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Wednesday, September 23, 2020

A Union of the English-Speaking Peoples

"As we stand on the threshold of a new century - indeed, of a new millennium
- it behooves us to remember what led to the creation of the English-Speaking Union in the first place.

Evelyn Wrench’s idea to form a society for the co-operation of the English-speaking peoples came amidst the carnage and chaos of the First World War. He was prescient. He believed then - and history has borne him out - that the security of the world would largely depend on the close co-operation of the English speaking peoples. Europe’s first great war had made that much clear; its second, only a little more than two decades later, would confirm it.

It was in the 1930s that Winston Churchill set out to write A History of the English-Speaking Peoples. Having served as chairman of the English-Speaking Union from 1921-1926, he knew well the importance of drawing together those who had stood their ground against Germany during the Great War. When he was finally able to return to his task in the 1950s, after the defeat of Hitler’s tyranny, he was more convinced than ever of what he called the English-speaking peoples’ “common duty to the human race.” In his commitment to the English-speaking peoples, as in so much else, Churchill displayed what President Ronald Reagan would later describe as “that special attribute of great statesmen - the gift of vision, the willingness to see the future based on the experience of the past.”

From its official launch on the Fourth of July, 1918, the ESU has prospered and grown into the international organisation we know today, bringing together in common cause over one billion speakers of the English language. Through your programmes and publications, your scholarships and exchanges, the ESU does so much to insure that we will remain united and continue to promote the fundamental principles inherent in our English-speaking cultures. For English is not only the language of politics, diplomacy, and finance, of international business and travel; it is also - and most important of all - the language of values.

The values of the English-speaking peoples which we celebrate are of ancient origin. In the preface to his History, Churchill pointed out that “by the time Christopher Columbus set sail for the American continent” Britain had already come to be characterised by a body of legal principles and institutions including “parliament, trial by jury, local government by local citizens, and even the beginnings of a free press.” These values which we share as English speaking peoples have come together in what we call the rule of law."


1999 Dec 7 Tu, Margaret Thatcher.
Speech to the English-Speaking Union in New York ("The Language of Liberty").

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