"Via ovicipitum dura est"
("The way of the egghead is hard") - Adlai Stevenson, Harvard,
As governor of the host state,
and renowned already for his honesty, efficiency and commitment to
improving his state's schools, mental health hospitals and welfare
programs, Adlai Stevenson (1900 - 1965) accepted the Democratic
Presidential nomination in 1952 in Chicago with the following
Let's talk sense to the American people! Let's tell
them the truth, that there are no gains without pains, that we are
now on the eve of great decisions, not easy decisions, like
resistance when you're attacked, but a long, patient, costly
struggle which alone can assure triumph over the great enemies of
man - war, poverty and tyranny - and the assaults upon human
dignity which are the most grievous consequences of each.
His intellect, eloquent speaking
style and debate prowess excited and inspired millions ready to
embrace the new America he promoted, but to many others he and his
supporters were simply "eggheads."
All progress has resulted from people who took
Twice an unsuccessful candidate
for President of the United States ("Never run against a war hero,"
Stevenson quipped years later about his defeats to General
Eisenhower), and later a United States Ambassador to the United
Nations during the Kennedy administration, he was always willing to
speak his mind on issues important to him, armed with a steady
arsenal of wit and wisdom.
In America any boy may become President ... and I
suppose it's just one of the risks he takes.
When questioned whether he
thought his support for a ban on nuclear testing might cost him
votes, Stevenson remarked: "There are worse things than losing an
election; the worst thing is to lose one's convictions and not tell
the people the truth."
I have tried to talk about the issues in this
campaign ... and this has sometimes been a lonely road
because I never meet anybody coming the other way.
Stevenson also publicly
denounced McCarthyism at a time when it was considered politically
dangerous (at the very least) to do so. "Because we believe in a
free mind, we are also fighting those who, in the name of
anti-Communism, would assail the community of freedom itself," he
dared to proclaim, in McCarthy's home state of Wisconsin, no
Patriotism is not short, frenzied outbursts of
emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a
During his 1952 campaign, a news
photographer captured a picture of Stevenson with a large hole in
his shoe. "Better a hole in the shoe than a hole in the head!" he
remarked. This now iconic political image became a campaign symbol,
representing his down-to-earth character and frugality.
On this shrunken globe, men can no longer live as