Adlai E Stevenson

A well known liberal intellectual, Adlai Stevenson ran for governor in 1948, winning with a margin of over a half-million votes. This large margin helped Truman win the Presidency as well.

Stevenson's grandfather had been Vice-President under Grover Cleveland, and his father, Lewis Stevenson, had been defeated for the Illinois Secretary of State in 1916. Considered too snobby and worldly to be a player in the Cook County Democratic Party, Stevenson had been educated at Princeton.1

As Governor, Stevenson campaigned against corruption in Springfield, and raided gambling operations downstate. He happened to ignore gambling in Cook County, however.2

It was Democratic Party Chair Jake Arvey who picked him to run for Governor in '48. Four years later it was Arvey again who pushed Stevenson to run for President. Having no interest in this position, Stevenson told the Democrats at their 1952 just that - he was nominated anyway. Running against Dwight Eisenhower, Stevenson became famous for bringing ideas, and not just soundbites, to the national stage.3

During this campaign Stevenson's opponents created the term "egghead" to make fun of his intellectual image. He would be attacked by Senator Joseph McCarthy and Richard Nixon, among others, and would be easily defeated. Afterwards he remained a leader in the Democratic Party, and would go up against Eisenhower once more in 1956, and once more be defeated.

JFK would give him the position of UN ambassador, bringing the man of ideas onto the world stage.

Stevenson died in London in 1965.4

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