Adlai Stevenson III (born October 10, 1930, in Chicago) is an American politician of the Democratic Party. He represented the state of Illinois in the United States Senate from 1970 until 1981.
He attended Harvard University (Cambridge, Massachusetts) and received a bachelor's degree (1952) and a law degree (1957) there. Stevenson enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Korean war (1952-1954), serving as a tank platoon commander, and was discharged as a first lieutenant. He continued to serve in the Marine Reserves and was discharged in 1961 as a captain.
In 1957, Stevenson went to work as a clerk at the Illinois Supreme Court and worked there until 1958. In 1964, Stevenson was elected an Illinois state representative, in which capacity he served from 1965 to 1967. He then served as Illinois state treasurer (1967-1970). When U.S. Senator Everett Dirksen (R-Ill.) died in office in 1969, Stevenson was elected in a special election to fill Dirksen's unexpired term. Stevenson was re-elected to the seat in 1974, serving in the U.S. Senate from 1970 to 1981. In 1980, Stevenson declined to stand for re-election again.
Stevenson unsuccessfully ran for Governor of Illinois in 1982 and 1986, losing both elections to James R. Thompson. In 1982 the initial vote count showed Stevenson winning, but after several recounts of Republican dominated counties, Stevenson conceded, giving the very narrow victory to Thompson. The difference between their vote totals stood at three-quarters of one percent, but Stevenson chose not to demand a statewide recount. Several young Thompson staffers were later convicted of vote fraud in that campaign. In the 1986 campaign two followers of Lyndon LaRouche won the Democratic Party primary for the nominations to Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of State. Stevenson objected to their platform and refused to appear on the same ticket. The Solidarity Party was created to provide an alternate slate, which split and confused the opposition to Thompson.
Stevenson's great-grandfather, Adlai E. Stevenson I, was vice president of the United States (1893-1897). His grandfather Lewis G. Stevenson was Illinois secretary of state (1914-1917). His father, Adlai E. Stevenson II, was governor of Illinois and two time Democratic presidential nominee. Actor McLean Stevenson was his third cousin.
Adlai Stevenson IV, Stevenson III's son, became a television reporter in Chicago in the 1980's. It is reported then when asked if he liked his name, he said he intended to become "Adlai the Last". In fact, in the fall of 1994, Adlai Ewing Stevenson V was born.