Huey P. Long

State Governor / U.S. Senator

Born: 30 August 1893
Died: 10 September 1935 (assassination)
Birthplace: Winnfield, Louisiana
Best known as:

The "Kingfish" of Louisiana's Depression-era politics

During the era of the Great Depression, Huey Pierce Long was a larger-than-life politician who gained national attention as Louisiana's "Kingfish" -- a nickname he gave himself. Long was a high school drop-out who taught himself law and became a member of the Louisiana bar in 1915. In 1918 he moved to Shreveport and began a political career as a lively opponent of corporate wealth and privilege, targeting giants such as John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil Company. From 1928 until 1932, Long served as Louisiana's governor and launched an ambitious and successful program of public works. Long also ruled over a statewide political machine whose corrupt methods caused critics to regard him as a demagogue and political thug. While still governor, he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1930; preferring to stay on as governor for a while, he didn't show up in Washington until January of 1932. Moderately a Democrat, Long was a radical populist with presidential ambitions who began a national campaign called "Share the Wealth," a campaign that included minimum salaries and caps on income and property. He openly opposed the economic policies of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, a fellow Democrat, and railed against the influence of the wealthy few.

A month after announcing that he would run for president, Long was shot in the Louisiana statehouse in Baton Rouge on 8 September 1935. He died two days later at the age of 42. The official story is that Long was shot by Dr. Carl Weiss, who was then shot to death by Long's bodyguards. Weiss was the son-in-law of Louisiana Judge Benjamin Pavy, a long-time political foe of Long's. The absence of evidence in the matter has been fodder for conspiracy theories ever since, a minor part of Long's legacy in Louisiana.

Extra credit:

Long was the basis for Robert Penn Warren's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, All The King's Men (1946).

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