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Stevenson, Adlai Ewing

STEVENSON, ADLAI EWING

Adlai Ewing Stevenson was a lawyer, statesman, and unsuccessful democratic party candidate for the presidency in 1952 and 1956. An eloquent and witty speaker, Stevenson served as chief U.S. delegate to the united nations during the Kennedy administration.

Stevenson was born on February 5, 1900, in Los Angeles, California, and moved with his family to Bloomington, Illinois, in 1906. He graduated from Princeton University in 1922 and studied law at Northwestern University. He was admitted to the Illinois bar in 1926 and established a successful law practice in Chicago.

By the early 1930s Stevenson had set his sights on public service, following the course of his grandfather, Adlai E. Stevenson, who was vice president of the United States during the administration of President grover cleveland (1893–1897). Stevenson joined the new deal administration of President franklin d. roosevelt in 1933, serving as special legal adviser to the Agricultural Adjustment Administration. In 1934 he became general counsel for the Federal Alcohol Bureau.

Though Stevenson returned to his Chicago law practice in 1934, he remained an active civic leader. He headed the Chicago Bar Association's Civil Rights Committee and became the chair of the Chicago chapter of the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies. This committee, composed of prominent business and civic leaders, worked to overcome U.S. isolationist foreign policy and provide aid to Great Britain and France at the beginning of world war ii.

Stevenson rejoined the Roosevelt administration in 1941 as special assistant to the secretary of the Navy, and in 1943 he led a mission to Italy to establish a U.S. relief program. In 1945 Stevenson moved to the state department, where he became a key participant in the establishment of the United Nations (U.N.). He was senior adviser to the U.S. delegation at the first meeting of the U.N. General Assembly in London in 1946 and was a U.S. delegate at meetings of the assembly in New York in 1946 and 1947.

In 1948 Stevenson returned to Illinois and ran as the Democratic candidate for governor. He was elected by the largest majority ever recorded in the state. He proved an effective chief executive, revitalizing the civil service, establishing a merit system for the hiring of state police, improving the care of patients in state mental hospitals, and increasing state aid to public education.

When President harry s. truman announced that he would not seek reelection in 1952, Democratic leaders urged Stevenson to seek the nomination. Although Stevenson declined to campaign for the nomination, the 1952 Democratic National Convention in Chicago drafted him as their presidential candidate. Stevenson ran a vigorous campaign but proved no match for the Republican candidate and popular war hero, General dwight d. eisenhower. Eisenhower easily defeated Stevenson in 1952 and again in 1956.

Stevenson spent the 1950s practicing law in Chicago and serving as a spokesperson for the Democratic Party. At the 1960 Democratic

National Convention in Los Angeles, a small group of liberals again sought to draft Stevenson for president. The effort failed and Senator john f. kennedy of Massachusetts was nominated.

Kennedy appointed Stevenson U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and gave him cabinet rank. Stevenson was deeply disappointed, however, believing he was the best-qualified person to serve as secretary of state. Despite his disappointment, Stevenson carried out his role at the United Nations with distinction. During the cuban missile crisis of October 1962, Stevenson had a dramatic confrontation with the Soviet Union's delegate, telling the delegate he was prepared to wait "until Hell freezes over" for an answer to his question about Soviet missiles in Cuba.

"The essence of a republican government is not command. It is consent."
—Adlai Stevenson

Stevenson died on July 14, 1965, in London, England.

further readings

Broadwater, Jeff. 1994. Adlai Stevenson and American Politics: The Odyssey of a Cold War Liberal. New York: Twayne.

Martin, John Bartlow. 1977. Adlai Stevenson and the World. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday.

——. 1976. Adlai Stevenson of Illinois: The Life of Adlai Stevenson. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday.

Stevenson, Adlai E. 1972–79. The Papers of Adlai E. Stevenson. Ed. by Walter Johnson. Boston: Little, Brown.

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Adlai Ewing Stevenson

Adlai Ewing Stevenson

Adlai Ewing Stevenson (1900-1965), American statesman and diplomat, was twice Democratic candidate for president.

Adlai Stevenson was born in Los Angeles, Calif., on Feb. 5, 1900, of a family prominent in Bloomington, Ill. He was the grandson of Adlai E. Stevenson, the vice president under Grover Cleveland. Graduating from the public schools, he attended Choate Academy, an eastern private school. He finished Princeton University in 1922 and graduated from Northwestern University Law School in 1926. Admitted that year to the Illinois bar, he began law practice in Chicago. He early showed studious tastes, especially for history and international affairs.

Stevenson became familiar with farm needs and policies around Bloomington. He combined intense faith in democracy with a strong desire to encourage thinking upon the issues of the time. His principles were also influenced by work in Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal administration. He worked for the Chicago Foreign Policy Association and the Chicago Bar Association and helped to promote the civil rights movement. In 1946-1947 he served as United States delegate to the General Assembly of the United Nations.

In 1948 Stevenson was elected governor of Illinois. His administration of the state, though ambitious and vigorous, was hampered by Republican legislative opposition and a division of sentiment between rural and industrial Illinois. Nevertheless, having attracted wide attention through speeches and articles, he was nominated for president on the Democratic ticket in 1952. Though defeated by Dwight Eisenhower, he maintained his place as leader of the Democratic party, representing its more studious, liberal element.

Stevenson ran against Eisenhower again in the presidential race of 1956. A lonely, thoughtful man, with a tinge of melancholia which made him seem unhappy despite his warm humor and flashing wit, he appeared colorless compared with Eisenhower. He later declared that one of his principal disappointments in 1956 was the failure to provoke a real debate on the issues. Stevenson's contribution to public discussion was, nevertheless, large and unique, for he appraised the importance of issues in the revolutionary new era.

After John F. Kennedy was elected president, Stevenson made no secret of his wish to be appointed secretary of state. Made ambassador to the United Nations instead, he was deeply disappointed. He felt humiliated when, as America's UN representative, he had to explain and defend policies and actions of other men, some of which, like the Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba in April 1961, he did not approve. But he was an immovable supporter of the United States against Soviet policies and threats and especially distinguished himself in refuting and denouncing the U.S.S.R.'s position in UN debate. On Oct. 25, 1962 he demanded that the Soviet ambassador to the UN state honestly whether the U.S.S.R. was placing missiles and sites in Cuba. When Soviet Ambassador Zorin replied evasively, "I am not in an American courtroom, sir," Stevenson thundered, "You are in the court of world opinion right now." While still ambassador to the United Nations, Stevenson died suddenly in London on July 14, 1965.

Further Reading

Bert Cochran, Adlai Stevenson: Patrician among the Politicians (1969), views Stevenson as a member of an American ruling upper class. Other biographical works include Kenneth Sydney Davis, The Politics of Honor: A Biography of Adlai E. Stevenson (1957; rev. ed. 1967); Stuart Gerry Brown, Conscience in Politics: Adlai Stevenson in the 1950's (1961) and Adlai E. Stevenson, a Short Biography: The Conscience of the Country (1965); Herbert J. Muller, Adlai Stevenson: A Study in Values (1967); and Richard J. Walton, The Remnants of Power: The Tragic Last Years of Adlai Stevenson (1968). Composite views of Stevenson are offered by Alden Whitman and the New York Times as Portrait: Adlai E. Stevenson: Politician, Diplomat, Friend (1965), and Edward P. Doyle, As We Knew Adlai: The Stevenson Story by Twenty-two Friends (1966). Also useful is Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Prospect for America: The Rockefeller Panel Reports (1961). □

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Stevenson, Adlai Ewing (1900–1965, American statesman)

Adlai Ewing Stevenson, 1900–1965, American statesman, b. Los Angeles; grandson of Adlai Ewing Stevenson (1835–1914). A graduate (1922) of Princeton, he received his law degree from Northwestern Univ., was admitted (1926) to the bar, and practiced law in Chicago. He entered government service as special counsel to the Agricultural Adjustment Administration (1933–34) and later served as assistant general counsel to the Federal Alcohol Bureau (1934) and as an assistant to the U.S. Secretary of the Navy (1941–44). In 1945 he became special assistant to Secretary of State Stettinius and attended the San Francisco Conference that founded the United Nations. He was a member of the U.S. mission to the UN General Assembly in 1946 and 1947. In 1949, Stevenson was elected Democratic governor of Illinois by an unprecedented majority; his record of reforms in office brought him national prominence, and he was drafted (1952) to be the Democratic presidential candidate. Despite an eloquent campaign, he was decisively defeated by Dwight D. Eisenhower. In 1956, Stevenson campaigned actively and successfully for renomination but was defeated by Eisenhower by an even greater margin. In 1960 he was a more reluctant contender for the Democratic nomination, which he lost to John F. Kennedy. In 1961, President Kennedy appointed him U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, with cabinet rank. He held this position until his death. Despite his electoral defeats, Stevenson won enormous respect and admiration as an eloquent spokesman for liberal reform and for internationalism. Stevenson's works include A Call to Greatness (1954), Friends and Enemies (1959), and Putting First Things First (1960). His papers were edited by Walker Johnson (8 vol., 1972–79). His oldest son, Adlai Ewing Stevenson 3d, 1930–, b. Chicago, served as U.S. senator from Illinois (1970–81). He ran unsuccessfully for governor of Illinois in 1982 and 1986.

See biographies of the elder Stevenson by K. S. Davis (1957, repr. 1967), S. G. Brown (1961), H. J. Muller (1967), and B. Cochran (1969); J. H. Baker, The Stevensons (1996).

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Stevenson, Adlai Ewing (1835–1914, Vice President of the United States)

Adlai Ewing Stevenson, 1835–1914, Vice President of the United States (1893–97), b. Christian co., Ky. He practiced law at Bloomington, Ill., and was twice (1874, 1878) elected to the U.S. Congress as a Democrat. He was First Assistant Postmaster General during Grover Cleveland's first term (1885–89) and Vice President during his second. In 1900, Stevenson again ran for Vice President on the Democratic ticket, this time with William Jennings Bryan. After losing this election he later ran (1908) for governor of Illinois but was defeated.

See studies by R. Sievers (1983) and P. McKeever (1989).

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Stevenson, Adlai Ewing

Stevenson, Adlai Ewing (1900–65) US politician, grandson of vice president Adlai Stevenson. Instrumental in setting up the United Nations, he remained as the US delegation's advisor (1946–47), before being elected governor of Illinois (1949). He was the unsucessful Democratic candidate in 1952 and 1956 against Eisenhower. He was appointed US ambassador to the United Nations in 1961.

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