George C. Wallace
George Corley Wallace Jr. (August 25, 1919 – September 13, 1998) was an American politician who served as the 45th Governor of Alabama for four terms. During his tenure, 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 was known as “the most dangerous racist in America” and 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 ran for governor again in 1962, and won the race. 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, 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 reentered politics and won election to a fourth and final term as governor in 1982. Wallace is the fourth longest serving governor in US history having served 16 years and 1 day in office. 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.