Huey Pierce Long, Jr., 1893-1935

Charismatic and autocratic Depression-era Louisiana politician, Huey P. Long emerged as one of the most extraordinary figures in the history of American politics. Known as the "Kingfish" of Louisiana, Huey's stranglehold on Louisiana politics overshadowed his social reforms and radical welfare proposals.

Huey Pierce Long was born in 1893 into a poor family. In spite of his meager upbringing, he obtained enough formal schooling to pass the state bar examination. Politically ambitious, he took a post as Railroad Commissioner at the age of 25. He constantly criticized giant Standard Oil, which won him popularity and praise. This led to an unsuccessful bid for governor in 1924. He ran again in '28 and won--largely due to the support he garnered from ignored rural areas. Long was the champion of poor whites and his flamboyant oratory style won him national attention. His stand on social equity provided a much needed diversion for his shady autocratic dealings.

Long surrounded himself with bodyguards and was known for dictating orders to his legislature with implied threats. When he made his Senate bid, he illegally fired the elected lieutenant governor and replaced him with one of his own yes men.

Once in the Senate, he developed his famous Share the Wealth program and coined the phrase: "every man a king." Much of the country was still licking its Depression-era wounds and the program Long outlined made him a smashing success. He had the presidency in mind and polls taken during this time showed that he had millions of supporters. Huey even published an autobiography called Every Man a King to bolster the idea that he was just a regular guy to the American people.

Unfortunately for Long, his dreams of the White House would end in 1935 when he was murdered by the son-in-law of a judge he had vilified in the press.