Winant becomes WWII ambassador to Great Britain

  • Former N.H. governor John Gilbert Winant (1889–1947) signs an agreement with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill on March 27, 1941. Courtesy of the N.H. Historical Society

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

On Feb. 6, 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt appointed New Hampshire’s John Gilbert Winant ambassador to Great Britain.

Winant assumed the post under difficult conditions, as Britain and Germany had been at war since 1939. Britain was the only nation left fighting Germany by 1941 and was in critical need of U.S. supplies. The United States was sympathetic to Britain’s cause but wanted to avoid joining the war.

Winant had to walk a delicate line of supporting the British without getting America overtly involved in the war effort. He helped build the close, cooperative relationship between Britain and America and came to be revered by the British people.

After the war, Winston Churchill called him “a friend of justice, freedom, and truth.”

Winant is the only American besides Dwight D. Eisenhower to be made an honorary member of the British Order of Merit.