Roosevelt's gift to Churchill

Churchill's Roosevelt inauguration medallion on display at Chartwell, a National Trust property in Kent

Presented to Churchill at the Yalta conference, Roosevelt’s fourth inauguration medal is not just a reminder of Roosevelt’s influence as President, but a symbol of the friendship that has been praised for saving the world.

" In Franklin Roosevelt there died the greatest American friend we have ever known, and the greatest champion of freedom who has ever brought help and comfort from the new world to the old"
- Sir Winston Churchill

Rocky beginnings

It is well known that Roosevelt and Churchill formed a close friendship over the course of the Second World War, as both their countries fought for freedom. You may be surprised then to learn that their relationship did not get off to a good start.

The pair first met at a formal dinner party in honour of the British war ministers in London way back in 1918. At this point Churchill was Minister of Munitions whilst Roosevelt was the Assistant Secretary of the Navy. The dinner stayed in Roosevelt’s mind for years to come; for 21 years later he wrote in a letter that Churchill ‘acted like a stinker…lording it all over us’ that evening. 

A close friendship

What made the friendship between Roosevelt and Churchill so special was that they not only shared a single mission, to bring about ally victory in war, but they shared a true fondness for each other. Between September 1939 and April 1945, the two had written and shared nearly two thousand letters and spent over 130 days in each other’s company.

The reverse side of the medallion shows a replica of Longfellow's 'Ship of State'
Reverse of Churchill's Roosevelt inauguration medallion on display at Chartwell, a National Trust property in Kent

The famous duo once took time out of a vital summit meeting to visit Morroco under Churchill's insistence that Roosevelt should see what he described as one of the nicest places on earth. They even celebrated Christmas, Thanksgiving and New Year’s together.

On November 7 1944 Roosevelt was elected for an unprecedented fourth term in office. His fourth inauguration ceremony took place on 20 January 1945. He died just three months later. To this day he remains the only president to be elected for more than two terms in office.

" I have lost a dear and cherished friendship which was forged in the fire of war. I trust you will find consolation in the magnitude of his work and the glory of his name."
- Sir Winston Churchill to Eleanor following Roosevelt's death

Only 10 examples of this medallion were struck on gold, with one going to Churchill and another going to Stalin. Both were presented at the Yalta Conference in February 1945. The Chicago times reported on the ceremony:

‘And now we come to Mr. Roosevelt’s gifts at Yalta to Mr. Churchill and Mr. Stalin…It would embarrass Mr. Roosevelt to express in words to his colleagues how heavily he was indebted to them for the fourth inauguration.’

This inauguration medallion serves as a final lifetime memento of the close relationship forged between Churchill and Roosevelt, making it a remarkable item.

With your help we can keep the memory of this important relationship alive at Chartwell.