Sail On, O Ship of State! The Longfellow Verse in Mr. Roosevelt’s Message to Mr. Churchill.

"Sail on O Ship of State! Sail on, o union, strong and great!" One of the two broadsides specially printed and carried by Churchill to the Atlantic Conference signed by both him and Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Sail On, O Ship of State! The Longfellow Verse in Mr. Roosevelt’s Message to Mr. Churchill.

ROOSEVELT, Franklin Delano; Winston S. Churchill. [Henry Wadsworth Longfellow].

$150,000.00

Item Number: 125419

Rare lithographic broadside signed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt as the thirty-second President of the United States and Winston S. Churchill as Prime Minster of the United Kingdom at the Atlantic Conference; one of only two known examples of this broadside specially printed at Churchill’s direction and signed by both world leaders at their first wartime conference. One page, the lithograph features the famed Henry Wadsworth Longfellow verse first used by FDR in a letter of support to Churchill before the United States entered the war and a galleon at sea. The letter, sent the day before Roosevelt’s third inauguration on January 20, 1941 read in full, “Dear Churchill, Wendell Wilkie will give you this. He is truly helping to keep politics out over here. I think this verse applies to you people as it does to us: “Sail on, Oh Ship of State! Sail on, Oh Union strong and great. Humanity with all its fears, With all the hope of future years, Is hanging breathless on thy fate.” As ever yours, Franklin D. Roosevelt.” “Roosevelt never made a more graceful or effective gesture than that” (R. Sherwood, Roosevelt and Hopkins, 234). The letter and the verse were hand-carried by Wendell Wilkie to London and given by Hopkins to the Prime Minister. Churchill, desperate for American support, found the letter “an inspiration”, had it framed, and proudly displayed it at Chartwell for many years. In early August of 1941, Churchill had this decorative broadside printed, and when he arrived in Newfoundland for the conference with the President, he brought two copies to be signed “one for himself and one for the President” (Warren F. Kimball, Forged In War: Roosevelt, Churchill and the Second World War, 98). Signed by Roosevelt, “Franklin D. Roosevelt” and Churchill, “Winton S. Churchill.” Double matted and framed. The entire piece measures 22 inches by 20.5 inches. The last known example achieved $96,000 in a 2008 auction. Scarce and desirable.

The historic secret Atlantic Conference was held between August 9th and 12th, 1941 on a warship anchored in Placentia Bay, Newfoundland. At that momentous meeting, the two leaders and their military aides agreed upon critical policies for the conduct of a joint war against Germany, even though the U.S. was still officially neutral and would remain so until December 8. The meetings culminated in the Atlantic Charter, a declaration of principles issued a few days after the conference. Often compared to Wilson's Fourteen Points, the Charter also laid the foundation for the United Nations Declaration, signed by 26 nations in January 1942.

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