Galloping Lie

by Richard Langworth on 3 March 2009

Can you please advise whether or not Sir Win­ston Churchill said: “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”  Many thanks.—A.S., Bermuda

Cordell Hull (Library of Congress)

Cordell Hull (Library of Congress)

It was Cordell Hull, not Churchill. I have a slight vari­a­tion of it in the “Red Her­rings” appen­dix of  Churchill by Him­self, page 576:

“A lie will gal­lop halfway round the world before the truth has time to pull its breeches on.” —Although com­monly ascribed to Churchill (who would have said trousers, not breeches), this was actu­ally writ­ten by Franklin Roosevelt’s Sec­re­tary of State, Cordell Hull.

Ref.: Hull, Cordell. Mem­oirs of Cordell Hull. 2 vols. New York: Macmil­lan, 1948, 220.

From Wikipedia:

Cordell Hull (Octo­ber 2, 1871 – July 23, 1955) was an Amer­i­can politi­cian from the U.S. state of Ten­nessee. He is best known as the longest-serving Sec­re­tary of State, hold­ing the posi­tion for 11 years (1933–1944) in the admin­is­tra­tion of Pres­i­dent Franklin Delano Roo­sevelt dur­ing much of World War II. Hull received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1945 for his role in estab­lish­ing the United Nations, and was referred to by Pres­i­dent Roo­sevelt as the “Father of the United Nations.”

Hull resigned as Sec­re­tary of State in Novem­ber 1944 because of fail­ing health. Roo­sevelt described Hull, upon his depar­ture as “the one per­son in all the world who has done his most to make this great plan for peace (the United Nations) an effec­tive fact.” He died on July 23, 1955, at age 83, at his home in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., after a life­long strug­gle with famil­ial remitting-relapsing sar­coido­sis (often con­fused with tuber­cu­lo­sis) and is buried in the vault of the Chapel of St. Joseph of Ari­mathea in the Wash­ing­ton National Cathe­dral.

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