Sunday, September 11, 2011

Huey Long

Huey Pierce Long, Jr.

August 30, 1893 – September 10, 1935

Residence (city, state, or region):
Born: Winnfield, Louisiana. Died: Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Lawyer, U.S. Senator, Governor

What’s this person best known for?
Huey Long is best known for his “Share Our Wealth” movement during the Great Depression. This political movement was Long’s way of solving the issue of poverty and homelessness, by redistributing the nation’s wealth from the wealthiest to all those underneath them. Through this movement, every household in the nation would have an annual income of at least $2,000 to $2,500, or no less than one-third of the average annual family income in the United States. (2) This plan lead many economists and politicians to relate Long to a socialist, despite Long’s continuous dismissals of the idea.

Race/Ethnicity/Religion (if important):
Working class White American; Baptist.

Long was a democrat, though in his initial thoughts to run for president in 1936, he planned to form a third party based on his “Share Our Wealth” premise. (3)

Believing that the monetary issues of the Great Depression could be solved by a new form of taxation on the nation’s wealthiest households, Long devised a well-thought out plan to redistribute the wealth. (4)

Long was elected governor of Louisiana in 1928. His main election tactic was to relate to the state's poorest population, utilizing the slogan "Every man a king, but no one wears a crown," adopted from William Jennings Bryan. He often referred to the rich as "parasites" who took more wealth than they needed and marginalized the poor.

One of Long's first political actions was to advocate a free textbooks program for schoolchildren in Louisiana. Long also advocated literacy classes for adults to improve the then 75% state illiteracy rate.

Many state legislators disapproved of Long's programs, especially when he began to build many roads, bridges, hospitals and other institutions. However, Long used intimidating and aggressive tactics in order to assure that his bills got passed, such as barging in to House and Senate committee meetings and bullying opponents.

Long faced impeachment in 1929 after his attempts to pass a five-cent oil tax met strong opposition from Standard Oil. Long wanted the tax to help fund his social programs, which lead legislature to seek his impeachment on terms of bribery and misuse of state funds. In order to avoid his fate, Long toured the state and gave speeches to the public, preaching that Standard Oil was conspiring to stop him from providing roads and other developments to the state. Long eventually got 15 senators on his side and overturned the impeachment.

Shortly after this ordeal, Long published his own newspaper, the Louisiana Progress, to broadcast his achievements and blast his enemies. With a whole new attitude toward getting done what he wants to get done, Long infamously said "I used to try to get things 
done by saying 'please', now...I dynamite 'em out of my path." (2)

In December of 1930, Long made the sudden decision to run for the U.S. Senate, after previously serving two years as governor of Louisiana. Long defeated former Senator Joseph E. Ransdell in 1931, but didn't begin his Senate term until his four-year term as governor ended in January of 1932. That way, Long could personally choose his successor, rather than relinquishing it to the next man in line.

Long was a supporter of Franklin Roosevelt in his 1932 campaign for president. He believed that Roosevelt was the only candidate that would be able to support Long's future wealth redistribution program, however when Roosevelt made clear that he did not intend to follow through with Long's ideas, Long began to oppose him, even as a leftist politician. Roosevelt famously called Long "One of the two most dangerous men in America," (1) along with General Douglas MacArthur.

Long has been compared to Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini in his drastic rise to political power. Long had the support of a majority of Louisianans, despite a strong lack of support from higher political figures.

Long often fiercely fought against his opponents, especially those who tried to succeed him in his gubernatorial role in Louisiana. He frequently imposed on the ideas and plans of figures already in office by barging into their offices and telling them what he would do in their position. (1)

Long was most commonly viewed as a socialist during his time in the political spectrum because of his extreme views on the distribution of wealth.

Long was assassinated in 1935 by the son of one of his political opponents. He was shot in the abdomen from a four-foot distance and died two days later in the hospital.

Beliefs about relation between art and politics (if applicable):
No documentation has been found so far on Long’s opinions on the relation between art and politics.

Major Activities in the 1930s:

Major Works (include dates and place of publication where applicable):
-Every Man a King (Da Capo Press, 1933)
-My First Days in the White House (The Telegraph Press, 1935)

Places where figure’s work often appears (magazines, radio, nightclubs, galleries):
Long most frequently made speeches at any public political area, especially while running for the U.S. Senate in 1930. In order to publicize his viewpoints in various political issues, especially in regards to issues concerning the Great Depression, Long published his own newspaper called “American Progress.” While in office as the governor of Louisiana, Long also published the newspaper “Louisiana Progress” to broadcast his in-office achievements and denounce his enemies.

Long was also strongly in alliance with radio priest and populist talk personality Father Charles Coughlin, in order to utilize another medium to get his message across to the public. Long famously turned his “Every Man a King” slogan into a jingle, which was featured on Coughlin’s radio program.

Organizations s/he belongs to, causes s/he supports:
Long supported Catholic political candidates in Louisiana, populism, all leftist decisions made by president Franklin Roosevelt, elimination of a poll tax in voting, higher literacy rates, cheaper school tuitions and financial support for students.

Best sound bites by or about this figure, including source (if this person is a writer, you must include a quote by him or her):

Was this person a popular or critical success?
Long was a very popular success during his time as governor of Louisiana, defeating his opponents by a large margin of votes every time. He had many supporters who strove to help him reach the top. However, those who opposed him seriously opposed him: He was a critical success in the sense that many oppositionists viewed him as socialist and even dictatorial. President Roosevelt even called Long “one of the two most dangerous men in America,” next to General Douglas MacArthur.

Any Gossip?
In the 11th grade, Long was expelled from high school for forming a petition against a 12th grade graduation requirement.

Fun Facts to Know and Tell:
-Long’s political career inspired several forms of art, including a World War II-esque play on his political methods put on by the WPA, at least 10 fictional novels on his life, films on his rise through the political field and even two songs by country singer Randy Newman.
-Long’s posthumously published book “My First Days in the White House” chronicled his fictional meetings with important political figures, his ideas for future bills and programs and even his choice of politicians that would work for him while in office.

Titles of the 1-3 “texts” (writing, photos, songs, etc.) by this person you’ll discuss in your paper (include date and place of publication, if applicable):

1. “My First Days in the White House” (1935)

2. “Every Man a King” (1933)

3. Political speeches

What primary research have you done?
I have read several different sources that detail his political career, researched many different books that either featured him or was written as a biography, listened to many of his speeches online and looked in to his relationship with other parlor figures during his time.

Major influences on this person’s work (what’s on the bookshelf):
-President Roosevelt (more or less)
-Standard Oil (opposed)

1. "Huey Long's Life & Times | Huey Long Timeline." Huey Long Official Website | Biography, Quotes, Photos, Speeches. Long Legacy Project, 2010. Web. 18 Sept. 2011. <>.
2. "Huey Long." Spartacus Educational. Web. 18 Sept. 2011. <>.
3. "Social Security Online." The United States Social Security Administration. Web. 18 Sept. 2011. <>.
4. "Share the Wealth": Huey Long Talks to the Nation." History Matters: The U.S. Survey Course on the Web. Web. 18 Sept. 2011. <>

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