George Corley Wallace was born in 1919 in Clio, Alabama. He graduated from the University of Alabama Law School in 1942. While attending college he was captain of the university boxing team and won academic honors. After serving three years in the Army Air Forces, he entered politics. As a Democrat, he served in the Alabama legislature from 1947 to 1953 and as state judge from 1953 to 1958. He ran for governor in 1958, but lost. He ran again in 1962 and won.
As governor of Alabama, Wallace opposed federal involvement in what he considered state problems, especially school integration. At his inauguration in 1963, he pledged: "Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever." He denounced federal court orders to end school segregation. His "stand in the doorway" at the University of Alabama in 1963, opposing the enrollment of two black students, made him a hero to opponents of integration. Actually, many Alabama schools became integrated during Wallace's first term.
Wallace's wife, Lurleen, ran for governor in 1966 because at that time Alabama law prohibited Wallace from serving two terms in a row. But most people understood that Wallace would continue to exercise the authority of governor. Mrs. Wallace won the election but died in office in 1968.
Wallace was the presidential candidate of the American Independent Party.
He lost the election to Republican Richard M. Nixon and ran third behind
Hubert H. Humphrey, the Democratic nominee. Wallace failed to achieve his
goal of a deadlock in the Electoral College, which would have given him
bargaining power to decide who
became President. But he received almost 10 million votes. He carried five states 46 electoral votes. Wallace's running mate was retired Air Force General Curtis E. LeMay.
Wallace was again elected governor of Alabama in 1970. In 1971, he married Cornelia Ellis Snively, a niece of former Alabama Governor James E. Folsom. The Wallace's were divorced in 1978.
Wallace was the victim of an attempted assassination in May 1972, during his campaign for the 1972 Democratic presidential nomination. He was shot and seriously wounded in Laurel, Maryland. Arthur H. Bremer, a 21 year -old man from Milwaukee, was convicted of the shooting and sentenced to 52 years in prison. The shooting left Wallace's legs paralyzed. He did not win the Democratic nomination. He also failed win the Democratic nomination in 1976.
In a television
interview in 1991 he expressed remorse for his former stance on segregation.
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