Presenter's Name(s)

Samantha SullivanFollow

Primary Faculty Mentor Name

Steve Zdatny

Secondary Mentor NetID

abuchanan; memery

Secondary Mentor Name

Andrew Buchanan; Meaghan Emery

Status

Undergraduate

Student College

College of Arts and Sciences

Program/Major

History

Primary Research Category

Arts & Humanities

Presentation Title

Personalities and Perceptions: Churchill, de Gaulle, and British-Free French Relations 1940-1941

Time

9:00 AM

Location

Silver Maple Ballroom - Social Sciences

Abstract

Following the German invasion of France in June 1940, French general Charles de Gaulle fled his home country for England to escape the German occupation. He lived in London for the duration of the war, but began to assemble resistance forces almost immediately upon his arrival. De Gaulle met with Prime Minister Winston Churchill to try to gain British military, economic, and political support for Free France, the name of his government-in-exile that would come to counter the Vichy government in mainland France. While Churchill agreed to help de Gaulle, their relationship was fraught with tension. In my thesis, I will argue that the political relations between Free France and Britain were defined by the interpersonal relationship between Churchill and de Gaulle. It will contribute to literature in both diplomatic history and studies of leadership in international relations. Moreover, I will explore how that relationship evolved in the months before the Americans entered the war, as President Roosevelt, who hated de Gaulle, altered the balance of power among the Allies. The relationship between these two leaders was defined both by a substantial, although not perfect, convergence of interests between two arch-enemies of Nazi Germany and by a predictable friction between two strong personalities. The reciprocal play between interests and personalities is important precisely for the indelible mark it left on the Allied cause and the future of Anglo-French relations.

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Personalities and Perceptions: Churchill, de Gaulle, and British-Free French Relations 1940-1941

Following the German invasion of France in June 1940, French general Charles de Gaulle fled his home country for England to escape the German occupation. He lived in London for the duration of the war, but began to assemble resistance forces almost immediately upon his arrival. De Gaulle met with Prime Minister Winston Churchill to try to gain British military, economic, and political support for Free France, the name of his government-in-exile that would come to counter the Vichy government in mainland France. While Churchill agreed to help de Gaulle, their relationship was fraught with tension. In my thesis, I will argue that the political relations between Free France and Britain were defined by the interpersonal relationship between Churchill and de Gaulle. It will contribute to literature in both diplomatic history and studies of leadership in international relations. Moreover, I will explore how that relationship evolved in the months before the Americans entered the war, as President Roosevelt, who hated de Gaulle, altered the balance of power among the Allies. The relationship between these two leaders was defined both by a substantial, although not perfect, convergence of interests between two arch-enemies of Nazi Germany and by a predictable friction between two strong personalities. The reciprocal play between interests and personalities is important precisely for the indelible mark it left on the Allied cause and the future of Anglo-French relations.