Adlai Ewing Stevenson II, 1900 - 1965

portrait of Adlai Stevenson
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.

Biography from Wikipedia and Netstate

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