, , , , , , , ,

Lesson’s Learned? A look back at Gov. George Wallace‘s critical role in American politics and Civil Rights

Wallace 1997Fact, Fiction, and Film: Frankenheimer’s George Wallace

 When Ted Turner first approached John Frankenheimer about directing the Wallace docudrama for Turner Network Television, it seemed an odd choice. Frankenheimer, who began his career directing live television drama on Playhouse 90 and later gave us such films as Seven Days in May and The Manchurian Candidate, remains an unreconstructed liberal who often recounts his role as media adviser to Robert Kennedy in 1968 as one of the highlights of his career. Not surprisingly, he was initially uninterested.

“But when I read the script,” Frankenheimer told a National Public Radio interviewer last August, “I became passionate about doing the movie.” He concluded that Wallace was one of the most important, and neglected, figures in modern American history, a figure who could be compared to Richard III, Henry V, and King Lear. “I mean, I think he is a modern-day tragic hero.”

If it is a bit difficult to imagine the pugnacious southern politician as an American King Lear, the story of his rise to prominence and his tragic downfall does have many of the elements of classical tragedy. And Frankenheimer is certainly correct in concluding that George Wallace‘s critical role in American politics has been slighted.

Big Jim FolsomGeorge Wallace began his career as a follower of Alabama’s Governor James E. “Big Jim” Folsom, one of the South’s most liberal politicians in the post–World War II era, but when he lost his first bid for the governorship in 1958 at the hands of a Klan-backed candidate, he embraced the dark side of racism (“I’ll never be out-niggered again”). After his fiery 1963 inaugural address (“I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever”) and his nationally televised “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door” confrontation with the Kennedys, he seized the leadership of white segregationists and racists in his own state and throughout the region. He also began speaking to audiences outside the South, where he often hinted that he would run for president in 1964.

Wallace2Most political observers were initially amused at Wallace’s presumptuousness; no one was laughing after he took 31 to 44 percent of the vote in the 1964 Wisconsin, Indiana, and Maryland Democratic primaries. In 1968, as a third-party presidential candidate, he faded in the last weeks of the campaign, but as late as October of that year, one of every four voters told pollsters that Wallace was their first choice for president. And, to Richard Nixon’s frustration, Wallace came within an eyelash of throwing the election into the House of Representatives.

Four years later, he charged through the Democratic primaries, defeating his Democratic rivals in most of the first wave of primaries. But Wallace’s magic finally abandoned him on May 15, 1972, when a mentally unbalanced Arthur Bremer (allegedly) gunned him down in Laurel, Maryland, damaging his spinal cord and sentencing him to paralysis and a life of unbroken pain.

Arthur BremerThat shooting essentially removed him from the national political scene; when he ran for the presidency in 1976, Jimmy Carter easily brushed him aside. He would remain in office in Alabama well into the 1980s, but increasingly as a pathetic figure–hunched in his wheelchair, riddled with pain, his personal life a shambles.

In telling the story of Wallace, Frankenheimer was fortunate to cast Gary Sinise in the starring role. The veteran actor not only avoided the exaggerated Hollywood/hillbilly accent that has marred similar films with southern themes, but he also deftly captured Wallace’s powerful blend of slashing humor and dark menace.

Wallace’s second wife, Cornelia, despised the film, perhaps because the actress who portrayed her “made me look like an airhead.” But she gave Sinise the ultimate accolade. “It totally threw me,” she told me after she had watched the film. “I felt like he [Sinise] was playing with my mind; half the time I wasn’t sure whether I was watching him or George.” (Alas, the strengths of Sinise–and Mare Winningham, who plays Wallace’s first wife, Lurleen–are offset by the histrionics of Joe Don Baker who is cast as Jim Folsom.)

If the dramatic results are mixed, the more fundamental problem lies in presenting the story to America’s prime-time television audience, which–despite its cynical view of politicians– is not likely to spend four hours watching a film about the man whose main accomplishment seems to have been the introduction of white backlash into American politics in the 1960s.

I learned this some years ago when I became involved in an earlier attempt by Lorimar Television to produce a Wallace docudrama. Just after I began research on my study of George Wallace in the late 1980s, one of Lorimar’s producers offered me a position as chief historical adviser on the production with an additional enticement: if the docudrama was eventually produced, its release would coincide with the publication of my book with Simon and Schuster and it would be described as “based upon” The Politics of Rage. And so I began working with Lorimar producers, submitting time lines, research summaries, biographical profiles, and potential scenarios for the film.

After 18 months, however, Lorimar abandoned the project. There were modest concerns about libel and there was some uncertainty over just how much interest there might be in a Wallace film, but the main problem was the story itself. “It’s such a downer,” one Lorimar executive confided to me as we wrestled with the plotline. “I mean, jeez, we don’t have to have an ‘everyone lives happily ever after’ ending, but this is just too much.”

Frankenheimer faced the same dilemma. How do you get a happy ending out of this tale? What liberal wants to celebrate Wallace’s success in mobilizing the right-wing backlash that played such a critical role in the triumph of the more respectable brand of Reagan conservatism?

In the end, Frankenheimer solved the dilemma that had baffled Lorimar producers, first by minimizing the darker side of the Wallace story. Although he offers us oblique hints of the ruthlessness with which George Wallace pursued his goal of political power, the most disturbing parts of the story remain untold in this film. Through the early years of his first term in office, the Alabama governor not only incited and encouraged the most die-hard white supremacist elements with his fiery rhetoric (as Frankenheimer shows), he quietly joined hands with men who could only be described as racial terrorists. Wallace depended on Klan leader Robert Shelton for votes and support and his handpicked choice for head of the state troopers, Al Lingo, repeatedly turned a blind eye to acts of violence against civil rights activists.

asa-earl-carterMoreover, his alleged speechwriter and “close adviser” was Asa Earl Carter, a violent Klan leader who had been involved in a half-dozen vicious attacks on black southerners. (One of Wallace’s first acts as governor was to pressure the state pardon and parole board into releasing several of Carter’s Klansmen who had castrated a black house painter as a “warning” to blacks to stay in their place.)

Perhaps the low point in his first year in office came in the wake of the Birmingham bombing that killed four little girls at the 16th Street Baptist Church. Wallace and Lingo deliberately sabotaged the investigation of the Klansmen who had planted the bomb.

But Frankenheimer’s most important choice as a filmmaker lay in creating a powerfully affecting conclusion that offered hope in the midst of tragedy. In the final scenes from the Wallace docudrama, a wheelchair-bound and guilt-stricken Wallace impulsively orders his black driver and body-servant to take him to a night service at Martin Luther King’s old church in Montgomery in 1974.

“Because this was Martin Luther King’s church,” Wallace told the hushed congregation, “I want to tell y’all this evening that I have learned what suffering means, learned it in a way I never would have, if I hadn’t been shot I now understand the pain that I caused the people–the black people–of Alabama’s. I’m sorry. I was wrong. And knowing what I did is hard for me to bear sometimes and what I’m doing tonight is turning here to y’all and asking you to forgive me.”

As his aide slowly rolled the wheelchair up the aisle, members of the congregation reached out to touch him, to shake his hand. And then, from out of the choir loft came the first lines of the most powerful of evangelical hymns, “Amazing Grace.” By the time Wallace had reached the back of the church the congregation had joined in that hymn of forgiveness, reconciliation, and redemption.

That was the uplifting meaning in the Wallace story.

george-wallace-and-ted-kennedyAs Frankenheimer told one interviewer, after “being shot, after all this horrendous, horrible talk about racism that he does . . . after he’s lost everything–he goes to the Martin Luther King church, the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, and he apologizes, says ‘I was wrong. Please forgive me.'”

The problem is, it didn’t happen, at least not as depicted in the film. In 1974, as the number of black voters grew, Wallace prepared for his reelection by abandoning the racial rhetoric that marked his hard-fought 1970 campaign and quietly appealed for black political support around the state. In the wake of his successful reelection, Wallace acknowledged the support of black voters by appearing at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church to welcome the Alabama Progressive Baptist State Convention to Montgomery. The audience warmly, even emotionally, greeted the wheelchair-bound Wallace. But in his remarks he made no apologies for his past actions and he defensively insisted that he had been a defender of states rights in the 1960s, not a racist. The acknowledgment that he was wrong, the pleas for forgiveness, would come much later in his life.

No wonder the scriptwriter wanted to alter events. Real history, as opposed to the Hollywood version, is a complicated business.

For historians, the willful alteration of well-documented events for dramatic purposes raises fundamental questions about the form of the docudrama itself, with its seamless blending of fact and fiction. Twenty years ago I worked as an adviser on an NBC docudrama based on the book on the Scottsboro civil rights case case. I can still remember scriptwriter John McGreevey’s angst over making the slightest change from the historical record. Today his concerns over factuality are a quaint reminder of an earlier era in which postmodern assumptions had not permeated our culture. As novelist Don DeLillo argued in a New York Times Magazine article (September 7, 1997), the language of fiction can “be so original and buoyant that it necessarily transforms the past. . . . It is stronger than the weight-bearing reality of actual people and events. It has a necessary existence, while the source material is exposed as merely contingent.”

If DeLillo is completely candid about his contempt for the notion of factuality, those who produce docudramas want to have it both ways: to be able to alter the story for dramatic purposes and then to claim that they are telling an “essentially” accurate historical story.

In Frankenheimer’s Wallace, dozens of documentary film clips march across the screen like an MTV version of CNN’s headline news: the Montgomery bus boycott; the temporary dominance of Wallace’s liberal mentor, Jim Folsom; the rising tide of segregationist fervor; the hectic events of 1963: Wallace’s “Segre gation now, Segregation tomorrow, Segregation forever” inaugural speech, the Birmingham demonstrations, his “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door,” and the Birmingham church bombing; the Selma March in 1965; Lurleen Wallace’s race for the governorship in 1966; and George Wallace’s runs for the presidency in 1968 and 1972.

Although Frankenheimer’s effort to include a summary of these important events may have been made with the best of intentions, it betrays his own confusion over how history should be conveyed. Thus the landmark events in the history textbooks are to be told with some attention to accuracy, but Frankenheimer and scriptwriter Paul Monash feel comfortable in casually upending private details of Wallace’s life for “dramatic” purposes.

As a result, from the opening scene to the conclusion of the film there are enough alterations of the historical record to fill a scholar’s composition book.

wallace3Wallace did not break with Jim Folsom after he was “out-niggered” in 1958; he had long since abandoned Folsom in an attempt to appeal to segregationists. While it is true that Wallace did not join hands with the Klan until his 1962 race for the governorship, he was closely tied to the equally racist but far more powerful and “respectable,” [White] Citizens Council (not mentioned in the film) in 1958.

He never confronted the two black students in his famous “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door” in 1963; they were already registered and in their dorms when he staged his mock surrender to a small contingent of Alabama National Guardsmen (not the formidable mass of troops depicted in the film).

Frankenheimer may think that it added dramatic tension to have a screaming audience of scraggly “hippies” and student revolutionaries ignite a riot at Harvard when Wallace spoke in 1963 attacking busing, but “busing” did not become an issue until the late 1960s. Moreover, the Alabama governor actually charmed the heavily male audience, which was, for the most part, dressed in coats and ties. By conflating the 1960s into one undifferentiated decade of rebellion, Frankenheimer prevents viewers from understanding the great divide that separated the America of 1963 from that of 1968.

The film depicts Jim Folsom coming to the governor’s mansion on the day of the Birmingham Church bombing to plead for an increase in his pension and then to scold Wallace for his racism. Later, the film shows a wheelchair-bound Wallace trying to meet with Folsom to beg forgiveness for his capitulation to racism. Both events are fictional inventions.

Wallace was not booed and hissed at the 1972 Democratic Convention when he spoke from his wheelchair. The delegates, dominated by McGovernites, disagreed with Wallace, but–anxious to avoid antagonizing his millions of followers–greeted him politely and listened respectfully.

Perhaps the most troubling alteration of the historical record was Frankenheimer’s introduction of a composite black character into the story. “Archie,” played by the superb actor Clarence Williams III, is a convicted murderer and prison trustee who works in the governor’s mansion. He is meant to be a representation of both black rage (in one episode he comes close to killing Wallace with an ice pick) and black forgiveness (in the final scene he lovingly lifts Wallace into bed and turns out the light). Of course there was no “Archie” plotting the murder of Wallace in the wake of the Selma March (1965), and there was never any plot against Wallace’s life by black Alabamians, in or out of the governor’s mansion.

wallace3In the end, Frankenheimer’s film not only distorts history, it even fails to take advantage of the strengths of the book on which the film was based, Marshall Frady‘s 1968 biography, Wallace. Frady had little insightful to say about the major political events of the era, but the South Carolina-born writer helped his readers understand just how this proud and insecure southerner wrestled with contradictory emotions: shame and pride, kindness and cruelty, generosity and greed. Above all, he brilliantly evoked the demons that carried his subject from a small southern town to a critical role in reshaping American politics. Instead of Frady’s insights into Wallace’s character, however, we are too often treated to self-conscious musings about Wallace’s motivation and wooden agitprop political speeches by Jim Folsom, the political conscience of the film.

To those who care about the integrity of the historical past, the ultimate flaw lies in the form of the docudrama itself as it has evolved over the past 20 years. Robert Penn Warren, the author of All the King’s Men–arguably the greatest novel ever written about southern politics–was clearly inspired by the story of Huey Long. As a novelist, however, he believed that he could best illuminate the historical drama and tragedy of Long’s rise and fall by freeing himself from the factual constraints of one man’s story, using his imagination to take the bits and pieces of actual history and remolding them with the imagination of the artist into a more universal tale of ambition and retribution.

The novelist and the historian had equally important roles to play in understanding our past, said Warren, but they traveled on separate roads toward the truth. The mass audience of the commercial docudrama (not to mention its financial rewards) is a tantalizing lure, but it has become–with rare exceptions–a soap opera substitute for real engagement with the past. When asked to become a part of such productions, the greatest contribution historians can make is to take the advice of a former First Lady: “Just say no.”

I’ve taken the pledge.

—Dan Carter is William Rand Kenan Jr. University Professor at Emory University. His most recent books are The Politics of Rage: George Wallace, the Origins of the New Conservatism and the Transformation of American Politics (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1995) and From George Wallace to Newt Gingrich: The Role of Race in the Conservative Revolution, 1963–1994 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State Univ. Press, 1996).







Stand in the Schoolhouse Door

A Movie on His Life Enrages George Wallace – The New York Times

Fact, Fiction, and Film: Frankenheimer’s George Wallace

Dan T. Carter – IMDb

Dan T. Carter research files, circa 1930-2006

The Alabama Project: Nixon’s Assassination Team | Lisa’s …

and type the TITLE OF YOUR WORK in all Caps – UGA …

Impostures littéraires: Les Indiens aussi ! (Ethnic … – jcdurbant

George Wallace | Lisa’s leaks – ‘Madness in the Magnolias’

Emory Magazine: Spring 1996: George Wallace

What’s Fair on the Air?: Cold War Right-Wing Broadcasting …


Asa Earl Carter

Historian Dan T. Carter – PBS

View/Open – SHAREOK Home

Scottsboro: a Tragedy of the American South – Emory …

Marshall Frady, 64, Journalist Who Wrote Wallace Biography

Marshall Frady | The New York Review of Books

Wallace: The Classic Portrait of Alabama Governor George

The Fighting Little Judge: The Life and Times of George C.

Our Campaigns – Candidate – George C. Wallace

Investigation of the Special Service Staff of the Internal …

LBJ The Dallas Incident: Kennedy’s Assassination

Full text of “Investigation of the Special Service Staff of the …

List of allegations of misuse of the Internal Revenue Service

Playing the IRS card: Six presidents who used the IRS to bash political …

Misuse of IRS | National Archives

IRS Scandal Echoes a Long History of Political Harassment | TIME.com

Former IRS chief recalls defying Nixon – USA Today

RealClearPolitics – Nixon’s “Enemies List”

Nixon’s IRS | Power Line

Sorry Rush, Nixon Spied On Enemies; Viewed The IRS As A Political ..

Political Influence and the Internal Revenue Service – Cato …

The Internal Revenue Service: An Intelligence Resource

A Law Unto Itself: Power, Politics, and the IRS: David Burnham ..

635482 mr 475788 s 414879 ill 413374 co – fall-2010

Emory MARBL | Finding Aids | Finding Aid : Dan T. Carter

The Politics of Rage: George Wallace, the Origins of the …

George Wallace: American Populist – Page 560 – Google Books

Alabama Admits Negro Students; Wallace Bows to Federal

Racism to Redemption | Humanities

George Wallace – American USSR

George Corley Wallace (1919 – 1998)

Civil Rights | Cricketdiane’s Weblog

A Changed Alabama Remembers ’63

Stand in the Schoolhouse Door

George Wallace Segregation Politics, Sep 9 2013 | Video | C-SPAN.org

Clip George Wallace Presidential Contender | User Clip | C-SPAN.org

George Wallace’s daughter lives in shadow of past

Grace & Power: The Private World of the Kennedy White House

The Nixon Administration and Watergate – History Commons

Nixon Administration and Watergate: Campaign ‘Slush Funds’ and ..

the taking of america, 1-2-3 – CIA

Richard Nixon – Conservapedia

Nixon Film History, Jan 4 1997 | Video | C-SPAN.org


During the Johnson and Nixon Administrations, the focus of the I.R.S.’s effort at political control was individuals and organizations demonstrating for civil rights and against the American presence in Vietnam. (Publicly, Lyndon B. Johnson worked hard for welfare legislation and signed the 1964 civil rights bill.) On June 16, 1969, Randolph W. Thrower, I.R.S. Commissioner during the Nixon Administration, wrote a memorandum for the record about a meeting he had had that day with Arthur F. Burns, then counselor to the President. According to Thrower, Burns said that Richard M. Nixon was concerned ”over the fact that tax-exempt funds may be supporting activist groups engaged in stimulating riots both on the campus and within our inner cities.”

For an agency that had largely escaped regular Congressional oversight, Montoya’s announced plan may well have sounded like an open declaration of war. And it was, in fact, one of the most difficult moments in the history of the I.R.S. The Montoya subcommittee had lined up a number of powerful witnesses who were prepared to present evidence that the agency managers were inept. In addition, the first stories about how the Nixon Administration had misused the I.R.S. were beginning to surface.

ALTHOUGH NIXON WAS notorious for treating the I.R.S. as though it were his private domain, the records show that Franklin Delano Roosevelt may have set the stage for the use of the tax agency for political purposes by most subsequent Presidents. (https://www.nytimes.com/1989/09/03/magazine/misuse-of-the-irs-the-abuse-of-power.html?pagewanted=all)

TodayIn1963 Captures Moments From A Historic Summer l NPR

Some observers point out that political considerations may influence
enforcement activities such as audits. The blatant use of the IRS for
political purposes is not new. During the Kennedy presidency, a
mysterious IRS organization called ‘‘The Ideological Organizations
Audit Project’’ was formed to investigate right-leaning groups; among
those apparently targeted was Young Americans for Freedom (Davis
1997: 246). The Special Services Staff (SSS) was formed during the
Nixon administration to coordinate ‘‘all IRS activities involving ideological,
militant, subversive, radical, and similar type organizations’’
(Davis 1997: 88).

seymore trammell | Download All Ebook – downloadmp3.siteSep 29, 2015 – Property records for 3551 Seymore Trammell Dr, Theodore, AL 36582 can be … The Alabama Project: Nixon’s Assassination Team | Lisa’s .

(Self-Inflicted Wounds:: From LBJ’s Guns and Butter to Reagan’s Voodoo Economics Aug 9, 199 by Hobart Rowen) and  The Due Process Revolution: The Warren Court’s Impact on Criminal Law 197 by Fred P. Graham)

Other: Susan Rabiner Alabama editor. http://www.rabinerlit.com/?page_id=20 (?)

9 Sunday, January 5,1992  Wallace called womanizer, corrupt By The Associated Press MONTGOMERY, Ala. — A book in progress by one of George Wallace’s closest operatives in the 1960s depicts the former governor and presidential candidate as a womanizer whose powerful political machine was corrupt. The Montgomery Advertiser quoted the writer, Seymore Trammell, as saying Wallace engaged in “a lot of cheap sex with women all over the country.” Wallace’s son, state Treasurer George Wallace Jr., said the account is full of lies. Wallace, who is 72 and needs a wheelchair since an assassination attempt during the 1972 presidential campaign, had no comment. But his spokesman, Elvin Stanton, said Friday the four-term governor’s authorized BRIEFLY biography will set the record straight. Trammell was state finance director and campaign chief for Wallace in the 1960s before the two parted company. In the early 1970s, Trammell served 14 months in federal prison for tax evasion. He said the book, “Madness in the Magnolia,” will be published by summer, but he wouldn’t identify the publisher. Dr. Robert J. Norrell, director of the University of Alabama’s Center for Southern History and Culture, said he read a draft of the book more than a year ago and it contained “a lot of information from Trammell’s viewpoint on the use of the state treasury to reward friends of the Wallace machine.”

Page 11 – Newspapers.com

SUNDAY MORNING, JANUARY 5,. 1992 .THE GALVESTON DAILY NEWS 11-A Book depicts George Wallace as womanizer Associated Press MONTGOMERY, Ala. – A book in progress by one of George Wallace’s closest operatives in the 1960s depicts the former governor and presidential candidate as a womanizer whose powerful political machine was corrupt. The Montgomery Advertiser quoted the writer, Seymore Trammell, as saying Wallace engaged in “a lot of cheap sex with women all over the country.” Wallace’s son, state Treasurer George Wallace Jr., said the account is full of lies. Wallace, who is 72 and needs a wheelchair since an assassination attempt during the 1972 presidential campaign, had no comment. But his spokesman, Elvin Stanton, said Friday the four-term governor’s authorized biography will set the record straight. Trammell was state finance di : . rector and campaign chief for Wallace in the 1960s before the two parted company. In the early 1970s, Trammell served 14 months in federal prison for tax evasion. Trammell wouldn’t elaborate ‘• on the book when contacted Friday by The Associated Press, but he said newspaper reports that he depicts Wallace as a womanizer were ‘ accurate. He said the book, “Madness in the Magnolia,” will be published by summer, but he wouldn’t identify the publisher. Wallace’s son said the book was “a desperate and pitiful attempt on the part of Seymore to make some money.” Trammell, a disbarred lawyer, said his motive was “educational.”

Emory Magazine: Spring 1996: George Wallace

“Wallace did have his strongest support within the South, but he had succeeded in attracting a surprising eight percent of the voters outside the region . . . ,” Carter writes. “Even more ominously, George Wallace threatened the Southern foundation of the future of the Republican majority Nixon hoped to build. The most salient numbers to emerge in the wake of the 1968 election came from pollsters Richard Scammon and Ben Wattenberg: four of every five Wallace voters in the South would have voted for Nixon with Wallace out of the contest.”

Carter’s groundbreaking research into Nixon’s papers reveals that’s exactly what the president wanted–Wallace out of the contest. He notes that Nixon not only pumped $400,000 in untaxed funds into then-Alabama Governor Albert Brewer’s unsuccessful attempt in 1970 to defeat Wallace, but that the president also marshaled the forces of the Internal Revenue Service to put a stop to Wallace’s third party aspirations, which he thought had the potential to throw the presidential race into the House of Representatives and potentially jeopardize his reelection. The latter effort was code-named “The Alabama Project,” and Carter writes that “[b]y August 1970 more than seventy-five men and women . . . pored over the past tax returns of Wallace, his brothers, and virtually every financial supporter who had done business with the state. They examined the records of state agencies as well, in an attempt to link the awarding of state contracts to political contributions.”

The IRS investigation did not result in an indictment of Wallace or any of his staff, but Carter finds that Nixon got what he wanted anyway. Twenty-four hours after the investigation was dropped, on January 12, 1972, Wallace met with reporters in Tallahassee to announce he was pulling out of the race as a third-party candidate in order to seek the Democratic Party’s nomination. Carter writes, “With that announcement, Wallace enormously improved Richard Nixon’s chances of reelection.”

Even though Carter never locates any smoking gun directly linking Wallace’s third-party pullout to the dropping of the IRS investigation (he does point out that potentially enlightening portions of the Nixon papers related to this issue are still unavailable to the public), he discovers that even one of Wallace’s closest aides, Seymore Trammell, thought the inference was undeniable. In The Politics of Rage, Trammell is quoted as saying that ” `Nixon and Wallace made a deal after the two-year investigation of the Wallaces, [and] that deal was for Wallace and his brother Gerald to be indicted or face prison or for Wallace to kill the third party.’ ”

Perhaps the most chilling example of Nixon’s obsession with Wallace happened after the governor was shot. On May 15, 1972, a disturbed, out-of-work janitor from Milwaukee named Arthur Bremer attempted to assassinate Wallace while he campaigned for the Democratic nomination in Maryland. The gunshot wound left Wallace paralyzed from the waist down. After the shooting, Nixon sat in the Oval Office and worried that if his campaign literature were found in Bremer’s apartment, it might jeopardize his reelection. “Wouldn’t it be great if they [sic] had left-wing propaganda in that apartment?” he said to Charles Colson, special counsel to the president. “[Too bad] we can’t plant McGovern literature.” Soon after, he and Colson concocted a plan to send a former CIA operative to Milwaukee to do exactly that. The only thing that foiled their attempt was that several journalists had gained entrance to the apartment first and took photographs and an inventory.

For Carter, his extensive examination of the Nixon papers not only yielded crucial information about Wallace’s political career, but it also reconfirmed some ideas concerning America’s thirty-seventh president. “It tells us and reinforces what we knew about Richard Nixon,” he says. “It should remind us that this was a man for whom Watergate was not an aberration. This was part and parcel of his way of looking at government, which is that you simply manipulate without regard to the Constitution, without regard to law, without regard to any kinds of constraints at all to get your political ends.”

Richard Nixon manipulated George Wallace to achieve his own political ends, and readers of The Politics of Rage can’t help but speculate what political ends Wallace himself might have achieved had he not had to drop his third-party candidacy and if he had not been shot and paralyzed. Carter admits he has spent some time musing on the possibilities. He believes that in the short run, Wallace may have wreaked havoc on politics as usual, but his long-term outlook as a national leader was bleak.

“Even though you’re a historian, and you’re supposed to look backwards and not forwards, you can’t help it,” Carter says. “You’re following the threads of history, and [you wonder], how would the fabric have ended up being woven if it had been allowed to continue instead of being cut off? And it seems to me that in the short run, Wallace could certainly have continued to play a very destructive role in terms of the electoral politics in 1972. That is, if he had not been backed into a corner and forced to go back into the Democratic party but continued on as a third-party candidate, it is conceivable that he would have done exactly what Nixon most feared and what he almost did in 1968, which is throw the election into the House of Representatives. His power was enormous, and his appeal was enormous.

“In the long run, I think his moment had passed. . . . As soon as another figure came along who could take his message and domesticate it and make it more appealing than Wallace the person, then Wallace was going to be sidetracked. Ronald Reagan takes many of the same ideas, many of the same values, many of the same things that Wallace did, but in a much more appealing way, and sells them to the American people. So I think Wallace would have eventually been eclipsed by a Reagan or someone like that if he would not have been shot.”

During interviews, Carter is not shy about expressing his personal dislike for much of what George Wallace did as a politician, and some critics have said those feelings are overly reflected in his book. According to a review in the September/October 1995 issue of Lingua Franca, Carter evidences “considerable animus towards Wallace,” and The Politics of Rage “bristles with unshaded antipathy toward Wallace, and pushes questions of absolution to the side.” Carter doesn’t see it that way.

“Anybody who can look at what George Wallace did as governor, as a political power, and say they have nothing but neutral feelings, I’m not too interested in them, frankly,” he says. “I find it astonishing that someone would take that position. Does that mean I have such animus toward what George Wallace did that I can’t be fair? I believe I can. My book is not bristling with animus toward George Wallace as a whole. I tried to be fair about Wallace. . . . But I can understand why people feel like that because I have turned all these rocks over.”

Search results for : Seymore Trammell

1963 – University of Alabama: opposition to Wallace typed notes; Susan Rabiner editor of Trammell manuscript, David Black literary agent

Seymore Trammell

11 matches found

Box Folder Content
5 19 Trammell Memoirs: copies of newspaper article, excerpt from book, documents from archives, copy of manuscript [by SeymoreTrammell] and related correspondence; typed notes [Trammell was an adviser to Wallace in the 1960s]
8 45 1992 SeymoreTrammell’s Book sex: 1992 clippings and copies of newspaper articles
9 92 SeymoreTrammell – Shiverdecker: Copy of manuscript: SeymoreTrammell with J. W. Shiverdecker, “The Self Inflicted Wound.”
9 93 SeymoreTrammell interview, February 14, 1989: Summary notes of Dan T. Carter conversation with SeymoreTrammell, February 14, 1989, Montgomery, Alabama. Dictated notes, 2 pages. No transfer agreement or–other,-documentation present. [Item(s) in this folder were removed and restricted]
9 95 SeymoreTrammell interview, January 11, 1989: Transcript of Dan T. Carter interview with SeymoreTrammell, January 11, 1989, location unnamed, 25 pages; Oral history transfer agreement or other documentation not present. [Item(s) in this folder were removed and restricted]
9 96 SeymoreTrammell interview – January 11, 1989 – Summary: Notes dictated by Dan T. Carter about interview with SeymoreTrammell, January 11, 1989, 2 pages. [Item(s) in this folder were removed and restricted]
9 99 SeymoreTrammell interview, January 11, 1989: Transcript of Dan T: Carter interview with SeymoreTrammell, January 11, 1989, location unnamed, 27 pages. No transfer agreement or other documentation present.
9 100 SeymoreTrammell misc.: Copies of newspaper articles; copies of documents from unnamed archives; correspondence between Dan T. Carter and Trammell, Susan Rabiner [editor of Trammell manuscript], David Black [literary agent], Bill Baxley, and letters between SeymoreTrammell and various individuals; article: William Bradford Huie, “Wallace’s Basic Lie” reprinted from The Village Voice, January 12, 1976
9 101 SeymoreTrammell interview – November 28, 1988: Transcript of Dan T. Carter interview with Trammell, November 28, 1988, location unnamed, 16 pages. No transfer agreement of other documentation present. [Item(s) in this folder were removed and restricted]
9 102 SeymoreTrammell interview – August. 15, 1989: Transcript of audiotape of Trammell, August 15, 1989, [either recorded by Trammell or Dan T. Carter] location unnamed, 37 pages; notes by Dan T. Carter about interviews with SeymoreTrammell and Broward Segrest, January 11, 1988 or 1989. No oral history transfer agreement or other documentation present. [Item(s) in this folder were removed and restricted]
9 envelope labeled “To: SeymoreTrammell” envelope containing letter from Dan T. Carter to SeymoreTrammell, cassette tape enclosed