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Blood, toil, tears, and sweat

Blood, toil, tears, and sweat

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The famous phrase Blood, toil, tears and sweat was first uttered on 2 July 1849 by Giuseppe Garibaldi
Giuseppe Garibaldi
Giuseppe Garibaldi was an Italian military and political figure. In his twenties, he joined the Carbonari Italian patriot revolutionaries, and fled Italy after a failed insurrection. Garibaldi took part in the War of the Farrapos and the Uruguayan Civil War leading the Italian Legion, and...

 when rallying his revolutionary forces in Rome. Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States . He is noted for his exuberant personality, range of interests and achievements, and his leadership of the Progressive Movement, as well as his "cowboy" persona and robust masculinity...

 also uttered the phrase in an address to the Naval War College on June 2, 1897, following his appointment as Assistant Secretary of the Navy.

However, the phrase became well known after a speech given by Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

 to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom
Parliament of the United Kingdom
The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the supreme legislative body in the United Kingdom, British Crown dependencies and British overseas territories, located in London...

 on 13 May 1940. Churchill, a keen soldier, was likely to have read works by Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States . He is noted for his exuberant personality, range of interests and achievements, and his leadership of the Progressive Movement, as well as his "cowboy" persona and robust masculinity...

, who was a widely published military historian; it is also possible he read the speech after being appointed First Lord of the Admiralty, a position similar to Roosevelt's. It was Churchill's first speech to the House after taking over as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the Head of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister and Cabinet are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the Sovereign, to Parliament, to their political party and...

 in the first year of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, having replaced Neville Chamberlain
Neville Chamberlain
Arthur Neville Chamberlain FRS was a British Conservative politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from May 1937 to May 1940. Chamberlain is best known for his appeasement foreign policy, and in particular for his signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938, conceding the...

 on 10 May.

Background


It was the first of three speeches which he gave during the period of the Battle of France
Battle of France
In the Second World War, the Battle of France was the German invasion of France and the Low Countries, beginning on 10 May 1940, which ended the Phoney War. The battle consisted of two main operations. In the first, Fall Gelb , German armoured units pushed through the Ardennes, to cut off and...

. This speech (and the two others, the "We shall fight on the beaches
We shall fight on the beaches
We Shall Fight on the Beaches is a common title given to a speech delivered by Winston Churchill to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom on 4th June 1940...

" speech of 4 June and the "This was their finest hour
This was their finest hour
The This was their finest hour speech was delivered by Winston Churchill to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom on 18 June 1940...

" speech of 18 June) was a great inspiration to the embattled United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

after suffering severe setbacks during the early war.

Excerpts


We are in the preliminary stage of one of the greatest battles in history.... That we are in action at many points — in Norway and in Holland —, that we have to be prepared in the Mediterranean. That the air battle is continuous, and that many preparations have to be made here at home.


I would say to the House as I said to those who have joined this government: I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat. We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering.


You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: Victory. Victory at all costs — Victory in spite of all terror — Victory, however long and hard the road may be, for without victory there is no survival.


(Text transcription as originally read by Churchill)

Further reading

  • John Lukacs, Five Days in London: May 1940 (Yale University, New Haven, 2001) is a good look at the political situation in the British government when Churchill made this speech

External links