Featured Document of the Month

JULY 2017

Churchill’s first political speech

Winston Churchill is renowned for his oratory. His speeches during the Second World War cemented his reputation as a war leader and many of his phrases have now become iconic. Despite this legacy, Churchill was not a born orator. He worked hard to master the art of speech-giving, and understood the power that words could have on an audience.

At the age of 22, despite being a serving officer at the time on leave from his regiment, Churchill delivered his first political speech. This was in July 1897 to the Bath Primrose League, an organization founded by Churchill’s father and dedicated to promoting Conservatism. Despite such a receptive audience, Churchill ensured he was well-prepared and that his speech was carefully crafted. As this newspaper report demonstrates, the speech was positively received and resonated with its audience.

Churchill also wrote an unpublished article around this time on the power of oratory where he set out his views on what made a good speech and the techniques that can enhance a speaker’s art (CHAR 8/13/1-13).*

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