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PRIMARY DOCUMENTS  |  Provoked by Pearl Harbor: The White House Meetings of FDR and Churchill, December, 1941
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Activities: II. Inside the White House  |  Back to Activity


D. Churchill describes his impressions of Roosevelt at the White House


It had been intended that we should steam up the Potomac and motor to the White House, but we were all impatient after nearly ten days at sea to end our journey. We therefore arranged to fly from Hampton Roads, and landed after dark on December 22 at the Washington airport. There was the President waiting in his car. I clasped his strong hand with comfort and pleasure. We soon reached the White House, which was to be in sense our home for the next three weeks. Here we were welcomed by Mrs. Roosevelt, who thought of everything to make our stay agreeable.

I must confess that my mind was so occupied with the whirl of the events and personal tasks I had to perform that my memory till refreshed had a preserved but vague impression of these days. The outstanding feature was of course my contacts with the President. We saw each other for several hours a day and lunched always together, with Harry Hopkins as a third. We talked of nothing but business, and reached a great measure of agreement on many points, both large and small. Dinner was a more social occasion, but equally intimate and friendly. The President punctiliously made the preliminary cocktails himself, and I wheeled him in his chair from the drawing-room to the lift as a mark of respect, and thinking also of Sir Walter Raleigh spreading his cloak before Queen Elizabeth. I formed a very strong affection, which grew with our years of comradeship, for this formidable politician who had imposed his will for nearly ten years upon the American scene, and whose heart seemed to respond to many of the impulses that stirred my own. As we both, by need or habit, were forced to do much of our work in bed, he visited me in my room whenever he felt inclined, and encouraged me to do the same to him. Hopkins was just across the passage from my bedroom, and next door to him, my traveling map room was soon installed. The President was much interested in this institution, which Captain Pim had perfected. He liked to come and study attentively the large maps of all the theatres of war which soon covered the walls, and on which the movement of fleets and armies was so accurately and swiftly recorded. It was not long before he established a map room of his own of the highest efficiency.


The Grand Alliance, pp. 587-588





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