Adlai Stevenson II - "Until Hell Freezes Over"

"Until Hell Freezes Over"

His most famous moment came during the Cuban missile crisis when he gave a presentation at an emergency session of the Security Council on October 25, 1962. He forcefully asked Soviet representative Valerian Zorin if his country was installing missiles in Cuba, punctuated with the famous demand "Don't wait for the translation, answer 'yes' or 'no'!" Following Zorin's refusal to answer the abrupt question, Stevenson retorted, "I am prepared to wait for my answer until Hell freezes over." In one of the most memorable moments in U.N. history, Stevenson then showed photographs that proved the existence of missiles in Cuba, just after the Soviet ambassador had implied they did not exist.

Stevenson confronted open hostility when he visited Dallas, Texas to deliver a speech commemorating United Nations Day at the Memorial Auditorium Theater on October 24, 1963, one month before the assassination of Kennedy in the same city. Upon exiting the building, he was struck on the head by Cora Frederickson who was wielding a picket sign with the message "DOWN WITH THE UN." When he inquired about the reason behind her action, she tartly responded, "If you don't know what's wrong, I don't know why. Everybody else does." Additionally he, along with policeman R. L. Larson, were spat upon by Robert Edward Hatfield. Amid the furor, Stevenson said of his assailants: "I don't want to send them to jail. I want to send them to school."

After President Kennedy was assassinated Stevenson continued to serve in his position as Ambassador to the UN under the Johnson administration. As the country progressed toward the presidential election, Vietnam became an important campaign issue. The Republican contender, Senator Barry Goldwater, advocated victory in Vietnam—a rollback strategy that Johnson denounced as tantamount to nuclear war. Stevenson was not a major player on Vietnam issues. He did support Johnson publicly and in private because he believed in containment, but he also wanted to start negotiations with North Vietnam through the UN, which Johnson rejected.

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