Huey Long II
Program InformationSeries: A Moment in Time
Year Produced: 2009
At the height of his political power, Louisiana Senator Huey Pierce Long, while making inroads on the national political scene, was struck down by an assassin’s bullet.
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Lead: At the height of his political power, Louisiana Senator Huey Pierce Long, while making inroads on the national political scene, was struck down by an assassin’s bullet.
Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.
Content: While he was governor of Louisiana, Huey Long himself adopted the nickname “The Kingfish” based on a smooth-talking, scheming character from the Amos ’n Andy radio show. He had campaigned for governor on the Populist slogan coined by William Jennings Bryan, “Every man a king, but no one wears a crown;” his Populist attacks on the greed and privilege of the wealthy and big business struck a chord with the mostly-rural, struggling-poor voters of Louisiana during the Great Depression. He became a hero to many, even while his critics warned that his heavy-handed methods and corruption were more like a dictator than one who valued democratic means to get what he wanted.
Long ran for the U.S. Senate in 1930, but he refused to take his seat in Washington until after the next gubernatorial election so that he could remain in Baton Rouge to insure that one of his allies was elected governor and he could continue to press his program of improvements through the state legislature.
An early supporter of Franklin Roosevelt, he soon broke with the new president when he perceived that Roosevelt’s policies were not radical enough, as they did not mandate a redistribution of wealth. As a result, in 1934 Huey Long launched his own economic program called “Share Our Wealth” in which he proposed capping income and restricting the ownership of property. He published his own national newspaper and two books outlining his economic plan. Had he lived, he may have attracted enough Democratic voters to split the party in the 1936 presidential election.
Huey Long was fatally shot in the state capitol in Baton Rouge on September 8, 1935, by Dr. Carl A. Weiss, the son-in-law of a long-time political enemy. Long is buried on the grounds of the state capitol he built in 1930-1932 as part of his public works campaign.
At the University of Richmond, this is Dan Roberts.