“What essential right can you deny to an alien?”

Portrait_of_William_Bourke_CockranTo celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, this post will honor the memory of a neglected Irish-American statesman and orator: William Bourke Cockran (1854-1923).
Cockran was born in Country Sligo, Ireland. He emigrated to America at age 17, settling in New York. There, he became a successful lawyer, a member of Congress, and a friend and confidant of some of the leading men of the time, including inventor Thomas Edison, publisher Joseph Pulitzer and Presidents Grover Cleveland and Teddy Roosevelt. He also became known as America’s greatest living orator. (No less a rhetorical titan than Winston Churchill would call Cockran his “model.”)
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Churchill After Fifty Years

Sir_Winston_S_ChurchillWinston Churchill died fifty years ago on January 24, 1965. I was 17 at the time, and have vivid memories of watching his funeral on television.

To mark this anniversary of his passing, I’m reading The Churchill Factor: How One Man Made History by rising British political star Boris Johnson. Like Churchill himself, Mr. Johnson—currently mayor of London—is a journalist turned politician, which gives him added insight into his subject, as does his own reputation for flamboyance. Continue reading

The Political Language of Apology (or Not)

Prime Minister Cameron Prime Minister David Cameron’s recent visit to India gave us another notable example of the “political apology.”

In Punjab in 1919 public discontent with British colonial rule was growing. In Amritsar ruthless but stupid Brig-General Reginald Dyer ordered his troops to fire at point-blank range on a large crowd of Indian protesters. Hundreds died. This massacre was denounced in Parliament in London by Winston Churchill, then Secretary of State for War and no slouch as a public speaker… Continue reading

An Evening With Winston Churchill


Last night, I spent an entertaining two hours with Winston Churchill. Not literally, but via the nearest equivalent available in the 21st Century. I attended an event where the featured speaker was the great man’s great-grandson, Jonathan Churchill-Sandys.

In his speech, Mr. Churchill-Sandys regaled his audience with numerous anecdotes about his famous ancestor. Some were well known, such as the one about Churchill’s encounter with a shrewish Labor MP. “Mr. Churchill,” she scolded him, “you are drunk. You are disgustingly drunk!”
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Charles I, Monarch and Saint

King Charles I

January 30 is observed in England and elsewhere in the English-speaking world as the martyrdom of King Charles I, monarch and saint. On this day, white roses are laid at the foot of the king’s statue in London.

To modern eyes, Charles appears an unlikely candidate for sainthood, but when he was reduced to pitiful status of a prisoner on trial for his life, Charles showed that he possessed at least one royal virtue: courage. Continue reading