Huey P. Long

Long, Huey Pierce

Huey Pierce Long, 1893–1935, American political leader, b. Winnfield, La.; brother of Earl Long. Originally a farm boy, he was an extremely successful traveling salesman before studying law at Tulane Univ. He was admitted to the bar in 1915 and practiced in Winnfield and Shreveport. Long was elected to the Louisiana railroad commission in 1918; in 1921 it became the public service commission. He was reelected to the commission in 1924, served as chairman, and was attorney for the state in public utility litigation.

Narrowly defeated for governor of Louisiana in 1924, Long was swept into office four years later. When the state legislature obstructed his program of economic and social reform, he severely lessened the influence of the moneyed oligarchy that had dominated Louisiana government since Reconstruction and established his own control of the state through extensive use of patronage. Long was responsible for the building of badly needed roads and bridges, the expansion of state-owned hospitals, and the extension of the school system into remote rural regions. He also increased the taxes of large Louisiana businesses, especially the oil companies. The state legislature was bludgeoned or bought into passing his laws. In 1929, Long was impeached on charges of bribery and gross misconduct, but he was not convicted.

"The Kingfish," as Long was called, was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1930, but he did not take his seat until Jan., 1932, after he had assured the succession as governor of one of his own supporters. From Washington, Long continued to direct the Louisiana government. In 1934 he began a reorganization of the state, which virtually abolished local government and gave Long the power to appoint all state employees. As a senator, Long was at first a supporter of the New Deal, but soon became one of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's most vociferous critics.

A presidential aspirant, Long gained a steadily increasing national following. Early in 1934 he introduced his plan for national social and economic reform, the "Share-the-Wealth" program; it proposed a guaranteed family annual income and a homestead allowance for every family. Meanwhile, in Louisiana, Long continued to expand his powers. In Sept., 1935, on a trip to the state, Long was assassinated. The assassin, Dr. Carl A. Weiss, was slain by Long's bodyguards. Long's political machine flourished for several years after his death, and the Long family remained important in the state.

See his autobiography, Every Man a King (1933, repr. 1964, 1996) and his My First Days in the White House (1935, repr. 1972); H. M. Christman, ed., Kingfish to America, Share Our Wealth: Selected Senatorial Papers of Huey P. Long (1985); biographies by T. H. Williams (1969, repr. 1981), W. I. Hair (1991), S. LeVert (1995), and D. R. Collins (2003); G. Boulard, Huey Long: His Life in Photos, Drawings, and Cartoons (2003); studies by H. T. Kane, (1941, repr. 1971), H. C. Dethloff, ed. (1967), A, P. Sindler (1972), A. Brinkley (1982), G. Jeansonne (1993), R. C. Cortner (1996), O. Handlin and G. Jeansonne, ed. (1997), and R. D. White, Jr. (2006).

His son, Russell Billiu Long, 1918–2003, b. Shreveport, La., was also a politician. A graduate of the Louisiana State University (1941) and its law school (1942), he served (1948–87) as U.S. senator from Louisiana. A Democrat, he was the longtime chairman of the Senate's finance committee and was important in the creation of tax laws. His last significant accomplishment was helping to write simplified national income tax legislation in 1986.

See biography by R. Mann (1992).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Huey P. Long: Selected full-text books and articles

The Kingfish and the Constitution: Huey Long, the First Amendment, and the Emergence of Modern Press Freedom in America
Richard C. Cortner.
Greenwood Press, 1996
Perspectives on 20th Century America: Readings and Commentary
Otis L. Graham Jr.
Dodd, Mead, 1973
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 9 "The Messiah of the Rednecks" by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.
Louisiana Hayride: The American Rehearsal for Dictatorship, 1928-1940
Harnett T. Kane.
W. Morrow, 1949
American Demagogues: Twentieth Century
Reinhard H. Luthin; Allan Nevins.
Beacon Press, 1954
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 10 "Huey P. Long: The Louisiana Kingfish"
The Politics of Unreason: Right Wing Extremism in America, 1790-1970
Seymour Martin Lipset; Earl Raab.
Harper & Row, 1970
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "The 1930's: Extremism of the Depression"
27 Masters of Politics: In a Personal Perspective
Raymond Moley.
Funk & Wagnalls Co., 1949
Librarian’s tip: "Divide, Provide et Impera" begins on p. 221
Cotton Crisis
Robert E. Snyder.
University of North Carolina Press, 1984
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "A Holiday for Cotton"
Romance and Realism in Southern Politics
T. Harry Williams.
University of Georgia Press, 1961
Librarian’s tip: Lecture 4 "The Politics of the Longs"
Public address in the twentieth-century South: The Evolution of a Region
W. Stuart Towns.
Praeger, 1999
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "The Southern Demagogues: Voices for the Masses"
American Orators of the Twentieth Century: Critical Studies and Sources
Bernard K. Duffy; Halford R. Ryan.
Greenwood Press, 1987
Librarian’s tip: "Huey Pierce Long, Jr. (1893-1935)" begins on p. 291
The Deep South States of America: People, Politics, and Power in the Seven Deep South States
Neal R. Peirce.
W. W. Norton, 1974
Librarian’s tip: "Louisiana: An Evocation" begins on p. 46
All the King's Men: A Symposium
A. Fred Sochatoff; John A. Hart; Erwin R. Steinberg; Robert C. Slack; Beekman W. Cottrell; Neal Woodruff Jr.; William M. Schutte.
Carnegie Institute of Technology, 1957
Librarian’s tip: "Some Treatments of the Huey Long Theme" begins on p. 1
Political Tendencies in Louisiana
Perry H. Howard.
Louisiana State University Press, 1971 (Revised edition)
Librarian’s tip: Chap. VII "The Rise of 'Longism'" and "The Rise of Huey P. Long: His Mission and His Legacy" begins on p. 221
Democracy at Risk: Rescuing Main Street from Wall Street : a Populist Vision for the Twenty-First Century
Jeff Gates.
Perseus Publishing, 2000
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 13 "Share Our Wealth"
Lake Pontchartrain
W. Adolphe Roberts.
Bobbs-Merrill, 1946
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 24 "The Works of Huey P. Long"
A Treasury of Southern Folklore: Stories, Ballads, Traditions, and Folkways of the People of the South
B. A. Botkin.
Crown, 1949
Librarian’s tip: "Huey Long" begins on p. 291
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