|Birth Day:||August 30, 1893|
|Death Date:||September 10, 1935(1935-09-10) (aged 42)
Baton Rouge, Louisiana, United States
|Birth Place:||Winnfield, United States|
|#1||Rose McConnell Long||Spouse||N/A||N/A||N/A|
As per our current Database, Huey Long died on September 10, 1935(1935-09-10) (aged 42)
Baton Rouge, Louisiana, United States.
|Height||Weight||Hair Colour||Eye Colour||Blood Type||Tattoo(s)|
Long was born on August 30, 1893, near Winnfield, a small town in the north-central part of Louisiana and the seat of Winn Parish. He was the son of Huey Pierce Long Sr. (1852–1937) and Caledonia Palestine Tison (1860–1913), and the seventh of the couple's nine surviving children. He would later claim that his heritage was a mixture of Dutch, English, French, Scottish, and Welsh. When he was young, Winn Parish was a deeply impoverished region whose residents, mostly modest Southern Baptists, were often outsiders in Louisiana's political system. During the Civil War, Winn Parish had been a stronghold of Unionism in an otherwise solidly Confederate state. At Louisiana's 1861 convention on secession, the delegate from Winn voted to remain in the union: “Who wants to fight to keep the Negroes for the wealthy planters?” In the 1890s it likewise was a bastion of the Populist Party, and in the 1912 election, a plurality (35%) voted for the Socialist presidential candidate, Eugene V. Debs.
For people of their time and socioeconomic standing, Long's parents were well-educated, and stressed often to their child the importance of learning. For many years Long was home-schooled; he started attending local schools at about age eleven. During his time in the public system, he earned a reputation as an excellent student with a remarkable memory. After growing bored with the required schoolwork, he eventually convinced his teachers to let him skip seventh grade. When he was a student at Winnfield High School, he and his friends formed a secret society, advertising their exclusivity by wearing a red ribbon. According to Long, his club's mission was "to run things, laying down certain rules the students would have to follow." The teachers at the school eventually learned of Long's antics and warned him to obey the school and its faculty's rules. Long continued to rebel, eventually writing and distributing a flyer that criticized both his teachers and the necessity of a recently state mandated fourth year of high school. As a consequence, he was expelled in 1910. Long drafted a petition calling for the principal of Winnfield High School to be removed from his post. He convinced enough people in his town to sign it to gain the firing of the principal. Despite this success, Long never returned to high school, although he was awarded a diploma posthumously.
In September 1911, Long began attending seminary classes at Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee, Oklahoma at the urging of his mother, a devout Baptist. While living with his brother George, Long attended for only one semester, rarely appearing at lectures. After deciding he was not suited to preaching, Long instead began to focus on law. Borrowing one hundred dollars from his brother (which he later lost playing roulette in Oklahoma City), he attended the University of Oklahoma College of Law in Norman, Oklahoma for a semester in 1912. To earn money while studying law part-time, he worked as a salesman for the Dawson Produce Company. Of the four classes Long took, he received one incomplete and three C's. He later confessed that he "didn't learn much law there" because there was "too much excitement, all those gambling houses and everything." He was arrested in 1912, reportedly for creating a disturbance in a brothel. In Long's version of events, the police mistakenly arrested him after one man shot at another, but Long was able to prove he had been attending a play with girlfriend Rose McConnell at the time of the incident and he was released.
McConnell was a stenographer who had won a baking contest which Long promoted to sell "Cottolene," a popular vegetable shortening. The two had begun a two-and-a-half-year courtship and married on April 12, 1913 at the Gayoso Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee. On their wedding day, Long had no cash with him and had to borrow $10 from his fiancée to pay for the officiant. Shortly after their marriage, Long explained to his wife his aspirations to run for a state-wide office, the governorship, the U.S. Senate, and ultimately the presidency. The Longs had a daughter, named Rose, and two sons: Russell B. Long (1918–2003), who became a long-term U.S. senator, and Palmer Reid Long (1921–2010), who became an oilman in Shreveport, Louisiana.
In 1915, Long established a private practice in Winnfield, through which he typically represented small plaintiffs, "the small man – the under-dog" according to Long. These were usually workers' compensation cases. He often said proudly that he never took a case against a poor man. He was noted for successfully defending an impoverished widow against the Winnfield Bank. Around this time, Long evaded fighting in World War I, claiming "I was not mad at anybody over there," and successfully defended a state senator from prosecution under the Espionage Act of 1917. In 1918, Long invested $1,050 in an oil well that eventually struck oil. But the well was unable to generate any income because the powerful Standard Oil Company refused to accept any of the oil in its pipelines, costing Long his investment. This episode served as the catalyst for Long's lifelong hatred of Standard Oil, which he later denounced as an "invisible empire" run by "petroleumites."
In the gubernatorial election of 1920, Long campaigned heavily for John M. Parker; today Long is often credited with helping Parker to win in the northern Louisiana parishes. But after Parker was elected, the two became bitter rivals. This break was largely the result of Long demanding that Parker declare the state's oil pipelines to be public utilities, and Parker refusing to do so. In particular, Long was infuriated when Parker allowed the oil companies, led by the legal team of Standard Oil, to assist in writing the state's severance tax laws, which decreed the amount corporations such as Standard Oil had to pay the state for the extraction of natural resources. Long denounced Parker as corporate "chattel". The feud climaxed in 1921, when Parker tried, unsuccessfully, to have Long ousted from his position on the commission.
By 1922, the Railroad Commission had been renamed the "Public Service Commission" and Long had gained the more powerful position of chairman. That year, Long prosecuted the Cumberland Telephone & Telegraph Company for unfair rate increases; he successfully argued the case on appeal before the United States Supreme Court, resulting in cash refunds totaling $440,000 (equivalent to $6,720,716 in 2019) being sent to 80,000 overcharged customers. After the decision, Chief Justice William Howard Taft praised Long as "the most brilliant lawyer who ever practiced before the United States Supreme Court."
On August 30, 1923, his thirtieth birthday, Long announced his candidacy for the governorship of Louisiana. Long stumped throughout the state, personally distributing circulars and nailing posters to trees. He denounced Governor Parker as a corporate stooge, vilified Standard Oil, and assailed local political bosses.
Long spent the intervening four years building his reputation and political organization, particularly in the more urban South, which was heavily Roman Catholic due to its French and Spanish heritage. Despite disagreeing with their politics, Long endorsed and campaigned for Catholic US Senators in 1924 and 1926. Thanks to alleged government mismanagement during the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, which has been compared to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Long gained the support of Cajuns, rural Catholics whose land had been heavily affected. He officially launched his campaign in 1927, campaigning with the slogan, "Every man a king, but no one wears a crown," a phrase adopted from Democratic presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan. By 1928, Long had gained such momentum, that he became one of the major talking points of his opponents; opposing political conventions chanted "It won't be Long now."
His opponent was incumbent Senator Joseph E. Ransdell, the Catholic senator whom Long had endorsed in 1924. At 72 years old, Ransdell had been in the Senate since Long was four years old. Ransdell was anti-Long, aligned with the Constitutional League, whom Long mocked as the "Constipational League", and the New Orleans Ring. Ransdell had the support of all 18 of the state's daily newspapers. Although initially promising not to issue personal attacks, Long seized on the issue of Ransdell's age. He claimed that Ransdell was senile and too old to purchase life-insurance, donning him "Old Feather Duster." Long purchased two new $30,000 sound trucks and had inmates paint campaign signs. He distributed over two million circulars attacking his opponent. The campaign became increasingly vicious, with The New York Times calling it "as amusing as it was depressing." Long critic Sam Irby, who was set to testify on Long's corruption to state authorities, was abducted by Long's bodyguards shortly before the election. Irby emerged after the election, having been missing for four days. Surrounded by Long's guards, he gave a radio address in which he "confessed" that he had actually asked Long for protection. The New Orleans mayor labelled it "the most heinous public crime in Louisiana history."
On January 17, 1928, Long won the Democratic primary election but failed to secure a majority of the vote. He polled 126,842 votes (43.9 percent). Representative Riley J. Wilson earned 81,747 votes (28.3 percent), and the incumbent Simpson garnered 80,326 (27.8 percent). At the time, Long's margin was the largest in state history, and neither opponent chose to face him in a runoff election. After earning the Democratic nomination, he was easily elected governor in the general election on April 17, 1928, with 92,941 votes (96.1 percent), to 3,733 for the Republican candidate, Etienne J. Caire. At age 35, Long was the youngest person ever elected governor of Louisiana.
Once in office as governor on May 21, 1928, Long moved quickly to consolidate power, firing hundreds of opponents in the state bureaucracy, at all ranks from cabinet-level heads of departments to state road workers. Like previous governors, he filled the vacancies with patronage appointments from his own network of political supporters. Every state employee who depended on Long for a job was expected to pay a portion of their salary at election time directly into Long's campaign fund, which raised $50,000 to $75,000 each election cycle. Some higher level officials had the portions directly deducted from their paychecks by the state government. The funds were kept in a locked "deduct box" to be used at Long's discretion for political and personal purposes. It was rumored that this box contained over a million dollars.
In 1929, Long called a special session of both houses of the legislature to enact a new five-cent per barrel "occupational license tax" on production of refined oil, to help fund his social programs. The bill was met with fierce opposition from the state's oil interests. Long declared in a radio address that any legislator who refused to support the tax had been "bought" by the oil companies. Instead of placing pressure on the legislature, the accusation infuriated many of its members, who felt that Long was no longer fit to serve as governor. The "dynamite squad", a caucus of opponents in the legislature led by freshman lawmakers Cecil Morgan and Ralph Norman Bauer, introduced an impeachment resolution against Long. Nineteen charges were listed. They ranged from blasphemy to abuses of power, bribery, and the misuse of state funds. The most serious was subornation of murder. One of Long's subordinates claimed in an affidavit that an intoxicated Long had told him to kill Representative J. Y. Sanders Jr., the son of a former governor, and "leave him in the ditch where nobody will know how or when he got there." Long allegedly promised him "a full pardon and many gold dollars." Even Long's Lieutenant Governor, Paul Cyr, supported the impeachment: he accused Long of nepotism and alleged that he had made corrupt dealings with a Texan oil company.
Following the failed impeachment attempt in the Senate, Long became ruthless when dealing with his enemies. He fired their relatives from state jobs and supported candidates to defeat them in elections. After impeachment, Long concluded that extra-legal means would be needed to accomplish his goals: "I used to try to get things done by saying 'please'," said Long. "Now ... I dynamite 'em out of my path." He had his bodyguards "let go" on reporters, assaulting photographers, smashing cameras, and evicting them from government buildings. He became a persistent critic of the press, denouncing the "lying newspapers". In March 1930, Long established his own newspaper: the Louisiana Progress. The paper was extremely popular, widely distributed by policeman, highway workers, and government truckers. To receive lucrative state contracts, companies were first expected to buy advertisements in the Progress. Long attempted to pass laws placing a surtax on newspapers and forbidding the publishing of "slanderous material," but these efforts were defeated. After the impeachment attempt, Long received death threats. Fearing for his personal safety, he surrounded himself with armed bodyguards at all times.
Shortly after the failed impeachment, Long suddenly announced his intention to run for the U.S. Senate in the 1930 Democratic primary. He portrayed his campaign as a referendum on his programs: if he won he would take it as a sign that the public supported his programs over the opposition of the legislature, and if he lost he promised to resign.
Ultimately, on September 9, 1930, Long defeated Ransdell by 149,640 (57.3 percent) to 111,451 (42.7 percent). There were wide accusations of voter fraud against Long; voting records showed people voting in alphabetical order, among them celebrities such as Charlie Chaplin, Jack Dempsey, and Babe Ruth.
Although his Senate term began on March 4, 1931, Long completed most of his four-year term as governor, which did not end until May 1932. He declared that leaving the seat vacant for so long would not hurt Louisiana; "with Ransdell as Senator, the seat was vacant anyway." By not leaving the governor's mansion until January 25, 1932, Long prevented Lieutenant Governor Paul N. Cyr, a former ally, from succeeding to the office. Cyr had broken with Long and had been threatening to roll back his reforms if he succeeded to the governorship. On one occasion, Cyr attempted to seize the office after learning that Long had spent a night in Mississippi. Long had the state capitol surrounded by armed National Guardsmen, blocking Cyr's bid. In October 1931, Lieutenant Governor Cyr, by then Long's avowed enemy, argued that the Senator-elect could no longer remain governor. Cyr declared himself the state's legitimate governor. In response, Long ordered state National Guard troops to surround the State Capitol and fended off Cyr's attempted "coup d'état," as Long labelled it. Long then brought the issue to the Louisiana Supreme Court, hoping to have Cyr ousted as lieutenant governor. He argued that the office of lieutenant-governor was vacant because Cyr had resigned when he attempted to assume the governorship. His suit was successful and Cyr was ejected from office.
In January 1932, Long traveled to the United States Senate in Washington, D.C., where he took his oath and seat, which once belonged to John C. Calhoun. At the time of Long's arrival, America was in the throes of the Great Depression, worsened by Republican President Herbert Hoover's handling of the crisis. With this backdrop, Long made characteristically fiery speeches that denounced the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few. He criticized the leaders of both parties for failing to address the crisis adequately, most notably attacking conservative Senate Democratic Leader Joseph Robinson of Arkansas for his apparent closeness with President Herbert Hoover and ties to big business. Long launched personal attacks, deriding Robinson's appearance: "he doesn't look really as well with his hair dyed."
In the presidential election of 1932, Long became a vocal supporter of New York Governor Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He believed Roosevelt to be the only candidate willing and able to carry out the drastic redistribution of wealth that Long believed was necessary to end the Great Depression. At the 1932 Democratic National Convention, Long was instrumental in keeping the delegations of several wavering southern states in the Roosevelt camp. His appeal for the delegates to support Roosevelt was noted for its eloquence. The New York Times' Washington correspondent described Long's speech as "the finest legal argument that anybody has ever heard—or that I ever heard—at a national convention." Senator Burton Wheeler of Montana claimed that, "Roosevelt would never have won the Democratic nomination in 1932, in my opinion, but for Huey Long." Bronx County boss Edward J. Flynn shared a similar sentiment: "There is no question in my mind... that without Long’s work Roosevelt might not have been nominated." Due to this, Long expected to be featured prominently in Roosevelt's campaign, but he was disappointed with a peripheral speaking tour limited to four Midwestern states.
Returning to Washington, Long gave theatrical speeches which drew wide attention. Public viewing areas were crowded with onlookers, among them a young Lyndon B. Johnson, who later claimed he was "simply entranced". Long sometimes spent weeks obstructing bills, launching hour-long filibusters and having the Senate registrar read superfluous documents. Long's antics, one editorial claimed, had made the Senate "impotent". In May 1932, The Washington Post called for his resignation. Outside the Capitol, his vulgar behavior was well publicized at a 1933 charity dinner in Long Island, to which he arrived already intoxicated. According to Time, "Spotting a plump girl with a full plate before her, he marched to her table, snatched the plate from her, yapped: 'You're too fat already. I'll eat this.'" Long's night culminated in him urinating on a man in the restroom. The man punched Long, giving him a black-eye. When asked about the injury, Long claimed that four men had ambushed him. This and Long's radical rhetoric did little to endear him to his fellow senators. Not one of his proposed bills, resolutions or motions was passed during his three years in the Senate despite an overwhelming Democratic majority. During one debate, another senator told Long, "I do not believe you could get the Lord's Prayer endorsed in this body." Fellow Senator Carter Glass said of Long, "I understand that in the ultimate decadence of Rome they elected a horse to the Senate. At least it was a whole horse." Long's flamboyant ways and populist style made him one of the best known senators in the nation. Regarding his unrefined behavior, historian David M. Kennedy wrote that
Long continued to maintain effective control of Louisiana while he was a senator, blurring the boundary between federal and state politics. Long chose his childhood friend, Oscar K. Allen, to succeed King in the January 1932 election. With the support of Long's voter base, Allen won easily, permitting Long to resign as governor and take his seat in the U.S. Senate in January 1932. Though he had no constitutional authority to do so, Long continued to draft and press bills through the Louisiana State Legislature, which remained in the hands of his allies. One of the laws passed was what Long called "a tax on lying" – a 2 percent tax on newspaper advertising revenue.
During the critical first 100 days of Roosevelt's presidency in spring 1933, Long was generally a strong supporter of the New Deal, but differed with the president on patronage. Roosevelt wanted control of the patronage, and Long wanted to control it for his state. The two men publicly split in late 1933. Long mocked Roosevelt's patrician background, calling him "Prince Franklin, Knight of the Nourmahal," a reference to the yacht of Roosevelt's billionaire friend Vincent Astor. Aware that Roosevelt had no intention to radically redistribute the country's wealth, Long became one of the few national politicians to oppose Roosevelt's New Deal policies from the left. He considered them inadequate in the face of the escalating economic crisis. Long still sometimes supported Roosevelt's programs in the Senate, explaining: "Whenever this administration has gone to the left I have voted with it, and whenever it has gone to the right I have voted against it."
Long opposed the National Recovery Act, denouncing it as a sellout to big business. On the Senate floor, he attacked the bill as having "every fault of socialism" yet not "one of its virtues." He claimed, correctly, that its wage and price codes would be created by, and in the favor of, industrialists. In an attempt to prevent its passage, Long held a lone filibuster, speaking for 15 hours and 30 minutes, the second longest filibuster at the time. His attempts were in vain, and the act established the National Recovery Administration (NRA), which Long quickly nicknamed "Nuts Running America". He also criticized Social Security, calling it inadequate and expressing his concerns that states would administer it in a way discriminatory to blacks. In 1933, he was a leader of a three-week Senate filibuster against the Glass banking bill for favoring the interests of national banks over state banks. He later supported the Glass–Steagall Act, after provisions were made to extend government deposit insurance to state banks as well as national banks.
Roosevelt considered Long a radical demagogue. The president told economic advisor Rexford Tugwell that Long, along with General Douglas MacArthur, "was one of the two most dangerous men in America." In June 1933, Long visited the White House to meet President Roosevelt, but the meeting was a disaster: Long was flagrantly disrespectful, refusing to take off his straw hat and addressing Roosevelt as "Frank", instead of the normal "Mr. President".
Shortly thereafter, in June 1933, in an effort to undermine Long's political dominance, Roosevelt cut him out of consultation on the distribution of federal funds or patronage in Louisiana and placed Long's opponents in charge of federal programs in the state. Roosevelt supported a Senate inquiry into the election of Long ally John H. Overton to the Senate in 1932. The Long machine was accused of election fraud and voter intimidation, but the inquiry came up empty, and Overton was seated. To discredit Long and damage his support base, Roosevelt had Long's finances investigated by the Internal Revenue Service in 1934. Although they failed to link Long to any illegality, some of his lieutenants were charged with income tax evasion. Only one had been convicted by the time of Long's death. Roosevelt's son would later note that in this instance, his father "may have been the originator of the concept of employing the IRS as a weapon of political retribution".
In March 1933, Long offered a series of bills collectively known as "the Long plan" for the redistribution of wealth. The first bill proposed a new progressive tax code designed to cap personal fortunes at $100 million. Fortunes above $1 million would be taxed at 1 percent; fortunes above $2 million would be taxed at 2 percent, and so forth, up to a 100 percent tax on fortunes greater than $100 million. The second bill would limit annual income to $1 million, and the third bill would cap individual inheritances at $5 million.
On May 30, 1934, Long took to the Senate floor to debate the abrogation of the Platt amendment. But instead of debating the amendment, Long declared his stance on the Chaco War. He proclaimed support for Paraguay against Bolivia, as he maintained that US President Rutherford B. Hayes had awarded the Chaco region to Paraguay in 1878. Long blamed the entire war on "the forces of imperialistic finance", claiming that Paraguay was the rightful owner of the Chaco. He said that Standard Oil, whom Long called "promoter of revolutions in Central America, South America and Mexico," had "bought" the Bolivian government and started the war because Paraguay was unwilling to grant them oil concessions. Long ended his speech by claiming the entire Chaco War was due to the machinations of Wall Street, called the American arms embargo to both sides as subservience to the "big papa" of Wall Street and stated: "Well should we begin on Memorial Day, the hour of mourning, to understand that the imperialistic principles of the Standard Oil Company have become mightier than the solemn treaties and pronouncements of the United States government".
In a second speech given on June 7, 1934, in response to the Bolivian protests, Long again supported Paraguay and attacked Standard Oil as "foreign murderers" and "imperialist oppressors of the freedom of the South American people". Besides abusing Standard Oil, Long announced that since Bolivia was taking the Chaco dispute to the World Court, he was opposed to the United States joining the World Court, saying:
After capturing a Bolivian fort in July 1934, the Paraguayans renamed it Fort Long. Thanks to Long's outspoken stance on the war, he had established himself as one of the most ardent isolationists in the Senate. He further argued that the United States involvement in the Spanish–American War and the First World War had been deadly mistakes conducted on behalf of Wall Street. Consequently, Long demanded the immediate independence of the Philippines, which had been occupied by the United States since 1899. He also opposed American entry into the World Court.
In February 1934, Long introduced his Share Our Wealth plan over a nationwide radio broadcast. He proposed capping personal fortunes at $50 million and repeated his call to limit annual income to $1 million and inheritances to $5 million. (He also suggested reducing the cap on personal fortunes to $10 million–$15 million per individual, if necessary, and later lowered the cap to $5 million–$8 million in printed materials.) The resulting funds would be used to guarantee every family a basic household grant, or "household estate" as Long called it, of $5,000 and a minimum annual income of $2,000–3,000, or one-third of the average family homestead value and income. Long supplemented his plan with proposals for free college education, with admission based on an IQ test, and vocational training for all able students, old-age pensions, veterans' benefits, federal assistance to farmers, public works projects, greater federal regulation of economic activity, a month's vacation for every worker, and limiting the work week to thirty hours to boost employment. He proposed a $10 billion land reclamation project to end the Dust Bowl. Long promised free medical service and what he called a "war on disease" led by the Mayo brothers. In his speech, Long used populist language depicting the U.S. past as a lost paradise stolen by the rich, saying:
Long's plans for the "Share Our Wealth" program attracted much criticism from economists at the time, who stated that Long's plans for redistributing wealth would not result in every American family receiving a grant of $5,000 per year, but rather $400/per year, and that his plans for confiscatory taxation would cap the average annual income at about $3,000. They noted that the confiscated fortunes would only yield $1.50 per each poor family. In 1934, Long held a public debate with Norman Thomas, the leader of the Socialist Party of America, on the merits of Share Our Wealth versus socialism.
With the Senate unwilling to support his proposals, in February 1934 Long formed a national political organization, the Share Our Wealth Society. A network of local clubs led by national organizer Reverend Gerald L. K. Smith, the Share Our Wealth Society was intended to operate outside of and in opposition to the Democratic Party and the Roosevelt administration. By 1935, the society had over 7.5 million members in 27,000 clubs across the country. Long's Senate office received an average of 60,000 letters a week, resulting in Long hiring 48 stenographers to type responses. Of the two trucks that delivered mail to the Senate, one was devoted solely to mail for Long. Long's newspaper, now renamed American Progress, averaged a circulation of 300,000, with some issues reaching over 1.5 million. Long's radical programs were very attractive to union-members; Teamsters president Daniel J. Tobin expressed his growing concerns to Roosevelt. Long drew international attention: writer H. G. Wells traveled across the Atlantic just to interview Long. Wells noted that Long was "like a Winston Churchill who has never been at Harrow. He abounds in promises."
In 1934, Long and James A. Noe, an independent oilman and member of the Louisiana Senate from Ouachita Parish, formed the controversial Win or Lose Oil Company. The firm was established to obtain leases on state-owned lands so that its directors might collect bonuses and sublease the mineral rights to the major oil companies. Although ruled legal, these activities were done in secret, and the stockholders were unknown to the public. Long made a profit on the bonuses and the resale of those state leases and used the funds primarily for political purposes.
In spring 1935, Long undertook a national speaking tour and regular radio appearances, attracting large crowds and increasing his stature. At a well attended Long rally in Philadelphia, a former mayor told the press "There are 250,000 Long votes" in this city. Regarding Roosevelt, Long boasted to the New York Times' Arthur Krock: "He's scared of me. I can out promise him, and he knows it." While addressing reporters in late summer of 1935, Long proclaimed:
By 1935, Long's most recent consolidation of personal power led to talk of armed opposition from his enemies in Louisiana. Opponents increasingly invoked the memory of the Battle of Liberty Place of 1874, in which the White League staged an uprising against Louisiana's Reconstruction-era government. In January 1935, an anti-Long paramilitary organization called the Square Deal Association was formed. Its members included former governors John M. Parker and Ruffin G. Pleasant and New Orleans Mayor T. Semmes Walmsley. When Long finally passed the five-cent per barrel oil tax for which he had been impeached in 1929, Standard Oil threatened to leave the state. Concerned Standard Oil employees formed a Square Deal association in Baton Rouge, organizing themselves in militant companies and demanding "direct action".
On January 25, 1935, these Square Dealers, now armed, seized the East Baton Rouge Parish courthouse. Long had Governor Allen execute emergency measures in Baton Rouge: he called in the National Guard, declared martial law, banned public gatherings of two or more persons, and forbid the publication of criticism of state officials. The Square Dealers left the courthouse, but there was a brief armed skirmish at the Baton Rouge Airport. Tear gas and live ammunition were fired; one person was wounded but there were no fatalities. At a legal hearing, an alleged spy within the Square Dealers testified that the Square Dealers were conspiring to assassinate the Senator; Long quickly publicized the claim.
Long had previously acknowledged the possibility of his own death, reportedly even having a morbid fascination with it. In a 1935 speech, he claimed that his political enemies had a plot to kill him with "one man, one gun, one bullet." Long also sensationally claimed that Chicago gangsters were trying to kill him. His own right-hand-man Gerald L. K. Smith declared that "the only way they will keep Huey Long from the White House is to kill him." In spring 1935, one of the last office-holding Long opponents in Louisiana warned, "I am not gifted with second sight. … But I can see blood on the polished floor of this Capitol. For if you ride this thing through, you will travel with the white horse of death."
Popular support for Long's Share Our Wealth program raised the possibility of a 1936 presidential bid against incumbent Franklin D. Roosevelt. When questioned by the press, Long gave conflicting answers on his plans for 1936. While promising to support a progressive Republican like Sen. William Borah, Long claimed that he would only support a Share Our Wealth candidate. At times, he even expressed the wish to retire: "I have less ambition to hold office than I ever had." However, in a later Senate speech, he admitted that he "might have a good parade to offer before I get through". Long's son Russell B. Long believed that his father would have run on a third party ticket in 1936. This is evidenced by Long's writing of a speculative book, My First Days in the White House, which laid out his plans for the presidency after the 1936 election.
Long biographers T. Harry Williams and William Ivy Hair speculated that Long planned to challenge Roosevelt for the Democratic nomination in 1936, knowing he would lose the nomination but/ref>
As the 1936 election approached, the Roosevelt administration grew increasingly concerned by Long's popularity. Democratic National Committee Chairman James Farley commissioned a secret poll in early 1935 "to find out if Huey's sales talks for his 'share the wealth' program were attracting many customers". Farley's poll revealed that if Long ran on a third-party ticket, he would win about 4 million votes (about 10% of the electorate). In a memo to Roosevelt, Farley wrote: "It was easy to conceive of a situation whereby Long by polling more than 3,000,000 votes, might have the balance of power in the 1936 election. For example, the poll indicated that he would command upwards of 100,000 votes in New York State, a pivotal state in any national election and a vote of that size could easily mean the difference between victory and defeat ... That number of votes would mostly come from our side and the result might spell disaster".
In response, Roosevelt in a letter to his friend William E. Dodd, the US ambassador to Germany, wrote: "Long plans to be a candidate of the Hitler type for the presidency in 1936. He thinks he will have a hundred votes at the Democratic convention. Then he will set up as an independent with Southern and mid-western Progressives ... Thus he hopes to defeat the Democratic Party and put in a reactionary Republican. That would bring the country to such a state by 1940 that Long thinks he would be made dictator. There are in fact some Southerners looking that way, and some Progressives drifting that way ... Thus it is an ominous situation".
Over 200,000 people travelled to Baton Rouge to attend Long's funeral on September 12. His remains were buried on the grounds of the State Capitol, and a statue at his grave depicts his achievements. Although Long's allies claimed that he was assassinated by political opponents, a federal probe found no evidence of a conspiracy. Long's death brought relief to the Roosevelt administration, which would win in a landslide in the 1936 election. Farley publicly admitted his apprehension of campaigning against Long: "I always laughed Huey off, but I did not feel that way about him." Roosevelt's close economic advisor Rexford Tugwell would later write: "When he was gone it seemed that a beneficent peace had fallen on the land. Father Coughlin, Reno, Townsend, et al., were after all pygmies compared with Huey. He had been a major phenomenon." Tugwell also wrote that Roosevelt regarded Long's assassination as a "providential occurrence".
After Long's death, a family dynasty emerged: his brother Earl was elected lieutenant-governor in 1936, and governor in 1948 and 1956. Long's widow, Rose McConnell Long, was appointed to replace him in the Senate, and his son Russell B. Long, was a U.S. senator from 1948 to 1987. As chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Russell shaped the nation's tax laws. He was an advocate of low business taxes, but passed the Earned Income Credit and other tax legislation beneficial to the poor. In addition to Long's brother Earl K. Long becoming governor, brother Julius Long was a Winn Parish District Attorney, and brother George S. Long was elected to Congress in 1952. Other more distant relatives, including Gillis William Long and Speedy O. Long, have represented Louisiana in the U.S. Congress. Gerald Long holds the distinction of being the first office-holder to be a registered Republican among the Long Democratic dynasty.
In popular culture, Long has served as a template for multiple populist, or fascistic, fictional politicians. He is widely believed to be the inspiration for Buzz Windrip in Sinclair Lewis' novel It Can't Happen Here (1935). Windrip is a populist, big business-bashing senator who wins the 1936 election by promising every American family $5,000 per year. Written with the goal of hurting Long's chances in the 1936 election, a stage adaptation was performed in theaters across the country by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) from 1935.
Long's assassination turned him into a near legendary figure in some parts of Louisiana. In 1938, Swedish sociologist Gunnar Myrdal encountered rural children who not only insisted Long was alive, but that he was president. Although no longer personally governing in the state, Long's policies continued to be enacted in Louisiana by his political machine, which remained a powerful force in state politics until the election of 1960. Within the dominant Louisiana Democratic Party, Long set in motion two durable factions—"pro-Long" and "anti-Long" — which diverged meaningfully in terms of policies and voter support. Typically, anti-Longite candidates would promise to continue popular social services delivered in Long's administration and criticized Longite corruption without directly attacking Long himself. The Long platform of social programs and populist rhetoric created the state's main political division. For several decades after his death, Long's personal political style inspired imitation among Louisiana politicians who borrowed his colorful speaking style, vicious verbal attacks on opponents, and promises of social programs.
In 1941, Louisiana donated a statue of Long to the Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol. The statue was accepted in the collection by Senator Allen Ellender on April 25. At that time Ellender said, "He was a doer of things for the benefit of the masses; and his philosophy of distribution of wealth, his advocacy of pensions for the aged, shorter work hours for labor and his continued fight for the masses ... marked him for death."
After his assassination, Long continued to inspire novelists. One of the earliest was John Dos Passos' Number One (1943). Robert Penn Warren's Pulitzer prize-winning novel All the King's Men (1946) featured demagogue Willie Stark, who many believe was based on Long. Warren did not encourage association of his character with Long. In a 1964 interview, he told Charles Bohner: "Willie Stark was not Huey Long. Willie was only himself, whatever that self turned out to be." The novel was adapted into a 1949 movie, which won Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Supporting Actress from the Academy Awards. Adria Locke Langley's 1945 novel A Lion Is in the Streets featured the Huey Long-like populist politician Hank Martin. The 1953 film adaption won three Oscars. Long's name was the inspiration for the Disney cartoon character "Huey" of the duck triplets Huey, Dewey, and Louie.
Long's birthday, August 30, was a paid state holiday in Louisiana from 1936 through 1971. This practice was ended by Governor Edwin Edwards when he took office in 1972.
Long's cultural influence is also felt in drama. In Tennessee Williams' play A Streetcar Named Desire (1947), Stanley Kowalski cites Long while claiming that he is "king" of his New Orleans apartment. Two made-for-TV docudramas about Long have been produced: The Life and Assassination of the Kingfish (1977), starring Ed Asner, and Kingfish: A Story of Huey P. Long (1995), starring John Goodman. Long was the subject of a 1985 Ken Burns-directed documentary. In music, singer-songwriter Randy Newman featured Long in two songs on the 1974 album Good Old Boys.
Long has been the subject of dozens of biographies and academic texts. In fact, more has been written about Long than any other Louisianan. Most notably, the 1970 biography Huey Long by T. Harry Williams won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award in category History and Biography. Alan Brinkley won the latter award in 1983 for Voices of Protest: Huey Long, Father Coughlin and the Great Depression, which explored criticism of the New Deal from the left.
Beginning in the 2016 presidential race, many publications, including The Advocate, NPR, and The Saturday Evening Post, have noted similarities between Long and U.S. President Donald Trump. Long has been called a "Trumpian figure" by The Atlantic, which noted similarities between their anti-establishment populism and aggressive use of executive power. Others have claimed that Long is more akin to democratic socialist Senator Bernie Sanders.
A testament to Long's contributions to the state's infrastructure, two bridges crossing the Mississippi River have been named "Huey P. Long Bridge": one in Baton Rouge and one in Jefferson Parish. Long's contributions to LSU are recorded in multiple monuments and plaques. Illustrative of his divisive legacy, a plaque featuring his name was defaced with the word "Fascist" in March 2020.
Currently, Huey Long is 129 years, 9 months and 7 days old. Huey Long will celebrate 130th birthday on a Wednesday 30th of August 2023.
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