GEORGE CORLEY WALLACE was born in Clio, Alabama, on August 25, 1919. He graduated from Barbour County High School in 1937, and earned a law degree in 1942 from the University of Alabama. Wallace served in the U.S. Army Air Force from 1943 to 1945, and was an assistant attorney general from 1946 to 1947. He was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives in 1947, serving until 1953, and served on the bench of the third judicial district from 1953 to 1958. On November 6, 1962, Wallace was elected governor of Alabama, and was sworn into office on January 14, 1963. The civil rights movement dominated Wallace’s first term with tension mounting from the desegregation of the schools in Macon County, and the nationally publicized police dog and fire hose incidents in Birmingham. Wallace also attempted to amend the Alabama Constitution, which prohibited governors from succeeding themselves in office. However, his attempt failed, and he left office on January 16, 1967. His wife, Lurleen, ran and was elected governor in November 1966. Wallace served as her special assistant, earning a dollar a year, and making most of the important executive decisions. After the death of his wife, Wallace ran unsuccessfully, in 1968, as an American Independent Party candidate for president. On November 3, 1970, Wallace was elected to a second term as governor, and in 1972, was running for the Democratic presidential nomination when an assassination attempt left him paralyzed. An amendment to the Alabama Constitution was ratified in 1968, allowing governors to succeed themselves, and in 1974, Wallace was overwhelmingly reelected to a third term as governor. He ran again for the presidency in 1976 following the end of his gubernatorial term, Wallace took a four-year hiatus from politics. He ran again for governor in 1982, and won the governorship with an unprecedented amount of black voter support. During his last three terms, vital improvements were made in the Alabama Law Enforcement Planning Agency, the Alabama Office of Consumer Protection was started in 1972, health care improved with doubled expenditures, and Wallace sponsored the largest highway expansion program in the state’s history. Wallace retired from politics in 1987, and died on September 13, 1998, in Montgomery.
Alabama Department of Archives & History
Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 1, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.