London: The Associated Press Ltd., May 1959. Photograph. This original press photo shows Sir Winston S. Churchill arriving at National Airport on 4 May 1959 for the last of his 13 trips to Washington DC. This press photo once belonged to The Daily Telegraph’s working archive. The image measures 10 x 8 in (25.4 x 20.3 cm) on matte photo paper. Condition is very good. The paper is clean, crisp, and free of scuffing. The lower right corner is slightly bumped, and a stain on the verso does not affect the image.
The verso bears the copyright stamp of “The Associated Press Ltd.”, a received stamp of The Daily Telegraph from May 1959, and a typed caption. For obvious reasons, the original typed caption is titled “HAIR-RAISING” and reads “HIS HAIR FLYING IN THE BREEZE, SIR WINSTON CHURCHILL WALKS ACROSS THE TARMAC AT NATIONAL AIRPORT, WASHINGTON, MAY 4, AFTER ARRIVING FROM NEW YORK ABOARD PRESIDENT EISENHOWER’S PERSONAL PLANE. SIR WINSTON, IN WASHINGTON ON A THREE-DAY PERSONAL AND SOCIAL VISIT, WAS MET BY THE PRESIDENT. HE IS STAYING AS GUEST AT THE WHITE HOUSE.”
On 4 May 1959 Churchill arrived in Washington DC on what would be the last of his 13 trips to the US Capital taken over his lifetime. Churchill had resigned his second and final premiership more than four years earlier, on 5 April 1955. Eisenhower was approaching the end of his own career; he would end his second presidential term in January 1961, succeeded by Kennedy. Churchill wrote to Clementine on 5 May “Here I am. All goes well & the President is a real friend.” (Gilbert, Vol. VIII, p. 1293) On this visit to the President’s farm Churchill gifted Eisenhower with one of his paintings which the President subsequently displayed in the Oval Office.
At the height of his own and Eisenhower’s supreme victories, Churchill’s wartime government fell to Labour just a little over two months later in the General Election of late July 1945. More than six years would pass with Churchill as Leader of the Opposition before Churchill’s Conservatives won the General Election of October 1951. Churchill would return to 10 Downing Street to lead a Britain increasingly marginalized and eclipsed by America and Eisenhower would be elected President of the United States just a year later, becoming Churchill’s civilian counterpart.
Though their relationship was marked with frequent disagreements about strategic and national priorities, the two men had a deep mutual respect. Of this 1959 visit, Churchill’s private secretary, Montague Browne’ reported “During three days we were in the White House the President showed an affectionate care and consideration for Sir Winston and spent a great deal of time with him.” (Gilbert, VIII, p.1295) The two men also visited Eisenhower’s farm at Gettysburg. While the visit was officially social, there were topics of substance - including Eisenhower’s pique with Field Marshal Montgomery, his unfavorable views “of the French in general and General de Gaulle in particular”, and the President’s concerns about NATO, his perspective African colonies, and British concerns about American protectionism – and Churchill lunched with Prime Minister Macmillan at 10 Downing Street upon his return to London.
When Eisenhower eulogized Churchill on 30 January 1965, he recalled: “…I was privileged to meet, to talk, to plan and to work with him for common goals… an abiding – and to me precious – friendship was forged; it withstood the trials and friction inescapable among men of strong convictions, living in the atmosphere of war… our friendship flowered in the later and more subtle tests imposed by international politics… each of us, holding high official post in his own nation, strove together so to concert the strength of our two peoples that liberty might be preserved among men and the security of the free world wholly sustained.”. Item #005460