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Adlai E. Stevenson

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Adlai Ewing Stevenson, II
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His Life

Adlai Stevenson, II was named for his grandfather, who was Vice President for President Grover Cleveland during his second term of office. Adlai was born in Los Angeles, California; however, the family moved back to the family home in Bloomington, Illinois, when Adlai was five years old. This was his home then, except for a couple of years in Florida.

After Adlai's education in Bloomington, Choate School in Mass., Princeton University and Harvard University, he returned to Bloomington to work on the "Daily Pantagraph", the newspaper which had been owned by the Davis family. Then he joined a law firm in Chicago. In 1928 he married Ellen Borden. They lived in Libertyville, Illinois, outside of Chicago, which remained his home until his death in 1965, even after their divorce. They had three sons, one of whom, Adlai E, Stevenson, III, became a senator from Illinois.

Adlai entered governmental services as a special counsel to the Agricultural Adjustment Administration. During World War II he was an assistant to the U.S. Secretary of the Navy. After the war he was instrumental in organizing the United Nations.

In 1949 he was elected Democratic Governor of Illinois by an unprecedented majority. His excellent record in this office brought him into national prominence and resulted in his being drafted to be the Democratic presidential candidate in 1952. He was beaten by the Republican candidate, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, and four years later was beaten by Eisenhower again.

President Kennedy appointed Adlai as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations in 1961. While serving in this capacity, and after a trip to Geneva, Switzerland, he went to London. It was there that he collapsed suddenly on the streets of London on July 14, 1965, while walking with his close U.N. associate, Marietta Tree. He died instantly of a cerebral hemorrhage.

First Day Cover

Adlai E. Stevenson was honored by a commemorative stamp in 1965, shortly after his sudden death on July 14, 1965.

His work with the United Nations began with the San Francisco Conference in 1945, which adopted the United Nations Charter. Following that conference, he was a member of the United States mission to the United Nations General Assembly in the 1946-47 years.

In 1961 President Kennedy appointed Adlai E. Stevenson as United States Ambassador to the United Nations. He was carrying out his duties in this capacity when he died.

This First Day of Issue Cover is "In Memoriam" and carries the United Nations theme on the cachet.

Adlai E. Stevenson
His Religion

Adlai's grandfather Stevenson was a Democrat and a Presbyterian, while his maternal grandfather, W.O. Davis, was a Republican and a Unitarian. Adlai used to say jokingly, that he was a born politician; he had taken his politics from the Stevenson and his religion from the Davis side of the family.

The children, his older sister, Elizabeth, and Adlai were brought up in the "tolerant humanistic Unitarian faith" of their mother's family, with reminders that these had been Quakers too. He attended Sunday School in the old Unitarian Church, where he recited the credo that was as close as Unitarians came to dogma: "In the love of truth, and in the spirit of Jesus, we unite for the worship of God and the service of man."

Adlai E. Stevenson was a loyal member of the Unitarian Church in Bloomington. It was noted by a biographer that he was "ever loyal to the tradition represented by Emerson and Channing, whom he often cited: believers unorthodox by ordinary Christian standards, yet not skeptical or casual, who took their religion quite seriously and whose thought had an unmistakable spiritual quality."

This is reflected in his willingness to participate in the 80th and 90th anniversary celebrations of the founding of the Bloomington Unitarian Church, where he gave the main addresses.

When he was elected Governor of Illinois in 1949, the Unitarian minister in Bloomington, the Rev. Kenneth C. Walker, gave the invocation at his inauguration. Adlai kept in touch with Presbyterians and one Presbyterian minister was a good friend. When he was candidating for the Presidency in 1952, he issued a statement of dual membership, probably a result of his dual background and political circumstances.

Even on his presidential campaign in 1952, he would attend church on Sundays, wherever he was, and urged his staff to attend the churches of their choice.

After his sudden death in London, England, his family, friends, and fellow workers felt moved to have their own funeral services for him. As a result, there were three funeral services. The first was held in Washington, D. C., where his governmental peers could participate.

The second service was held at the Horton Field House of the Illinois State University, the largest auditorium in Bloomington. The Rev. Kenneth C. Walker, minister emeritus, now in Bloomington gave the opening prayer.

Later, at the Unitarian Church, the Rev. Robert Reed, the Rev. Dana McLean Greeley, President of the Unitarian Universalist Association, and the Rev. Homer Jack, all Unitarian ministers, and a Presbyterian minister, a friend of the family, conducted the service.

The Rev. Christopher Moore and his children's choir from the First Unitarian Church of Chicago contributed musical numbers.

An expression of Adlai E. Stevenson's religion and philosophy of life was used in the last Christmas card he sent to his friends: "Be gentle with yourself, You are a child of the Universe no less than the trees and the stars. You have a right to be here; whether it is clear to you or not, the Universe is unfolding as it should."

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