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Churchill On America—And A Brief Research Project

October 14, 2008

I just heard a British commentator this morning, on NPR, applying a Winston Churchill quote roughly as follows in relation to America’s Panic of 2008:

“America will always do the right thing, but only after exhausting all other options.”

I love it.

Being an incurably curious academic, I searched for the source. After a little work I found these other versions:

“The Americans will always do the right thing… after they’ve exhausted all the alternatives.”

“Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing…after they have exhausted all other possibilities.”

“Americans will always do the right thing, after they have exhausted all the alternatives.”

“America can always be counted on to do the right thing, after it has exhausted all other possibilities.”

“The United States invariably does the right thing, after having exhausted every other alternative.”

The last I found via Wikiquote, about four-fifths down the page. It is listed under the general category of unsourced.

I don’t know which—if any—are accurate, but the truth behind the quote stands. – TL

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5 Comments
  1. Is there a record of where he said it? Was it a speech? Or perhaps – more likely – a mumbled aside walking from the Lincoln Bedroom while thoroughly intoxicated? Either way, a classic statement of truth.

  2. Look here: not in any printed source, but “likely” to have been said by Churchill.

  3. It was printed in one of his five volumes about WWII, so it's authentic. I've lost my set of the books, though, so I can't recall the exact wording. I was looking it up when I came across this blog page.

  4. Oops, never mind. I was thinking of the introductory statement about the U.S. when he said “when the half-awake were half-ready.” Disregard my former post.

  5. AJ North permalink

    Here is a discussion offering a very different — and surprising – explanation of the origin (and actual wording) of the quote above: http://quoteinvestigator.com/2012/11/11/exhaust-alternatives/ .

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