Winston Churchill Quotes 1–30 of 578 Quotes

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill KG OM CH TD FRS PC (November 30, 1874 – January 24, 1965) was a British politician and statesman, best known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during World War II. He was Prime Minister of the UK from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953.

Below are 30 of 578 sourced Winston Churchill quotes. Sources and related information appear under each quote. Use the 'Cite this quote' link to get citation references.

“Every influence, every motive, that provokes the spirit of murder among men, impels these mountaineers to deeds of treachery and violence. The strong aboriginal propensity to kill, inherent in all human beings, has in these valleys been preserved in unexampled strength and vigour. That religion, which above all others was founded and propagated by the sword — the tenets and principles of which are instinct with incentives to slaughter and which in three continents has produced fighting breeds of men — stimulates a wild and merciless fanaticism. The love of plunder, always a characteristic of hill tribes, is fostered by the spectacle of opulence and luxury which, to their eyes, the cities and plains of the south display. A code of honour not less punctilious than that of old Spain, is supported by vendettas as implacable as those of Corsica.”

— Winston Churchill

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More on this quote: Early career years (1898–1929) The Story of the Malakand Field Force: An Episode of Frontier War (1898), Chapter I
• Description of the tribal areas of what is now Pakistan, commonly referred to as Waziristan
• Downloadable eText version(s) of this book can be found online at Project Gutenberg

“[T]he British workman has more to hope for from the rising tide of Tory democracy than from the dried up drain-pipe of Radicalism.”

— Winston Churchill

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Quote source: Early career years (1898–1929) Churchill By Himself: The Definitive Collections of Quotations, ed. Richard Langworth, 2008, p. 424) Claverton Manor, Bath (CS I-27.), (1897, 26 July)

“It is, thank heaven, difficult if not impossible for the modern European to fully appreciate the force which fanaticism exercises among an ignorant, warlike and Oriental population. Several generations have elapsed since the nations of the West have drawn the sword in religious controversy, and the evil memories of the gloomy past have soon faded in the strong, clear light of Rationalism and human sympathy. Indeed it is evident that Christianity, however degraded and distorted by cruelty and intolerance, must always exert a modifying influence on men's passions, and protect them from the more violent forms of fanatical fever, as we are protected from smallpox by vaccination. But the Mahommedan religion increases, instead of lessening, the fury of intolerance. It was originally propagated by the sword, and ever since, its votaries have been subject, above the people of all other creeds, to this form of madness. In a moment the fruits of patient toil, the prospects of material prosperity, the fear of death itself, are flung aside. The more emotional Pathans are powerless to resist. All rational considerations are forgotten. Seizing their weapons, they become Ghazis—as dangerous and as sensible as mad dogs: fit only to be treated as such. While the more generous spirits among the tribesmen become convulsed in an ecstasy of religious bloodthirstiness, poorer and more material souls derive additional impulses from the influence of others, the hopes of plunder and the joy of fighting. Thus whole nations are roused to arms. Thus the Turks repel their enemies, the Arabs of the Soudan break the British squares, and the rising on the Indian frontier spreads far and wide. In each case civilisation is confronted with militant Mahommedanism. The forces of progress clash with those of reaction. The religion of blood and war is face to face with that of peace. Luckily the religion of peace is usually the better armed.”

— Winston Churchill

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Quote source: Early career years (1898–1929) The Story of the Malakand Field Force: An Episode of Frontier War (1898), Chapter III.

“I pass with relief from the tossing sea of Cause and Theory to the firm ground of Result and Fact.”

— Winston Churchill

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Quote source: Early career years (1898–1929) The Story of the Malakand Field Force: An Episode of Frontier War (1898), Chapter III.

“It is better to be making the news than taking it; to be an actor rather than a critic.”

— Winston Churchill

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Quote source: Early career years (1898–1929) The Story of the Malakand Field Force: An Episode of Frontier War (1898), Chapter VIII.

“Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result.”

— Winston Churchill

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Quote source: Early career years (1898–1929) The Story of the Malakand Field Force: An Episode of Frontier War (1898), Chapter X.

“How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the Queen; all know how to die; but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilisation of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilisation of ancient Rome.”

— Winston Churchill

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More on this quote: Early career years (1898–1929) The River War: An Historical Account of the Reconquest of the Soudan (1899), Volume II pp. 248–250
• (This passage does not appear in the 1902 one-volume abridgment, the version posted by Project Gutenberg.)
• Downloadable etext version(s) of this book can be found online at Project Gutenberg

“It is the habit of the boa constrictor to besmear the body of his victim with a foul slime before he devours it; and there are many people in England, and perhaps elsewhere, who seem to be unable to contemplate military operations for clear political objects, unless they can cajole themselves into the belief that their enemy are utterly and hopelessly vile. To this end the Dervishes, from the Mahdi and the Khalifa downwards, have been loaded with every variety of abuse and charged with all conceivable crimes. This may be very comforting to philanthropic persons at home; but when an army in the field becomes imbued with the idea that the enemy are vermin who cumber the earth, instances of barbarity may easily be the outcome. This unmeasured condemnation is moreover as unjust as it is dangerous and unnecessary.”

— Winston Churchill

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More on this quote: Early career years (1898–1929) The River War: An Historical Account of the Reconquest of the Soudan (1899), Volume II pp. 394–395
• (This passage does not appear in the 1902 one-volume abridgment, the version posted by Project Gutenberg).

“What is the true and original root of Dutch aversion to British rule? It is the abiding fear and hatred of the movement that seeks to place the native on a level with the white man … the Kaffir is to be declared the brother of the European, to be constituted his legal equal, to be armed with political rights.”

— Winston Churchill

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Quote source: Early career years (1898–1929) On the Boer War, London to Ladysmith via Pretoria (1900).

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“It may be said, therefore, that the military opinion of the world is opposed to those people who cry 'Democratize the army!' and it must be remembered that an army is not a field upon which persons with Utopian ideas may exercise their political theories, but a weapon for the defence of the State.”

— Winston Churchill

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More on this quote: Early career years (1898–1929) British Cavalry, The Anglo-Saxon Review, March 1901.
• Reproduced in The Collected Essays of Sir Winston Churchill, Vol I, Churchill at War, Centenary Edition (1976), Library of Imperial History, p. 60.

“I think we shall have to take the Chinese in hand and regulate them. I believe that as civilized nations become more powerful they will get more ruthless, and the time will come when the world will impatiently bear the existence of great barbaric nations who may at any time arm themselves and menace civilized nations. I believe in the ultimate partition of China — I mean ultimate. I hope we shall not have to do it in our day. The Aryan stock is bound to triumph.”

— Winston Churchill

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Quote source: Early career years (1898–1929) Speech and interview at the University of Michigan, 1902.

“In former days, when wars arose from individual causes, from the policy of a Minister or the passion of a King, when they were fought by small regular armies of professional soldiers, and when their course was retarded by the difficulties of communication and supply, and often suspended by the winter season, it was possible to limit the liabilities of the combatants. But now, when mighty populations are impelled on each other, each individual severally embittered and inflamed—when the resources of science and civilisation sweep away everything that might mitigate their fury, a European war can only end in the ruin of the vanquished and the scarcely less fatal commercial dislocation and exhaustion of the conquerors. Democracy is more vindictive than Cabinets. The wars of peoples will be more terrible than those of kings.”

— Winston Churchill

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Quote source: Early career years (1898–1929) House of Commons, 13 May 1901, Hansard vol. 93 col. 1572.

“The ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year – and to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn’t happen.”

— Winston Churchill

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Quote source: Early career years (1898–1929) Newspaper interview (1902), when asked what qualities a politician required, Halle, Kay, Irrepressible Churchill. Cleveland: World, 1966. cited in Churchill by Himself (2008), ed. Langworth, PublicAffairs, p. 489

“Governments create nothing and have nothing to give but what they have first taken away — you may put money in the pockets of one set of Englishmen, but it will be money taken from the pockets of another set of Englishmen, and the greater part will be spilled on the way. Every vote given for Protection is a vote to give Governments the right of robbing Peter to pay Paul and charging the public a handsome commission on the job.”

— Winston Churchill

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Quote source: Early career years (1898–1929) “Why I am a Free Trader,” Chapter I in T.W. Stead’s journal Coming Men on Coming Questions (April 13, 1905), bottom p. 9.

“The doc­trines that by keep­ing out for­eign goods more wealth, and con­se­quently more employ­ment, will be cre­ated at home, are either true or they are not true. We con­tend that they are not true. We con­tend that for a nation to try to tax itself into pros­per­ity is like a man stand­ing in a bucket and try­ing to lift him­self up by the han­dle.Stead, W.T., ed. (13 April 1905), Coming Men on Coming Questions, chapter: Chapter 1: Why I am a Free Trader”

— Winston Churchill

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Churchill, Winston. “Winston Churchill Quotes: 1–30 of 578 Quotes.” Last modified August 4, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Winston-Churchill-quotes.html#16

More on this quote: Early career years (1898–1929) From "Why I am a Free Trader" (1905), Churchill revised this several times, the earliest recorded version coming from the speech "For Free Trade" at the Free Trade Hall, Manchester, 19 Feb­ru­ary 1904:
 • It is the the­ory of the Pro­tec­tion­ist that imports are an evil. He thinks that if you shut out the for­eign imported man­u­fac­tured goods you will make these goods your­selves, in addi­tion to the goods which you make now, includ­ing those goods which we make to exchange for the for­eign goods that come in. If a man can believe that he can believe any­thing. (Laugh­ter.) We Free-traders say it is not true. To think you can make a man richer by putting on a tax is like a man think­ing that he can stand in a bucket and lift him­self up by the han­dle. (Laugh­ter and cheers.) Rhodes James, Robert, ed. (1974), Winston S. Churchill: His Complete Speeches 1897-1963 publisher: Chelsea House Publishers / R.R. Bowker Company, ISBN: 0835206939

“Politics are almost as exciting as war, and – quite as dangerous … [I]n war, you can only be killed once. But in politics many times.”

— Winston Churchill

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Quote source: Early career years (1898–1929) From a conversational exchange with Harold Begbie, as cited in Master Workers, Begbie, Methuen & Co. (1906), p. 177.

“For my own part I have always felt that a politician is to be judged by the animosities which he excites among his opponents. I have always set myself not merely to relish but to deserve thoroughly their censure.”

— Winston Churchill

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Quote source: Early career years (1898–1929) November 17, 1906, Institute of Journalists Dinner, London; in Churchill by Himself (2008), ed. Langworth, PublicAffairs, p. 392

“The conditions of the Transvaal ordinance under which Chinese Labour is now being carried on do not, in my opinion, constitute a state of slavery. A labour contract into which men enter voluntarily for a limited and for a brief period, under which they are paid wages which they consider adequate, under which they are not bought or sold and from which they can obtain relief on payment of seventeen pounds ten shillings, the cost of their passage, may not be a healthy or proper contract, but it cannot in the opinion of His Majesty's Government be classified as slavery in the extreme acceptance of the word without some risk of terminological inexactitude.”

— Winston Churchill

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Quote source: Early career years (1898–1929) In the House of Commons, February 22, 1906 "King’s Speech (Motion for an Address)", as Under-Secretary of the Colonial Office, repeating what he had said during the 1906 election campaign. This is the original context for terminological inexactitude, used simply literally, whereas later the term took on the sense of a euphemism or circumlocution for a lie. As quoted in Sayings of the Century (1984) by Nigel Rees.

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“Taxes are an evil—a necessary evil, but still an evil, and the fewer of them we have the better.”

— Winston Churchill

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Quote source: Early career years (1898–1929) Churchill By Himself: The Definitive Collections of Quotations, ed. Richard Langworth, 2008, p. 424, (1907, 12 February)

“They knew what to expect when their opponents returned to power a party of great vested interests—corruption at home, aggression to cover it up abroad, the trickery of tariff juggles, the tyranny of a well-fed party machine; sentiment by the bucketful, patriotism and Imperialism by the Imperial pint, the open hand at the public Exchequer, the open door at the publichouse, dear food for the million, cheap labour for the millionaire. That was the policy which the Tory party offered them, and that was the policy which he asked them to strike at with the battle-axe of Scotland.”

— Winston Churchill

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Quote source: Early career years (1898–1929) Speech in Kinnaird Hall, Dundee, Scotland (8 May 1908), quoted in The Times (9 May 1908), p. 14

“The Times is speechless, and takes three columns to express its speechlessness.”

— Winston Churchill

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Quote source: Early career years (1898–1929) Speech at Kinnaird Hall, Dundee, Scotland ("The Dundee Election"), May 14, 1908, in Liberalism and the Social Problem (1909), Churchill, BiblioBazaar (Second Edition, 2006), p. 148

“Uncounted generations will trample heedlessly upon our tombs. What is the use of living, if it be not to strive for noble causes and to make this muddled world a better place for those who will live in it after we are gone? How else can we put ourselves in harmonious relation with the great verities and consolations of the infinite and the eternal? And I avow my faith that we are marching towards better days. Humanity will not be cast down. We are going on swinging bravely forward along the grand high road and already behind the distant mountains is the promise of the sun.”

— Winston Churchill

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Quote source: Early career years (1898–1929) Speech at Kinnaird Hall, Dundee, Scotland ("Unemployment"), October 10, 1908, in Liberalism and the Social Problem (1909), Churchill, Echo Library (2007), p. 87

“The quarrel between a tremendous democratic electorate and a one-sided hereditary chamber of wealthy men has often been threatened, has often been averted, has been long debated, has been long delayed, but it has always been inevitable, and it has come at last. It is now open, it is now flagrant, and it must now be carried to a conclusion.”

— Winston Churchill

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Quote source: Early career years (1898–1929) The People's Rights [1909] (London: Jonathan Cape, 1970), p. 20

“Why should five hundred or six hundred titled persons govern us, and why should their children govern our children for ever? I invite a reply from the apologists and the admirers of the House of Lords. I invite them to show any ground of reason, or of logic, or of expediency or practical common sense in defence of the institution which has taken the predominant part during the last few days in the politics of our country. There is no defence, and there is no answer, except that the House of Lords...has survived out of the past. It is a lingering relic of a feudal order. It is the remains, the solitary reminder of a state of things and of a balance of forces which has wholly passed away. I challenge the defenders, the backers, and the instigators of the House of Lords—I challenge them to justify and defend before the electors of the country the character and composition of the hereditary assembly.”

— Winston Churchill

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Quote source: Early career years (1898–1929) The People's Rights [1909] (London: Jonathan Cape, 1970), p. 23

“There is no difficulty in vindicating the principle of a hereditary monarchy. The experience of every country and of all ages, the practical reasonings of common sense, arguments of the highest theory, arguments of most commonplace convenience, all unite to show the wisdom which places the supreme leadership of the State beyond the reach of private ambition and above the shocks and changes of party strife.”

— Winston Churchill

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Quote source: Early career years (1898–1929) The People's Rights [1909] (London: Jonathan Cape, 1970), p. 24

“The House of Lords, in rejecting the Budget which provides for the national expenditure of the year, are refusing, for the first time since the great Rebellion, aids and supplies to the Crown, and by that fact and by their intrusion upon finance they commit an act of violence against the British Constitution. There is no precedent of any kind for the rejection of a Budget Bill by the House of Lords in all the long annals of the British Parliament, or, before that, in the still more venerable annals of the English Parliament. The custom of centuries forbids their intrusion upon finance.”

— Winston Churchill

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Quote source: Early career years (1898–1929) The People's Rights [1909] (London: Jonathan Cape, 1970), p. 25

“The House of Lords have only been tolerated all these years because they were thought to be in a comatose condition which preceded dissolution. They have got to dissolution now. That this body, utterly unrepresentative, utterly unreformed, should come forward and claim the right to make and unmake Governments, should lay one greedy paw on the prerogatives of the sovereign and another upon the established and most fundamental privileges of the House of Commons is a spectacle which a year ago no one would have believed could happen; which fifty years ago no Peer would have dared suggest; and which two hundred years ago would not have been discussed in the amiable though active manner of a political campaign, but would have been settled by charges of cavalry and the steady advance of iron-clad pikemen.”

— Winston Churchill

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Churchill, Winston. “Winston Churchill Quotes: 1–30 of 578 Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 4 August 2021, https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Winston-Churchill-quotes.html#29

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Churchill, Winston. “Winston Churchill Quotes: 1–30 of 578 Quotes.” Last modified August 4, 2021. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/Winston-Churchill-quotes.html#29

Quote source: Early career years (1898–1929) The People's Rights [1909] (London: Jonathan Cape, 1970), p. 46

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