Huey Pierce Long 1928-1932
Born: August 30, 1893 in Winnfield, Louisiana
Political Affiliation: Democrat
Religious Affiliation: Baptist
Education: Attended Winnfield public schools, University of Oklahoma and Tulane University
Career Prior to Term: Lawyer and Chairman of the Louisiana Railroad Commission
How He Became Governor: Elected in 1928
Career after Term: U. S. Senator
Died: September 10, 1935 two days after being mortally wounded by an assassin in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Huey P. Long's life and career defy short summary. He may have captured himself best when he told reporters, "I am suis generis (one of a kind), just leave it at that."
No other Governor in Louisiana history affected the political and social landscape like Huey Long. His impact lasted far beyond his death.
Politically, because he offered a dramatic alternative to the leadership of the paternalistic Bourbons of the late 19th century and the mildly progressive Democrats who preceded him, Louisiana voters benefited from a de facto two-party system. Unlike other southern states mired in the politics of race, Louisiana politics were based on a real, if controversial, choice given to voters. Huey Long, and his followers for 30 years after his death, pushed for an unprecedented expansion of governmental services in education, transportation and health. The anti-Longs, fiscal conservatives, opposed his plans to increase severance taxes on natural resources, to pave thousands of miles of roads, to provide free textbooks, to build a new state capitol, and to establish an extravagantly grandiose regime without sound financing.
The anti-Longs often did not approve of increasing political participation for blacks and poor whites which Long fought for through the removal of the poll tax as a voting qualification. His detractors opposed Long's methods of controlling the legislature and his demagogic methods of appealing to the masses.
Long's single-minded use of power not only strengthened the executive branch, it helped him achieve his goals. His highway program built almost 13,000 miles of roads. All schoolchildren received free textbooks whether the communities wanted them or not. Funding for LSU and the Port of New Orleans greatly increased.
Long expanded the Charity Hospital System, built LSU Medical School and brought natural gas to New Orleans.
Elected to the U.S. Senate in 1930 while still governor, Long remained in his state office until his slate of candidates took over in 1932. He brought his radical social platform of redistributing wealth to the national level and appeared to be a serious threat to President Roosevelt in the 1936 election. History, however, was deprived of such a contest. Huey Long's tumultuous career was cut short by an assassin's bullet in 1935. Shot by an assailant in a corridor of the very capitol he built, he died on September 10th. Long is buried on the capitol grounds. A fascist dictator or latter day "Robin Hood", he remains in political lore the one and only "Kingfish".