Adlai Stevenson II (1900 – 1965) was a cultivated and articulate Democrat who ran for the U.S. Presidency in 1952 and 1956. He was the governor of Illinois from 1949 – 1953 and was the U.S.'s Ambassador to the United Nations from 1961 – 1965. There he was known as a skilled negotiator. One of his triumphs was the signing in 1963 of the treaty banning all underground testing of nuclear devices.

While many of his supporters were impressed by his intellect and eloquence, Stevenson was called "an egghead," a derisive comment leveled against well-educated politicians. Trained in law and diplomacy, Stevenson often squared off in heated debates with Senator Joseph R. McCarthy who was an early practitioner of jugular-vein politics. After many years of service, Stevenson said: "I think government should be small in scope and as local in character as possible."

To Name This Day . . .


Reflect upon these statements of belief by Adlai Stevenson:

  • "My definition of a free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular."
  • "The journey of a thousand leagues begins with a single step. So we must never neglect any work of peace within our reach, however small."
  • "I believe in the forgiveness of sin and the redemption of ignorance."
  • "There is a spiritual hunger in the world — and it cannot be satisfied by better cars on longer credit terms."

Spiritual Practice

The spiritual practice of vision encompasses the discovery of fresh insights about the way things are and the cultivation of different outlooks on what can be. Below is a vision statement by Adlai Stevenson. After meditating on his view of what his country could be, write your own credo about your country.

"I see an America where no man fears to think as he pleases, or say what he thinks. I see an America where slums have vanished and children are raised in decency and self-respect. I see an America where men and women have the leisure from toil — leisure to cultivate the resources
of the spirit. I see an America where no man is another's master — where no man's mind is dark with fear. I see an America at peace with the world. I see an America as the horizon of human hopes."

— Adlai Stevenson during his 1952 campaign for the U.S. Presidency