Maggie Thatcher’s connection to North Carolina — through Jesse Helms

Margaret Thatcher’s passing yesterday prompted this article in the Raleigh News & Observer focusing on the long friendship between the Iron Lady and North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms:

Helms, who represented North Carolina in the U.S. Senate for 30 years, once called [Thatcher] “the greatest prime minister in Great Britain since Winston Churchill.”

The former British prime minister, for her part, put Helms up there with the late President Ronald Reagan and herself when it came to upholding a principled, conservative approach to government.

The two conservatives first met during President Jimmy Carter’s administration during the 1970s, before Thatcher became prime minister, said John Dodd, president of the Jesse Helms Center in Wingate.

Helms befriended Thatcher on that visit, providing office space for her while she was in Washington.

He remembered the encounter in his autobiography, calling her an “indomitable woman” and writing: “From the beginning I knew she would be a leader like few the world has seen.”

Their friendship lasted until his death in 2008.

“They shared the same values,” Dodd said, particularly when it came to what should be done about ending the Cold War.

But conservative values were not all the two had in common, Dodd said.

“They both came from very humble backgrounds; they were not full of themselves at all,” he said. “They had a good understanding and appreciation of the common man and what the common man’s goals were.”

For more on the Jesse Helms Center, read our Achiever Spotlight on Xavier Massey.