Read George Wallace’s full 1963 inauguration speech

Apr 19, 2016

Photo credit: Frank Couch

By Madison Underwood

Fifty years ago today, George Corley Wallace stood on the Alabama Capitol steps in the bitter cold and became the 45th governor of the state of Alabama. That day, Jan. 14, 1963, Wallace gave a speech that would ring out across the country, and a speech that Wallace would, in his old age, come to regret.

You know the famous line, written by Wallace speechwriter Asa Carter, a Ku Klux Klansman: “In the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny and I say: segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”

But there was more to his speech.

Wallace talked up some of his initiatives and priorities, such as education and the reform of liquor laws in the state: “Let me say one more time: no more liquor drinking in your Governor’s Mansion,” Wallace said. He praised the natural bounty of the state, and emphasized economic development in a changing industrial world. He railed against communism with a McCarthy-like paranoia, and against liberalism, too. He praised the Southern way of life.

But, for the most part, Wallace stuck his finger in the face of the federal government and those who stood for human rights, and wagged it back and forth. He ran from a changing world, and tried to take Alabama with him.

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