TRANSCRIPTS (of the speeches) THAT CHANGED THE WORLD: Moments That Made History
I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat
Delivered 13 May 1940, this was Churchill’s first speech to the House of Commons just three days after being elected Prime Minister and forming his coalition cabinet. He suddenly appeared to be the right man for the time, and he was finally able to use his remarkable powers of oratory to rally and uplift the whole British nation in its struggle against the Nazi threat.
Biography in brief: Born 30 November 1874 in Oxford, England, Winston Churchill suffered an unhappy childhood and was undistinguished in his school career. He became a career soldier and war reported before entering politics in 1901. He served in the War Cabinet in World War I and then was appointed Prime Minister of the British coalition government in Work War II. Churchill was knighted in 1953 and died 24 January 1965 in London. In 2004, Churchill was voted ‘greatest Briton’ in a nationwide survey.
“On Friday evening last I received from His Majesty the mission to form a new administration. It was the evident will of Parliament and the nation that this should be conceived on the broadest possible basis and that it should include all parties. I have already completed the most important part of this task…
I now invite the House by a resolution to record its approval of the steps taken and declare its confidence in the new government.
The resolution: That this House welcomes the formation of a government representing the united and inflexible resolve of the nation to prosecute the war with Germany to a victorious conclusion.”
To form an administration of this scale and complexity is a serious undertaking in itself. But we are in the preliminary phase of one of the greatest battles in history. We are in action at many other points – in Norway and in Holland – and we have to be prepared in the Mediterranean. The air battle is continuing, and many preparations have to be made here at home.
In this crisis I think I may be pardoned if 1 do not address the House at any length today, and I hope that any of my friends and colleagues or former colleagues who are affected by the political reconstruction will make all allowances for any lack of ceremony with which it has been necessary to act.
I say to the House as I said to ministers who have joined this government, I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat. We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many months of struggle and suffering.
You ask, what is our policy? I say it is to wage war by land, sea, and air. War with all our might and with all the strength God has given us, and to wage war against a monstrous tyranny never surpassed in the dark and lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy.
You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word. It is victory. Victory at all costs – Victory in spite of all terrors – Victory, however long and hard the road may be, for without victory there is no survival.
Let that be realized. No survival for the British Empire, no survival for all that the British Empire has stood for, no survival for the urge, the impulse of the ages, that mankind shall move forward toward his goal.
I take up my task in buoyancy and hope. I feel sure that our cause will not be suffered to fail among men. I feel entitled at this juncture, at this time, to claim the aid of all and to say, “Come then, let us go forward together with our united strength.”