Churchill Photo

The Speeches of Winston Churchill

"Still Captain of our Souls"

September 9, 1941. House of Commons.

Late in July I learned that the President of the United States would welcome a meeting with me in order to survey the entire world position. I obtained His Majesty's permission to leave the country. I crossed the Atlantic Ocean in one of our latest battleships to meet the President at a convenient place. Important conclusions were reached on four main topics.

First of all, an eight point declaration of the broad principles and aims which guide and govern the actions of the British and United States governments and peoples. . . Secondly, on measures to be taken to help Russia to resist the hideous onslaught which Hitler has made upon her; thirdly . . . the policy to be pursued toward Japan . . . fourthly, there was a large number of purely technical matters which were dealt with and close personal relations were established between high naval, military and air authorities of both countries . . .

I have, as the House knows, hitherto consistently deprecated the formulation of peace aims, or war aims - however you put it - by His Majesty's Government at this stage. I deprecate it at this time, when the end of the war is not in sight. But a Joint Declaration by Great Britain and the United States is a process of a totally different nature.

Although the principles in the Declaration, and much of the language, have long been familiar to the British and American democracies, the fact that it is a united Declaration sets up a milestone or monument which needs only the stroke of victory to become a permanent part of the history of human progress . . .

Thus far then have we travelled along the terrible road we chose at the call of duty. The mood of Britain is wisely and rightly averse from every form of shallow or premature exultation. This is no time for boasts or glowing prophecies, but there is this: A year ago our position looked forlorn, and well nigh desperate to all eyes but our own. To-day we may say aloud before an awe-struck world: "We are still masters of our fate. We are still captain of our souls."