ARCHIVES: Former Alabama First Lady Remembers Assassination Attempt on Gov. George Wallace

It was 50 years ago that Alabama Gov. George Wallace was shot while campaigning for president. In a rare interview, former First Lady Cornelia Wallace spoke about the day that would change their lives forever.

In 2007, Mrs. Wallace sat down with Alabama News Network at a retirement home in Central Florida where she lived. It may have been her final interview before she died.

The Wallaces had gone to Maryland for the campaign. At a shopping center in Laurel, Maryland on May 15, 1972, they were shaking hands with supporters when a gunman shot Wallace, leaving him paralyzed and in constant pain for the rest of his life.

As the governor lay wounded on the pavement, Mrs. Wallace ran to his side to lay on top of him to protect him from any more gunfire. A photo of that moment made the cover of Life magazine.

At first, people in Alabama did not know if the governor would survive the shooting. He did, and won both the Democratic presidential primaries in Maryland and Michigan, showing he could capture votes outside the South.

But his road to recovery was long, effectively ending his 1972 presidential bid. Despite the assassination attempt, Gov. Wallace would serve two more terms in office and run for president a final time, in 1976.

The man convicted of shooting Wallace, Arthur Bremer, served 35 years of his 53-year sentence before he was released in 2007. He has never spoken publicly about the shooting and did not respond to a letter the governor had written him, forgiving him.

Mrs. Wallace died in 2009 at the age of 69.


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