George Corley Wallace
- Grades: 6–8, 9–12
George Corley Wallace, b. Clio, Ala., Aug. 25, 1919, d. Sept. 13, 1998, was a leading Democratic party politician and four-time governor of Alabama. Between 1946 and 1958, Wallace was, successively, assistant state's attorney, a member of the state legislature, and a judge of the Third Judicial Circuit of Alabama. In 1962 he was elected governor after campaigning on a platform of state rights and defiant segregation. The following year he attempted to prevent black students from enrolling at the University of Alabama but yielded eventually to the authority of the National Guard. Alabama became a major focus of the civil rights movement, the scene of brutally disrupted demonstrations in Birmingham in 1963 and of the Selma march in 1965, events that galvanized passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Wallace was ineligible to succeed himself as governor, and his wife, Lurleen, was elected to the post in 1966. In 1968 he won 46 electoral votes as the populist presidential candidate of the newly formed American Independent party. In 1970 and 1974 he was reelected as governor. On May 15, 1972, while campaigning for the Democratic party's presidential nomination in Laurel, Md., he was shot in an assassination attempt that left him partially paralyzed. Beginning in the late 1970s, Wallace sought to apologize for and jettison his racist past. In 1982 he brought together a populist coalition of blacks and whites to win a fourth term as governor. He retired in 1987.
Bibliography: Burke, Jerald P., With Liberty and Justice for All: The Political Philosophy of George C. Wallace (1976); Carlson, Jody, George C. Wallace and the Politics of Powerlessness (1981); Carter, Dan T., The Politics of Rage (1995); Frady, Marshall, Wallace (1996); Lesher, Stephan, George Wallace: American Populist (1994; repr. 1995).