Wallace, George

A political leader of the twentieth century. As governor of Alabama in the 1960s, he resisted integration and promised to “stand at the schoolhouse door” to bar black people from admission to the University of Alabama. The National Guard eventually forced him to back down. In 1968, he was nominated for president by a third party, the American Independent party, and came in third, behind Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey. In 1972, he ran for president again, but was shot and paralyzed by a would-be assassin during the campaign. Wallace presented himself as a populist (see populism), who championed poor and middle-income whites against blacks and wealthy, liberal whites. In a remarkable reversal of positions, he endorsed integration in the 1980s and was again elected governor of Alabama for four years.

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.