Huey Long


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(b. 30 Aug. 1893, d. 10 Sept. 1935).

US Senator 1931–5 Born in Winn Parish, Louisiana, of moderate background, he early established himself as a successful lawyer, although he never graduated from his law studies at Oklahoma University and Tulane. He then entered state politics, building himself a strong and ruthless political machine, and rising through various political offices in Louisiana to become Governor (1928–32) and then Senator from 1931. He held both offices simultaneously until he succeeded in preventing his lieutenant governor, Paul Cyr, from following him as Governor.

 Long used ruthless and corrupt methods to modernize his state and shore up his power base against the entrenched ‘Bourbon’ oligarchy that had been so influential. Known as ‘Kingfish’, he persuaded the state legislature to pass a series of welfare measures, especially for education. His programme of construction of roads, bridges, and public buildings was largely carried out by private contractors, against the vested interests of the public utility companies as well as the oil companies. Despite initial support, Long quickly turned against Franklin D. Roosevelt, seeing the New Deal as a watered-down version to his more radical ‘Share our wealth’ programme for the redistribution of income. Long's charismatic, if radical, appeal came close to dividing the Democratic Party, but he was assassinated before he could run for the Presidency in 1936.

Subjects: History.

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