Chapter 8: "Let's Talk Sense to the American People"
Governor Adlai Stevenson – Address to the American Legion
In the grand sweep of American campaign speechwriting, no presidential candidate delivered oratory more memorable, challenging or more consistently extraordinary than Adlai Stevenson. His speeches were a moving combination of self-deprecation, soaring eloquence and inspiring vision; and few were as pointed and courageous as the one Stevenson delivered before the American Legion on August 25th, 1952. Focusing on the question of “patriotism in the context of our times” Stevenson delivered a broad attack against the forces of McCarthyism while arguing that patriotism must be based on “hatred of Russia,” but “love of this Republic.”
Though Stevenson would go on to lose in November his words would influence a generation of Americans to believe that love of country and a desire to serve could be something greater than the disgusting excesses of McCarthyism. Even in crucible of the campaign trail, Stevenson showed that great oratory could create reality of its own and inspire Americans to pursue greatness.