The John Gilbert Winant Visiting Professorship in American Government is named after John G. ‘Gil’ Winant (1889-1947). He was elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives in 1916, before joining the United States Army Air Service and serving as a pilot in the First World War. He was elected to the New Hampshire Senate in 1920 and later appointed Governor of New Hampshire from 1925 to 1927, and again from 1931 to 1935, the first man to serve more than a single term in this office.
During the Great Depression Winant oversaw an emergency credit act to finance deficits faced by local administrations, pushed through a minimum wage for women and children, and fought for better accounting of state agencies’ funds. In 1935 he was appointed as first head of the Social Security Board by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and then led the International Labor Organization in Geneva from 1939. He served as United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom (1941-1946) and was instrumental in forging the wartime alliance between the US and Great Britain. On arriving in 1941 in the midst of the Blitz, he announced: "I'm very glad to be here. There is no place I'd rather be at this time than in England".
Winant was with Prime Minister Winston Churchill when Churchill first heard about the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941. After the war ended, President Harry Truman appointed Winant as US Representative to UNESCO in 1946. He retired to Concord shortly afterwards to write his memoirs, and died the following year.
The Winant Professorship was founded by Rivington and Joan Winant in tribute to Gil Winant’s lifetime of service and dedication. The late Rivington Winant (1925-2011) was Gil Winant’s younger son and a loyal friend of Oxford University.
The Chair has been held by many of the most distinguished scholars of American politics and government. In 2023-24 the Chair will be held by Jason P. Casellas (University of Houston).
The John G. Winant Associate Professorship in American Foreign Policy was generously established by John G. Winant Jr. (1922-1993), the Ambassador’s elder son. The Associate Professorship is currently held by Janina Dill.