of his ancestral connection to Rochester. Nearly every sentence of Churchill's remarks limned common heritage, values, and purpose, all the while conveying British resolve to prevail: "For more than a year, we British have stood alone uplifted by your sympathy and respect, sustained by our own unconquerable will power and by the increasing growth and hopes of your massive aid... Whatever happens, we shall endure to the end." This speech was eventually published in His Complete Speeches as "The Old Lion".
The title comes from the speech's penultimate paragraph: Now the old lion... stands alone against hunters who are armed with deadly weapons and impelled by desperate and destructive rage." The speech concludes striking the balance between Britain's resolve and urgent need: "...time is short. Every month that passes adds to the length and the perils of the journey that will have to be made... United we can save and guide the world." Clearly, the intended American audience was broader than Rochester. Four days later, on 20 June, Churchill telegraphed Roosevelt thanking him for establishment of trans-Atlantic "Ferry Service" using American Army pilots and American-manned staging posts with servicing facilities and assuring the President that "There will be no weakening here."
The pamphlet measures 9.25 x 6 inches (23.5 x 15.25 cm), bound in wire-stitched, laid watermarked card wraps, both the front wrap and contents with untrimmed edges. The contents number 23 pages. Churchill's full address is printed at pages 7-9, preceded by his portrait photograph at page 6. The balance of the pamphlet contains a Foreword, the degree presentation by University President Alan Valentine, excerpts from an address by Eve Curie (daughter of Marie Curie), excerpts from an address by Robert P. Patterson (Roosevelt's Under Secretary of War), and a list of honorary degrees conferred in 1941.
Condition is near fine. The covers are complete and firmly attached, both binding staples intact and free of corrosion. The covers are remarkably clean apart from minor wrinkling to the bottom edge and a trivial hint of staining to the lower rear cover. The contents are pristine. This is an elusive item.
Reference: Cohen D80, Woods D(b)53/1. Item #004655