Adlai Stevensonn photo

Remarks Conceding the Presidential Election in Chicago, Illinois

November 07, 1956

I have just sent the following telegram to President Eisenhower:

"You have won not only the election, but also an expression of the great confidence of the American people. I send you my warm congratulations.

Tonight we are not Republicans and Democrats, but Americans.

We appreciate the grave difficulties your administration faces, and, as Americans, join in wishing you all success in the years that lie ahead."

And now let me say a word to you, my supporters and friends, all over the country.

First, I want to express my respect and thanks to a gallant partner in this great adventure—Estes Kefauver.

I wish there was some way I could properly thank you, one by one. I wish there was some way I could make you feel my gratitude for the support, the encouragement, the confidence that have sustained me through these weeks and months and years that I have been privileged to be your leader.

Thanks to many of you, I have twice had the proud experience of being selected by the Democratic party as its nominee for the most exalted office on earth. Once again I have tried hard to express my views and make clear my party's hopes for our beloved country. To you who are disappointed tonight, let me confess that I am too! But we must not be downhearted, for "there is radiance and glory in the darkness, could we but see, and to see, we have only to look."

For here, in America, the people have made their choice in a vigorous partisan contest that has affirmed again the vitality of the democratic process. And I say God bless partisanship, for this is democracy's lifeblood.

But beyond the seas, in much of the world, in Russia, in China, in Hungary, in all the trembling satellites, partisan controversy is forbidden and dissent suppressed.

So I say to you, my dear and loyal friends, take heart—there are things more precious than political victory; there is the right to political contest. And who knows better how vigorous and alive it is than you who bear the fresh, painful wounds of battle.

Let me add another thought for you who have traveled with me on this great journey:

I have tried to chart the road to a new and better America. I want to say to all of you who have followed me that, while we have lost a battle, I am supremely confident that our cause will ultimately prevail, for America can only go forward. It cannot go backward or stand still.

But even more urgent is the hope that our leaders will recognize that America wants to face up squarely to the facts of today's world. We don't want to draw back from them. We can't. We are ready for the test that we know history has set for us.

And, finally, the will of our society is announced by the majority. And if other nations have thought in the past few weeks that we were looking the other way and too divided to act, they will learn otherwise. What unites us is deeper than what divides us—love of freedom, love of justice, love of peace.

May America continue, under God, to be the shield and spear of democracy. And let us give the administration all responsible support in the troubled times ahead.

Now I bid you good night, with a full heart and a fervent prayer that we will meet often again in the liberals' everlasting battle against ignorance, poverty, misery and war.

Be of good cheer. And remember, my dear friends, what a wise man said—"A merry heart doeth good like a medicine, but a broken spirit dryeth the bones."

As for me, let there be no tears. I lost an election but won a grandchild!

Adlai Stevenson, Remarks Conceding the Presidential Election in Chicago, Illinois Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project