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Winston Churchill Came to DC 75 Years Ago Today

Winston Churchill Came to DC 75 Years Ago Today
British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (Far right) on the HMS York December 1941. Photo via Wikimedia commons.

On December 22, 1941, British Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill arrived in Washington, DC, for the First Washington Conference. Held two weeks after US President Franklin Roosevelt’s declaration of war on Japan, the meeting, also known as the Arcadia Conference, was where Churchill, Roosevelt and representatives from 24 other countries decided how to project a unified front to defeat the Axis Powers.

Many Americans wanted revenge on Japan after its attack on Pearl Harbor, but the attendees, who convened for three weeks, ultimately agreed that the primary target was Germany. In response, the US agreed to increase its arms production, producing more machine guns, aircraft, and tanks. 

When the conference concluded on New Year’s Day, 1942, Churchill, Roosevelt, Maxim Litvinov of the Soviet Union, and T. V. Soong, of China all signed a document binding themselves and the other 22 signatories (who signed a day later) to working toward a joint peace and war effort against Hitler.  This declaration would become known as  the United Nations Declaration.

Declaration of the United Nations. Photo via Office for Emergency Management. Office of War Information. Domestic Operations Branch. Bureau of Special Services.
Declaration of the United Nations. Photo via Office for Emergency Management. Office of War Information. Domestic Operations Branch. Bureau of Special Services.

While the United Nations didn’t become an official institution until1945, the declaration created by the conference helped to lay the foundation for the entity we have today.

Check out these photos from the time of the conference:

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill saluting his daughter as he leaves on the HMS Duke of York to come to American in December 1941. Photo via Library of Congress.
British Prime Minister Winston Churchill saluting his daughter as he leaves on the HMS Duke of York to come to American in December 1941. Photo via Library of Congress.
Winston Churchill addresses Congress on December 26, 1941. Photo via Library of Congress.
Winston Churchill addresses Congress on December 26, 1941. Photo via Library of Congress.

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Editorial Fellow

Sydney is an editorial fellow at Washingtonian Magazine, where she writes about history, news, food, and events. A recent graduate of the College of William & Mary, she is interested in writing and videography. You can follow her on Twitter @sydneykmahan