Alabama Academy of Honor

George Corley Wallace

The following biographical sketch was compiled at the time of induction into the Academy in 1969.

George Corley Wallace of Clayton, Alabama, one of America's foremost political figures, was born August 25, 1919 in the small town of Clio. In high school, he was captain and quarterback of the football team, and president of his senior class.

After graduation in 1937, Governor Wallace entered the University of Alabama, and worked his way through school waiting on tables. However, he still found time to be president of the freshmen class, president of the Spirit Committee, captain of the boxing team, and a member of Phi Alpha Delta Fraternity.

Receiving his law degree in 1942, at the age of 23, Wallace entered the U. S. Air Corps as a volunteer, and saw combat action in the Pacific as a B-29 flight engineer with the 20th Air Force. He was discharged in 1945 as a flight sergeant.

Following military service, Wallace returned to his native Alabama and became an Assistant Attorney General. In 1947, at the age of 27, he was elected to the Alabama Legislature from Barbour County, where he served with distinction. Twice, he was voted an outstanding member of the House by the Capitol Press Corps.

Wallace left state government in 1953 to campaign successfully for Circuit Judge in his hometown. His election made him the youngest Circuit Judge in the nation at the time. Governor Wallace returned to State politics in 1958 in an unsuccessful bid for the Governorship. But four years later, he tried again and was elected overwhelmingly.

The Wallace administration sponsored a number of progressive programs in state government. State appropriations to education were doubled in four years, new trade schools and junior colleges were built, and free textbooks were provided in public schools. An aggressive program of industrial development saw Alabama gain 3.5 billion dollars in new and expanded industry, with 150,000 new jobs. Legislative reapportionment and congressional redistricting were also brought about during his administration.

Unable to succeed himself as Governor, Wallace successfully directed the campaign of his wife, Lurleen Burns Wallace, who was elected in 1966. He served as her chief advisor until her death in May, 1968.

Wallace first entered presidential politics in 1964, running in several Democratic primaries. In 1968, he expanded his efforts to a nationwide campaign under the banner of his own American Independent Party. He received over 10 million votes, while running third in the national race. Since the campaign, he has entered law practice in Montgomery with his brother, Gerald Wallace.

Governor Wallace has been an active member of the American Legion, Amvets, VFW, Shrine, Masons, Civitans, Moose, Elk, Woodmen, and numerous other organizations. He served as a member of the Alabama Council for Better Schools, and on the board of the Alabama Tuberculosis Association. In 1967, he was named by the Gallup Poll as the seventh most admired man in the world and has been the recipient of many other honors. Governor Wallace has four children, Mrs. Bobbi Jo Parsons, George, Jr., Peggy Sue, and Janie Lee.