George C. Wallace, Speech At Madison Square
Garden, Oct 24, 1968
Notice how he handles the hecklers
in the crowd.
Well, thank you very much ladies and gentlemen. Thank you very much for your gracious and
kind reception here in Madison
Square Garden. I’m sure that the New York Times took note of the reception that we’ve received here
in the great city of New York. I’m very grateful to the people of this city
and this state for the opportunity to be on the ballot on November 5, and as
you know we’re on the ballot in all 50 states in this union. This is not a sectional movement. It’s a national movement, and I am sure that
those who are in attendance here tonight, especially of the press, know that
our movement is a national movement and that we have an excellent chance to
carry the great Empire State of New York.
I have a few friends from Alabama with me and we have a number of
others who were with us last week, but we have with us Willie Kirk, past
president of Local 52, United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters.
Well, I want to tell you
something. After November 5, you
anarchists are through in this country.
I can tell you that. Yes, you’d
better have your say now, because you are going to be through after November 5,
I can assure you that.
I have also with me W.C. Williamson, business manager of
Local 52, UAPP, Montgomery,
Alabama, and R.H. Low, president of the Mobile Building
and Construction Trades Council and business manager of Local 653 Operating
And you came for trouble, you sure
And we have R.H. Bob Low, president of the MBC – We – why
don’t you come down after I get through and I”ll
autograph your sandals for you, you know?
And Charlie Ryan, recording secretary of
the Steam Fitters Local 818, New York
have been endorsed in Alabama
by nearly every local in our state: textiles workers, paper workers, steel
workers, rubber workers, you name it.
endorsed by the working people of
Regardless of what they might say, your national leaders, my
wife carried every labor box in 1966, when she ran for governor of Alabama in the primary
and the general election. And I also was
endorsed by labor when I was elected governor in 1962.
Now, if you fellows will – I can drown – listen – if you’ll
sit down, ladies and gentlemen, I can drown that crowd out. If you’ll just sit down, I”ll
drown ‘em out – that – all he needs is a good
haircut. If he’ll go to the barbershop,
I think they can cure him. So all you newsmen look up this way now. Here’s the main event. I’ve been wanting to
fight the main event a long time in Madison
so here we are. Listen, that’s just a
preliminary match up there. This is the
main bout right here. So let me say
again as I said a moment ago, that we have had the support of the working
people of our state. Alabama’s a large industrial state, and you
could not be elected governor without the support of people in organized labor.
Let me also say this about race, since I’m here in the state
of New York,
and I’m always asked the question. I am
very grateful for the fact that in 1966 my wife received more black votes in Alabama than did either
one of her opponents. We are proud to
say that they support us now in this race for the presidency, and we would like
to have the support of people of all races, colors, creeds, religions, and
national origins in the state of New
Our system is under attack: the property system, the free
enterprise system, and local government.
Anarchy prevails today in the streets of the large cities of our
country, making it unsafe for you to even go to a political rally here in Madison Square Garden,
and that is a sad commentary. Both
national parties in the last number of years have kowtowed to every anarchist
that has roamed the streets. I want to
say before I start on this any longer, that I’m not talking about race. The overwhelming majority of all races in
this country are against the breakdown of law and order as much as those who
are assembled here tonight. It’s a few anarchists, a few activists, a few militants, a
few revolutionaries, and a few Communists.
But your day, of course, is going to be over soon. The American people are not going to stand by
and see the security of our nation imperiled, and they’re not going to stand by
and see this nation destroyed, I can assure you that.
The liberals and the left-wingers in both national parties
have brought us to the domestic mess we are in now. And also this foreign mess we are in.
You need to read the book “How to Behave in a Crowd.” You really don’t know how to behave in a
crowd, do you?
Yes, the liberals and left-wingers in both parties have
brought us to the domestic mess we are in also to the foreign policy mess we
find our nation involved in at the present time, personified by the no-win war
in Southeast Asia.
Now what are some of the things we are going to do when we
become president? We are going to turn
back to you, the people of the states, the right to control our domestic
institutions. Today you cannot even go
to the school systems of the large cities of our country without fear. This is a sad day when in the greatest city
in the world, there is fear not only in Madison
but in every school building in the state of New York,
and especially in the City of New York. Why has the leadership of both national
parties kowtowed to this group of anarchists that make it unsafe for your child
and for your family? I don’t understand it.
But I can assure you of this – that there’s not ten cents worth of
difference with what the national parties say other than our party. Recently they say most of the same things we
say. I remember six years ago when this
anarchy movement started, Mr. Nixon said: “It’s a great movement,” and Mr.
Humphrey said, “It’s a great movement.”
Now when they try to speak and are heckled down, they stand up and say:
“we’ve got to have some law and order in this country.” They ought to give you law and order back for
nothing, because they have helped to take it away from you, along with the
Supreme Court of our country that’s made up of Republicans and Democrats.
It’s costing the taxpayers of New York and the other states in the union
almost a half billion dollars to supervise the schools, hospitals, seniority
and apprenticeship lists of labor unions, and businesses. Every year on the federal level we have passed
a law that would jail you without a trial by jury about the sale of your own
property. Mr. Nixon and Mr. Humphrey,
both three or four weeks ago, called for the passage of a bill on the federal
level that would require you to sell or lease your own property to whomsoever
they thought you ought to least it to. I say that when Mr. Nixon and Mr.
Humphrey succumb to the blackmail of a few anarchists in the streets who said
we’re going to destroy this country if you do not destroy that adage that a
man’s home is his castle, they are not fit to lead the American people during
the next four years in our country. When
I become your president, I am going to ask that congress repeal this so-called
open occupancy law and we’re going to, within the law, turn back to the people
of every state their public school system.
Not one dime of your federal money is going to be used to bus anybody
any place that you don’t want them to be bussed in New York or any other state.
Yes, the theoreticians and the pseudo-intellectuals have
just about destroyed not only local government but the school systems of our
country. That’s all right. Let the police handle it. So let us talk about law and order. We don’t have to talk about it much up
here. You understand what I’m talking
about in, of course, the City of New
York, but let’s talk about it.
Yes, the pseudo-intellectuals and the theoreticians and some
professors and some newspaper editors and some judges and some preachers have
looked down their nose long enough at the average man on the street: the pipe-fitter,
the communications worker, the fireman, the policeman, the barber, the white
collar worker, and said we must write you a guideline about when you go to bed
at night and when you get up in the morning.
But here are more of us than there are of them because the average
citizen of New York and of Alabama and of the other states of our union are
tired of guidelines being written, telling them when to go to bed at night and
when to get up in the morning.
I’m talking about law and order. The Supreme Court of our country has
hand-cuffed the police, and tonight if you walk out of this building and are
knocked in the head, the person who knocks you in the head is out of jail
before you get in the hospital, and on Monday morning, they’ll try a policeman about
it. I can say I’m going to give the
total support of the presidency to the policemen and the firemen in this
country, and I’m going to say, you enforce the law and you make it safe on the
streets, and the president of the United States will stand with
you. My election as president is going
to put some backbone in the backs of some mayors and governors I know through
the length and breadth of this country.
You had better be thankful for the police and the firemen of
this country. If it were not for them,
you couldn’t even ride in the streets, much less walk in the streets, of our
large cities. Yes, the Kerner Commission Report, recently written by Republicans
and Democrats, said that you are to blame for the breakdown of law and order,
and that the police are to blame. Well,
you know, of course, you aren’t to blame.
They said we have a sick society.
Well, we don’t have any sick society.
We have a sick Supreme Court and some sick politicians in Washington, that’s who’s sick in our country.
The Supreme Court of our country has ruled that you cannot even say a
simple prayer in a public school, but you can send obscene literature through
the mail, and recently they ruled that a Communist can work in a defense
plant. But when I become your president,
we’re going to take every Communist out of every defense plant in the United States,
I can assure you.