Reagan-Thatcher Relationship Explored in New Exhibit at the National Churchill Museum

The close and unique relationship of world leaders President Ronald Reagan and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher are explored in a new exhibit open to the public Jan. 13-March 9 at the National Churchill Museum on the campus of Westminster College.

“Through the use of pictures and artifacts associated with these two great leaders, we are able to trace the influences that developed their character and personalities, their early political lives, their partnership on domestic and foreign issues and their legacy,” says Dr. Rob Havers, Executive Director of the National Churchill Museum.

The official opening of the exhibit will be from 1 p.m.-3 p.m. on Saturday, January 18, and will feature St. Louis Post-Dispatch artist Dan Martin and some of his art work. 

Martin draws caricatures of world leaders and other famous people.  He has drawn a caricature of Sir Winston Churchill and was responsible for the illustrations in the book The Quotable Winston Churchill edited by Richard J. Mahoney with Shera Dalin.  The volume includes a remembrance by Margaret Thatcher.  Martin’s art includes the Weatherbird as well as caricatures of sports figures such as Stan Musial and Babe Ruth.

Artifacts in the exhibit include photos of Reagan and Thatcher, an American literature essay written by Reagan while in college, Reagan’s honorary degree diploma from Westminster, gifts exchanged between the Reagans and the Thatchers, cowboy boots with the Presidential seal, a jelly bean clock, a satire piece with Reagan as Rhett Butler and Thatcher as Scarlett O’Hara, and caricature teapots of Reagan and Thatcher.

Also, on display is the suit Reagan wore in the film “King’s Row,” which is on loan from the Kingdom of Callaway Chamber of Commerce.

The exhibit was inspired by the research and newly published book Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan: A Very Political Special Relationship, written by Dr. James Cooper, Senior Lecturer of History at Oxford Brookes University, who was the Fulbright Robertson Visiting Professor in British History at Westminster during the 2012-2013 school year.

In his book, Cooper draws the comparison that Reagan and Thatcher both emerged in the political arena as outsiders in their political parties at times of decline in their country’s economies and a decline in world standing.  Both espoused policies of less government intrusion, a conservative platform of lower taxes and balanced budgets and a firmer stance toward  the Soviet Union during their years in leadership roles.

Recalling their first meeting in April 1975, Reagan said in his memoirs:  “…it was evident from our first meeting that we were soul mates when it came to reducing government and expanding economic freedom.”

Reagan visited the Westminster College campus in 1990 to dedicate the “Breakthrough” sculpture and Thatcher was the 1996 Green Lecturer on campus.

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