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Adlai Stevenson felt called to public service. He believed public servants should serve the public interest.

 
When it came to public service, Stevenson was both a realist and an optimist. He understood the distrust many Americans had for government. Yet he believed such mistrust made honest, committed public officials even more important. He believed that those who held government offices needed to earn the public's trust, listen to people's needs, and serve with compassion and integrity.

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Final Report to the People of Illinois — Radio Address


Excerpt: "The efficient functioning and integrity of government depend upon attracting to public life honest, competent, loyal men and women. Of all the things I have tried to do nothing is more important than the progress we have made in bringing to and retaining in the state service capable men and women without regard to politics."
(January 7, 1953)


Background: This radio address was Adlai Stevenson's farewell as Illinois governor. Though popular, Stevenson did not run for reelection, choosing instead to run for president.

During his four years in Springfield, he earned a reputation as a reformer dedicated to cleaning up state government. In this speech, he listed his administration's accomplishments.

Stevenson's belief in the importance of public service is a theme that runs throughout this address. He believed citizens had the responsibility to serve the public good. This could mean running for elective office, joining a local service organization, or supporting a charitable cause."


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