All About Adlai

Reading Eagle/November 1, 1956

Chicago, Nov. 1. Mrs. Ellen Borden Stevenson, the wife who bore three sons to Adlai Stevenson, divorced him after his election to be governor of Illinois. She had intended to sue for a divorce before that election, but Adlai’s political managers persuaded her to wait. She obliged and she subscribes to common report that during his term Adlai seldom went to the statutory office of the governor but did much of his work in the mansion. She agrees with popular report that he responds to the influence of his sister, Mrs. Ernest Ives, a lady of determined character and mien.

Mrs. S. wrote a brochure on life with Adlai, intended to be published before this year’s election. However, it may never be published.

Mrs. Stevenson smiles with a broad, unintentional burlesque of the subtle expression of Mona Lisa when she discusses phases of her former husband’s “personality.” She still thinks his election would be a mistake. On the point of his personal qualification she wrote a sort of comic valentine, published in 1952, as follows: “When a man is unable to govern his wife, his mother, his nurse, he takes a particular pleasure in running the universe.”


Mrs. Stevenson is a fourth-generation Chicagoan. She now runs an art center under a “foundation” which currently is exhibiting indescribable objects as Finnish sculpture. God in His mercy gave the civic fathers of Chicago the compassion to grant a bar license to this art center. Thus the juice of the corn, the currant and juniper gently contrive to soften the shock.

After she kept her word to hold a still tongue and Adlai was elected governor, Mrs Stevenson moved to their personal home at Libertyville, Ill. That was the end of the trail for them. They have three sons: Adlai, 26; Borden, 24; and John Fell Stevenson, 20. She thought Adlai imposed on them by having his picture taken with them in this campaign.


Young Adlai had to retire from the campaign because he is about to become a father. John Fell is still plugging along to Harvard, the family manger where the other two boys got spinached for the battle of life. Mrs. Stevenson thinks Adlai is the only witty man who has occurred in national politics since, perhaps, Lincoln. Bob Moses, of New York, is a wit, but he is also a confirmed also-ran in competitive politics. That sets him back in the rummage counters with Will Rogers.

In plenty of time before this year’s Democratic convention, Harry Truman asked a friend in Chicago to tell him more about Adlai. The friend describes as well as he could Stevenson’s social reputation.

It was after this that Truman blasted Stevenson as a fellow with no belly for a fight. Since the convention he has supported the party and the platform but not Stevenson, personally.

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