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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with George Wallace, July 15, 1974. Interview A-0024. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

There will still be an Alabama without a George Wallace

Alabama will move on without him, Wallace says, and while he says he has many regrets, he cites only being shot and his relationship with the press during the 1968 presidential campaign.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with George Wallace, July 15, 1974. Interview A-0024. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

WALTER DE VRIES:
What I'm trying to get at is what is Alabama going to be like without George Wallace?
GOV. GEORGE WALLACE:
What?
WALTER DE VRIES:
What is Alabama going to be like? Its politics?
GOV. GEORGE WALLACE:
Oh, Alabama will. . . . Nobody's expendible and Alabama will continue to go when George Wallace is gone. Because it's not George Wallace, it's the people of this state, and their spirit and their work ethic and their pride. It's not George Wallace. I've helped to channel it and I have helped to mobilize it. But others can, will do that in my judgment.
WALTER DE VRIES:
Well, the reason I asked you that is most people when you ask them that question what it would be like without you, they don't have an answer.
GOV. GEORGE WALLACE:
Well, it will go right on because the spirit will still be there and the people will still be there. But I did help, in the years of uncertainly about their national image . . . I did take advantage of this position and forum to tell people all over this country that they're as good as anybody. They knew it. And when Nixon came to Alabama not long ago and said Alabama's the conscience of America . . . I knew that all the time, but I like to hear the president say it now. When Sen Kennedy comes to Alabama and says this is a great state. They used not to say that about Alabama.
WALTER DE VRIES:
How does that make you feel?
GOV. GEORGE WALLACE:
That makes me feel good because I saw the people in the days when I was old enough to see the suffering of the masses of people in our part of the country through no fault of their own. And I saw them ragged and I saw them proud and I saw them trying to do better and I saw them in church and I saw them never give up. And now I see them beginning to come into their own and have their day and it does me a lot of good. In the campaigns I waged had a lot to do with it. Got me initiate that I really wouldn't swap back I don't think if I had a chance to do so.
WALTER DE VRIES:
No regrets?
GOV. GEORGE WALLACE:
Oh, I regret I got shot.
WALTER DE VRIES:
I mean about your political career.
GOV. GEORGE WALLACE:
Oh yes . . . when I say regrets . . . I don't have any regrets. I have made mistakes. I haven't been perfect and there would be things I would do differently. I don't know that I could categorize them all now. I've been a human and I've made errors and I've made mistakes. If hindsight . . . if foresight was as good as hindsight, I would have made a better GOV.ernor.
JACK BASS:
What would be just one or two or those mistakes, just as examples.
GOV. GEORGE WALLACE:
Oh, maybe not carrying the press around with me in '68 in the presidential campaign. [Laughter.] Maybe not letting them go on the airplane with me. That might have been one mistake I made.
WALTER DE VRIES:
Okay, what's your response to that one? [To Bass.]
JACK BASS:
How about another one?
WALTER DE VRIES:
One that doesn't hit him so close.
GOV. GEORGE WALLACE:
Well, I reckon one thing I regret when I go out of public life is that I won't have the press to kick around any more. [Laughter.]