Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Adlai Ewing Stevenson

American Vice President, Congressman, Presidential Candidate

"Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. You are a child of the universe with no less than the trees and the stars."

"Laws are never as effective as habits."

"It is often easier to fight for principles than to live up to them."

"Man has wrested from nature the power to make the world a desert or to make the deserts bloom. There is no evil in the atom; only in men's souls."

"On this shrunken globe, men can no longer live as strangers."

"If our freedom means ease alone, if it means shirking the hard disciplines of learning, if it means evading the rigors and rewards of creative activity, if it means more expenditure on advertising than education, if it means in the schools the steady cult of the trivial and the mediocre, if it means - worst of all - indifference, or even contempt for all but athletic excellence, we may keep for a time the forms of free society, but its spirit will be dead."

"If the pursuit of peace is both old and new, it is also both complicated and simple. It is complicated, for it has to do with people, and nothing in this universe baffles man as much as man himself."

"If we value the pursuit of knowledge, we must be free to follow whatever that search may lead us. The free mind is no barking dog, to be tethered on a ten-foot chain."

"In youth, everything seems possible; but we reach a point in the middle years when we realize that we are never going to reach all the shining goals we had set for ourselves. And in the end, most of us reconcile ourselves, with what grace we can, to living with our ulcers and arthritis, our sense of partial failure, our less-than-ideal families - and even our politicians!"

"It is not possible for this nation to be at once politically internationalist and economically isolationist. This is just as insane as asking one Siamese twin to high dive while the other plays piano."

"A wise man does not try to hurry history. Many wars have been avoided by patience and many have been precipitated by reckless haste."

"Freedom rings where opinions clash."

"Freedom is not an ideal it is not even a protection, if it means nothing more than freedom to stagnate, to live without dreams, to have no greater aim than a second car and another television set - and this in a world where half our fellow man have less than enough to eat."

"Knowledge alone is not enough. It must be leavened with magnanimity before it becomes wisdom."

"Let's face it. Let's talk sense to the American people. Let's tell them the truth, that there are no gains without pains, that we are now on the eve of great decisions, not easy decisions, like resistance when you're attacked, but along, patient, costly struggle which alone can assure triumph over the great enemies of man - war, poverty and tyranny - and the assaults upon human dignity which are the most grievous consequences of each."

"Man does not live by words alone, despite the fact that sometimes he has to eat them."

"Nature is indifferent to the survival of the human species, including Americans."

"Nature is neutral. Man has wrested from nature the power to make the world a desert or to make the deserts bloom. there is no evil in the atom; only in men’s souls."

"Nothing so dates a man as to decry the younger generation."

"The idea that you can merchandise candidates for high office like breakfast cereal - that you can gather votes like box tops - is, I think, the ultimate indignity to the democratic process."

"The mind is the expression of the soul, which belongs to God and must be let alone by government."

"Understanding human needs is half the job of meeting them."

"We have confused the free with the free and easy."

"We travel together, passengers on a little spaceship, dependent on its vulnerable reserves of air and soil; all committed for our safety to its security and peace; preserved from annihilation only by the care, the work and, I will say, the love we give our fragile craft."

"With the unlocking of the atom, mankind crossed one of the great watersheds of history. We have entered uncharted lands. The maps of strategy and diplomacy by which we guided ourselves until yesterday no longer reveal the way. Fusion and fission revolutionized the entire foundation of human affairs."

"You will find that the truth is often unpopular and the contest between agreeable fancy and disagreeable fact is unequal. For, in the vernacular, we Americans are suckers for good news."

"A free society is a place where it's safe to be unpopular."

"All progress has resulted from people who took unpopular positions."

"Every age needs people who will redeem the time by living with a vision of things that are to be."

"Thinking implies disagreement; and disagreement implies nonconformity; and nonconformity implies heresy; and heresy implies disloyalty - so, obviously, thinking must be stopped."

"Those who corrupt the public mind are just as evil as those who steal from the public purse."

"Generally speaking, all great societies have a come into being and have been maintained through the people’s acceptance of certain objective moral standards. Such standards aren’t created; they exist and cannot be displaced. They are stronger, indeed, than we are."

"Government must be the trustee for the little man because no one else will be. The powerful can usually help themselves – and frequently do."

"It is not the years in your life but the life in your years that counts."

"It is said that a wise person who stands firm is a statesman, and a foolish person who stands form is a catastrophe."

"My definition of a free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular."

"Progress is what happens when inevitability yields to necessity. And it is an article of the democratic faith that progress is a basic law of life."

"Self-criticism is the secret weapon of democracy."

"The really basic thing in government is policy. Bad administration… can destroy good policy, but good administration can never save bad policy."

"A hungry man is not a free man."

"Knowledge alone is not enough. It must be leavened with magnanimity before it becomes wisdom."

"My idea of a free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular."

"Our first, our greatest, our most relentless purpose is peace, for without peace there is nothing."

"What a man knows at fifty that he did not know at twenty is for the most part incommunicable."