Stamford Connecticut: The Overbrook Press, 1942. Limited Edition. Hardcover. This is the beautiful limited edition of Churchill's famous address to Congress, which he delivered only weeks after Pearl Harbor.
One of 1,000 copies printed, this copy is in very good condition. The maroon cloth binding is clean, with only light wear to extremities, including gently bumped lower corners. The fragile front cover paper label remains fully intact. The contents are clean, with no spotting or soiling. The sole previous ownership mark is the small bookplate of New York attorney and bibliophile “Harry C. Goebel” affixed to the upper left front pastedown.
In the days after the Japanese attack, the United States formally entered the Second World War, marking the end of Britain's solitary stand against Hitler's Germany, which it had sustained since the fall of France. Churchill immediately decided to travel to the United States, and on December 12, 1941 began the 10-day trip across the Atlantic - a perilous journey at a time when German U-Boats plagued the North Atlantic. Churchill addressed the U.S. Congress on the 26th and the Canadian Parliament on the 30th.
Churchill's speech to Congress was sober, resolved, and eloquently defiant, but of course also featured the sparkle of Churchillian wit, irrepressible even in the dark hours of the war: "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." The opening was a perfect introduction for a fraught hour, drawing “laughter and an immediate standing ovation, even from isolationists.” (Roberts, Walking with Destiny, p.702) His speech was an important personal introduction to the elected leaders he needed to embrace to sustain the alliance so vital to his nation.
Characteristically, Churchill forged those ties by invoking history as heritage, by unifying perspective, and by invigorating a sense of common cause with purposeful pugnacity. “I was brought up in my father’s house to believe in democracy… I have been in full harmony all my life with the tides which have flowed on both sides of the Atlantic against privilege and monopoly, and I have steered confidently towards the Gettysburg ideal of ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people… In my country, as in yours, public men are proud to be the servants of the State and would be ashamed to be its masters.” Of their now common enemies, Churchill drew another standing ovation when he asked “What kind of a people do they think we are? Is it possible they do not realize that we shall never cease to persevere against them until they have been taught a lesson which they and the world will never forget?”
The publisher of this limited edition, Frank Altschul (1887-1981), was one of the most successful financiers of his time, with a keen interest in books, public affairs, and philanthropy. Altschul was a co-founder and the first chairman of the Yale Library Associates, which oversees all Yale libraries and built the Beinecke Library that houses rare books, many of them gifts of Altschul. In public affairs, Altschul was a director of the English-Speaking Union, and served for many years as vice president of the Woodrow Wilson foundation and as vice president and secretary of the Council on Foreign Relations. Interested in printing since he was a boy, Altschul established Overbrook Press in what had been an abandoned pigpen on his 450-acre Connecticut estate. From such humble origins, Overbrook Press specialized in exquisitely printed and illustrated limited edition books for collectors, with a reputation among bibliophiles for fine typography and careful bookmaking.
Reference: Cohen A163.7, Woods A84(c). Item #007407