The Stevenson Family

The Stevenson Room interprets the history of the Stevenson Family in public service on the state, national, and international stage. The exhibit interprets a collection of photos, objects, audio, and video donated by the Stevensons, mostly pertaining to their multi-generational political campaigns. The Stevenson Collection tells the story of a family’s political action, fidelity to principles, and deep-seated belief in what good government can accomplish.

Adlai Stevenson I (1835-1914)
Adlai I served as President Grover Cleveland’s first assistant postmaster from 1885 to 1889. When Cleveland won the presidency again in 1892, Adlai I served as vice president. He was again nominated as vice president in 1900 and ran for governor in 1908, but he lost both elections. Adlai Stevenson I served the public for over 40 years.

Lewis Stevenson (1868-1929)
Lewis Stevenson, Adlai I’s son and vice-presidential secretary, is the least well-known of the Stevensons who held office. In 1914, Illinois Governor Edward Dunne appointed Lewis Illinois secretary of state. Lewis had hoped to follow in Adlai I’s footsteps when he campaigned for the vice-presidential nomination at the 1928 Democratic National Convention, but the party did not select him.

Adlai Stevenson II (1900-1965)
Adlai Stevenson II is by far the most famous Stevenson. He served as governor of Illinois and as President John F. Kennedy’s ambassador to the United Nations. He won the governorship in 1948, running a values-based, anti-corruption campaign. As governor, he integrated the Illinois National Guard, increased aid to education, and supported infrastructure projects. The Democratic Party selected him as their candidate for president in 1952 and 1956, but he lost both elections to Dwight Eisenhower. After Kennedy named him ambassador to the United Nations, Adlai II forcefully confronted U.S.S.R Ambassador Valerian Zorin over the placement of nuclear missiles in Cuba in 1962. Stevenson’s legacy is that of a public servant and conscientious statesman devoted to peace.

Adlai Stevenson III (1930 -)
Adlai Stevenson III won a seat in the Illinois House of Representatives in 1964. In 1966, he ran and won election for state treasurer. He then made the leap to the United States Senate, serving from 1970 to 1981. In the Senate, he spearheaded ethics reform and provided an early warning to the public about the threat of international terrorism. Adlai III ran for governor of Illinois in 1982 and 1986 but lost both times to Jim Thompson. After retiring from politics, Adlai III continued to work on policy issues through the Adlai Stevenson Center on Democracy in Mettawa, Illinois.

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