London: The Liberal Publication Department, 1912. First edition. Pamphlet. This pre-First World War pamphlet comes from the personal collection of Churchill’s bibliographer, Ronald I. Cohen. Here we offer an original first printing pamphlet publication of Churchill's 18 March 1912 speech in the House of Commons - his first time as First Lord of the Admiralty introducing the Navy budget and setting British strategy to counter Germany in a naval arms race. The speech features Churchill's resolute and eloquent independence, showing the character that later carried him through being scapegoated and exiled from the Cabinet over the Dardanelles, which in turn foreshadowed the political isolation and restoration he would experience nearly two decades later in the 1930s leading up to the Second World War.
The “15” stamped in the upper right corner indicates that this pamphlet was previously bound in a copy of "Pamphlets and Leaflets 1912" issued by the Liberal Publication Department in 1913. It therefore bears a compressed spine and sewing holes. Nonetheless, the pamphlet is clean, crisp, and free of rust staining that would likely occur had this pamphlet been in its wire stitched format. The contents are clean and free of markings or spotting.
The Liberal Government and Naval Policy is a 24-page pamphlet in paper covers published by The Liberal Publication Department and printed by the National Press Agency Ltd., London. In 1911, Churchill was offered the prize Cabinet position of First Lord of the Admiralty, which he held until 1915 when blame for the Gallipoli disaster forced his resignation. In 1912, a global naval arms race was in full swing among the great powers. Until Germany began flexing naval muscle in 1911, Churchill was reluctant to squander public money and favored building fewer Dreadnought battleships than some of his Cabinet peers. But in February of 1912 Churchill called for formation of an additional Battle Squadron in Home waters and an increase in the number of ships, stating "there is no longer any financial saving to be looked for."
His Naval budget and policy speech in the House of Commons 18 March 1912 laid out plans to address the German threat and ensure Dreadnought supremacy. Churchill's speech was praised for candor and clarity. His closing words are characteristic of the eloquently-stated yet fundamentally practical calculus of survival that would later fill his wartime speeches as Prime Minister. “The Admiralty must leave to others the task of mending the times in which we live, and confine themselves to the more limited and more simple duty of making quite sure that whatever the times may be our island and its people will come safely through them.” To his credit, Churchill sought to leverage peace from the position of increased strength; in the months following his speech, Churchill pressed - unsuccessfully - to reduce Anglo-German tension and temporarily halt naval construction.
Reference: Cohen A37, Woods A21. Item #004832