Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich


September 20th, 2010 · No Comments

Throughout this last month I have been to so many museums I have lost track of the number. However, within this plethora of museums there have been two that impressed me so much that I remember all the exhibits I saw within them.

The first museum that put me into a state of awe was none other than the Cabinet War Rooms. I first should mention that I am a war history buff. I love to learn everything that led to conflict, during the conflicts, and the general aftermath. Therefore, hearing that there was a museum specifically dedicated to the Cabinet that endured one of world histories most massive conflicts; it had my name written all over it. Once in there I expected to see the duplications of the map rooms, the bed rooms, kitchens, etc. What I wasn’t expecting, however, was a whole floor section dedicated to the life and death of Winston Churchill. In the history courses I have taken in the past we have always blown past Churchill’s contribution to the war as the British Prime Minister. (http://cwr.iwm.org.uk/) It was surprising to see his trajectory from child to leader of a country in a time of chaos, and how he came out on top. By far Winston Churchill has some of the best quotes in history. Some of which are:

“I always believed in staying in the pub until closing time”

“I am prepared to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal to meet me is another matter.”

And my favorite….

“I have no more ambition… but to ease world tension, and pave the way for peace and freedom.”

Although all of this was completely amazing and I have never seen anything like this before it had Britain’s imperialism written all over it. They just needed to add at the end, “For the Glory of the Empire.” I think it is healthy for a government to show and flaunt its successes especially if it’s as great as surviving WWII.

The second museum that was just as amazing was the Victoria & Albert museum. Based upon its name I knew nothing of what to expect. Upon entering this enormous structure they call one museum I was taken aback by the amount of valuable items of history in one structure. Just to give you a little sense of what I saw I will write a small list of items. I saw sculptures and door fronts from the Medici family, paintings from the Renaissance era, gorgeous structures from the ancient Greek era, rugs from the Persian Empire, the Grace Kelly: Style icon exhibit, and lastly but certainly not least doodle notebooks from Leonardo Da Vinci himself.  There was so much more that I didn’t explore because my legs were tired. The Victoria & Albert could best be described as a building of world treasures.

No doubt, England did not get these invaluable items through benevolent methods but rather through force.  The fact that it is in one building open to public viewing free of charge almost negates the method it was gathered in. Again, this museum showed the British Monarchy’s greatness because it was able to conquer the greatness of all previous world Empires and display them in London.

The museums of London pay tribute to the greatness of the British Empire, what once was, and what the government hopes for it to be again.

Tags: 2010 Jamie

1945 Election: You Decide!

September 3rd, 2010 · 2 Comments

Sir Winston Churchill

Picture obtained from http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/churchill_winston.shtml

While walking through the Churchill Museum and War Rooms this afternoon, I was again amazed to think that Winston Churchill lost the 1945 election despite his legendary leadership during the Blitz and astronomically high approval ratings. At first glance it is hard to imagine anything similar happening in a national U.S. election. Could anyone imagine a president leading the United States triumphantly through a war, only to be defeated the next election to someone that served under them? After looking at the exhibits in the Churchill Museum, and doing a little bit of research, I have found three fairly compelling reasons as to why Churchill lost the 1945 election. Take a look at them, written from least compelling to most, and see if you think any of these reasons would lead to a similar upset in the United States.

1) Age

Many analysts claim Churchill’s old age could have discouraged many British citizens from voting Conservative in the 1945 election. This cannot be the definitive answer, as Churchill went on to become Prime Minister only a few years later despite being even older. However, evidence seems to suggest that a significant number of voters could have been swayed by Churchill’s age. Could age have such an influence on the American electorate? I am reminded of all of the talk about John McCain’s age in 2008. From my vantage point, age in either country can only have a negligible effect on the result.

2) Labour(Atlee) was better at domestic policy, and the war was over

According to this argument, the end of WWII marked a shift in priorities for the British electorate. Voters favored the person who had the better domestic policy, and found that person (at the time) to be Atlee. Could anyone see a US president being kicked out of office after having an overwhelmingly successful first term because the policy issues are different? I have a very difficult time seeing such cold rationalism, which does not seem to give any credence to all of Churchill’s successes during his time as Prime Minister, becoming a predominant factor in a US election.

3) People were not voting for/against Churchill, they were voting for their local MP

Since citizens only vote for MPs, many citizens could have been focused on local issues and priorities, and not been concerned about the national leader. This is where things really begin to fall into the hypothetical when comparing the US electorate to that of the UK. If this argument holds water(and I believe it is the most convincing reason why Churchill lost the election) I think it demonstrates the most glaring difference between US and UK voters. If given the option to vote for president or local representative, US citizens will vote in the national election nine times out of ten. This is seen in the disturbingly low turnout for non-presidential elections. UK citizens, seemingly, prioritize local elections to a much larger extent than their US counterparts.

For some more information on the 1945 election, you can out this link:


 So what do you think? Does Churchill’s defeat make sense? Could a similar electoral result happen in the US?

Tags: 2010 Andrew