Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, prime minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955, is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the 20th century. During the Second World War, Churchill’s steadfast refusal to consider defeat, surrender, or a compromise peace bolstered the British to hold out against Nazi Germany.
In 1941, less than three weeks after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Churchill traveled to Washington, D.C., to begin coordinating military strategy with President Franklin Roosevelt and to strengthen congressional support. He addressed Senate and House members at a joint meeting in the Senate Chamber on December 26, 1941. Admission was strictly by invitation or special ticket only, and passes such as this one allowed the bearer to witness the historic event in the Senate Chamber.
The prime minister stirred the audience with what became known as his “Masters of our Fate” speech. “Sure I am that this day, now we are the masters of our fate; that the task which has been set us is not above our strength; that its pangs and toils are not beyond our endurance.” Referring to America’s entrance into the war, Churchill confided to a rapt crowd, “Lastly, if you will forgive me for saying it, to me the best tidings of all: the United States, united as never before, has drawn the sword for freedom and cast away the scabbard.”