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Montage of images and link description. George Wallace: Settin' the Woods on Fire Imagemap: linked to kids and home
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1958 gubernatorial campaign
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My fellow Alabamians, it's a pleasure to speak to you in the closing days of this campaign and to ask for your support on June 3rd for Governor of Alabama. First, I would like to thank all of the people of this great state who cast their votes for me on May 6th and allowed me to get in the runoff in this governor's race. A lot of you good people in this television audience tonight cast your ballots for the fine candidates who were in the first primary but who lost out. You didn't make any mistake because speaking of the front-runners in that campaign, they were all high class individuals who would have made you a good governor had they been elected. So you made no mistake in casting your ballots for those who I consider front-runners. I would like to ask you to join the Wallace campaign and to help elect George Wallace on June 3rd. One of the issues in this campaign, my friends, is who is the most experienced because during the next four years, I feel that the people of this state should have the most experienced man in the race for Governor as your Governor. There are many problems that will confronting the people of this great state during the next four years. I would like to tell you that having served in the Legislature of your state for six years, I feel that this experience will be invaluable to me as your Governor. Any time that a man runs for governor, he advocates a program. The only way that this program can come into being is to be passed by the Alabama Legislature. Having served in that body for six years, I feel that I am more qualified to work with the Legislature of Alabama towards putting across a program that will help and benefit the people of this great state. During the next four years, many problems will arise in the matter of segregation and civil rights as a result of judicial decisions. Having served as judge of the 3rd judicial circuit of Alabama, I feel, my friends, that this judicial experience will be invaluable to me as your Governor.

I also have had experience in representing the people of my district and of Alabama at national conventions. In 1948, I was a delegate to Philadelphia where I voted for Senator Richard Russell of Georgia for President, placed his name in nomination for Vice President, and voted against the so-called civil rights matters ten years ago. In 1956, it was my pleasure to again be a delegate to the Democratic Convention where I was chosen by the Alabama delegation to serve on the platform committee. And I led Alabama's civil rights fight in Chicago in 1956, in which, my friends, I, of course, helped other Southerners best the enemies of the South in many regards in that Convention. I have met the enemies of the South, such as Mennin Williams and Herbert Lehman and Roy Wilkins and the NAACP and the Americans for Democratic Action. And, therefore, fighting this group will be nothing new to George Wallace when I'm your Governor. I have tried to take a positive approach to the problems that confront the people of this state during this campaign. And I want to tell you a little something about my positive approach. I also want to say before I do get into some of the positive matters in my campaign and in my platform, that I am one person that does not mind being questioned by anybody in this state about my record.

I do not mind appearing on live television because I feel that the people of this Alabama-- the people of Alabama have a right to know all about the record of George Wallace. And I feel that you have a right to know all about the record of my opponent and I am willing to tell you about George Wallace. I have heard those say when you talk about matters in a man's record, and when you mention matters in an opponent's record that you are talking about a smear campaign. They call it smear. But, my friends, I have said nothing in this campaign that was not the fact because I don't believe in smear and rumor, and I don't believe in a smut campaign. And, I have not, of course, I have, uh, I have not participated in any such type campaign during this Governor's race. But I want to show the people of this campaign some of these smear sheets that have gone out all over Alabama against George Wallace. I have no underground movement to smear me in the alleyways and in byways. And, we in our campaign, have not participated in any sort of manner in such a campaign to the people of this state. I have in one, in my hand, one smear sheet that was circulated upon me that George Wallace was a draft dodger when I'm a disabled American veteran and saw combat service in the South Pacific. Here's another one that says I'm a former member of the Communist party which is, of course, the most silly and asinine statement ever made. Here's another one of half truths about a case in my court and not a thing in it is true, and, my friends, if it was true, I would not have received 4,800 votes in my county against 600 for the combined opposition. And my only opponent in this race, at the present time, received only 345 votes in my county. Here's another one, my friends, that says I used to be a professor at a school that is subversive. Here's another one that says I voted against segregation in 1951. Yes, I voted against the amendment here that they called a segregation amendment. And every man in the governor's race voted against it, including Mr. Todd, and Mr. Faulkner and Mr. Hawkins and Mr. Harrison and George Wallace. And, my friends, the two members of the Alabama Senate, who are today in the lieutenant governor's race, Mr. Skidmore and Mr. Boutwell, both voted against this silly amendment.

What did this amendment do? This amendment would have closed, in 1951, every school in Alabama, cut off every school teacher, closed every lunch room, cut off every bus and fired every mechanic, who works on the school busses if one school in Alabama were integrated. The Alabama Legislature thought so little of such an amendment that it voted it down overwhelmingly. And, my friends, I am one who believes that a positive approach ought to be made to the matter of segregation, and we ought not to allow the integrationists in this country to cause us to destroy that which we have built over the years. My friends, since my opponent, undoubtedly, and his henchman are circulating this smear sheet on me, saying that I voted against this amendment, it means, my friends, that they must be in favor of this amendment. Of closing down every school in Alabama, cutting off the pay to every schoolteacher, closing every lunchroom, and firing every bus driver and sending every school child home if one school is integrated. Yes, I'm against such an amendment as that, and I would not be for such an amendment as that as Governor of your state. My friends, I would close down the school that was integrated. I would transfer those peoples and teachers to other schools until it blows over. And then I would put them back in the court again and litigate with them some more. And then if they wanted to send any troops down into this section of the nation, they would be marching around an empty school house because there would not be any school children there if I were the Governor of this state. My friends, on this same smear sheet that's circulated all over Alabama for the last ten months, they said George Wallace placed a negro boy on probation for reckless driving, and any reckless driving case in this state is usually a $25 fine. Yes, he was fined $25 and placed on probation because he deserved probation. What has that got to do with integration or segregation or mixed schools in Alabama? And I want to tell the good people of this state, as a judge of the third judicial circuit, if I didn't have what it took to treat a man fair, regardless of his color, than I don't have what it takes be the Governor of your great state. That's what I want to say about that type of smear sheet that has been circulated on me in this campaign. My friends, I am interested in education. And I am going to see that we have the best education facilities possible in the next four years. We're going to raise school teachers salaries. We're going to build new school buildings. I am going to ask the Legislature to submit a bond issue to the people of this state for ratification to build school buildings all over Alabama.

And we can submit a good sized bond issue that will not require any additional taxes. I'm going to see that every high school and college department in Alabama is accredited. My friends, we are going to move forward in the field of education. I'm going to help raise the pension program for the elderly people of this state to the maximum provided under the federal state matching program which is $60 per month. I have worked for six years in the Legislature of this state in behalf of the elderly people of Alabama. I have traveled and spoke at old age pen-- pension conventions from the Tennessee line to the Gulf of Mexico. I have not just started talking about the elderly people of Alabama when I became a candidate for Governor. I have been interested in them all the many years that I have been in government, and I have been endorsed by the largest old age pension association in Alabama, The Alabama Old Age Pension Institute. My friends, I'm interested in the fine conservation program, the matter of seafood, the matter of forestry, the matter of attracting tourists into this great state to take advantage of our great scenic wonders and our great resort places. Tourist industry can become a great dollar industry for Alabama. I am interested in a strong National Guard. I am interested in using the power of the Governor's office to help the great textiles industry. I want to try and influence those in Washington to invoke those portions of the Reciprocal Trade Act that will protect the great textile industry from unfair foreign competition. And you good textile workers, let me say that I am the only candidate in the race for Governor that has mentioned your great industry and your great problem. I am interested in re-apportionment of the legislative branch of the state government. My friends, the smaller counties of Alabama ought to protected, but the larger counties of this state are entitled and justly so, to more representation in the legislative assembly. I shall work in good faith to see that the Alabama Legislature will submit to you, the people, an amendment to our Constitution that will give the larger counties of Alabama more voice in government. I am interested in a continuation of a fine highway building program. And we should take part in the interstate road building program under which the federal government will put up 90% and the states 10%.

I am interested in agriculture. I was the son of a farmer. I was on the WPA because my father was a farmer when I went to school. I am interested in placing a farmer in the Cabinet. I am interested in encouraging the poultry industry and the cattle industry and the dairy industry and the trucking industry. I helped take the tax off of feeds, seeds, and insecticides, and I'm going to help keep the tax off as the governor of your state. I am interested in asking the Legislature and will ask the Legislature to pass a bill to give an immediate gas tax refund to the farmers of this state and make it unnecessary for them to keep books over a long period of time. And, in many instances, they lost their gas tax rebate because they were unable to keep the records required by the present law. I am interested in the industry. And I am going to spend three months of my time in other parts of the nation from June until January of 1959 trying to find industry that's going to come South and talking them into coming into the cities and counties of Alabama. And all that the people of this great state find industrial employment and find it unnecessary to go to other parts of this nation to find such employment. I am interested in segregation, and we shall keep segregation within the law. There will be no race mixing while I'm the Governor of your state. And there's plenty of intelligence and enough leadership in the peoples of Alabama and of the South to maintain peace among our people and keep segregation within the law. There will be no race mixing socially or educationally while I'm the Governor of your state. And I want you to know that I mean that absolutely. My friends, I'm interested in honest government. And I have today, a smear sheet in my hand signed by the friends of my opponent, in which he says that you should elect my opponent, who is a man who has not sold out to the big time politicians and the racketeers, who is not obligated to anyone in any way. I believe in honest government and nobody in this campaign has sold out to any racketeers and any such sheet as that is exactly what's called smear. I have engaged in no such tactics as that as a candidate for Governor. My friends, I want to make you a good Governor. I hope you will consider my experience. I hope you will consider my positive, forward-look program and elect me your governor on June 3rd. With divine guidance, I'll try and make you a good Governor. Thank you very much.

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