Behind the Shot: Adlai E. Stevenson II

Behind the Shot: Adlai E. Stevenson II

Tom Maday, co-author and photographer of In the Arena: A History of American Presidential Hopefuls, details the process behind capturing the statue of Adlai Stevenson in the Central Illinois Regional Airport for Trope's Behind the Shot series.

There are so many well known or relevant statues of Adlai Stevenson. There are even buildings named after him, but we were trying to showcase a late life-sized bronze statue which was installed in the 1960s or ‘70s. The heroic bronze statues, many of them equestrian statues, were prominent in the 1850s to 1910s. Then all of a sudden it shifted to, as Pete [Shea] says in the introduction of In the Arena, highways and buildings and public works. Memorials in the form of parks and locations became popular rather than having these these historical figures memorialized in bronze. They went out of fashion.

There was a very famous picture of Aldai Stevenson from the campaign. He was a modest, humble man and a people type of guy. He was photographed on his presidential campaign with the bottom of his shoes showing, and he had a hole in his shoe. He was so busy and had worked so hard and walked so far that he was literally putting holes in his shoes. That’s what the sculpture reflects - that funny but memorable moment from the campaign. Being memorialized in bronze was unusual for that era.

Detail of Aldai E. Stevenson II


[Trope’s Publisher and Editor] Sam Landers accompanied me on that trip. That’s Sam in the background of the shot. It was not a busy airport. I think they might only have a few flights every day. There was a TSA guy walking by, but I don't think that those guys really have much to do at that airport. Nobody stopped us. I mean, it really was kind of funny. We just started taking the picture and looked like we belonged there, or pretended that we were from the Historical Society. Nobody even questioned that.

  In the Arena: A History of American Presidential Hopefuls is available now. The book features profiles of 34 American leaders who captured their party’s nomination for the presidency, but never reached the Oval Office. Author Peter Shea chronicles the rise, early careers, campaigns, and later achievements of historical giants like Aaron Burr and Henry Clay, up through modern candidates Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton. Photos by Tom Maday of monuments and other memorials accompany each subject, along with campaign memorabilia, illustrating the legacy many of these candidates left behind after relinquishing their dreams of serving as President of the United States. A foreword by 1988 candidate Michael Dukakis gives readers more personal insight into what it’s like to run for one of the most powerful positions in the world – and come up short.