New International ‘Adlai Stevenson Center on Democracy’ Hosts Inaugural Event
Only weeks before the 2008 presidential conventions, political veterans, including Representative John B. Anderson, Alderman Edward Burke, Reverend Jesse Jackson, Senator Richard Lugar, Senator George McGovern and Senator Adlai E. Stevenson III, met today to recall the old presidential nominating system and the profound changes in the way America selects its presidential candidates. The discussion, moderated by presidential historian Richard Norton Smith and hosted at the historic homestead of Adlai Stevenson II, inaugurates the Adlai Stevenson Center on Democracy.
The panel discussion, attended by long-time political activists and Center supporters, was followed by a “Grand Jollification” (a XIX century term for a political celebration) featuring a public reception, welcoming address by Senator Stevenson and continued discussion of the presidential nominating process moderated by Bill Kurtis, the former CBS Morning News and local WBBM- TV news anchor.
The international Adlai Stevenson Center on Democracy seeks to enhance the global practice of democracy by bringing together veterans and practitioners of politics along with scholars and other observers from around the world to address challenges to democratic systems of government in a new era and conceive practical ways to make democracies more accountable. Named after Adlai Stevenson II who served as Illinois governor from 1949 to 1953, Democratic presidential candidate in 1952 and 1956, and U.S. representative to the United Nations from 1961 until his death in 1965, the Center will strive to improve the democratic process through public education, the media and technology.
“For Adlai Stevenson II, democracy was not a means to acquiring and retaining power. It was an end in itself — and fragile. It was a means of empowering the people with truth. Trust the people with the truth, he said, trust their decency and good sense. What wins is more important than who wins,” said the Center’s Chairman and son of its namesake, Adlai Stevenson III. “In keeping with his legacy, the Center will seek to bridge the gap between theory and practice, ideas and action, through lectures, symposia, technology and cooperating foreign institutions.”
As the Center develops, it will continue to establish local, national and international partners, including schools and universities, to support and participate in educational programs.
The Center is housed in the Adlai E. Stevenson Historic Home, which was built in 1938 by Adlai Stevenson II and his wife Ellen Borden. It has been the site of many old fashioned exercises in American democracy and host to many of the world’s famous, including John F. Kennedy and Eleanor Roosevelt. In 1969, the property was sold to Jane and Edison Dick, longtime friends of the Stevensons. In 1974, the Dick family donated the estate to the Lake County Forest Preserves. The home was restored with a grant from the State of Illinois. Today it is a designated Illinois Historic Site and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Center and its programs are funded through the generous contributions and grants of individuals, corporations and foundations.
The Center has a license agreement with Lake County Forest Preserve District, which owns the Adlai E. Stevenson Historic Home. Scheduled tours of the home are available through the Forest Preserve by calling (847) 968-3321.
To learn more about the Center, please visit http://www.stevensoncenterondemocracy.org.