Adlai Ewing Stevenson II, 1900 - 1965
White House photo by Warren K. Leffler, 23 June 1961
Born: 5 February 1900, Los Angeles, California
Died: 14 July 1965, London, England, UK
Stevenson was born into a political family, named after his grandfather who had been vice president under Grover Cleveland. (He was not named for his father, Lewis Green Stevenson, thus he is a "II" rather than a "Jr".) He grew up at Bloomington, Illinois. At age twelve he shot and killed a friend while demonstrating rifle drill steps, the rifle was loaded. He left Bloomington for his senior year of high school, graduating from University High School at Normal, Illinois, went to The Choate School where he was active in sports, drama, and edited the school newspaper. Graduating in 1918 he enlisted in the Navy but his training was not complete at the end of World War I. He went to Princeton University, served as managing editor of The Daily Princetonian and earned his B.A. in 1922 in literature and history. He failed a couple of courses at Harvard Law and returned to Bloomington to write for the family paper, The Daily Pantograph. Talking with Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr convinced him to take another run at the law, earning his LLB from Northwestern University and joining the Illinois bar in 1926.
In 1933 he became general counsel for the Agricultural Adjustment Administration, a New Deal agency, for two years. He practiced law at Chicago, then in 1940 because attorney and special assistant to the Secretary of the Navy, after the secretary's death he became special assistant to Secretary of State and was posted to London as deputy delegate to the commission creating the United Nations. He was drafted to run for governor of Illinois in 1948, a race he won by a landslide. When Harry Truman decided not to run for reëlection in 1948 he approached Stevenson to run and promised his support. He said no, and told his friends to stop campaigning for him, but no other viable candidate appeared he finally accepted. An intellectual and astute observer of foreign affairs, he made foreign policy the key of his 1952 and 1956 campaigns for president. His advisors said such a campaign would fail, they were right, but it gave him the opportunity to deliver a great many speeches, from which some of our quotes stem. In 1960 he declined to run again but indicated that he was open to a draft, which chilled his relationship with John F. Kennedy, but he ended up stumping for JFK. The young president sent him back to the UN where Stevenson served until his death in 1965. His time at the UN included the aftermath to the Bay of Pigs invasion, in which he was misled by the CIA and would have resigned but Kennedy was persuasive. He also went face-to-face with Soviet ambassador Zorin over the Cuban Missile Crisis. While walking through London's Grosvenor Square with another diplomat he had a heart attack and fell to the ground, dying at St George's Hospital later the same day.
Additional quotes from Wikiquote. Wikiquote entries are "sourced" and may include items longer than those included here, particularly for poets, lyricists, and dramatists.
Adlai Stevenson quotes:
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- A beauty is a woman you notice; a charmer is one who notices you. permalink
- A free society means a society based on free competition and there is no more important competition than competition in ideas, competition in opinion. This form of competition is essential to the preservation of a free press. permalink
Major Campaign Speeches of Adlai E. Stevenson (1952)
- A funny thing happened to me on the way to the White House. permalink
speech at Washington City (13 December 1952)
- A hungry man is not a free man. permalink
speech at Kasson, Minnesota (6 September 1952)
- A politician is a statesman who approaches every question with an open mouth. permalink
quoted by Leon Harris in The Fine Art of Political Wit (1964)
- A wise man does not try to hurry history. permalink
Speeches of Adlai Ewing Stevenson (1952), p. 39
- A wise man does not try to hurry history. Many wars have been avoided by patience, and many have been precipitated by reckless haste. permalink
Speeches of Adlai Ewing Stevenson (1952), p. 39
- Accuracy is to a newspaper what virtue is to a lady, but a newspaper can always print a retraction. permalink
quoted by Bill Adler in The Stevenson Wit (1966)
- After four years at the United Nations I sometimes yearn for the peace and tranquility of a political convention. permalink
quoted in The New York Times (14 August 1964)
- All progress has resulted from people who took unpopular positions. permalink
address at Princeton University, "The Educated Citizen" (22 March 1954)
- America is much more than a geographical fact. It is a political and moral fact, the first community in which men set out in principle to institutionalize freedom, responsible government, and human equality. permalink
quoted by Ronald Reagan in speech at Dixon High School, Dixon, Illinois (6 February 1984)
- An Independent is someone who wants to take the politics out of politics. permalink
quoted by William B. Whitman in The Quotable Politician (2003), p. 36
- As citizens of this democracy, you are the rulers and the ruled, the law-givers and the law-abiding, the beginning and the end. Democracy is a high privilege, but it is also a heavy responsibility whose shadow stalks, although you may never walk in the sun. permalink
speech at Chicago, Illinois (29 September 1952)
- Because we believe in the free mind we are also fighting those who, in the name of anti-Communism, would assail the community of freedom itself. permalink
quoted by Alden Whitman in Portrait — Adlai E. Stevenson: Politician, Diplomat, Friend (1965)
- Communism is the corruption of a dream of justice. permalink
speech at Urbana, Illinois (1951) in Adlai's Almanac: The Wit and Wisdom of Stevenson of Illinois (1952), p. 20
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