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Nolan Jett Jett 1


AP Language Pd. 3

27 March 2018

George Wallace’s 1963 Inaugural Address:

How He Persuades His Audience That He Will Restore Power to the South

In the mid 20th century, the United States was right in the middle of a complete social

makeover. African Americans struggled for rights and many of the whites in the South continued

to oppress them to the best of their abilities. Because of this, integration and racism were both

prominent topics in politics during this time as reflected in George Wallace’s 1963 Inaugural

speech. In his speech, despite the fact that some of his arguments are flawed, Wallace makes a

very strong and persuasive argument that he will restore power to the South, and specifically


In 1962, running for the Democratic party, George Wallace became the 45th Governor of

Alabama. He proceeded to serve a total of two nonconsecutive terms and two consecutive terms.

As Governor, he was known for his strong and racist opinions towards segregation which

conflicted with the majority of the Democratic party during this period. However, when Wallace

ran for president in 1968 as an independent, he won the majority in the states of Louisiana,

Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia accounting for 9,906,473 votes (Election of 1968).

This shows that Wallace’s supporters would have consisted of mostly white southerners who had

the same political and moral beliefs as he did; the same group who made up the bulk of his

audience. Holding this warrant, Wallace is able to successfully persuade the audience that with

these new anti-segregation laws, the Federal Government has taken away power from the South.

At the end of page two of Wallace’s Inaugural Address, Wallace makes the argument that

Alabama and the South are going to “send the message back to Washington by [their]
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representatives who are with [them] today… that from this day [they] are standing up, and the

heel of tyranny does not fit an upright man,” (Wallace 2). In this statement, Wallace is referring

to the many court cases decided on during the 20th Century. One of these court cases was “Green

vs. County School Board of New Kent County.” In this court case, the Supreme Court ruled that

the “freedom of choice” plan was not big enough to desegregate schools and school districts

must provide a plan that works to do away with the segregation in their district (Oyez). These

Supreme Court cases are all examples of the Federal Government using the power it has been

granted to change the laws on segregation which have torn the country apart for years. In the

South, the white majority feel as if they are being suppressed by this strong central government

and have no say in how things are changing. With the audience holding this warrant, Wallace

states that he, “[draws] the line in the dust and [tosses] the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny,”

and finally says, “segregation now… segregation tomorrow… segregation forever,” (Wallace 2).

This quote effectively demonstrates that Wallace is ready to fight for the people of the South and

stand up to the tyrannical dictatorship of the Federal Government.

At the end of the third page, Wallace also makes a comment about the future he sees in

Alabama by saying that “Nestled in the Great Tennessee Valley, [they] possess the rocket center

of the world and the keys to the space frontier,” (Wallace 3). The Tennessee Valley was a large

valley in the Southern United States that became one of the greatest energy producers of the time

and brought electricity to millions of homes in the surrounding area (Tennessee Valley

Authority). During the 1960’s, the Space Race was also going on between the Soviets and the

United States; and NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) was looking for a

place to call home which ended up being Huntsville, Alabama. With one of the government’s

major test and launch facilities located right at home as well as the plethora of resources
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mentioned by Wallace, Alabama was extremely indispensable. This provides grounds for his

argument that he will restore power to the state by demonstrating that they have all the necessary

resources to be influential in the Federal Government.

Wallace’s claim that NASA could bring big changes and power for Alabama however, is

also degrading for his argument. During the 1960’s, John F. Kennedy along with his Vice

President, Lyndon B. Johnson, used the Space Program as a way to create jobs for African

Americans and integrate society; both things that George Wallace would have opposed. During

this time, “the Marshall Space Flight Center invited representatives of the historically black

colleges to Huntsville,” and “a year later opened the agency’s college cooperative education

program—in which students alternated semesters at school with semesters at Marshall—to

blacks,” (Paul). By providing African Americans with extremely important Aerospace

Engineering jobs that helped put fellow Americans on the moon, JFK was able to successfully

integrate a major part of the modern society. Therefore, by supporting the Space

Administration’s presence in Alabama, Wallace is going against his previous claim of

“segregation now, segregation tomorrow… segregation forever,” and weakening his argument

over all (Wallace 2).

George Wallace’s speech is one of the most famous and controversial inaugural speeches

in history. In his address, Wallace makes a very strong and persuasive argument that he will

bring power back to the South, and specifically Alabama, after they have lost it through the

recent anti-segregation laws. With his audience feeling weak and powerless due to these new

laws, he is able to successfully persuade them using grounds and qualifying his statements,

despite the fact that some of his grounds could be used against him. Today, we see situations

similar to this such as immigration policies in the United States. As immigration in the US
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continues to increase and its trend in politics becomes more prominent, state governments try to

take the situation into their own hands. This mirrors Wallace’s stance on the power of state

government over Federal Government and how they felt about segregation. Ultimately, this

shows us that no matter who is in office as President or as Governor, even if they are in the same

party, there will always be disputes between State and Federal Governments.

Works Cited

Goldman, Jerry. “Green v. County School Board of New Kent County.” Oyez. Legal Institute at

Cornell Law School, Justia, Chicago Kent College of Law. www.oyez.org/cases

/1967/695. Accessed March 2018.

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“Our History.” Tennessee Valley Authority, Tennessee Valley Authority. www.tva.gov/About

-TVA/Our-History. Accessed March 2018

Paul, Richard. “How NASA Joined the Civil Rights Revolution.” Air and Space Magazine, Ed

Linder Musser Shiner, Air and Space Magazine, March 2014,


180949497/?all. Accessed March 2018.

Wallace, George. “The Inaugural Address of Governor George C. Wallace.” 14 January 1963.

Alabama Department of Archieves and History, Alabama Department of Archives and

History, 2010, digital.archives.alabama.gov/cdm/ref/collection/voices/id/2952. Accessed

March 2018.

Woolley, John and Peters, Gerhard. “Election of 1968.” The American Presidency Project. The

American Presidency Project. www.presidency.ucsb.edu/showelection.php?y

ear=1968. Accessed March 2018.