The U.S. Senate Class of 1978; 8; Senator Adlai Stevenson III
I have only one ambition and that is to serve and serve well in the Senate and to serve a state that has been very good to my family for a long time. I used to find myself compared to a good deal with my father I think more so in the past. And now since his death in 1965 I think politics is changed a great deal of moments when I'm almost glad he isn't here to see the division is the anger which doesn't tell him so. In fact politics you got about all I can do is is to be myself in politics and to try to live up to some high standards of public service which have been established by my family over the years and. The United States Senate class of 1971.
This year 11 freshman five Republicans five Democrats and one conservative joined the ranks of the 100 and America's upper house of the legislative branch of government here for the national educational radio network with a profile of one of these new United States senators. Is your host Bill Moroney. No I sent to the Senate in 1970 a name familiar in both national and state politics. Stevenson Adley Stevenson the third. Elected with the other members of the Senate class of 1970 won a November 3rd 1970. He was sworn in only two weeks later to serve out the remaining four years of the unexpired term of the
late Senate minority leader Everett Dirksen. Stevenson was born in Chicago on October 10th 1930. His father was Adley Stevenson the second they older Stevenson served as governor of Illinois from 1949 to 1952. He was the Democratic nominee for president running unsuccessfully against Dwight Eisenhower in both 1952 and 1956 in 1961 President Kennedy appointed him U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. A capacity in which he served until his death in 1965. Senator Stevenson's grandfather Louis Greene Stevenson was secretary of state of Illinois from 1914 to 1917 and his great grandfather the first Adelaide Stevenson served in Congress from 1876 to 1877 and as vice president of the United States under President Grover Cleveland from 1893 to 1897. Bearing a famous family name can be a mixed blessing. Senator Stevenson has found that there are advantages but they carry one only so far.
On balance it's been a thrill you know to get started in politics. But I don't think a name is enough to elect him into public office or to sustain him in public is when selected you're pretty mature and you're on your own. I used to find myself in here. Good deal with my father I think more so in the past and now he's been gone for over five almost six years now. I am not bothered by those comparisons anymore except perhaps for the occasional comparisons of my speeches with his if he gets a little bit unfair but about all I can do is is to be myself in politics and to
try to live the high standards of public service which has been established by my family over the years. But for his election to the United States Senate Adley Stevenson had already built himself a very impressive record of public service. He entered politics at the age of 34 as a candidate for the Illinois House of Representatives in the 1064 elections because of a court decision invalidating Illinois legislative district ing all candidates for the house including Stevenson were forced to run at large statewide. 1964 was a landslide year for Democrats all across the country and Illinois all 118 Democrats on the statewide House ballot were elected Adley Stevenson received more votes than any of them. He had a plurality of more than 200 25000 votes over the leading Republican and 1966 Adelaide Stephenson ran for higher and another statewide office. It was the Democratic candidate for state treasurer in 1966. It was not a very good year for the Democrats but Stevenson still won back he was the only Democrat on the state to get to
do so. A series of investment and management reforms he initiated as state treasurer attracted national attention and it was suggested that they be implemented in other states. Both politics and the country's need for public servants have changed greatly since his father participated. I asked Senator Stevenson how the generations difference has altered the nation's priorities and the approach to handling them. Well I think the circumstances changed radio that heard me. Comparisons of my certain type my own individual circumstances were quite different from my father's in his ability to. Better years of his. Life when we were both in public service when while he was still alive and after I had entered politics I was involved at a at a state level and he of course is above the highest level he was involved in international affairs as the permanent representative of the United States at the United Nations and we didn't have
much occasion there new to discuss politics discuss all of the great issues I was in Springfield Illinois when he was in the in New York since his death in 1965 I think politics is changed a great deal. There are moments when I'm almost glad he isn't here to see the visit innocently anger which as the times are in fact politics he he is deeply committed to the tradition of American politics of hard work and persuasion. And. When he called talking sense. Since then we've seen violence in our politics we've seen it at times.
The dialogue disrupted by those who seek confrontation is opposed to. The serious discussion of the issues. Heat of heated for pound all of that to those tactics are very hard to understand. I suppose they are reflecting a growing concern in the country about our capacity for self-government. He never had any doubts about the past 30 years and for self government is a is a pretty people. But the war is going on in Indochina and I suppose it is. At the roots of much of the discontent ne a country but to peace in the world is no longer the only condition of human survival. Another has
become quite apparent which he began to talk about before he died before anybody else really in the country and its preservation of our environment he referred to the planet as a as a space ship depended upon the very fragile reserves of soil and of air and of water but the concern about preservation of our environment too I suspect. As you said they've heard it is that the roots of the discontent in the in the country is growing concern about our. Disordered priorities and the dominance of specialist support as opposed to the general interest in you know or in our politics. Politics has changed him enormously just since he died five and a half years ago.
Not all the changes much much and change very encouraging to me have we seen people banding together locally and nationally in such groups is common cause sitting upon a greater voice for themselves in our political process. You see in one of the major parties after the little turd turbulence of 960 aid and in the unprecedented act of self-criticism of any attempt to reform itself to make it a more democratic party that opened the doors to the road back to the poor to everyone. There is much to be encouraged about. Future is more unpredictable than ever before and it's very difficult for me to make comparisons today with the poetry to write
your own reviews and attitudes because there has been so much change since. Whenever Dirksen died Republican Rob Smith was named to fill that Illinois Senate seat until his successor could be duly elected. The Democrats selected at least Stevenson to run against him. The Senate was the prime target of the administration in 1970. President Nixon said he wanted and needed a majority there that he could work with the Senate of the ninety first Congress had been the biggest roadblock the president had encountered in attempts to get his programs in appointments through Congress Vice President Agnew's harsh attacks on liberals which developed to its fullest during that campaign began in September when he appeared in Illinois on behalf of Senator Smith Smith's campaign tactics were termed a textbook application of the Agnew style. They failed Stevenson won by almost five hundred fifty thousand votes. Looking back Senator Stevenson offered some advice to those who will have to face the Agnew political style in the next elections.
But the advice is easy and the tactics in 1870 were not done from the air they did. We've seen those tactics before. In 1970 it was not an appeal to the reason into the good sense of the people. It was an appeal which as it turned out fooled very few of anybody any people in Illinois. Basically the suggestion was that others were soft on the bias of the past we've heard other such accusations and maybe father was accused of being soft on communism in his in his time some public Phish shows were candidates for public office just don't have enough confidence in the good sense of the people they search for the lowest
common denominator of public opinion instead of trying to exult people to an ever higher purpose in stead of trying to reach through the decency into the good sense of the electorate. That's all. All we get in oh we just went on ignoring these silly charges are trying as best we could to talk sense about all of the issues and as it turned out the people responded to to our. Our approach I won by the second largest plurality in the in the history of the state the only other candidate in Illinois history would everyone by a larger plurality as my father in 1948 when he to talk sense to the people of Illinois. I might I might add there was another aspect of the whole thing. The vice president my opponent and others
did us a political favor and over the way they helped to underscore the fact that the real differences were not so much within the Democratic Party. Differences which helped defeat the party in 1968 they helped convince old upstate state to people all across my state that the real the cities were not so much within my campaign as they were between in the campaign of Mr. Agnew and my opponent. A cup to bring us together after his election it was disclosed that Senator Stevens son along with former Illinois Governor Rod a current congressman Abner Mikva had been the object of some sort of military intelligence surveillance. The disclosure mushroomed into a huge controversy about the domestic spying operations with the military and much is still left to be learned.
I still don't know all the facts I don't know to what extent it was the objective of the military Surveillance Act charges have been made the army at first responded by denying that it had been the target of military surveillance and then and then the Army said it stopped it. So having braced united and then said they didn't stop it I gather it was the object of at least some surveillance. I don't know what the facts are I wasn't conscious of it at the time although we did have occasion no reason to suspect that we were the object of surveillance by somebody. All I ever heard was all they ever admitted was maintained a dozen a file on me which they said contained clippings newspaper clippings about my about my speeches.
And I still don't know whether to be flattered by their attention to my speeches or outraged but I had no idea. I think it's buying is as evil for many reasons including the danger of intimidation. I however have never felt very intimidated by it. If they have any dirt on me they're as if it's fabricated. There just isn't anything that I can conceive that could be used to intimidate me. I hope this is the Senate subcommittee and Custer's to rights chaired by Senator or senator Herb and we'll get to the heart of the matter will determine the facts in my case and in others and then pending on those facts will be in a position to take appropriate
action in the in the Congress I don't think there's any place in our politics for spying on peaceful. Political activities of citizens of candidates and public officials included. And yet as soon as the army was assigned the responsibility for the maintenance of civil order in the country and in an intelligence gathering function far followed and to some extent a legitimate one well that may be. Congress should draw a line between the legitimate intelligence gathering activities of the military on the one hand and the illegitimate invasions of our privacy on the other and attempt to make any trespass across the line a hate crime. But this point is a little bit hard to know exactly what we should do because we don't know yet what all the facts are. Neither in the case of military
surveillance nor in the case of similar activities by civilian authorities such as the big guns he was sworn into the Senate before any of the other senators elected in 1970 Adley Stevenson enjoys added seniority he ranks 88. Now the seniority system used to be the backbone of Congress but recently some of the power it gave the older members has been trimmed away. Senator Stevens and says the system looks much different from the inside. I realize now for example that seniority is not a rule of the Senate it's a it's a habit. And habit since I've been here maybe it is perhaps broken. I have felt for a long time and still do as a senator that there must be less arbitrary more reasonable way. Of assigning responsibilities within the Congress and by seniority tenure
within the Senate. Well it seems to me that one way of one that serves for most in the case of assignments of senators to committee and the selection of committee chairman would be by simply submitting those same mention selection chairman to the majority in the in the Senate for ratification militias. This has already happened in the future. This election of committee chairman won't be automatic as it has been in the past it will be subject to subject to approval by all of the members of the majority within the within the Senate. The habit has been broken. That is to say the precedent has been established it was in the 90 second 90 Second Congress. Its state Senate seniority is still ironclad when it comes to less important things like the
Senate of parking spaces and office space. Senators Well the application of the seniority rule in such cases doesn't doesn't bother me very much. It does bother me when it when it comes to something very important like the selection of. Of our committee chairman and the assignment of members to the committees but there we have established this new precedent which I believe is to overlook the terribly important reform in the Senate. Senator Stevens and serves on the Committee on Banking Housing and Urban Affairs and the Committee on labor and public welfare. His seniority helped him get the chairmanship of the Senate Subcommittee on migratory labor. Well I've what I've been doing here is to get myself better informed about the problems of a neglected and how often times are exploited. Minority in the country the migrant workers there a rootless of
people affected the disenfranchised overlooked by governments of all the devils cut out of the. Social benefits that most people take for granted in the in the country. What have all of the activities of a subcommittee will. Will be I can't say at this point I was just trying to get myself better educated but clearly a one point chin of the subcommittee will remain. To focus the public opinion spotlight on the plight of migrant workers and I would hope beyond that too. To introduce into the in the Senate a series of bills all aimed at improving educational opportunities health services. Pay levels for migrant workers.
Are there other possibilities. What are the sources of difficulty for the migrant worker or is immigration competition with the legal and illegal entrants from in the job market entrants particularly from Mexico I think Glee is paying attention to that problem and and try to resolve it although it's very difficult. Very difficult problem there the farmer as I say is is a neglected member of the neglected minority in the country and there's just no end to. The needs of the farmers were created we must face up to for one example for another example of he's. He's victim of the poisons in her fields is growing evidence. Of the dangers to all of this from pesticides.
The man first exposed to those dangers is the is the worker in the in the field. What I want to see to it is to protect Internet danger there's been evidence recently to certain companies have been experimenting on human beings with pesticides experimenting on farm workers to determine the effects of their pet to say see that kind of thing start following his graduation from Harvard with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1052. He later return and graduate from Harvard Law School at least Stevenson joined the Marine Corps while his father was campaigning for the presidency against a man who was known for promising to get Americans out of the Korean War. The young Stevenson was going through officer candidate school and learning how to operate tanks. A father lost the election and the son ended up a second lieutenant commanding a tank platoon in Japan in Korea for the next two years. Today America has other men and tanks in war in another country and there are other men running for the presidency this time promising to get Americans out of the
Vietnam War. Senator Stevenson looks at his role in the Senate in respect to America's committed course of disentanglement from this war. But I can talk about all of the initiatives that are being undertaken in the Senate. I can't say which will succeed I do think there is a growing feeling in the Senate that there is an imbalance between the executive and the legislative branches of our government that congressional authority must be reasserted efforts are being undertaken now for example to circumscribe were making powers of the of the of the president. I should think there might be some success and in that case what formally circumscription will ultimately take is is difficult to tell but it will take some form. I suspect there are other approaches to the war in Vietnam such as you know going into law the terminal date for the withdrawal of all
American troops. I don't know whether that effort that senators have Fielden and McGovern will succeed even if it passes in the Senate it might very well meet with defeat in the in the in the in the house. There are many other possibilities with respect to India to Indochina. One is an initiative that I am. And the taking I have pointed out that our protest purpose for this war has been to guarantee the rights of the people of South Vietnam to choose their own government it's been subject terminations that these more than any other anything else has been. The continuation of rationalization or purpose behind our military and parliament. Elections are forthcoming and in South Vietnam the people are
given a chance will in those elections have an opportunity to choose a government and it seems to me possible or at least a very long suffering people given the chance might. Well choose a government committed to peace to reconciliation to a political settlement and coexistence with the with the North and yet our military involvement almost inevitably creates an appearance of political support those elections for the present regime and there is evidence to indicate that notwithstanding all our. Our partner stations about self-determination that we are actively helping to. Mr. Chu I think the Congress should declare political. Neutrality in these elections and through the creation of a congressional
commission in force a policy of neutrality in those elections that will be true that that pester purpose of self-determination. Let's let the people choose their own government and then that abide by that choice and continue and if possible exhilarate withdraw and with a better chance. Of. It's critical settlement which could include amnesty for the people who say that. The return of our all representatives and have to remember the role of government which can depend for its survival and not upon our military support the public support of the people of Washington D.C. has been called a city filled with a more personal ambition than any other in America. This is the political center and politics does take a great deal of ambition. Sen. Stevenson's family heritage is one of greatness including great ambitions. However he denies any further
aspirations when questioned about his ambitions. That's very simple that's the easiest question to answer so far I have only one ambition and that is to serve and serve well in the Senate and to serve a state that has been very good to my family for a long time. That's the extent of my political ambition and he says he means it. Senator Bradley Stevenson the third Democrat from Illinois. This is Bill Moroney. Of the United States Senate class of 1971 was produced in Washington D.C. for the national educational radio network provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. This is the national educational radio network.
- Episode Number
- Senator Adlai Stevenson III
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- No description available
- Politics and Government
- Media type
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 71-15-8 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- Chicago: “The U.S. Senate Class of 1978; 8; Senator Adlai Stevenson III,” 1971-00-00, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed October 5, 2023, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-z31nmw89.
- MLA: “The U.S. Senate Class of 1978; 8; Senator Adlai Stevenson III.” 1971-00-00. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. October 5, 2023. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-z31nmw89>.
- APA: The U.S. Senate Class of 1978; 8; Senator Adlai Stevenson III. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-z31nmw89