Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill: Power relations

A. Warren Dockter*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


There are few personal relationships which have been more scrutinized than that of Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt. Their approach to international relations as personal relations during the Second World War stands as a monumental moment in the history of the twentieth century, and, in the friendship, birthed the Atlantic Charter and the special relationship as we see it today. Indeed, they did have an important, unique, and significant relationship for a prime minster and a president. Between 1939 and 1945, Roosevelt and Churchill exchanged an estimated 2000 letters and telegrams, met with one another 11 times and spent no fewer than 113 days together during the Second World War. Though they met the first time in 1918, in which neither was particularly impressed with the other, their relationship began in earnest in 1939 when Roosevelt proposed to Prime Minister Chamberlain that Churchill keep him up to date on political decisions. Ultimately, Chamberlain was content to pass this connection on to Churchill at the Admiralty, who enthusiastically took up the charge as a "formal naval person." Their relationship was so important to the war effort and the allied post-war strategy that successive generations have ascribed mythic portions to it. The heroic narrative of Churchill and Roosevelt, as close compatriots fighting an "unambiguous, just war against evident evil" in a so-called "Good War," has added another layer of the mythic relationship which one can see employed and retooled through the twentieth century and even in contemporary discussions of the special relationship.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Palgrave Handbook of Presidents and Prime Ministers From Cleveland and Salisbury to Trump and Johnson
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9783030722760
ISBN (Print)9783030722753
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jan 2022


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