Huey Long (1893-1935) was Louisiana's legendary populist Governor, U.S. Senator and favorite son. Poised to run for president on his “Share Our Wealth” platform, Long was assassinated in 1935 at the age of 42.
Long was revered by the masses as a champion of the common man and demonized by the powerful as a dangerous demagogue.
Huey Long was known as "the Kingfish", a take-charge problem solver who delivered immediate relief to the suffering and powerless. As Governor, he used strong-arm tactics to break political gridlock and cut red tape. He took Washington by storm as the most outspoken U.S. Senator.>
Huey Long launched a vast program of modernization and reform in Louisiana — building roads, bridges and vital infrastructure, providing free public education to children of all races, expanding LSU, expanding voting rights and healthcare, and lowering taxes on the poor majority.>
Huey Long believed that government should protect and uplift its most vulnerable citizens and provide opportunity for everyone, regardless of race or class. He broke the monopoly on power held by the ruling elite and their corporate backers and transformed Louisiana politics. >
Huey Long transformed the public's perception of the role of government in a democratic society. Some of our most cherished government institutions — from social security to veterans benefits, student financial aid to public works projects — were causes championed by Huey Long. >
From an early age, it was evident that Huey Long was a true original. A bright, inquisitive, and feisty child, he would grow to become the most famous – and audacious - public figure ever produced by the state of Louisiana.more
Blessed with a brilliant mind and photographic memory, Huey Long easily circumvented the many barriers to education in Louisiana and managed to become a lawyer without receiving a single diploma.more
Huey Long began his career as a traveling salesman, displaying a knack for connecting with the common man, a skill he would later apply as a young attorney defending the disadvantaged.more
At age 25, Huey Long made a splash in Louisiana politics on the Louisiana Railroad Commission, fighting corporate monopolies and reducing utility rates. In his second run for governor at age 34, Huey's revolutionary campaign toppled the corrupt political establishment that had ruled Louisiana since the French.more
Huey Long was elected Governor of Louisiana in 1928 by the largest margin in the state’s history. In the face of entrenched opposition from the old guard, he launched an unprecedented program to build the state’s infrastructure and provide education and economic opportunity to the masses.more
Standard Oil’s legislative allies led an unsuccessful attempt to remove Huey Long from the governorship on a variety of charges, ranging from serious to comical. He was impeached in the House but avoided conviction in the Senate.more
Huey Long was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1930, in a race cast as a referendum on his policies as governor. In Washington, Huey became a national force with his “Share Our Wealth” movement, which threatened to siphon Democratic support from the re-election of President Franklin Roosevelt.more
Huey Long was poised to run for president in the 1936 election against Franklin Roosevelt as his “Share Our Wealth” program swept the nation. Roosevelt adopted some of Huey’s ideas in order to “steal Long’s thunder,” while simultaneously moving to discredit him.more
By 1935, rumors of plots to assassinate Huey Long swirled around Louisiana. On September 8, Huey was shot in the State Capitol by Dr. Carl Weiss, the relative of a political enemy. He died two days later at age 42. News of Huey’s death made worldwide headlines, and an estimated 200,000 mourners attended his funeral.more
September 10, 2015, will mark the 80th anniversary of Huey Long's death.
My voice will be the same as it has been. Patronage will not change it.— Huey Long, on the floor of
Fear will not change it. Persecution will not change it.
It cannot be changed while people suffer. The only way it can be changed is to make the lives of these people decent and respectable. No one will ever hear political opposition out of me when that is done.”
the U.S. Senate, March 5 1935
Read more Huey Long quotes
All the King's Men is a fictional story by Robert Penn Warren, who created the character Willie Stark, who loosely resembles Long. Penn Warren unequivocally stated: “Willie Stark was not Huey Long. Willie was only himself…”
Listen to "Thank God and Huey Long" by Louie Ludwig
see lyrics at Share Your Stories
© 2009 Louie Ludwig, All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.
The following institutions provided invaluable research assistance and materials for the creation of this Web site: the Louisiana Political Museum & Hall of Fame, Winnfield, La.; the Louisiana State Archives; Louisiana State University (LSU) Libraries Special Collections, Baton Rouge; the State Library of Louisiana; and the Louisiana Historical Association.
See additional resources.