Churchill Archive for Schools - Themes_Key questions_Korean War reveal

What does the Korean War reveal about the ‘special relationship’?

Source 2

A letter from Congressman Frank Boykin to Winston Churchill, dated 5 March 1951


CHUR 2/113A-B (images 177 and 178)

We've highlighted the parts of the document which appear in the transcription below.

Simplified Transcript

My dear Mr Churchill

I’m writing to you to send you an article from one of our newspapers which I think you’ll find interesting.

I’m also enclosing a letter I’ve written to the President with a plan on how to fight the Korean War. I’d like to know what you think.

I’d like to say again that we Americans consider you to be the greatest living person in the world. I wish you were in charge of our fight against Communism.

We need your brain and your ability now. I wish you were up at the front. Of course, this is a personal view, not an official one.

Original Transcript

FRANK W. BOYKIN Committee:
and Fisheries


Honorable Winston Churchill, M.P.
House of Commons
London, England

My dear Mr. Churchill:

I am enclosing herewith an editorial from one of our newspapers, The Times Herald, this morning, that mentions you, and I think it will be very interesting to you.

Also, enclosed is a copy of a letter that I wrote to Admiral Sidney W. Souers, Assistant to the President, several months ago, regarding a plan on our Korean War. I would like to have your opinion on what you think of my plan ...

I would like to say to you again, because I have said it many times to you, that we over here, I mean so many of the people I have talked to, as a matter of fact, everyone I have talked to, think you are the greatest living human being on earth, and I, personally, wish you had charge of this whole proposition of trying to stamp out this Communism .

… we do need your great brain; your great ability, and your great understanding heart, more now, than at any other time on this earth, you could be so helpful if you were right up to the front, handling your part of the entire proposition. At least, that is what we think. Of course, this is a personal letter and not an official one.

What is this source?

This source is a personal letter from Congressman Frank Boykin in Washington to Winston Churchill in London.

Background to this source

Boykin was a congressman from 1935 to 1963. Because of his seniority he was a powerful presence on Capitol Hill. Churchill was, of course, well-known in the US, not just for his leadership in the Second World War but also for his 1946 ‘Iron Curtain’ speech at Fulton, Missouri, US, when he warned of the threat of the ‘iron curtain’ being drawn down over Europe, and for his anti-Stalin rhetoric.

At the time Boykin was writing, in March 1951, the war in Korea had reached a critical point. The communist North Korean forces were pushing back the US-led UNO forces with help from Communist China. At the same time there was a ‘Red Scare’ in the US with concerns about hundreds of Communist spies inside the government.

How can we use this source in the investigation?

Remember, we’re hoping that this source can be useful to us in investigating the relationship between Britain and the US. Sources usually help historians in two ways:

Surface level

  1. What has Congressman Boykin sent to Winston Churchill?
  2. What part does the Senator want Churchill to play in the fight against Communism?
  3. What do some people in the US think about Winston Churchill?

Deeper level

Which of the inferences below can be made from this source?

On a scale of 1-5 how far do you agree that this source supports this inference?

Which extract(s) from the source support your argument?

Boykin and Churchill know each other well.

Boykin is looking to get support for his plan.

Boykin is writing to Churchill because he’s not getting much support from the political and military leaders of the US for his plan.

Senator Boykin hates Communism.

Churchill is ‘the greatest living human being on earth’.

The US needs Britain in the fight against Communism, as well as Britain needing the US.

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Need help interpreting the source?

  • The editorial (newspaper article) that the Senator attached can be found here.

Explore the guide to interpreting letters

Source 3

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