January 24th, 1907

January 24th, 1907

A read­er asks what Win­ston Churchill was doing on 24 Jan­u­ary 1907.

Gov­er­nor Sir Alexan­der Swet­ten­ham and U.S. Admi­ral Davis (Illus­trat­ed Lon­don News, 1907)

Churchill was at the Colo­nial Office, Lon­don, deal­ing with an upcom­ing Colo­nial con­fer­ence, and a diplo­mat­ic ker­fuf­fle. The Gov­er­nor of Jamaica, Sir James Alexan­der Swet­ten­ham, had churl­ish­ly demand­ed that the crew of an Amer­i­can war­ship, land­ed in Kingston to lend human­i­tar­i­an assis­tance after a seri­ous earth­quake, retire to their ship, sug­gest­ing that the Amer­i­cans’ action was like a vis­it­ing “British admi­ral land­ing an armed par­ty to sup­port the New York police.”

On Jan­u­ary 24th Churchill advised King Edward VII that, act­ing on a telegram from Lord Elgin, the Colo­nial Sec­re­tary (who was in Scot­land), Swet­ten­ham had been rebuked and ordered to apol­o­gize to the Amer­i­cans. Sir Alexan­der did, sub­se­quent­ly resigned, and was nev­er heard from again!

It seems some­thing was always going on in Churchill’s life on Jan­u­ary 24th—the day his father died (1895) and the day he pre­dict­ed (1953) he would die too–and did (1965). I would be inter­est­ed to see a syn­op­sis of each Jan­u­ary 24th of his life, but I fear no one has the time to make one, nor would there be much of an audience!

Ref­er­ences: Ran­dolph S. Churchill, Win­ston S. Churchill vol. 2, Young States­man (Lon­don: Heine­mann, 1967) 202-03; and Com­pan­ion Vol­ume II, Part 1 1901-1907 (Lon­don: Heine­mann, 1969). Mod­est­ly priced new edi­tions of these works are avail­able from Hills­dale Col­lege Press.


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