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Huey P Long

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					Huey P. Long (1893-1935)                                     3/29/2012 11:35:00 AM

 Arguments over size and scope of government tie directly back to debates
 that took place during Long’s era of power (1928-1935)
 Those debates sharpened by the 1927 Flood and its aftermath
 Historical Context: National
        Gilded Age – cause people made enormous amounts of money and
          Progressive Era (1880s -1920)
        Rise of the Corporation
        1893 -1896 National Financial Depression
        World War I (1917-1918)
        1927 Flood
       1929 beginning of the Great Depression
 Flooding
       Deltaic Flooding part of the river’s natural cycle
       Seven major floods in the 19th century
       Four major floods in the early 20th century before the 1927 flood
 MRC Decisions
       Late 19th century Mississippi River Commission adopted inflexible
         “levees only” policy
       In effect, it raised the level of the River
           Early 20th century – also decided to close off some natural outlets
           Should have allowed it to flow naturally and on its own natural
            course
 1260
        1926 Corp of Engineers Annual Report:
        
           o “the may be stated that in a general way the improvement is
             providing a safe and adequate channel for navigation”
 Most Severe Flooding
       Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana
           42 major crevasses
           120 levee breaks
 At New     Orleans
           Businessmen determined not to let the city flood
           Citizens Relief Committee – initially, no legal authority of any kind –
            this committee was made up of rich businessmen who had the most
            to lose in the Nola
        Decide (extra-legally) to dynamite the levee downriver to protect
         their interests
       Demand and receive state and federal permission – Power
       Illustrative of how government worked and who benefitted before
         Long era
       Citizens were sacrificed and lost houses and lives
       Some got money for their losses but most got nothing
Political Outcomes
       Calvin Coolidge was not reelected
       Herbert Hoover came down with Red Cross to help with relief efforts
       Helped get him elected in 1920
       Huey Long’s populist message gained traction in the wake of the
        flood
     Elected governor in 1928
Huey P. Long
     Born August 30, 1893 in Winn Parish
     Quit high school, became a salesman
     Became a lawyer at 21
     Enrolled in Tulane Law for eight months, didn’t do that well
        But he’s so brilliant and convinces State Supreme court to give him
         bar exam and he passes
        Personal qualities
            o Restless
            o Erratic
            o Shrewd
            o Brilliant
            o Ambitious
        His ultimate goal is to become president
        Political Career - State
        1918 – elected to Railroad Commission
        1924 – ran for governor and lost
        1928 – elected governor
        1929 – nearly impeached
        If Long can get 15 Senators called the Legislative Round Robin – it
         said that these Senators would never find him guilty of any crime
         brought forth in an impeachment trial
      These senators and their families received many gifts like jobs or
      
      money
     After 1929 he became known as the “Kingfish”
     He also describes himself as a “Dynamiter”
How Does He Govern?
     Told the “people” what they wanted to hear, different parts of the
      state wanted to hear different things
     He ridiculed his opponents and the people loved that
     Intimidated or bought the opposition, he would pay people to do
      what he wanted to do
         Punished opponents; rewarded friends
         Patronage – controlled people and they were loyal to him, about
          25,000 people and their familiies
         Reshaped and reconfigured government – towards public
          works and social welfare
         Appointed very loyal underlings to work for him
             o Ex. Long appointed James Monroe Smith as President of LSU
             o What Long wanted done, Smith would do it
             o The pool at the field house is an example of how he coerced
              Smith – Long wanted it to be the biggest pool and made the
              workers add five more feet to it
     He loved the LSU band and football team
1934 dispute with LSU Students
     unfavorable letter written in the Reveille
     Long barred about 40,000 copied of the Reveille from being
       distributed
     So 26 students started a petition; signers and staff suspended; 7
       students permanently barred
        “I aint paying anybody to criticize me” – Long
        “We’re living under a dictatorship and the best thing is to submit to
         those in authority” – LSU President Smith
Political Career: National
       Elected senator in 1930
       Did not take his seat until 1932
       1932 he supported F.D.R. for the president
       1932 he breaks from Democrats and FDR’s policies
       he sometimes told people he was a socialist and other times denied
        it
Why did people Support Long?
      Entertaining/charismatic
      Fundamentally changed the nature of government in Louisiana
      People finally received SOMETHING
      Many willing to accept corruption as a tradeoff to getting something
        from the government, people were desperate for jobs and money
      He offered solutions – didn’t deny everything
He created a National Organization
          SHARE OUR WEALTH SOCIETIES
          Free to join
          Income redistribution scheme
          Targeted millionaires, people couldn’t make over 10 million dollars
          Guaranteed minimal annual income for families
          Guaranteed old age pension
          Some of his ideas led to now a day’s Social Security
1935
          Long determined he would run for President
          Became increasingly concerned for his safety
          Officers from HIS police force (Bureau of Criminal Indentification)
           acted as his personal body guards
3/29/2012 11:35:00 AM
3/29/2012 11:35:00 AM

				
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