George Corley Wallace Jr. (August 25, 1919 – September 13, 1998) was an American politician and the 45th Governor of Alabama, a position he occupied for four terms, during which he promoted "low-grade industrial development, low taxes, and trade schools". He sought the United States presidency as a Democrat three times, and once as an American Independent Party candidate, unsuccessfully each time. He is best remembered for his staunch segregationist and populist views. Wallace notoriously opposed desegregation and supported the policies of "Jim Crow" during the Civil Rights Movement, declaring in his 1963 inaugural address that he stood for "segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever".
Born in Clio, Alabama, Wallace attended the University of Alabama School of Law and served in United States Army Air Corps during World War II. After the war, he won election to the Alabama House of Representatives and served as a state judge. Wallace first sought the Democratic nomination in the 1958 Alabama gubernatorial election. Initially a moderate on racial issues, Wallace adopted a hard-line segregationist stance after losing the 1958 nomination. Wallace successfully won the 1962 gubernatorial election. Seeking to stop the racial integration of the University of Alabama, Wallace earned national notoriety by standing in front of the entrance of the University of Alabama, literally blocking the path of black students. Wallace left office after one term due to term limits, but his wife, Lurleen Wallace, won the next election and succeeded him, though he was the de facto governor.
Wallace challenged sitting President Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1964 Democratic presidential primaries, but Johnson prevailed in the race. In the 1968 presidential election, Wallace ran a third party campaign in an attempt to force a contingent election in the United States House of Representatives, thereby enhancing the political clout of segregationist Southern leaders. Wallace won five Southern states but failed to force a contingent election; As of 2019 he remains the most recent third-party candidate to receive pledged electoral college votes from any state. Wallace won election to another term as Governor of Alabama in 1970 and ran in the 1972 Democratic presidential primaries, once again campaigning for segregation. His campaign effectively ended when he was shot in Maryland by Arthur Bremer, and Wallace remained paralyzed below the waist for the rest of his life. Bremer was sentenced to 63 years in prison for the shooting, which was later reduced to 53 years following an appeal; he served 35 years of the reduced sentence and was paroled in 2007.
Wallace won re-election as governor in 1974, and he once again unsuccessfully sought the Democratic presidential nomination in the 1976 Democratic presidential primaries. In the late 1970s, Wallace announced that he became a born again Christian and moderated his views on race, renouncing his past support for segregation. Wallace left office in 1979 but won election to a fourth and final term as governor in 1982. Wallace served 16 years and one day as Governor of Alabama, the third longest gubernatorial tenure in post-Constitutional U.S. history. Describing his impact on national politics despite his lack of success in presidential races, two biographers termed Wallace "the most influential loser" of 20th century American politics.
George C. Wallace
|45th Governor of Alabama|
January 17, 1983 – January 19, 1987
|Preceded by||Fob James|
|Succeeded by||H. Guy Hunt|
January 18, 1971 – January 15, 1979*
|Preceded by||Albert Brewer|
|Succeeded by||Fob James|
January 14, 1963 – January 16, 1967
|Preceded by||John Patterson|
|Succeeded by||Lurleen Wallace|
|First Gentleman of Alabama|
January 16, 1967 – May 7, 1968
|Preceded by||Lurleen Wallace (First Lady)|
|Succeeded by||Martha Farmer Brewer (First Lady)|
George Corley Wallace Jr.
August 25, 1919
Clio, Alabama, U.S.
|Died||September 13, 1998 (aged 79)|
Montgomery, Alabama, U.S.
|Resting place||Greenwood Cemetery|
|American Independent (1968)|
(m. 1943; died 1968)
(m. 1971; div. 1978)
(m. 1981; div. 1987)
|Children||4, including George|
|Education||University of Alabama (LLB)|
|Branch/service||United States Army|
|Years of service||1942–1945|
|Unit||United States Army Air Forces|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
Wallace, the first of four children, was born in Clio in Barbour County in southeastern Alabama, to George Corley Wallace Sr. and his wife, Mozelle (Smith). He was the third of five generations to bear the name "George Wallace". Since his parents disliked the designation "Junior", he was called "George C." to distinguish him from his father, George, and his grandfather, a physician. Wallace's father left college to pursue a life of farming when food prices were high during World War I. When his father died in 1937, his mother had to sell their farmland to pay existing mortgages. George Wallace was raised a Methodist by his parents.
From age ten, Wallace was fascinated with politics. In 1935, he won a contest to serve as a page in the Alabama Senate and confidently predicted that he would one day be governor. Wallace became a regionally successful boxer in high school, then went directly to law school in 1937 at the University of Alabama School of Law in Tuscaloosa. He was a member of the Delta Chi fraternity. It was at the University of Alabama that he crossed paths with Frank M. Johnson Jr., who was a much more liberal politician in relation to social issues and issues of race. Wallace also knew George Sparks, who became a conservative governor. These men had an effect on his personal politics reflecting ideologies of both leaders later during his time in office. He received a Bachelor of Laws degree in 1942.
Early in 1943, Wallace was accepted for pilot training by the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF). Soon afterwards Wallace contracted life-threatening spinal meningitis, but prompt medical attention with sulfa drugs saved his life. Left with partial hearing loss and permanent nerve damage, he was instead trained as a flight engineer. During 1945, as a member of a B-29 crew with 468th Bombardment Group, stationed in the Mariana Islands as part of the Twentieth Air Force, Wallace took part in air raids on Japan and reached the rank of staff sergeant. In mid-1945, Wallace received an early discharge on medical grounds, due to "severe anxiety", and a 10% disability pension for "psychoneurosis". (The Twentieth Air Force was commanded by General Curtis LeMay, who was his running mate in the 1968 presidential race).
In 1938, at age 19, Wallace contributed to his grandfather's successful campaign for probate judge. Late in 1945, he was appointed as one of the assistant attorneys general of Alabama, and in May 1946, he won his first election as a member to the Alabama House of Representatives. At the time, he was considered a moderate on racial issues. As a delegate to the 1948 Democratic National Convention, he did not join the Dixiecrat walkout at the convention, despite his opposition to U.S. President Harry S. Truman's proposed civil rights program. Wallace considered it an infringement on states' rights. The Dixiecrats carried Alabama in the 1948 general election, having rallied behind Governor Strom Thurmond of South Carolina. In his 1963 inaugural speech as governor, Wallace excused his failure to walk out of the 1948 convention on political grounds.
In 1952, he became the Circuit Judge of the Third Judicial Circuit in Alabama. Here he became known as "the fighting little judge," a nod to his past boxing association. He gained a reputation for fairness regardless of the race of the plaintiff. It was common practice at the time for judges in the area to refer to black lawyers by their first names, while their white colleagues were addressed formally as "Mister"; Black lawyer J. L. Chestnut later said that "Judge George Wallace was the most liberal judge that I had ever practiced law in front of. He was the first judge in Alabama to call me 'Mister' in a courtroom."
On the other hand, Wallace issued injunctions to prevent the removal of segregation signs in rail terminals, becoming the first Southern judge to do so. Similarly, during efforts by civil rights organizations to expand voter registration of blacks, Wallace blocked federal efforts to review Barbour County voting lists. He was cited for criminal contempt of court in 1959.
As judge, Wallace granted probation to some blacks, which may have cost him the 1958 gubernatorial election.
In 1958, Wallace ran in the Democratic primary for governor. Since the 1901 constitution's effective disfranchisement of the state's blacks, and most poor whites as well, the Democratic Party had been virtually the only party in Alabama. For all intents and purposes, the Democratic primary was the real contest at the state level. This was a political crossroads for Wallace. State Representative George C. Hawkins of Gadsden ran, but Wallace's main opponent was state attorney general John Malcolm Patterson, who ran with the support of the Ku Klux Klan, an organization Wallace had spoken against. Wallace was endorsed by the NAACP. Wallace lost the nomination by over 34,400 votes.
After the election, aide Seymore Trammell recalled Wallace saying, "Seymore, you know why I lost that governor's race? ... I was outniggered by John Patterson. And I'll tell you here and now, I will never be outniggered again."[note 1]
In the wake of his defeat, Wallace adopted a hard-line segregationist stance and used this stand to court the white vote in the next gubernatorial election in 1962. When a supporter asked why he started using racist messages, Wallace replied, "You know, I tried to talk about good roads and good schools and all these things that have been part of my career, and nobody listened. And then I began talking about niggers, and they stomped the floor."
In the 1962 Democratic primary, Wallace finished first, ahead of State Senator Ryan DeGraffenried Sr., and taking 35 percent of the vote. In the runoff, Wallace won the nomination with 55 percent of the vote. As no Republican filed to run, this all but assured Wallace of becoming the next governor. He won a crushing victory in the November general election, taking 96 percent of the vote. As noted above, Democratic dominance had been achieved by disenfranchising most blacks and many poor whites in the state for decades, which lasted until years after federal civil rights legislation was passed in 1964 and 1965.
Wallace took the oath of office on January 14, 1963, standing on the gold star marking the spot where, nearly 102 years earlier, Jefferson Davis was sworn in as provisional president of the Confederate States of America. In his inaugural speech, Wallace said:
In the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.
This sentence was written by Wallace's new speechwriter, Asa Earl Carter.
In 1963, President John F. Kennedy's administration ordered the U.S. Army's 2nd Infantry Division from Ft. Benning, Georgia to be prepared to enforce the racial integration of the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. In a vain attempt to halt the enrollment of black students Vivian Malone and James Hood, Governor Wallace stood in front of Foster Auditorium at the University of Alabama on June 11, 1963. This became known as the "Stand in the Schoolhouse Door".
In September 1963, Wallace attempted to stop four black students from enrolling in four separate elementary schools in Huntsville. After intervention by a federal court in Birmingham, the four children were allowed to enter on September 9, becoming the first to integrate a primary or secondary school in Alabama.
Wallace desperately wanted to preserve segregation. In his own words: "The President (John F. Kennedy) wants us to surrender this state to Martin Luther King and his group of pro-communists who have instituted these demonstrations."
The Encyclopædia Britannica characterized him not so much as a segregationist but more as a "populist" who pandered to the white majority of Alabama voters. It notes that his failed attempt at presidential politics created lessons that later influenced the populist candidacies of Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. Jack Newfield wrote in 1971 that Wallace "recently has been sounding like William Jennings Bryan as he attacked concentrated wealth in his speeches".
The principal achievement of Wallace's first term was an innovation in Alabama industrial development that several other states later copied: he was the first Southern governor to travel to corporate headquarters in northern states to offer tax abatements and other incentives to companies willing to locate plants in Alabama.
He also initiated a community college system that has now spread throughout the state, preparing many students to complete four-year degrees at Auburn University, UAB, or the University of Alabama. Wallace Community College (Dothan), Wallace Community College Selma (Selma), and Wallace State Community College (Hanceville) are named for him. Lurleen B. Wallace Community College in Andalusia is named for Wallace's first wife, Lurleen Burns Wallace.
The University of South Alabama, a new state university in Mobile, was chartered in 1963 during Wallace's first year in office as governor.
On November 15–20, 1963, in Dallas, Texas, Wallace announced his intention to oppose the incumbent President, John F. Kennedy, for the 1964 Democratic presidential nomination. Days later in Dallas, Kennedy was assassinated, and Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson succeeded him as president.
Building upon his notoriety after the University of Alabama controversy, Wallace entered the Democratic primaries in 1964 on the advice of a public relations expert from Wisconsin. Wallace campaigned strongly by expressing his opposition to integration and a tough approach on crime. In Democratic primaries in Wisconsin, Indiana, and Maryland, Wallace garnered at least a third of the vote running against three Johnson-designated surrogates.
Wallace was known for stirring crowds with his oratory. The Huntsville Times interviewed Bill Jones, Wallace's first press secretary, who recounted "a particularly fiery speech in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1964 that scared even Wallace, [where he] angrily shouted to a crowd of 1,000 people that 'little pinkos' were 'running around outside' protesting his visit, and continued, after thunderous applause, saying, 'When you and I start marching and demonstrating and carrying signs, we will close every highway in the country.' The audience leaped to its feet and headed for the exit," Jones said, "It shook Wallace. He quickly moved to calm them down."
At graduation exercises in the spring of 1964 at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina, Wallace received an honorary doctorate. At the commencement, Bob Jones Jr., read the following citation as a tribute to Wallace:
Men who have fought for truth and righteousness have always been slandered, maligned, and misrepresented. The American press in its attacks upon Governor Wallace has demonstrated that it is no longer free, American, or honest. But you, Mr. Governor, have demonstrated not only by the overwhelming victories in the recent elections in your own state of Alabama but also in the showing which you have made in states long dominated by cheap demagogues and selfish radicals that there is still in America love for freedom, hard common sense, and at least some hope for the preservation of our constitutional liberties.
In 1964, Alabama Republicans stood to benefit from the unintended consequences of two developments: (1) Governor Wallace vacating the race for the Democratic presidential nomination against President Johnson, and (2) the designation of unpledged Democratic electors in Alabama, in effect removing President Johnson from the general election ballot. Prior to the 1964 Republican National Convention in San Francisco, Wallace and his aides Bill Jones and Seymore Trammell met in the Jefferson Davis Hotel in Montgomery with Alabama Republican leader James D. Martin, who had narrowly lost the U.S. Senate election in 1962 to J. Lister Hill. Wallace and his aides sought to determine if Barry M. Goldwater, the forthcoming Republican presidential nominee who as a senator from Arizona had voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 on libertarian and constitutional grounds, would advocate repeal of the law, particularly the public accommodations and equal employment sections. Bill Jones indicated that Wallace agreed with Goldwater's anti-communist stance but opposed the Republican's proposal to make Social Security a voluntary program. Jones stressed that Wallace had sacrificed his own presidential aspirations that year to allow a direct Republican challenge to President Johnson. It was later disclosed that Wallace proposed at the meeting with Martin to switch parties if he could be named as Goldwater's running-mate, a designation later given to U.S. Representative William E. Miller of New York. Goldwater reportedly rejected the overture because of Wallace's lack of strength outside the Deep South.
The unpledged electors in Alabama included the future U.S. senator, James Allen, then the lieutenant governor, and the subsequent Governor Albert Brewer, then the state House Speaker. National Democrats balked over Johnson's exclusion from the ballot but most supported the unpledged slate, which competed directly with the Republican electors. As The Tuscaloosa News explained, loyalist electors would have offered a clearer choice to voters than did the unpledged slate.
The 1964 Republican electors were the first since Reconstruction to prevail in Alabama. The Goldwater-Miller slate received 479,085 votes (69.5 percent) to the unpledged electors' 209,848 (30.5 percent). The Republican tide also brought to victory five Republican members of the United States House of Representatives, including William Louis Dickinson, who held the Montgomery-based district seat until 1993, and James D. Martin, the Gadsden oil products dealer who defeated then State Senator George C. Hawkins for the U.S. House seat formerly held by Carl Elliott. Hardly yet sworn into the U.S. House, Martin already had his eyes on Wallace's own position as governor.
Term limits in the Alabama Constitution prevented Wallace from seeking a second term in 1966. Therefore, Wallace offered his wife, Lurleen Wallace, as a surrogate candidate for governor. In the Democratic primary, she defeated two former governors, James E. Folsom and John Patterson, Attorney General Richmond Flowers Sr., and former U.S. Representative Carl Elliott. Largely through the work of Wallace's supporters, the Alabama restriction on gubernatorial succession was later modified to allow two consecutive terms.
Wallace defended his wife's proxy candidacy. He felt somewhat vindicated when Republicans in Idaho denied renomination in 1966 to Governor Robert E. Smylie, author of the article entitled "Why I Feel Sorry for Lurleen Wallace." In his memoirs, Wallace recounts his wife's ability to "charm crowds" and cast off invective: "I was immensely proud of her, and it didn't hurt a bit to take a back seat to her in vote-getting ability." Wallace rebuffed critics who claimed that he had "dragooned" his wife into the race. "She loved every minute of being governor the same way ... that Mrs. (Margaret) Smith loves being senator."
During the 1966 campaign, George Wallace signed state legislation to nullify desegregation guidelines between Alabama cities and counties and the former United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. Wallace claimed that the law would thwart the national government from intervening in schools. Critics denounced Wallace's "political trickery" and expressed alarm at the potential forfeiture of federal funds. Republican gubernatorial candidate James D. Martin accused the Democrats of "playing politics with your children" and "neglecting academic excellence".
James Martin also opposed the desegregation guidelines and had sponsored a U.S. House amendment to forbid the placement of students and teachers on the basis of racial quotas. He predicted that Wallace's legislation would propel the issuance of a court order compelling immediate and total desegregation in all public schools. Martin compared the new Alabama law to "another two-and-a-half minute stand in the schoolhouse door".
Lurleen Wallace overwhelmed Jim Martin in the general election on November 8, 1966. She was inaugurated in January 1967, but on May 7, 1968, she died in office of cancer at the age of forty-one, amid her husband's ongoing second presidential campaign. On her death, she was succeeded by Lieutenant Governor Albert Brewer, who had run without Republican opposition in the Wallace-Martin race. George Wallace's influence in state government thus subsided until his next bid for election in his own right in 1970. He was "first gentleman" for less than a year and a half.
Wallace ran for president in the 1968 election as the American Independent Party candidate, with Curtis LeMay as his candidate for vice president. Wallace hoped to force the House of Representatives to decide the election with one vote per state if he could obtain sufficient electoral votes to make him a power broker. Wallace hoped that southern states could use their clout to end federal efforts at desegregation. His platform contained generous increases for beneficiaries of Social Security and Medicare. Wallace's foreign policy positions set him apart from the other candidates in the field. "If the Vietnam War was not winnable within 90 days of his taking office, Wallace pledged an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops ... Wallace described foreign aid as money 'poured down a rat hole' and demanded that European and Asian allies pay more for their defense."
Richard Nixon feared that Wallace might split the conservative vote and allow the Democratic nominee, Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, to prevail. Some Democrats feared Wallace's appeal to organized blue-collar workers would damage Humphrey in northern states such as Ohio, New Jersey, and Michigan. Wallace ran a "law and order" campaign similar to Nixon's, further worrying Republicans.
In Wallace's 1998 obituary, The Huntsville Times political editor John Anderson summarized the impact from the 1968 campaign: "His startling appeal to millions of alienated white voters was not lost on Richard Nixon and other Republican strategists. First Nixon, then Ronald Reagan, and finally George Herbert Walker Bush successfully adopted toned-down versions of Wallace's anti-busing, anti-federal government platform to pry low- and middle-income whites from the Democratic New Deal coalition." Dan Carter, a professor of history at Emory University in Atlanta, added: "George Wallace laid the foundation for the dominance of the Republican Party in American society through the manipulation of racial and social issues in the 1960s and 1970s. He was the master teacher, and Richard Nixon and the Republican leadership that followed were his students."
Wallace considered Happy Chandler, the former baseball commissioner, two-term former governor of Kentucky and former Senator from Kentucky, as his running mate in his 1968 campaign as a third-party candidate; as one of Wallace's aides put it, "We have all the nuts in the country; we could get some decent people–-you working one side of the street and he working the other side." Wallace invited Chandler, but when the press published the prospect, Wallace's supporters objected: Chandler had supported the hiring of Jackie Robinson by the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Wallace retracted the invitation, and (after considering Kentucky Fried Chicken founder Colonel Harland Sanders) chose former Air Force General Curtis LeMay of California. LeMay was considered instrumental in the establishment in 1947 of the United States Air Force and an expert in military affairs. His four-star military rank, experience at Strategic Air Command and presence advising President Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis were considered foreign-policy assets to the Wallace campaign. By 1968, LeMay had retired and was serving as chairman of the board of an electronics company, but the company threatened to dismiss him if he took a leave of absence to run for vice president. To keep LeMay on the ticket, Wallace backer and Texas oil tycoon H. L. Hunt set up a million-dollar fund to reimburse LeMay for any income lost in the campaign. Campaign aides tried to persuade LeMay to avoid questions relating to nuclear weapons, but when asked if he thought their use was necessary to win the Vietnam War, he first said that America can win in Vietnam without them. However, he alarmed the audience by further commenting, "we [Americans] have a phobia about nuclear weapons. I think there may be times when it would be most efficient to use nuclear weapons." The "politically tone-deaf" LeMay became a drag on Wallace's candidacy for the remainder of the campaign.
In 1968, Wallace pledged that "If some anarchist lies down in front of my automobile, it will be the last automobile he will ever lie down in front of," and asserted that the only four letter words which hippies did not know were "w-o-r-k" and "s-o-a-p". This type of rhetoric became famous. He accused Humphrey and Nixon of wanting to radically desegregate the South. Wallace said, "There's not a dime's worth of difference between the Republicans and Democrats," a campaign slogan that he had first perfected when Lurleen Wallace defeated James D. Martin.
Major media outlets observed the support Wallace received from extremist groups such as White Citizens' Councils. It has been noted that members of such groups had permeated the Wallace campaign by 1968 and, while Wallace did not openly seek their support, nor did he refuse it. Indeed, at least one case has been documented of the pro-Nazi and white supremacist Liberty Lobby distributing a pro-Wallace pamphlet entitled "Stand up for America" despite the campaign's denial of such a connection. Unlike Strom Thurmond in 1948, Wallace generally avoided race-related discussions. He mostly criticized hippies and "pointy-headed intellectuals." He renounced racism, saying once, "I've never made a racist speech in my life."
While Wallace carried five Southern states, won almost ten million popular votes and 46 electoral votes, Nixon received 301 electoral votes, more than required to win the election. Wallace remains the last non-Democratic, non-Republican candidate to win any pledged electoral votes. Wallace also received the vote of one North Carolina elector who had been pledged to Nixon.
Many found Wallace an entertaining campaigner. To "hippies" who called him a fascist, he replied, "I was killing fascists when you punks were in diapers." Another notable quip: "They're building a bridge over the Potomac for all the white liberals fleeing to Virginia."
Wallace decried the United States Supreme Court's binding opinion in Alexander v. Holmes County Board of Education, which ordered immediate desegregation of Southern schools - he said the new Burger court was "no better than the Warren court" and called the justices "limousine hypocrites".
In 1970, Wallace sought the Democratic nomination against incumbent Governor Albert Brewer, who was the first gubernatorial candidate since Reconstruction to seek African-American voter support. Although in the 1966 gubernatorial election then state Attorney General Richmond Flowers championed civil rights for all and with the support of most of Alabama Black voters finished second in the Democratic primary. Brewer unveiled a progressive platform and worked to build an alliance between blacks and the white working class. Of Wallace's out-of-state trips, Brewer said, "Alabama needs a full-time governor!"
In the primary, Brewer received the most votes but failed to win a majority, which triggered a runoff election.
In what (later-U.S. President) Jimmy Carter called "one of the most racist campaigns in modern southern political history", Wallace aired television advertising with slogans such as "Do you want the black bloc electing your governor?" and circulated an ad showing a white girl surrounded by seven black boys, with the slogan "Wake Up Alabama! Blacks vow to take over Alabama." Wallace slurred Brewer, whom he called "Sissy Britches", and his family. In the runoff, Wallace narrowly won the Democratic nomination and won the general election in a landslide.
Though Wallace had promised not to run for president a third time, the day after the election, he flew to Wisconsin to campaign for the upcoming 1972 United States presidential election. Wallace, whose presidential ambitions would have been destroyed by a defeat for governor, has been said to have run "one of the nastiest campaigns in state history," using racist rhetoric while proposing few new ideas.
On January 13, 1972, Wallace declared himself a Democratic candidate, entering the field with George McGovern, 1968 nominee Hubert Humphrey, and nine other Democratic opponents. In Florida's primary, Wallace carried every county to win 42 percent of the vote; another of his opponents was John V. Lindsay, the liberal mayor of New York City, who had switched from Republican affiliation to enter the Democratic presidential primaries. In the 1972 campaign, Wallace announced that he no longer supported segregation and had always been a "moderate" on racial matters. This position was an echo of Nixon, who in 1969 had instituted the first Affirmative Action program, the Philadelphia Plan that established goals and timetables. However, Wallace (similarly to Nixon) expressed continued opposition to desegregation busing.
For the next four months, Wallace's campaign proceeded extremely well. However, it came to an abrupt halt on May 15, 1972, when he was shot five times by Arthur Bremer while campaigning at the Laurel Shopping Center in Laurel, Maryland, at a time when he was receiving high ratings in national opinion polls. Bremer was seen at a Wallace rally in Wheaton, Maryland, earlier that day and two days earlier at a rally in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Wallace was hit in the abdomen and chest, and one of the bullets lodged in Wallace's spinal column, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down for the rest of his life. A five-hour operation was needed that evening, and Wallace had to receive several units of blood in order to survive. Three others who were wounded in the shooting also survived.
Bremer's diary, An Assassin's Diary, published after his arrest, shows he was motivated in the assassination attempt by a desire for fame, not by political ideology. He had considered President Nixon as an earlier target. He was convicted at trial. On August 4, 1972, Bremer was sentenced to 63 years in prison, later reduced to 53 years. Bremer served 35 years and was released on parole on November 9, 2007.
Following the assassination attempt, Wallace was visited at the hospital by Democratic Congresswoman and presidential primary rival Shirley Chisholm, a representative from Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. At the time, she was the nation's only African-American female member of Congress. Despite their ideological differences and the opposition of Chisholm's constituents, Chisholm felt visiting Wallace was the humane thing to do. Other people to visit Wallace in hospital were President Nixon, Vice President Spiro Agnew, Hubert Humphrey, George McGovern and Ted Kennedy. He also received telegrams from former President Lyndon Johnson, future President Ronald Reagan and Pope Paul VI.
After the shooting, Wallace won primaries in Maryland and Michigan, but his near assassination effectively ended his campaign. From his wheelchair, Wallace spoke on July 11, 1972, at the Democratic National Convention in Miami Beach, Florida.
Since Wallace was out of Alabama for more than 20 days while he was recovering in Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Maryland, the state constitution required Lieutenant Governor Jere Beasley to serve as acting governor from June 5 until Wallace's return to Alabama on July 7. Wallace resumed his gubernatorial duties and easily won the 1974 primary and general election, when he defeated Republican State Senator Elvin McCary, a real estate developer from Anniston, who received fewer than 15 percent of the ballots cast.
In 1992, when asked to comment on the 20th anniversary of his attempted assassination, Wallace replied, "I've had 20 years of pain."
In November 1975, Wallace announced his fourth bid for the presidency. Wallace's campaign was plagued by voter concern about his health as well as the media use of images that portrayed him as nearly helpless. His supporters complained that such coverage was motivated by bias, citing the discretion used in coverage of Franklin D. Roosevelt's paralysis, before television became commercially available. In the southern primaries and caucuses, Wallace carried only Mississippi, South Carolina and his home state of Alabama. If the popular vote in all primaries and caucuses were combined, Wallace would have placed third behind former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter and California Governor Jerry Brown. After the primaries were completed, and he had lost several Southern primaries to Carter, Wallace left the race in June 1976. He eventually endorsed Carter, who faced Republican incumbent Gerald R. Ford. Wallace later claimed that he had facilitated a fellow southerner's nomination; in point of fact, no position advocated by Wallace was included in the 1976 Democratic platform.
In the late 1970s, Wallace announced that he was a born-again Christian and apologized to black civil rights leaders for his past actions as a segregationist. He said that while he had once sought power and glory, he realized he needed to seek love and forgiveness.[note 2] In 1979, Wallace said of his stand in the schoolhouse door: "I was wrong. Those days are over, and they ought to be over." He publicly asked for forgiveness from blacks.
In the 1982 Alabama gubernatorial Democratic primary, Wallace's main opponents were Lieutenant Governor George McMillan and Alabama House Speaker Joe McCorquodale. In the primary, McCorquodale was eliminated, and the vote went to a runoff, with Wallace holding a slight edge over McMillan. Wallace won the Democratic nomination by a margin of 51 to 49 percent. In the general election, his opponent was Montgomery Republican Mayor Emory Folmar. Polling experts at first thought the 1982 election was the best chance since Reconstruction for a Republican to be elected as governor of Alabama. Ultimately, though, it was Wallace, not Folmar, who claimed victory.
During Wallace's final term as governor (1983–1987) he made a record number of black appointments to state positions, including, for the first time, two black people as members in the same cabinet.
On April 2, 1986, Wallace announced at a press conference in Montgomery that he would not run for a fifth term as Governor of Alabama, and would retire from public life after leaving the governor's mansion in January 1987. Wallace achieved four gubernatorial terms across three decades, totaling 16 years in office. It is a national record tied by others but thus far surpassed only by Terry Branstad of Iowa, who served six terms from 1983 to 1999 and from 2011 to 2017, and former Vice President George Clinton of New York, who served twenty-one non-consecutive years as governor between 1777 and 1804.
Wallace married Lurleen Brigham Burns on May 22, 1943. The couple had four children together: Bobbi Jo (1944) Parsons, Peggy Sue (1950) Kennedy, George III, known as George Junior (1951), and Janie Lee (1961) Dye, who was named after Robert E. Lee. Lurleen Wallace was the first woman to be elected governor of Alabama. In 1961, in keeping with the practice of many at the time to shield patients from discussion of cancer, which was greatly feared, Wallace had withheld information from her that a uterine biopsy had found possibly precancerous cells. After Lurleen's death in 1968, the couple's younger children, aged 18, 16, and 6, were sent to live with family members and friends for care (their eldest daughter had already married and left home).
Their son, commonly called George Wallace Jr., is a Democrat-turned-Republican formerly active in Alabama politics. He was twice elected state treasurer as a Democrat, and twice elected to the Alabama Public Service Commission. He lost a race in 2006 for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor. In 2010, Wallace Jr. failed by a wide margin to win the Republican nod to regain his former position as state treasurer.
On January 4, 1971, Wallace wed the former Cornelia Ellis Snively (1939–2009), a niece of former Alabama Governor Jim Folsom, known as "Big Jim". "C'nelia" had been a performer and was nicknamed "the Jackie Kennedy of the rednecks". The couple had a bitter divorce in 1978. A few months after that divorce, Cornelia told Parade magazine, "I don't believe George needs a family. He just needs an audience. The family as audience wasn't enough for his ego." The second Mrs. Wallace died at the age of 69 on January 8, 2009.
In a 1995 interview, Wallace said that he planned to vote for Republican Bob Dole in the 1996 presidential election, commenting, "He's a good man. His wife is a born-again Christian woman and I believe he is, too." He also revealed that he had voted for George H. W. Bush, another Republican, in 1992. His son, George Wallace Jr., officially switched from Democrat to Republican that same year. Wallace himself declined to officially identify as either a Republican or a Democrat. But he added, "The state is slowly going Republican because of Clinton being so liberal."
At a restaurant a few blocks from the State Capitol, Wallace became something of a fixture. In constant pain, he was surrounded by an entourage of old friends and visiting well-wishers and continued this ritual until a few weeks before his death. Wallace died of septic shock from a bacterial infection in Jackson Hospital in Montgomery on September 13, 1998. He suffered from respiratory problems in addition to complications from his gunshot spinal injury. His grave is located at Greenwood Cemetery, in Montgomery.
|Booknotes interview with Stephen Lesher on George Wallace: American Populist, February 27, 1994, C-SPAN|
|Washington Journal interview with Dan T. Carter on the influence of George Wallace, June 23, 2001, C-SPAN|
With four failed runs for president, he was unsuccessful in national politics. However, his impact on American politics was enormous and earned him the appellation "the most influential loser" in 20th century American politics, according to biographers Dan T. Carter and Stephan Lesher.
The TNT cable network produced a movie, George Wallace (1997), directed by John Frankenheimer and starring Gary Sinise. Sinise received an Emmy Award for his performance during a ceremony held the day Wallace died.
Three community colleges in Alabama are named for Wallace: Wallace Community College, Wallace Community College Selma, and Wallace State Community College. Lurleen B. Wallace Community College is named for his wife.
We drove between Guin and Hamilton on the George C. Wallace White Way, four lanes to nowhere, brightly lit.
|Party political offices|
| Democratic nominee for Governor of Alabama
|New political party|| American Independent nominee for President of the United States
John G. Schmitz
| Democratic nominee for Governor of Alabama
| Democratic nominee for Governor of Alabama
| Governor of Alabama
| Governor of Alabama
| Governor of Alabama
H. Guy Hunt
as First Lady of Alabama
| First Gentleman of Alabama
Martha Farmer Brewer
as First Lady of Alabama
The Alabama gubernatorial election of 1966 took place on November 8, 1966, and saw the election of Lurleen Wallace as Governor over U.S. Representative James D. Martin. Incumbent Democrat George Wallace was term limited and could not seek a second consecutive term.1970 Alabama gubernatorial election
The Alabama gubernatorial election of 1970 was marked by a competitive Democratic primary battle between incumbent moderate Governor Albert Brewer and segregationist former Governor and 1968 independent presidential candidate George Wallace. The Alabama Constitution was amended in 1968, allowing a governor to serve two consecutive terms.1972 Democratic Party presidential primaries
The 1972 Democratic presidential primaries were the selection process by which voters of the Democratic Party chose its nominee for President of the United States in the 1972 U.S. presidential election. Senator George McGovern of South Dakota was selected as the nominee through a series of primary elections, caucuses, and state party conventions, culminating in the 1972 Democratic National Convention held from July 10 to July 13, 1972, in Miami, Florida.1974 Alabama gubernatorial election
The 1974 Alabama gubernatorial election took place on November 5, 1974. Incumbent Democratic Governor George Wallace was reelected in a landslide over his Republican opponent, businessman Elvin McCary. Wallace was the first Alabama governor to win election to a second consecutive term, as the state's Constitution was amended in 1968 to allow governors to serve a maximum two elected consecutive terms.1976 United States elections
The 1976 United States elections was held on November 2, and elected the members of the 95th United States Congress. The Democratic Party won the presidential election and retained control of Congress.Democratic Governor Jimmy Carter of Georgia defeated Republican incumbent President Gerald Ford. Carter won the popular vote by two points and finished with 297 electoral votes, taking a mix of Southern and Northern states. Ford, who had taken office after the Watergate scandal led to the resignation of Republican President Richard Nixon in 1974, defeated California Governor Ronald Reagan to take the Republican nomination. The convention nominated Kansas Senator Bob Dole as Ford's running mate, instead of sitting Vice President Nelson Rockefeller. Carter defeated a slew of competitors in the 1976 Democratic primaries, including California Governor Jerry Brown, Alabama Governor George Wallace, Arizona Congressman Mo Udall, Washington Senator Henry M. Jackson, and Idaho Senator Frank Church.
Neither the House nor Senate saw major changes in partisan composition, so the Democrats retained control of Congress.
In the gubernatorial elections, the Democratic Party picked up one seat.1978 Alabama gubernatorial election
The 1978 Alabama gubernatorial election took place on November 7, 1978, to elect the Governor of Alabama. Incumbent Democratic Governor George Wallace did not run for re-election. Fob James, a businessman who had switched from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party and campaigned as a "born-again Democrat", won the Democratic primary in an upset over Attorney General Bill Baxley. He went on to defeat Guy Hunt in a landslide in the general election. Incumbent Democrat George Wallace was term limited and could not seek a third consecutive term.1982 Alabama gubernatorial election
The Alabama gubernatorial election of 1982 included the last campaign and final electoral victory of George Wallace. The election occurred on November 2, 1982. Incumbent Governor Fob James declined to run for a second term, allowing for an open election in 1982. In the Democratic primary, Wallace received challenges from Lieutenant Governor George McMillan, Speaker of the State House Joe McCorquodale, Jr., former Governor Jim Folsom, and Reuben McKinley. Because Wallace did not receive a majority of the votes, he advanced to a run-off with McMillan and then narrowly won the Democratic nomination. Montgomery Mayor Emory Folmar went unchallenged for the Republican nomination.
Wallace, formerly a notorious segregationist, renounced those views in 1979. On November 2, 1982, Wallace not only won the general election, but also over 90% of the black vote. Overall, Wallace received 650,538 (57.64%) votes against Folmar's 440,815 (39.06%) votes.George Wallace's 1963 Inaugural Address
George Wallace's 1963 Inaugural Address was delivered January 14, 1963, following his election as Governor of Alabama. Wallace at this time in his career was an ardent segregationist, and as Governor he challenged the attempts of the federal government to enforce laws prohibiting racial segregation in Alabama's public schools and other institutions. The speech is most famous for the phrase "segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever", which became a rallying cry for those opposed to integration and the Civil Rights Movement.George Wallace (American comedian)
George Henry Wallace (born July 21, 1952) is an American actor, comedian and screenwriter.George Wallace (film)
George Wallace is a 1997 biographical television film produced and directed by John Frankenheimer and starring Gary Sinise as the titular former Governor of Alabama. The film's teleplay, written by Marshall Frady and Paul Monash, is based on the 1996 biography Wallace: The Classic Portrait of Alabama Governor George Wallace by Frady. Mare Winningham, Clarence Williams III, Joe Don Baker, Angelina Jolie, Terry Kinney, William Sanderson, Mark Rolston, Tracy Fraim, Skipp Sudduth, Ron Perkins, and Mark Valley also star.
George Wallace was highly praised by critics and received various accolades: including Emmy Awards for Outstanding Directing (Frankenheimer), Outstanding Lead Actor (Sinise), and Outstanding Lead Actress (Winningham), and Golden Globes for Best Television Film and Best Supporting Actress (Jolie).George Wallace 1968 presidential campaign
Former Governor of Alabama George Wallace ran in the 1968 United States presidential election as the candidate for the American Independent Party. Wallace's pro-segregation policies during his term as Governor of Alabama were rejected by the mainstream of the Democratic Party. The impact of the Wallace campaign was substantial, winning the electoral votes of several states in the Deep South. Although Wallace did not expect to win the election, his strategy was to prevent either major party candidate from winning a majority in the Electoral College. This would throw the election into the House of Representatives, where Wallace would have bargaining power sufficient to determine, or at least strongly influence, the selection of a winner.George Wallace Jones
George Wallace Jones (April 12, 1804 – July 22, 1896), a frontiersman, entrepreneur, attorney, and judge, was among the first two United States Senators to represent the state of Iowa after it was admitted to the Union in 1846. A Democrat who was elected before the birth of the Republican Party, Jones served over ten years in the Senate, from December 7, 1848 to March 3, 1859. During the American Civil War, he was arrested by Federal authorities and briefly jailed on suspicion of having pro-Confederate sympathies.George Wallace Jr.
George Corley Wallace III, generally known as George Wallace Jr., (born October 17, 1951) is an American politician from the U.S. state of Alabama.List of Governors of Alabama
The Governor of Alabama is the chief executive of the U.S. state of Alabama. The governor is the head of the executive branch of Alabama's state government and is charged with enforcing state laws.
There have officially been 54 governors of the state of Alabama; this official numbering skips acting and military governors. The first governor, William Wyatt Bibb, served as the only governor of the Alabama Territory. Five people have served as acting governor, bringing the total number of people serving as governor to 59, spread over 63 distinct terms. Four governors have served multiple non-consecutive terms: Bibb Graves, Jim Folsom, and Fob James each served two, and George Wallace served three non-consecutive periods. Officially, these non-consecutive terms are numbered only with the number of their first term. William D. Jelks also served non-consecutive terms, but his first term was in an acting capacity.
The longest-serving governor was George Wallace, who served 16 years over four terms. The shortest term for a non-acting governor was that of Hugh McVay, who served four and a half months after replacing the resigning Clement Comer Clay. Lurleen Wallace, wife of George Wallace, was the first woman to serve as governor of Alabama, and the third woman to serve as governor of any state. The current governor is Republican Kay Ivey, who took office on April 10, 2017 following Governor Robert J. Bentley's court-mandated resignation following a guilty plea-deal amidst a corruption scandal. She is the second female governor of Alabama.Lurleen Wallace
Lurleen Burns Wallace (born Lurleen Brigham Burns; September 19, 1926 – May 7, 1968) was the 46th Governor of Alabama for fifteen months from January 1967 until her death in May 1968. She was the first wife of Alabama Governor George Wallace, whom she succeeded as governor because the Alabama constitution forbade consecutive terms. She was Alabama's first female Governor and was the only female governor to hold the position until Kay Ivey became the second woman to succeed to the office in 2017. She is also (as of 2019) the only female governor in U.S. history to have died in office. In 1973, she was posthumously inducted into the Alabama Women's Hall of Fame.Stand in the Schoolhouse Door
The Stand in the Schoolhouse Door took place at Foster Auditorium at the University of Alabama on June 11, 1963. George Wallace, the Democratic Governor of Alabama, in a symbolic attempt to keep his inaugural promise of "segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever" and stop the desegregation of schools, stood at the door of the auditorium to try to block the entry of two African American students, Vivian Malone and James Hood.In response, President John F. Kennedy issued Executive Order 11111, which federalized the Alabama National Guard, and Guard General Henry Graham then commanded Wallace to step aside, saying, "Sir, it is my sad duty to ask you to step aside under the orders of the President of the United States." Wallace then spoke further, but eventually moved, and Malone and Hood completed their registration. The incident brought Wallace into the national spotlight.Sweet Home Alabama
"Sweet Home Alabama" is a song by Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd that first appeared in 1974 on their second album, Second Helping.
It reached number 8 on the US chart in 1974 and was the band's second hit single. The song was written in reply to "Southern Man" and "Alabama" by Neil Young; Young is name-checked in the song's lyrics.The Notorious B.I.G.
Christopher George Latore Wallace (May 21, 1972 – March 9, 1997), known professionally as the Notorious B.I.G., Biggie Smalls, or Biggie, was an American rapper. He is considered by many to be one of the greatest rappers of all time.Wallace was raised in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. His debut album Ready to Die (1994) made him a central figure in East Coast hip hop, and increased New York City's visibility in the genre at a time when West Coast hip hop dominated the mainstream. The following year, Wallace led Junior M.A.F.I.A. to chart success, a protégé group composed of his childhood friends. In 1996, while recording his second album, Wallace was heavily involved in the growing East Coast–West Coast hip hop feud. Wallace was murdered by an unknown assailant in a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles on March 9, 1997. His second album, Life After Death (1997), released sixteen days later, rose to number one on the U.S. album charts. In 2000, it became one of the few hip-hop albums to be certified Diamond.Wallace was noted for his "loose, easy flow", dark semi-autobiographical lyrics, and storytelling, which focused on crime and hardship. Three more albums have been released since his death, and he has certified sales of over 17 million records in the United States, including 13.4 million albums.Wallace Community College
Wallace Community College (WCC) (formally known as George C. Wallace State Community College) is a community college in Dothan, Alabama. The college enrolls 3,958 students and has been accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools since 1969. As of 2017, the college has three campuses: the Wallace Campus and the Center for Economic and Workforce Development in Dothan, and the Sparks Campus in Eufaula.