Huey Long

drawing of Huey Long

Huey Long. Library of Congress photo.

Every Man a King

Huey Long was Governor of Louisiana from 1928 to 1932 and was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1930. A nominal Democrat, Huey Long was a radical populist, of a sort we are unfamiliar with in our day. As Governor, he sponsored many reforms that endeared him to the rural poor. An ardent enemy of corporate interests, he championed the "little man" against the rich and privileged. A farm boy from the piney woods of North Louisiana, he was colorful, charismatic, controversial, and always just skating on the edge. He gave himself the nickname "Kingfish" because, he said, "I'm a small fish here in Washington. But I'm the Kingfish to the folks down in Louisiana."

Huey Long was the determined enemy of Wall Street, bankers and big business and he was also a determined enemy of the Roosevelt administration because he saw it as too beholden to these powerful forces.

Huey Long did not suffer from excessive modesty. A high-school dropout who taught himself law and got a law degree in only one year of study, Long was confident he would become President of the United States in 1936. So confident was he that he wrote a book entitled My First Days in the White House in which he named his cabinet (including President Roosevelt as Secretary of the Navy and President Hoover as Secretary of Commerce) and in which he conducted long imaginary conversations with FDR and Hoover designed to humiliate them and show their subservience to the boy from the piney woods of Louisiana.

The Kingfish wanted the government to confiscate the wealth of the nation's rich and privileged. He called his program Share Our Wealth. It called upon the federal government to guarantee every family in the nation an annual income of $5,000, so they could have the necessities of life, including a home, a job, a radio and an automobile. He also proposed limiting private fortunes to $50 million, legacies to $5 million, and annual incomes to $1 million. Everyone over age 60 would receive an old-age pension. His slogan was "Every Man A King."

Excerpts from Huey Long's autobiography (1933)
Huey Long advocates the "Share The Wealth" program on the floor of the U.S. Senate
Excerpts from Huey Long's "second autobiography" (1935)