Washington, D.C. Copyright Planet News Ltd., 1954. Photograph. This original press photograph shows Prime Minister Sir Winston S. Churchill bidding farewell to President Dwight Eisenhower at the White House on 29 June 1954 at the end of Churchill’s final Washington visit as British premier.
The image is printed on glossy photo paper and measures 10.125 x 8 inches (25.7 x 20.3 cm). Condition is very good plus. The image remains crisp and bright. We note just light wear to extremities and light scuffs and imperfections are visible only under raking light. The verso features the copyright ink-stamp of “Planet NEWS Ltd” of London as well as an original, typed caption. The caption notes “LONDON BUREAU” and an identification number of “LN 282769 US” above the image title “WHITE HOUSE HANDSHAKES”. The caption reads “WASHINGTON: SIR WINSTON CHURCHILL, Britain’s Prime Minister, (Left) was in genial mood as he shook hands with America’s President, “Ike” EISENHOWER on leaving the White House where had been staying during his conversations with the American President. 1st July 1954”. The date must be when the image was received and captioned by the “London Bureau” as Churchill departed Washington for Canada on 29 June.
At the height of his own and Eisenhower’s supreme victories, Churchill’s wartime government fell to Labour in the General Election of late July 1945. More than six years passed 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.
This journey to America was the third and last of Churchill's second, peace-time premiership (1951-55). The good humor of both men evident in the photo belies the seriousness of the issues of the day. Churchill reached Washington on the morning of Friday, 25 June 1954. Days before, Churchill communicated to Eisenhower goals for their conference. Significantly, prominent among the issues was Churchill's assertion that "In no foreseeable circumstances, except possibly a local rescue, could British troops be used in Indo-China, and if we were asked our opinion we should advise against United States local intervention except for rescue." ('Top Secret' Message from the Prime Minister received 21 June 1954) It is also noteworthy that in the days leading up to the Washington visit, Churchill and Eden disagreed over whether Churchill should consult Washington on the terms of the proposed British withdrawal from Egypt. Churchill wanted to delay negotiations with Egypt until he had explored "the extent to which the United Stated could be persuaded to support us... or even to be associated with us..." Eden opposed Churchill's suggestion. Significantly, America's opposition to British occupation of Suez would bring down Eden's own government two and a half years later, in January 1957. Anglo-American comity was affirmed during the visit in a “Declaration of Principles”, even if full strategic alignment was elusive and Churchill’s earnest desire for a summit including U.S. and Soviet leadership was thwarted.
Though their relationship was marked with frequent disagreements about strategic and national priorities, the two men had a deep mutual respect. 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 #006105