Adlai Ewing Stevenson II (February 5, 1900 – July 14, 1965) was an American politician, noted for his intellectual demeanor, eloquent oratory, and promotion of liberal causes in the Democratic Party. He served one term as governor of Illinois, and received the Democratic Party's nomination for president in 1952 and 1956; both times he was defeated by Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower. He sought the Democratic presidential nomination for a third time in the election of 1960, but was defeated by Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachussetts. After his election, President Kennedy appointed Stevenson as the Ambassador to the United Nations; he served from 1961 to 1965. He died on 14 July 1965 in London, England after suffering a fatal heart attack at age 65.
Although Stevenson was born in Los Angeles, he was a member of a famous Illinois political family. His grandfather Adlai E. Stevenson I had been Vice President of the United States under President Grover Cleveland from 1893-1897. His father, Lewis Green Stevenson, never held an elected office, but was appointed Secretary of State of Illinois and was considered a strong contender for the Democratic vice-presidential nomination in 1928. A maternal great-grandfather, Jesse W. Fell, had been a close friend and campaign manager for Abraham Lincoln; Stevenson often referred to Fell as his "favorite" ancestor. His mother was Helen Davis Stevenson.
Stevenson was raised in the small city of Bloomington, Illinois; his family was a member of Bloomington's upper class and lived in one of the city's well-to-do neighborhoods. At the age of twelve Stevenson accidentally killed Ruth Merwin, a 16-year-old friend, while demonstrating drill technique with a rifle, inadvertently left loaded, during a party at the Stevenson home. Stevenson was devastated by the accident and rarely referred to it as an adult. However, as the Governor of Illinois he was told about a teenager who had survived an automobile accident while his friend was killed. Stevenson told the teen's father that he should tell his son that "he now has to live for two", which Stevenson's friends took to be a reference to the shooting incident.