Today in NC State History: Stevenson kicks off lecture series

March 7, 2014
By Chris Saunders

historyIconAdlai Stevenson was born with aspirations in his blood to one day live in the White House. His father, also named Adlai Stevenson, was Grover Cleveland’s vice president from 1893 to 1897.

So Stevenson the second spent much of his adult life trying to reach the highest levels of U.S. politics. He built on a successful career as a lawyer and served as assistants to the secretary of the Navy and to the secretary of state. He was elected governor in Illinois, serving a four-year term beginning in 1949.

And he ran for president as the Democratic candidate in 1952 and 1956, losing to Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower both times.

Adlai1After those losses, President John F. Kennedy appointed Stevenson to be ambassador and chief of the U.S. delegation to the United Nations in 1961.

Stevenson was serving in that capacity on this day in 1962 when he kicked off a new series of speakers, known as the Harrelson Lectures, at NC State.

For much of his talk, Stevenson found himself having to defend the role the United Nations played in the world. He conceded that the United Nations lacked some power but that it was not a weak body. He also said the U.N. was “full of conflicts and contradictions,” according to The Technician, but that is “what the U.N. was built for — to overcome conflict, to keep from exploding into war, and ultimately to tame it into something like a true community.”

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