George Wallace in Wisconsin
Alabama governor George Wallace ran for president four times between 1964 and 1976. In the Badger State, his campaigns fueled a debate over constitutional principles and values. Wallace weaponized states’ rights, arguing that the federal government should stay out of school segregation, promote law and order, restrict forced busing and reduce burdensome taxation. White working-class Wisconsinites armed themselves with Wallace’s rhetoric, pushing back on changes that threatened the status quo. Civil rights activists and the Black community in Wisconsin armed themselves with a different constitutional principle, equal protection, to push for strong federal protection of their civil rights. This clash of ideals nearly became literal as protests and counterprotests erupted until gradually diminishing as Wallace’s political fortunes waned. Historian Ben Hubing reveals the tensions that embroiled Wisconsinites as Wallace took his struggle north of the Mason-Dixon line.
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