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Adlai Stevenson believed government should be honest and democratic. And when failing in these, it should be gradually reformed.

 
During Stevenson's time, Illinois was known as one of the most corrupt states. Elected governor in 1948, he earned a national reputation as a reformer during his one term in office. He worked hard to remove politics from state hiring practices. He expanded the civil service system. He increased the professionalism of the state workforce.

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"Sir Galahad & the Pols," Time magazine article about Adlai


Excerpt: "If Lincoln Steffens* was right, corruption is the norm of U.S. political life; in spite of reform, the pols always come back; the Sir Galahads, sooner or later, get licked, or get laughed out of court, or join the gang. But men like Adlai Stevenson have dedicated themselves to a more hopeful and more dynamic proposition: that the U.S. is not a static pattern but a still-continuing experiment — an experiment, among other things, in good government."
(January 28, 1952)


Background: Although this Time magazine cover story ran six months prior to the Democratic National Convention, it was a clear indication that party leaders, including President Harry S Truman, were increasingly interested in Stevenson and his political future.

One week before this article appeared on newsstands, Truman invited Stevenson to the White House for a private meeting. At that time, both Truman and Stevenson remained tightlipped — at least publicly — about their near-term political aspirations. It wasn't until losing the March 10 New Hampshire primary to Tennessee's Senator Estes Kefauver that Truman formerly announced he would not seek reelection. Stevenson, on the other hand, did not participate in the Democratic primaries, and only received his party's nomination after being "drafted" during the August convention.


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