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Adlai Stevenson believed people should be involved in society. Don't just talk — put your ideas to work in a manner consistent with your beliefs.

 
Whether in or out of government, Stevenson spent his adult life engaged in the issues of the day. He was not afraid to support controversial or unpopular ideas. He was one of the first political figures to dare criticize the anti-communist bullying of Senator Joseph McCarthy. He also remained a strong supporter of the UN, even when such views proved unpopular.

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Free Speech: A Duty — Lovejoy Historical Marker Dedication


Excerpt: "It is said that religious creeds are written to mark the graves where heresies lie buried. There is a common heresy and its graves are to be found all over the earth. It is the heresy that says you can kill an idea by killing a man, defeat a principle by defeating a person, bury truth by burying its vehicle. Man may burn his brother at the stake, but he cannot reduce truth to ashes; he may murder his fellow man with a shot in the back, but he does not murder justice; he may even slay armies of men, but as it is written, 'truth beareth off the victory.'"
(November 9, 1952)


Background: Stevenson believed that to have a free society, people must have the freedom to speak out about their own ideas. In America, as he said in this speech at the Lovejoy historical marker dedication in Alton, Illinois, citizens have "the freedom to say lawful but unpopular things."

On November 7, 1837, Elijah Parish Lovejoy was murdered for saying unpopular things. Lovejoy was an abolitionist. He believed in the immediate end (or "abolition") of slavery. Lovejoy operated an abolitionist newspaper in Alton, Illinois, a town on the Mississippi River near St. Louis. In the years before the Civil War, abolitionist views were received with hostility. Twice before, pro-slavery mobs had destroyed Lovejoy's printing presses. Without a press, he could not publish his newspaper. Lovejoy bought a third press, but the time he was killed trying to protect it from yet another mob.


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