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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