Written by Patricia Turnier LL.M   
Thursday, 02 May 2013 21:02

                        Vice President                                                Governor                                                 Senator
                    Adlai E. Stevenson I                               Adlai E. Stevenson II                           Adlai E. Stevenson III  


Perchance no American family has been actively involved in public office and politics for as long as the Adlai Stenvensons’ dynasty, starting with Jesse W. Fell (1808-1887) in the 1830s, including Vice President Adlai I (1835-1914)1, Governor Adlai II (1900-1965) and U.S. Senator Adlai III. Notably, Fell was Abraham Lincoln’s sponsor. Without Fell, the course of U.S. history would have been altered and Lincoln may never have been president.

Aforementioned, Adlai Ewing Stevenson III, born in 1930, was the Senator of Illinois from 1970 until 1981. Measured by a host of demographic factors, such as race, income, education, immigration and rural-urban composition, Illinois is America’s most representative state, according to the Census Bureau. Illinois had its difficulties with elected officials, but we cannot forget that it is also the home of Abraham Lincoln and Mr. President Barack Obama. In between those two Illinois Presidents, prominent public servants from the state have included five generations of the Stevenson family.

Stevenson III is a Marine Corps veteran of the Korean War; he became a captain in 1961. Later he served as a law clerk for the Illinois Supreme Court. He was admitted to the bar in 1957 and started his practice in Chicago. Stevenson III was a partner in the large law firm of Mayer, Brown and a member of the Illinois House of Representatives between 1965 and 1967, a State Treasurer from 1967 until 1970 when he was elected to the U.S. Senate. In 1976, Chicago’s Mayor Daley wanted Stevenson III to run for President. In this regard, Stevenson III became one of six finalists for the vice presidential nomination at the 1976 Democratic Convention in New York.

Stevenson III as Illinois State Treasurer between 1967 and 1970 quadrupled earnings on the investment of State funds, while cutting the budget annually. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1970, succeeding the deceased Senator Everett Dirksen and was re-elected in 1974—both times by record-breaking margins. Stevenson III retired from the Senate in 1981. He became the Democratic candidate for Governor of Illinois in 1982 and 1986. Stevenson III supported the U.S. and UN sustained “two state” formula for peace in the Middle East. An attempt to distance America from the settlements policy of the Likud government of Israel in 1977 with a significant decrease in U.S. funding of the Jewish state led to his defeat in the 1982 election for Governor of Illinois. Though the election was virtually tied and widespread election irregularities were reported, including a failed punch card system for recording votes, the Illinois Supreme Court denied Stevenson’s request for a recount by one vote. Many people also believe the fact that Stevenson III wanted an investigation into the USS Liberty incident after the 1967 attack by Israel created hurdles to his later efforts to become a governor.

Stevenson III was again nominated for Governor in 1986 by the Democratic Party with the largest plurality of all candidates of both parties. However, the candidates of the LaRouche cult were nominated for Lt. Governor and Secretary of State, compelling Stevenson III to surrender his nomination and run as an independent. He won 40% of the vote but lost to incumbent Republican Governor Jim Thompson. The Illinois Democratic Party’s most senior leaders wanted Stevenson III to run anew for Governor in 2002, assuring him no primary opposition, but the campaign didn’t materialize because the former Senator was reticent due to his age.

As mentioned, Stevenson III is a former U.S. Senator. In the Senate, Stevenson served on the Commerce Committee (Chairman of the Subcommittee on Science, Technology and Space), Banking Committee (Chairman of the Subcommittee on International Finance) and Intelligence Committee (Chairman, Subcommittee on the Collection and Production of Intelligence). Stevenson III was also the most junior member of the Senate Majority’s Policy Committee. He co-authored the energy legislation of the mid-1970s, including legislation to implement the Department of Energy’s fuel efficiency standards, emergency natural gas pricing, and projects for the development of alternative energy sources. Furthermore, he authored the International Banking Act. As Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Collection and Production of Intelligence, he also conducted the first Congressional in-depth studies of terrorism, introducing the Comprehensive Anti-Terrorism Act of 1979 with predictions of “spectacular acts of destruction and disruption,” including an “international terrorist scene.”

Since living in London after WWII where he studied at Harrow School, Stevenson III has traveled, worked and served in many capacities in more than 80 countries. His private sector career focused on international matters, especially international finance and East Asia. He organized the HuaMei Capital Company, the first Sino U.S. financial intermediary where he stayed a director. He is a past President of the U.S. Committee of the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council, former Co Chairman of the East Asia Financial Markets Development Project, former President and Chairman of the Japan America Society of Chicago, former Chairman of the Midwest US Japan Association, a member of the U.S.-Korea Wisemen Council and so on.


Jesse W. Fell

Stevenson III explored U.S. history and culture from his family’s role in U.S. politics in The Black Book. It represents American history as experienced by one of the most prominent families of the United States. The book is named for a binder filled with anecdotes, aphorisms, maxims, bits of wit that expanded within his family over the generations and became a source of material for Stevenson’s book. It includes stories of Jesse Fell, the great-great-grandfather of the author and Abraham Lincoln’s sponsor and Adlai E. Stevenson I (1836-1914) from his beginnings as a County Prosecutor, a one term Member of Congress, famously the first Assistant Postmaster General in Grover Cleveland’s first administration (where he replaced 40,000 republican postmasters with at least as many Democrats). Later, he became the twenty-third Vice President of the United States under Grover Cleveland’s second mandate–Cleveland was the only President in America’s history to serve two non-consecutive terms (1885-1889 and 1893-1897) and the sole individual to be counted twice in the numbering of the presidents. Stevenson’s son, Lewis, Illinois Secretary of State, added little to the collection. However, Lewis’ son, Adlai II, known to friends and family as 'the Guv,' expanded the black binder during his time as an official in the Roosevelt and Truman administrations, the thirty-first Governor of Illinois (1949-1953), Democratic presidential candidate in 1952 and 1956—losing both times to Eisenhower—, and the fifth U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations (UN). In October 1962, while ambassador to the UN during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, Adlai II confronted the USSR over the Cubin Missile Crisis. This confrontation is considered one of the most memorable moments in the history of the United Nations.

In 1960, several friends of Stevenson II tried, against his express wishes and without success, to get the Democrats to nominate him for the presidency for a third time. Notably, Stevenson II is considered as a heroic figure: an eloquent and brilliant statesman who had the courage to criticize demagogues, such as Senator Joe McCarthy and Richard Nixon, prior to his presidency, in an epoch when few Democrats were willing to do so. During the Vietnam War, under Johnson’s administration, Stevenson II’s wish to start negotiations with North Vietnam through the UN, was denied by the President of the U.S. Moreover, Stevenson II was opposed to capital punishment, like his son Stevenson III when he was later involved in politics.

In The Black Book readers learn about the ideas of other political figures, such as President Lincoln. Noteworthily, it has been mentioned in the media that, apart from references to Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt, the apostate Republican, The Black Book contains no positive comments about the Republican party. The author is straightforward regarding his position as a Democrat and his reference to Republicans is intended to be humorous. The book offers insight into the time period over which the original black book was compiled. Some parts penned erstwhile (during the Civil War era, for instance) are racially insensitive. Thus, it reflects the public attitudes scattered at the time. All of the information in The Black Book is shared in context: the author describes what is happening in the colonies, the socio-historical events surrounding the particular epoch during Jefferson’s administration and so on.

More specifically, The Black Book covers many themes: philosophy, the influence of money in American politics, including the financial resources of the defense industry, the abuses of and by the press; the perception of America outside its borders especially in China which offers a more nuanced portrait of the U.S., past presidents and presidential candidates of both traditional parties; historical figures and events, such as the Civil War with its major actors, etc. Stevenson III also shares with the readers the victories and struggles of his political career. The Black Book is a road map for other studies that seek to use politics as a means to understand larger socio-historical situations.

Overall, The Black Book is a window on America during the last centuries. It is very informative. The book is not only about Stevenson III but also about his family’s legacy, its role in the social and historical contexts of the U.S. over several generations, and its members’ thoughts and analysis on different issues since the 1800s. Furthermore, the book covers foreign policy with the benefit of experience collected throughout the years, as well as the perspectives of the Stevensons regarding the crosscurrents of cultures and history. The readers will also find information about the intertwined dynamics of economics and politics. The book is penned in an original manner. Rather than being organized chronologically, the narrative goes back and forth through history, with maxims, aphorisms and anecdotes.

It is worth noting that Stevenson III has a wealth of historical information at his disposal, a rich insight into America’s past. Hence, in 1981, Stevenson’s records, filling 961 file drawers, were donated to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library (formerly the Illinois Historical Library) in Springfield. It became the state’s largest archive. Other transfers were made in 1986. Since then records, including several hundred speeches and articles, have been maintained in digital form but have not been organized, catalogued and, as yet, sent over to the Library. Speeches and articles will, from time to time, be posted on Stevenson’s website www.adlai3.com.

Governor Stevenson’s records are available at the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library at Princeton, University, save for documents relating to his years as Governor of Illinois, which are kept at the Illinois Historical Library. Other family records, including the documents of Vice President Adlai Stevenson and Jesse Fell (Abraham Lincoln’s patron) are available at the Milner Library, Illinois State University, Normal, Illinois. The University was endowed and established by Fell.

To summarise, Stevenson III went to Harvard Law School and became an alumnus in 1957, before commencing a political career. He was a U.S. Senator with special responsibilities for international finance and trade, space policy and intelligence. He was the first Chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee charged with implementing a code of ethics, which he helped draft. Stevenson III was also chairman of a Special Committee, which restructured the Senate committee system (for the first time since it was organized in the early nineteenth century) and served on the Democratic Policy Committee, among other responsibilities. In 1976, he became a finalist for Vice-President during the convention. Stevenson III won the Best Legislator Award from the Independent Voters of Illinois. The former Senator has lectured broadly and authored numerous articles. He is the recipient of multiple honors, including Japan’s Order of the Sacred Treasure with Gold and Silver Star and is an Honorary Professor of Renmin University, Beijing, PRC. Stevenson III is currently active with the Adlai Stevenson Center on Democracy. Adlai E. Stevenson III is the Chairman of SC&M Investment Management Company. In addition, he serves on the boards of other civic and business organizations.

On a more personal level, Stevenson III manages a farm near Galena, Illinois. Moreover, he maintains an office and home in Chicago. He lives with his wife, Nancy Stevenson. The couple has two sons, two daughters and five grandchildren.

Here the author shares his views about his book, the media and the legal profession among other themes. We spoke to the former Senator Adlai Stevenson III from Quebec, Canada on November 29th 2012. This interview was conducted by the Editress-in-Chief/Legalist Patricia Turnier, LL.M (Master’s degree in Law) and it is Stevenson’s first Canadian exclusive interview.

                                                                              Congressman Stevenson I


P.T. As we all know, you came from a prominent political family. Who was your greatest mentor and what is the most important thing you learned from him/her?

A.S. My father, Governor Stevenson, was probably my greatest mentor. He really was my example and inspiration. He set an example through his actions. He taught me the value of education, work ethic, diligence and integrity. He represented another politics. For him, democracy was not a system for winning power but a system for informing the people so they could make enlightened decisions. He taught me that it was important as a politician to tell all the truth even when some things were hard to reveal. Since WWI and the civil war in Russia, he traveled globally learning history from the ground in the real world. I followed him and this experience became a school in itself. My father enjoyed having his children with him when he was traveling. He wanted us to be informed.

My adventures abroad began in London in 1945 when he was representing the U.S. at the Preparatory Commission of the United Nations. I went to school there, and I had the opportunity to hear great men who gathered there to create a new world order, based on international law and statesmanship that would maintain peace in the world. They were laying the foundations of the United Nations. My dad died 20 years later in London still serving the UN. I tried to follow my father’s example in politics.

P.T. Talk to our readers about the importance of keeping the first name “Adlai” in your family for generations—the youngest Adlai being your grandson, Adlai Ewing Stevenson V.

A.S. We are proud of the name and the value it has stood for. So, generation after generation, the name has been passed on. Sometimes, we joke that Stevenson V will be the last in our family. He is an undergraduate as a freshman. He shows strong interest in journalism, and this trait is imbued in our family.
My son, Adlai Stevenson IV, became a television reporter in Chicago in the 1980s. He expected to be "Adlai the Last," but in the summer of 1994, Adlai Ewing Stevenson V was born [Laughs].

P.T. What do you know about the meaning and origins of your name? For instance, mine, Patricia, is Roman. The roots are from the Patrician, the original aristocratic families of Ancient Rome. My name is associated with nobility.

A.S. The name Adlai comes from the Old Testament and reflects a one-time practice. Americans would open the Bible and name their child after a personage. Adlai was a shepherd for King David. We don’t have any royalty in our family [chuckles], but we just named the males after a shepherd. As far as I know this is how it came about. One of my ancestors opened the Bible and found the name Adlai. When we hear this name, we know that we are probably related [laughs out loud] because not many people carry it.

P.T. What are your predictions for the new Stevenson generation in terms of politics? Who do you think have the potential to become a governor or a U.S. president and why? In addition, do you see among your family members women, who could emerge in the political domain?

A.S. [Silence] The grandchildren are a little too young to know what they will do. But I see a lot of potential in them. They are very bright and talented. We have Katie Neher Stevenson, Anna Neher Stevenson and Stevenson V whom you named earlier. There are others in the family who are younger. So far, none have shown interest in politics but it could happen. The reason is not because they are not concerned and interested citizens. It is because they are disillusioned with what politics have become. It is chiefly about raising money and image making. This is not attractive to them and it doesn’t align with what my father taught us about his definition of politics. The current politic is about winning, which requires a lot of money that comes from large corporations and multimillionaires or even billionaires. They have their own interests to support politicians. It is difficult to be available for public service when you have to spend your time raising money.

My family is conditioned by a different type of politics: it is about the service. Abraham Lincoln didn’t have to raise millions of dollars. I didn’t have to raise more than one million for one of the country’s largest states, Illinois. My daughter, Katie Stevenson is a very successful physician, but she didn’t show interest in running for office. Adlai IV is an expert in communications, a journalist and was a businessman. Warwick Stevenson, my son is a teacher. In the past, he ran as a Democrat in a heavily Republican district, North West Illinois, for the House of Representatives but he was defeated. Now, he is involved in Chile with the Adlai Stevenson Center and believes that he can be more effective on that level, by bringing systemic changes. So, I guess for now it seems that we must be running out of politicians in our family.

P.T. Share with our readers when and how The Black Book became a tradition in your family—its origins. In addition, talk to us about the meaning and the significance of your book’s title.

A.S. My grandfather, Adlai I, who became the Vice President of the U.S., had a practice of collecting jokes, aphorisms, anecdotes, maxims with wisdom and shocking clichés, at times. He stocked them in a binder, which expanded over the generations. Each generation added more material. This binder, which became the black book in the family, was an important source of materials to enrich our speeches – and to learn from the history it recorded. It has been reorganized and edited many times by our staffs throughout the generations. Its contents categorized under different headings. We travelled with it. It was always there, available if we were looking for ideas or inspirations. It covers several topics: law, teaching, politics, religions, etc. Abraham Lincoln, who was practically part of our family, did the same thing.

With time, as mentioned, the political scene changed. It became less focused on speech, truth, meaty information, ideas, programs, etc. We see more trivia and imagery. It became more important for me to record the values with the history we knew for the benefit of future generations and the country. In other words, I wanted to contrast the values of the past and those of the present to help Americans recover the principles that created the country and can save it. So, The Black Book is mainly about American politics, values including history as experienced from within and the world by five generations of my family.

Overall, throughout my political career, I sought guidance and anecdote from The Black Book. As an author, I wanted to take the readers back to Lincoln and have them look at the America we knew then – and thereafter. This is what the book represents for me. In addition, I wanted to share it with the people who are interested in American history and the world.

My Black Book is named after the binder that becomes a source of material, including anecdotes, for The Black Book which aims to contrast the values we knew which created America with those that undermine it today. I am trying to remind Americans of their past and the world we knew covering many subjects. In this regard, the anecdotes and so on are scattered throughout The Black Book to illustrate and underscore its lessons from the past.

P.T. There are many quotes from your family in The Black Book. Share with us your favorite one and tell us why.

A.S. I have several favorites from beyond my family. For instance:

• “With all the temptations and degradations that beset it, politics is the noblest career; any man can choose.” Andrew Oliver, circa 1810.
• “Ever’ once in a while some feller with no bad habits gits caught.” Will Rogers.
• A politician owes the public “his conscience and his best opinion… not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion.” Edmund Burke, 1774.

If I have to choose one, I think my favorite quote is from Edmund Burke. He spoke to the electors of Bristol in 1774. He pronounced the cardinal rule of politics. Based on the aforementioned quote, I am going to paraphrase him: “a public official owes the public his conscious and his best opinion. Otherwise, he betrays the public if he surrenders to its opinion.” This represents the cardinal rule of politics. Unfortunately, this principle has been forgotten in current politics. I believe that, as a politician, you owe the people the truth, even if it is hard to hear. You are not a weathervane who simply reflects the tempers of the moment.

If I have to pick a quote from my family, my favorite is from my father: “Trust the people with the truth, all the truth. Trust in their decency and good sense.” Unfortunately, I believe that it is very hard to do this now because it is not easy to be heard. The media is not focused on the truth or real issues but on commercialised trivia information. It is really difficult to obey that cardinal principle pronounced by Burke or my late father. In the past, citizens came in great numbers on foot to hear the candidates speak. In this information age, things are not like that at all anymore. Debates are no longer debates.

P.T. What are they to you?

A.S. [Laughs] The time for candidates to speak is very controlled. They have about two minutes to speak on important issues or irrelevant questions. They are certainly not like the debates of Lincoln-Douglas’ era in 1858, which were proposed by my great-great-grandfather. There were seven debates of three hours each. They focused essentially on one issue, the extension of slavery into the territories. Currently, the main objective in politics is to win, not to inform. Some among the candidates are not civil. It is also very electronic. My father wrote his speeches. By the seventies, speeches were often not really reported widely. When I ran for governor of Illinois, I laid out a thorough program for the economic development of my state, which I explained in detail to journalists. But it was not reported. Now, more than ever, we hear about fundraising, the polls—very little information with substance. During campaigns, there is a scarcity of discussions on important issues, such as global warming, the reform of the international monetary system, China, the UN. It is all about the game. I remember that during my first campaign for governor, I got one question about a real issue at a news conference from a reporter, twenty years ago and I was stunned [chuckles]. The journalist asked me a question about education. To get such questions now, you have to go to schools and the public directly. It is rare to get those from the mainstream media.

From left: President Harry S. Truman, Vice Presidential
Nominee Alabama Senator John J. Sparkman and Presidential
Nominee, Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson II. Oval Office, 1952


P.T. In 1976, the Mayor Daley of Chicago approached you to run for the presidency. You mention in your book that you didn’t feel ready at the time. Can you share with us why? In addition, you are of the Unitarian religion (the last American President from this denomination was William Howard Taft). Given that John F. Kennedy became the first non-Protestant American President, do you think religion was an important factor, among other reasons, that twice prevented your father from becoming the President of your country? Furthermore, was it a major dissuasion in your decision to run for this position?

A.S. It was not a factor in my thinking. It is noteworthy that my late father won, for the second time the nomination at the 1956 Democratic National Convention in Chicago and became the last Unitarian to be nominated for the presidency by a major party. For all that, I don’t believe that religion was an obstacle for my father’s campaign for presidency. I think that religion was more of an important issue for Kennedy who was Catholic. He narrowly won over Nixon.  Kennedy was an enormously appealing individual, highly erudite and had money.

P.T. Experts in politics say that American presidents who made breakthroughs for their campaigns understood the new technologies of their times. For instance, in the nineteenth century, Lincoln understood the power of the press. In the sixties, Kennedy grasped the strong capacity of television, and, more recently Mr. President Obama seized the power of the Internet.

A.S. This is a very interesting point! For my part, I was tired. To paraphrase my father: the presidency is enough to convert a man’s vanity to prayer. I revered the office. In retrospect, I was qualified and had the right experience to be in office in 1976. I was a finalist for Vice-President during the convention in 1976 and I did run as a favorite son in the state of Illinois, where we picked up delegates who pledged to support me for the presidency. Later, Richard A. Daley, the party leader in Illinois and I sealed the nomination of Carter by releasing my delegates to him.

At the time, I didn’t feel ready for presidency. I thought I needed more experience. But, looking back, I realised that I had the qualifications. I had already been an incumbent senator for several years representing one of the country’s largest states. I had been a state treasurer, a member of the House Representatives, a partner of a large law firm and a clerk at the Supreme Court. In addition, since 1945, I travelled the world; I served in the Marine Corps for the Korean War as a platoon commander. I am not saying that I had enough experience because it is always possible to acquire more, but I believe I was qualified when I compare myself with the other candidates of the time.

P.T. You mention in your book that, during your campaign in 1982 for the position of Governor of Illinois, you were labelled as anti-Semitic. You wrote that you received disturbing anonymous calls, you lost long-time Jewish friends, there were irregularities (regarding the vote count) during the election, etc. Do you feel that you have been slandered and libelled—in other words, defamed—about this issue? If so, share your thoughts with our readers.

A.S. I don’t feel I was slandered. I was very upset especially when my wife was spat on. In my opinion, I told the truth. I was trying to prevent 9/11. The President and Congress failed to act until after 9/11 and then they attacked the wrong country. I had heard and seen the evidence of Israeli ethnic cleansing in the West Bank and Golan Heights. After The Likkud came to power in 1977 and began its aggressive settlements policy and, Egypt was in effect neutralised at Camp David, I began the first and probably the only in-depth study of terrorism. I predicted 9/11, I saw it coming. I warned “don’t think it can’t happen here.” I introduced the Comprehensive Counter Terrorism Act of 1979 and another measure to distance the U.S. from the settlements policy of the new Likud government that defied America, the UN and Israel’s own interests. I was trying to save Israel from itself and my country. I was punished for doing so. My amendment proposed to reduce spending by 200 million dollars on Israel until such time as the President of America could certify that Israeli settlements policy was consistent with U.S. policy. The bill authorized no money for Palestinians. My amendment got seven votes. I knew I wasn’t going to win. My amendment gave the Senate a choice of supporting the Israeli Lobby or U.S. policy in connection with Israel's settlements policy after the Likud came to power in 1977. I proved my point - Congress supported Israeli resistance to US policy which opposed the settlements. The press didn’t pay attention to that but the lobby did. They came after me and accused me of being anti-Semitic. Many Jews supported me, including Philip Klutznick, the President of the World Jewish Congress, an ambassador and the former Secretary of Commerce who worked closely with my father when he was a UN Ambassador. They were called self-haters, given that they could not be labelled anti-Semitics.

Now it is possible that the PLA will get recognition from the UN. Israel is increasingly isolated. I was trying to save Israel. I wrote the Arab Anti-boycott Act. It made it illegal for American corporations to join the Arab boycott. In other words, my legislation made it unlawful for American companies to comply with the boycott of Israel. But for telling the truth to save the U.S., Israel and the peace process came down on me.

Eventually, I was defeated by one vote in the Illinois Supreme Court when I was a governor candidate. The election was tied but Judge was Seymour Simon, a Democrat sided with the Republican Judges because of Israel (subsequently confirmed to me by a witness). The Court waited until three days before the inauguration of the governor to rule there couldn’t be recounts in Illinois. The Supreme Court declared the Illinois recount statute unconstitutional. The evidence of irregularities was overwhelming: failed punch card ballots for tabulation of votes, etc. We had tangible proofs that I had won the election.

P.T. Your book talks about the wealth disparity, which widens continually. For instance, in 1982 there were about twelve billionaires in the world and now there are more than 1200. You wrote in The Black Book that the benefits of globalization are not spread equitably in America. Can you elaborate on that, and what solutions do you envision?

A.S. [Silence]. Development is spreading rapidly to many parts of the world such as Brazil, China and Mexico. In those countries, you typically get big disparities in income. You see very wealthy people, but you also observe rising levels of income for most people. I notice countries like China that are working very hard to close the gap. They narrow inequalities and are pro-active. They offer a different and interesting model of development. In the U.S., we go in the opposite direction. The iniquities are widening to the highest level in history. The debate right now in Congress involves whether inequality will become larger or will decrease. Mr. President Obama wants to increase the taxes for the wealthiest. I can remember back in the fifties during the great years of growth under the Eisenhower administration, the top marginal income tax rate was ninety-one percent. With time, more and more subsidies were given to the wealthiest including corporations. Some of the richest American corporations do not pay any income taxes but give a lot of money to campaigns, including political consultants and so on. This is not a healthy political situation.  On the national level, the government needs to augment access to job training programs, support pre-school education, invest in infrastructure, foster civil research and rationalize the tax code. The quality of poor neighborhoods must get better. In inner cities, children often have broken families and other psychosocial problems that create diverse hurdles. I think there should be more emphasis on liberal arts to stimulate lifelong appetite for learning. Twenty percent of American college students are not able to identify the ocean between California and Asia. Some people speculate that an unspoken political conspiracy in the U.S. seeks to keep Americans undereducated in order to make them more susceptible to deception and political control.

P.T. Noam Chomsky wrote about that.

A.S. Exactly! So, people have a personal responsibility to educate themselves and decrease the gap between social classes. Every country has to invest in education and job training; this can be done by cutting military spending. Wars are usually counterproductive. I don’t see what we gained in Iraq and Afghanistan, for instance. Over 40,000 children may have lost their lives because of the American economic sanctions in Iraq. China invests in Afghanistan instead of sending troops.

I think it would be much more effective to focus on peace via diplomacy. To do this, it takes courage, not money. In this regard, the Pentagon’s budget could become an enormous source of savings that would actually end up enhancing our security. The CIA has been involved in attacking foreign countries. This situation does not improve our safety when its assassinations are operated with secret methods or procedures.

Laurence Korb, Assistant Secretary of Defense under Reagan’s administration has identified circa 170 billion dollars that could be eliminated from the Pentagon for unnecessary weapon systems, without reducing our security. The Pentagon spends 4.7 billion dollars annually on public relations alone. Generals live an imperial lifestyle. When my grandfather, Adlai I, became Vice-President of America in 1893, his entire staff comprised a secretary, a stenographer and a messenger. He used to walk to his Capitol office. As you can see, things have changed drastically since then [laughs out loud].  So, we need to set our priorities straight and invest in fields that will create long-term development in our country.

                                                                       Adlai E. Stevenson III in China, 1975

P.T. What do you think about the fact that your national debt has tripled? Now it is circa sixteen trillion dollars.

A.S. It is outrageous! This situation is caused by wasted money, spent mainly on the military agenda. Our economy is not competitive. China’s economic reforms started thirty years ago. Soon, this country will have the world’s largest economy. So, as mentioned earlier, we have to go back to pre-school education. As a Senator, I wrote a blueprint for government research and the development of new technologies, including computers sciences and bio technologies. I went to China many times and helped them develop their first Internet system.

P.T. This is really impressive!

A.S. Thank you! I observed in China that people are strong on planning. In the U.S., we lack long-term budget planning for research and science. Education planning needs to be implemented with sound and fair financing including an enduring strategy. We have a very strong system of higher education that is becoming more and more out of reach for many Americans. The costs go up and the incomes go down. In addition, when students graduate they have a lot of debt but limited employment opportunity. Many Asians come here to get their education. Before, they stayed here, but, more and more, they go back home.

We do not encourage lifelong learning like before. When you get out of college, you are in your diaper stage; you have the ability to continue your education. Everybody has this responsibility and opportunity, especially in the information age. We have the tools, more than ever, to improve ourselves intellectually. In other words, education is also a solitary pursuit. The only one who can truly educate yourself, is you. A lifelong appetite for knowledge is required to succeed in our new world.

P.T. Many people do not realise the extent to which they have greater access to education. Abraham Lincoln, in the nineteenth century, only had circa 100 books at his disposal.

A.S. This is a very interesting point! I believe that schools should favor liberal arts: earning a deeper knowledge in geography, foreign languages and so on. My family pushed me to go to Mexico, Europe and Asia to learn about the world. In my time, this mindset was encouraged in schools and homes. Now, it is more limited.

Some schools in inner cities do not have enough substantial books and computers. This should not happen in America. It has no place in our country. Access to an equal and high quality education should be a fundamental American right and we must all be offended that our educational system remains unequal. Policies with an equitable tax system need to be implemented to decrease this gap and as mentioned more funding for education in inner cities is a prerequisite.

Education has always been important in my family. We highly value it and we showed it in our political careers. For instance, my father as a governor doubled the funding for education. He also believed in equal opportunity and supported fair employment practices.

P.T. For several months in Quebec this year, there was an important student strike (the longest in the history of the province), which was successful. The university students were protesting the increase of their education fees by almost 75% for the next five years. To my knowledge, the cost of education in Quebec, from kindergarten to university, whether in the private or public sector, is the lowest in North America.

A.S. This is very smart and a highly important societal choice. Our Ivy League colleges cost about 50,000 dollars per year. Foreigners pay this amount. Many Americans can’t and are not qualified for scholarships because of the lower standards in education. This situation creates more unemployed people. This is not how it was. There is a lack of emphasis on education as a means of fostering social and economic improvement.

P.T. In The Black Book, you provide valuable information about what has happened to the economy of America since 1971, during Nixon’s administration. Moreover, in your book you wrote that America was the world’s great producer and creditor; now it has become the world’s great debtor and consumer. In addition, you share your thoughts about how you think China is handling its economy efficiently. What needs to be done to put the American economy back on track?

A.S. I think it concerns what I said earlier about the importance of putting emphasis on education and the development of new technologies, research and products. Moreover, investment in infrastructure is required: modern transportation, clean energy, etc. We need to change our priorities. China has more than four times our population and maybe spends one fifth as much on military. We need to deemphasize the military.

Nixon ended the gold standard and this had a negative impact on American currency worldwide. The U.S. has moved from the great creditor’s position to that of a debtor nation and consumer to the world with little will to either increase taxes or cut public spending. More specifically, the U.S. dollar was the world’s reserve currency - convertible to gold at $35 to the ounce. Other currencies were pegged to the dollar. Since then the world has changed but not the governance of this world order. The dollar, unlinked from gold in 1971, trades in the market at about $1,400 to the ounce. The dollar has fallen by many measures like a barometer of confidence in U.S. fiscal, monetary and political governance and the viability of the U.S. economy in a newly competitive world. China’s foreign exchange reserves amount to some $3 trillion, a large part invested in U.S. treasury obligations. China finances U.S. debt and keeps the dollar afloat. Globalization is a reality. Within this global economy the tides shifted from west to east and north to south.

As mentioned, our dollar is sinking and failing as a reserve currency for the world. Reform and reorganization are required; otherwise, we’ll have monetary anarchy. Recently, there was a summit where governments discussed economic architectures for a new world. They represented about 60% of the world’s population, and America was not included.

We need to promote peace in the world. There are many complex dimensions to consider and we must work more efficiently with international organizations, such as the World Bank, the World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund, the UN, etc. In addition, we have to join forces with China, Brazil and India. Meanwhile, my nation is militarizing its relations with countries like South Korea while escalating tensions with North Korea. We have to work on peace again and rely on cooperation. Let’s turn challenges into opportunities.

P.T. Older women are among the most vulnerable people in the economic crisis. They are twice as likely as elderly men to be living near or below the federal poverty threshold. Studies have stated that this situation can worsen. What needs to be done to secure a reasonable retirement for this part of the population?

A.S. That’s a tough one. I think this situation will improve. Some older females have never been in the workforce. They live longer than their husbands, so it can be economically harder for them. Some are without survivors’ benefits. However, given that more females of younger generations work, I believe they will have better futures. I think that females are moving up the ladder as a whole, and their work benefits are getting better. I won’t deny that there are still inequalities in salaries between the genders, but the situation is improving.

Older females need to have access to a social safety net related to health care. The flaws in the system need to be corrected and strengthened for this age bracket. When I entered the Senate, there was just one woman. In law, in my time, the boys’ club reigned supreme. Over the last decades, many women entered the legal profession. I nominated the first female federal district judge in Illinois. In the federal judiciary, approximately thirty percent of active U.S. district court judges are female; almost one third of the President’s cabinet is filled by women.

P.T. Several books have been written about your family. Which one is your favorite and why? If Hollywood were to buy the rights of one of the books about your family history to adapt into a movie, who would you like to direct it and why? In addition, what actors would you like to portray Adlai Stevenson I, II, and you, Adlai Stevenson III?

A.S. [Laughs out loud]. In my opinion, the best book written about my father was the one by Porter McKeever, called Adlai Stevenson: His Life and Legacy which is captivating and well balanced. This book gives great insight into my father with the historical and political context of his time. McKeever’s book focuses on my dad, so if we are talking about a film regarding the older generations of my family, including mine, the script will need to be developed to present my ancestors and me. I don’t watch movies [chuckles]. So, I can’t name a director or an actor. I would have to consult my grandson Adlai V—he would know whom to recommend [Laughs].

P.T. We learn impressive information in your book: Lincoln was his own speech writer, as were Adlai I and II. In this electronic era, public speaking has a visual dimension unknown to Lincoln and Adlai I. Adlai II’s presidential campaigns were the first of the television era. You mention in your book that actors and demagogues have an advantage in this artificial environment; demeanour and appearance acquire new importance. You include a meaningful example involving the first televised presidential debate, between John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon in 1960. Polls later indicated that among those who watched, Kennedy “had won”; among those who listened to the radio, Nixon “had won.” Moreover, you declare that the media and the Internet have disrupted politics. Do you think we lost the essence of what’s important in assessing political candidates due to technologies that put a lot of emphasis on the power of image? In other words, do you believe that image became more important than substance, over the years, in determining who is best qualified in politics?

A.S. It is not just the image but also the gimmickry. During campaigns, we hear too much about irrelevant issues: gossips, scandals, the polls, and so on, where a lot of money is spent foolishly. There is a near total ignorance regarding what is going in North Korea notwithstanding the proliferation of nuclear weapon. People are starving there. The country could implode. This is just one example of a very important issue that was not discussed widely during the last campaign. Even for more popular themes such as the Middle East, the information given to us is one-sided and shallowly covered unless you watch Al Jazeera or European channels, for example.  I am also concerned by the fact that now presidential candidates are too often guided by their benefactors, so they can be biased or slanted. In addition, the format is no longer a three-hour debate on serious issues.

P.T. When did this stop?

A.S. It happened gradually. After the sixties, the presidential debates began to be regulated by a federal election commission, which established a format with rules. I thought the new rules were terrible. I spoke about it to one of the commissioners at the time and he agreed. In our last campaign, silly questions were addressed to candidates who had two minutes to respond. None of the questions concerned the fragile situation in Korea, the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary System, climate change, etc. The United Nations were little discussed in the debates.

During the Douglas-Lincoln debates for the Senate, candidates would speak for hours. At that time, politicians exposed their views thoroughly. Their agendas gave a choice to people. Pragmatism is also important because it brings substance. For example, Franklin Roosevelt didn’t need a debate but implemented a social and economic program, one of the most important in America’s history, the New Deal, to combat the crisis at the time.

My father also laid out the programmatic foundation for the New Frontier of John F. Kennedy and the Great Society of Lyndon Johnson in thirty minute speeches on national television during the campaign and as leader of the Democratic Party. In addition, he began the strategic arms control process. He didn’t need debates in order to share the truth and his ideas with Americans. However, I think presidential candidates should have a minimum of a half an hour on national television to expose their programs during presidential campaigns. I hope we will get back to something like that and not focus on social media and polls. As mentioned, we do not thoroughly discuss current issues. For instance, everybody talks about the scarcity of jobs but we seldom talk how to create them. In addition, we rarely discuss how to maintain peace and economic prosperity in our interdependent world.

To conclude, I believe that the political corruption that was common in the 1870s and the 1920s concerned elections and favors, but political organizations also supported party candidates who could then afford to take bold positions. Modern political organization is more concerned with money, ideological delusions, and religious fundamentalism.

P.T. In your book, you mention the assassination of former president William McKinley. How do you explain that this assassination is not as widely covered throughout history as those of Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy?

A.S. McKinley was not president for very long. He was in office only between 1897 and 1901. Furthermore, he was not a strong and wise president. He was killed by an anarchist. McKinley was succeeded by then Vice President, Theodore Roosevelt, who was an enormously progressive and popular president. He overshadowed McKinley who was forgotten. The passing of Lincoln tormented the world not just because he had preserved the Union. He had also fought to keep a social compact. He had engineered the first public universities and developed the railroads. He supported a strong central government and national bank. Currently, the Republicans worship Ronald Reagan. We hardly hear them talk about Lincoln, but he is still remembered because of what he stood for. It seems that now the Democrats are the ones who claim Lincoln [Laughs]. My great-great-grandfather was Lincoln’s sponsor, or patron, and the secretary of the Illinois Republican Party. He proposed the Lincoln-Douglas debates (for the Senate) as a means of attracting him to national attention. Fell persuaded Lincoln to run for President. My great-great-grandfather organised the Illinois delegation for the National Republican Convention in 1860 (with David Davis, his young law partner) which nominated Lincoln for the presidency. My ancestor convinced Lincoln to write and give him his “autobiographical sketch”. The manuscript was addressed to my great-great-grandfather as a letter (http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/index.asp?document=1045), and was used by my ancestor to promote Lincoln. This document stayed in my family until it was given to the Library of Congress in 1947.

Fell made money in land speculations and gave it all back to the community. He founded orphanages, towns, managed the local newspaper and created Illinois State University. In addition, he was active in politics, serving as Secretary of the infant Illinois Republican party. As mentioned, he sponsored Abraham Lincoln.

To go back to your question, I believe the actions of Lincoln spoke more eloquently than those of McKinley. Lincoln was president at a time in American history when he had to make crucial decisions related to the Civil War including racial and sectional tensions which came to the forefront of U.S. politics in a way that had never occurred before. Lincoln paid for it through his assassination. In other words, he was president at a very challenging time in the history of our nation. Making the wrong decisions could have destroyed the union.

Kennedy was a highly popular president. His assassination had a deep impact on many Americans and around the world. My late father who was a UN Ambassador at the time said of the assassination: "all of us ... will bear the grief of his death until the day of ours." The death of Kennedy happened during the tumultuous decade of the 1960s with the Vietnam War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, risk of nuclear war, etc. So, Kennedy like Lincoln, had to face several difficult dilemmas while he was in office and was remembered for the legacy he left to our country after his passing.

P.T. What message do you want the readers to take away from your book?

A.S. [Silence]. Peace is hard, war is easy. We need more medals and monuments for the peacemakers. We have to educate ourselves about the world as it really is; seek public office and inform the people, trust them with the truth. Reform the media. In the old America, public broadcasting did not require advertising. All the other developed democracies that I am aware of take education very seriously and make sure that it is really accessible to the majority of people. Now, we hear about societal problems related to students in America that we have never heard before. I am referring to homeless students, for instance. Education is a right and not a luxury. It is with an educated population that any country can prosper. A population that is not adequately educated will have shallow understandings of many serious issues and might be manipulated and might be manipulated. We cannot have impressionable mass media disappoint the public with palpable lies and utilize television for the theatrical staging of events and appearances.

Foreign relations should be about cooperation instead of militarism. I hope that Palestine will be accepted as a state in the United Nations. Our politics and values need to be restored. For all these reasons, I founded The Adlai Stevenson Center on Democracy (www.stevensoncenterondemocracy.org) where we bring practitioners from the real world together to address systemic weaknesses in democracies and produce practical solutions that make governments more accountable. Some other countries do a better job and some aren’t democratic, such as China.

It seems that America is becoming, more and more, a plutocracy. In The Black Book, I talk about the nineteenth century French sociologist/historian Alexis de Tocqueville and the Enlightenment. Realists informed by centuries of dynastic and religious conflict in the old world. They informed our founders who created a representative form of democracy. I believe that generations are cut off from our rich past and its lessons. “America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great”. This quote from Alex de Tocqueville, penned in the mid-1800s, evokes my wishes for my country. As mentioned, to restore American values to American politics and see the future, we must revisit the past – from The Black Book.

Overall, The Black Book records lessons from the past on finance and economics, law, media, justice, speech-making, religion, education, diplomacy and terrorism, among other themes. It is a large panorama of experience in politics and the world covering five generations of my family and more than 150 years of history. My book finishes with a discussion of the life cycle of empires and countries with the rise of China, where I have been active since 1975. As mentioned, The Black Book started with a source of wisdom for Stevensons’ speeches. I hope it will serve future politicians and all people.

P.T. We are in the information age. It is widely known that the high-wage, medium-skilled job is over. Higher education is required more than ever. In The Black Book, you share your preoccupation with how, for instance, other countries such as China, invest in research in the long term. Every year, a larger number of students graduate with engineering degrees or other scientific degrees in China than in the U.S. You spoke earlier about your views regarding education. Can you elaborate? In addition, what are the main changes you would like to see in the future (in terms of education), if you feel they are needed in your country?

A.S. China forms many more engineers than the U.S. The Chinese send engineers and physicians to Africa along, with their capital. In the U.S., we have research institutes that are relocating to China. Chinese are starting to put our smart phone businesses out of the market with their own companies—the same may become true in the aircraft business. So, America needs to refocus on the importance of science, technology development in education.

As mentioned, more emphasis on public education at the preschool level is required to stimulate the children at an early age. The education system is unequal. I spoke earlier about the high cost of higher education. In fact, there are private elementary schools in America that cost forty thousand dollars each year and it is obvious that these children get a higher quality education than the others. The inequality starts way before the college level. I said that there are schools in inner-cities that do not have access to computers. Significant improvement in the United States’ public schools is required, especially in urban areas, for computer science, mathematics and writing. It is also important to pay attention to the educational inequities in my nation that are based on ethnicities and territories. In addition, to go back again to universities, the cost is much lower in other countries. Our colleges need more public support. So, to conclude, more emphasis on public education is imperative with governmental subsidies.

P.T. What is your opinion of this famous quote from former President John F. Kennedy: “Don't ask what your country can do for you. Ask instead what you can do for your country”?

A.S. I love it! [Laughs]. It says it all and he was being poetic also. In addition, it is about the establishment, or about the people in power, who have to listen more to the population. For every citizen, it is a lifelong duty to serve your country. In law firms, for instance, we were encouraged to go out into the community to serve our people. The law firms have become businesses, where the focus is to increase the hours spent working on cases to make money. Moreover, they make big campaign contributions to politicians who might serve their interests. In this regard, we are getting back to the reason for the existence of The Black Book.

P.T. Who do you think was the greatest American president of all time, the greatest First Lady and why?

A.S. [Silence]. In my family, the greatest American president of all time is Abraham Lincoln, who saved the Union. This is also partially because we knew him. He was a friend of my great-great-grandfather who supported him. He was an important presence and inspiration to our family. He regularly recorded stories and may have influenced my grandfather, Adlai I, to begin the black book. My great-great-grandfather, Jesse Fell, was the Secretary of the Illinois Republican Party and a political advisor to Abraham Lincoln. As mentioned, he proposed the historic Lincoln-Douglas debates and persuaded Lincoln to run for the presidency. He did not run for office himself but set his family an example of citizen statesmanship that still resonates today.

George Washington, the father of America, was another great president for his time. I believe his writings should be read again. Washington was warning his contemporaries about foreign entanglements. The country could unite behind Washington. Lincoln succeeded in reuniting the nation when it was threatened with secession in the South. Franklin Roosevelt was another great president at a time of big needs. His program, the New Deal, helped to revive the economy.

P.T. He was the only American president elected for three terms and, with the Twenty-second Amendment, this cannot be replicated.

A.S. Exactly! The American Constitution changed that with the Twenty-second Amendment, which limited presidential mandates to two terms. I believe that in a democracy voters should be allowed to elect the best-qualified person, regardless of whether they have already completed two terms. I think the Twenty-second Amendment is bad, and it is not a good thing to limit the terms.

With respect to the First Ladies, Dolly Madison was famous. I knew Jackie Kennedy and she was a special lady. I suppose the First Lady who left the greatest mark in my country was Eleanor Roosevelt. I knew her and she was a strong supporter of my father. She was an author of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a strong supporter of the Civil Rights and the United Nations. She really was an inspiration to my father, who eulogised her by saying: she would rather light a candle than curse the darkness.

P.T. What bill are you most proud of voting for during your career as a senator and why? What bill(s) would you like to become law, and what public policies would you hope to see come to fruition?

A.S. I can’t think of any one bill. Now, Senators do not legislate. We used to close the doors and write the bills line by line. Currently, the doors are open and elected officials delegate to staff the drafting of huge bills and have no time to read them – or opportunity to amend them.

I am proud of my authorship of the Stevenson Wydler Technology Innovation Act, and the Bayh-Dole Act—they were companion measures. They fostered the development of cooperative research in the private sector, including universities and with governments. It spurred innovation in electronic technologies, which gave birth to the Internet (a revolution in communications), bio technologies and the development of space programs through NASA. I am also proud of the fact that I authored the International Banking Act. In addition, I am glad that I co-authored the energy legislation of the mid-1970s, including legislation to create the Department of Energy, fuel and energy efficiency standards, emergency natural gas pricing and projects for the development of alternative energy sources.  Earlier, I mentioned that I warned about 9/11. I tried to prevent it and I failed. In this regard, I wrote ethics legislation and conducted the first Congressional in-depth study of terrorism, introducing the Comprehensive Anti-Terrorism Act of 1979 with predictions of attacks and destructions on an international terrorist scene.

I did something else that I am proud of. It is not a statute, it concerns the period when Elliot Richardson was proposed for attorney general of the U.S. while the Watergate investigation began during Nixon’s administration. I engaged in a lengthy exchange of letters with Richardson, in which we agreed on the requirements for an independent special prosecutor for Watergate crimes. He accepted all those principles before the Senate Judiciary Committee, including the right to convene a grand jury, subpoena witnesses, funding, and so on—all spelled out. When Nixon ordered him to fire the special prosecutor, he responded that he could not do so because he had agreed to the Stevenson principles. He resigned, as did the special prosecutor. This event was known as the “Saturday Night Massacre” of October 20, 1973 that led to the downfall of Richard Nixon.

P.T. You have travelled a lot in your life, visiting more than 80 countries. Pierre Trudeau, former Prime Minister of Canada, for instance, saw the world before he started his political career. This experience influenced him later for his multicultural policy that was enacted after by former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. Do you think that having a global vision is a prerequisite to becoming a politician, especially for a position in foreign affairs?

A.S. Definitely! The trips that I began in 1945 with my father, in London and elsewhere, helped prepare me for my political career later in life. I discovered the world and learned about it. I also benefited from my father’s expertise and lessons. I saw more than 80 countries and I chose specific regions such as the Middle East, Eastern Asia and Africa, because the world is too big to go everywhere [Laughs out loud]. The places that I didn’t visit are the Scandinavian countries, central Asia (I missed Afghanistan, etc.) and Oceania. A politician cannot have tunnel vision, especially if he has a position in foreign affairs. To see the world, you have to visit it from within. It is an asset to learn languages because this allows you to acquire different perspectives and a more thorough comprehension of the world. You have to be selective in what you choose to watch and read. To do that, you need to acquire knowledge that will allow you to assess whether the material you have access to is worth reading.

In my youth, I learned Spanish and I spent a summer at the National University of Mexico to perfect it because, at that time, we were focused more on Europe and South America than Asia. Given that Asian languages are more difficult for Westerners, their study needs to begin early when the mind is retentive. I am lucky to have a Chinese assistant. She is a superb communicator. I always go to China with my own translator to make sure I understand and they seize what we are all saying. To conclude, a politician cannot have solely theoretical knowledge of the world, he has to experience it. For my part, my trips broadened the way I look at things. They helped me to adapt to different customs and lifestyles. You learn to see the world from within it and from outside our western prism.

P.T. In your book you wrote: “Adlai I, II and III were lawyers, albeit with other pursuits for which the study of law was preparation. The practice of law was also a profession to fall back on in the lean years between public duties. A reverence for the law is undiminished throughout The Black Book. A reverence for the practice of law—the most honorable of human callings, the “safeguard of society,” the “palladium of liberty”—is diminished over time, not by the worthiness of the calling but by the metamorphosis of its practice. It too became commercialized.” You added that the legal system changed between the old and new America. Can you share with our readers your perceptions about this subject?

A.S. Earlier, I said I experienced this change. When I first entered the law after clerking in 1959, there were sixty-seven lawyers in my law firm. There are now circa 1500. Back then, we treated our clients like they were our patients. As mentioned, we were encouraged to go out into the community for pro bono work. That was the way to become a good lawyer: discover life and be a good citizen. This is how the profession was perceived. Learning about the human condition was a prerequisite for a future jurist. Currently, the lawyers in big firms are highly specialized. These firms became larger and they are making more money. Unfortunately, the profession grew to be more mercantile. The norm to become a partner now depends on how much money you are bringing to the firm and not on the service you are doing. A huge cultural transformation occurred over the last decades in the legal profession. The role of service has been significantly reduced. The ones who pay are the poor, who cannot afford the best lawyers. Most people who go to jail are impoverished because they were underrepresented legally. Avoiding execution also depends on the lawyer one is able to get.

P.T. What message do you have for young people who want to follow in your footsteps in politics and who want to embrace the legal profession?

A.S. I think the law is still a very important training. One of the problems in politics is that there are many lawmakers who have no knowledge of the law. In the past, most of them were lawyers. They respected process and the constitution. Now, practically anybody with enough money can become a law maker.

I believe that the legal profession has the ability to prepare you for many domains: business, teaching, public service, etc. As a politician, you have to be prepared to lose. If you say the truth, you might not be elected or re-elected. You have to be courageous whatever the outcome, even if your message is not popular. The law becomes a profession to fall back on. Being a politician entails service to the American people and the world. I was very dedicated. I worked for sixteen years in public policy with no vacation, except for five days.

P.T. Oh my God!

A.S. Except some weekends, too.

P.T. You followed the footsteps of your father. He often worked 16 or 17 hours per day during the week when he was a Governor. In addition, you must have a very understanding wife.

A.S. You are absolutely right about my father. Regarding my wife, she definitely supported me throughout my career. She took charge of the management of our family. She also was very supportive in my campaigns and really effective on the campaign trail. She wrote a recipe book that she used for our campaigns.

P.T. As a veteran politician, what advice do you have for young people who want to follow in your footsteps, especially the ones who are aiming for senatorship and/or a position in international politics? In addition, given that it can still be difficult for females to thrive in these fields, it would be interesting to hear about your input and advice for them, specifically.

A.S. I believe that females are thriving and I am beginning to question the ability of white male Protestants to survive [chuckles]. Seriously, I think that females who have partners need to have a very understanding one who will support them in politics. I won’t deny that there are still cultural stereotypes regarding gender roles and leadership; women can benefit from more support systems to succeed.

I believe that it is essential in politics to keep your integrity despite the hurdles. A real politician does not tell people what they want to hear but what they need to hear. Never compromise your values or the public interest. The mistake some public officials make is forgetting they’ve been appointed to serve the public. Remember that you are never truly defeated unless you lose your self-respect or you dishonor your people. My father was defeated twice as a candidate for the presidency, but, in losing, he won. He probably did more to shape policy for the U.S. than Eisenhower did during his presidency.

It is imperative to have a thick skin in politics. You also need to be able to work long hours. As mentioned, it is highly important to seek lifelong education about the world and realities, far beyond the descriptions of the mainstream media. In politics, there is more power for good or evil than in any other domain. Nevertheless, I believe that it is the noblest of professions.

To finish, it is very important to be open to constructive feedback or criticism to help you evolve. It shows your capacity to listen to others and get valuable input that will allow you to better your work. It is important to surround yourself with people who will be bold enough to tell you the truth. Seek out experienced and wise people who are generous enough to share their knowledge.

P.T. Thank you for this very interesting interview, which was a history course in itself. I am sure the sharing of your experience will be useful, especially for our young readers who want to embrace a legal or a political career.

A.S. You asked the most perceptive and thoughtful questions I’ve ever received! I am very impressed. You are really unique!

P.T. Thank you so much! As you said, everything is about hard work and determination. I could not speak English before the age of 15!

            The Black Book is available on www.adlai3.com, www.amazon.com, .ca and www.barnesandnoble.com



Selected Speeches :

On Democracy at the Austrian Center for International Affairs

On Democracy at the Stevenson Center 

On Lincoln - Democracy Remembered: Lincoln, Fell, and Stevensons
at the Milner Library

On East Asian Financial Cooperation, Renmin University in Beijing, 2003

On United Nations Observance on Adlai E. Stevenson,
United Nations, 2009

Other speeches:

On Memories of Adlai II, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, Springfield, U.S., 2005

On Ethics, Paul H. Douglas Lecture, New York, 2009

Conference on East Asian Financial Cooperation in 2011 in Hong Kong

On International Relations - BRICS and the World Order in 2011, University of Chicago

On Organization for security and cooperation (OSCE)/Austrian Center for International Studies, Vienna, Austria, 2012

On Asian Financial Market Development in Beijing

Selected Schools and other entities named after Stevenson II:

 Adlai E. Stevenson Elementary School in Fairfield, New Jersey
 Adlai Stevenson High School in Sterling Heights, Michigan
 Adlai Stevenson Elementary School (formerly Junior High) in Cleveland, Ohio
 Adlai E. Stevenson High School in Bronx, New York
 Adlai E. Stevenson Elementary School in Elk Grove Village, Illinois
 Adlai E. Stevenson Elementary School in Des Plaines, Illinois
 Adlai Stevenson Elementary School in the Plum Borough School District in Plum, Pennsylvania
 Adlai E. Stevenson College, a division of the University of California, Santa Cruz colleges system
 Stevenson Hall, a residence hall for students on the Northern Illinois University campus in De Kalb, IL
 Adlai E. Stevenson Chair, a professorship of International Affairs at Columbia University, currently held by Robert Jervis
 Adlai E. Stevenson School, an Elementary School in Decatur, Illinois

Other Famous Relatives

Lewis Green Stevenson (1868–1929) was the Illinois Secretary of State from 1914 to 1917. His father, Adlai Ewing Stevenson I, was the Vice President of the U.S. from 1893 to 1897. According to wikipedia.org, Lewis Stevenson was perceived as a strong contender for the Democratic vice-presidential nomination in 1928.

Alben William Barkley, (November 24, 1877 – April 30, 1956) was a jurist and politician from Kentucky who served in both houses of Congress and as the 35th Vice President of the United States from 1949 to 1953. In 1905, he occupied the position of county attorney for McCracken County, Kentucky. He became later a county judge in 1909 and U.S. Representative from Kentucky's First District in 1912. As a Representative, he was a liberal Democrat. He aligned with President Woodrow Wilson's New Freedom domestic agenda and foreign policy. During his early life, his grandmother narrated stories of her relatives and childhood playmates, future U.S. Vice President Adlai Stevenson and James A. McKenzie, a future U.S. Representative from Kentucky.

Edgar McLean Stevenson Jr. (1927-1996) was the great-grandson of William Stevenson, the brother of U.S. Vice President Adlai E. Stevenson. He was an American actor, most known for his role as Lt. Colonel Henry Blake on the TV series M*A*S*H. He was also popular for his role as Michael Nicholson on The Doris Day Show.

Additional note:

The Stevenson family name has been mentioned several times in movies such as Backstairs at the White House. Stevenson II, specifically, has been referenced in other films, including Dr. Strangelove, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Thirteen Days, The Missiles of October, Wayne's World 2, The Manchurian Candidate, etc. Stevenson II has been mentioned in television episodes of The Simpsons, The Golden Girls, Happy Days and Mystery Science Theater 3000's presentation of Manos: The Hands of Fate among others. Murphy Brown not lastingly named her newborn son “Adlai Stevenson”. The name Adlai Stevenson II was used in the legal drama, Boston Legal. The Stevensons have been referenced in novels like Eleanor vs. Ike written by Robin Gerber.



1 From 1893 to 1897, he was Vice-President of the United States.  In 1900, he ran anew as Vice President with William Jennings Bryan.  Although unsuccessful, Adlai I was the first former Vice President ever to win re-nomination for that post with a different presidential candidate.