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October 25, 1962


UN Ambassador Adlai Stevenson
              October 25, 1962

New York City (JFK+50) United States ambassador to the United Nations Adlai E. Stevenson questioned Soviet ambassador Valerian Zorin today on his repeated denial that the USSR has placed nuclear missile sites in Cuba.

Mr. Stevenson, seated 4 chairs from Zorin, began his remarks by asking “one simple question”:

“Do you, Ambassador Zorin, deny that the USSR has placed, & is placing, medium & intermediate range missiles & sites in Cuba?”

Zorin was waiting to hear the translation of Stevenson’s question in the Russian language in his earpiece.

The normally patient Stevenson, however, was in no mood for delay.  He said:

“Yes or no—don’t wait for the translation–yes or no?”

Zorin, taken aback by Stevenson’s tactic, replied:

“I am not in an American courtroom, sir, & I do not wish to answer a question put to me in the manner in which a prosecutor does.”

     UN Ambassador Valerian Zorin

Stevenson, not to be denied, answered:

“You are in the courtroom of world opinion right now, & you can answer yes or no. You have denied that they exist, & I want to know if I have understood you correctly.”

Zorin said:

“Continue with your statement. You will receive your answer in due course. Do not worry.”

To which Stevenson replied:

“I am prepared to wait for my answer until hell freezes over, if that’s your decision.”*

Stevenson then produced, for Zorin & all the world to see, the photographic evidence of Soviet missile sites in Cuba.

      Photos of Soviet Missiles in Cuba
       Displayed at the United Nations
                     October 25, 1962

*President Kennedy, concerned about Stevenson’s ability to “stand-up” to Zorin, was watching the confrontation on TV. 

When it was over, JFK turned to his aides & said: “Terrific. I never knew Adlai had it in him.”**

**Source: “One Minute To Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev & Castro On The Brink of Nuclear War” by Michael Dobbs, Alfred Knopf, New York, 2008.

Adlai Ewing Stevenson II

Adlai E. Stevenson II was born in Los Angeles, California in 1900 but grew up in Bloomington, Illinois where his Great Grandfather, Jesse Fell, founded the local newspaper & was an early supporter of Abraham Lincoln.

Stevenson’s Grandfather, Adlai E. Stevenson, served as Vice-President of the United States in Grover Cleveland’s 2nd term.

Stevenson attended Princeton University & received a law degree from Northwestern.

He was elected Governor of Illinois in 1948 & served from 1949 to 1953.

In 1952 & again in 1956, Stevenson was the Democratic nominee for President of the United States but lost both times to the ever popular Dwight D. Eisenhower.

In 1956, Senator John F. Kennedy gave the nominating speech for Stevenson at the Democratic National Convention.

On July 15, 1960, Stevenson introduced JFK as the Democratic nominee who, in turn, said: “I am grateful that I can rely…on one of the most articulate statesmen of our time, Adlai Stevenson.”

From 1960 to 1965, Stevenson served as United States Ambassador to the United Nations.

Upon his death on July 14, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson said:

“He was an American & he served America well.  But what he saw, & what he spoke, & what he worked for is the shared desire of all humanity.”

JFK+50s Favorite Adlai Stevenson Quotes

“A wise man does not try to hurry history.  Many wars have been avoided by patience & many have been precipitated by reckless haste.”

“If we value the pursuit of knowledge, we must be free to follow wherever that search may lead us.  The free mind is not a barking dog to be tethered on a 10 foot chain.”

“In matters of national security, emotion is no substitute for intelligence, nor rigidity for prudence.”

“Every age needs men who will redeem the time by living with a vision of the things that are to be.”

          Adlai & President Kennedy
                       Enjoy Sailing

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