Huey Long, Baton Rouge
Former Governor Huey Long is probably the best known politician in Louisiana from the early 1900s. He is revered as a hero and a strong, dedicated leader by many and reviled as a crooked, power-hungry politician by others. As is frequently the case the truth is probably a bit of both. He was one of the first politicians in the South to address issues of racism. He fought against the plight of the poor and believed in closing the income gap between the rich and the poor. Many of his policies to redistribute wealth by taking from the rich and giving to the poor were not popular with many. He is reputed to have used some ruthless and underhanded tactics to get in power and to remain there. What cannot be disputed is his influence on the development of Louisiana through the depression and into the mid-1930s. That influence is still felt today and much of what modern Louisiana is today is because of Long. He is also responsible for the current State Capitol Building and the Old Governor's Mansion. His statue looks towards the building he got built. He was assassinated in 1935 by the son-in-law of a political opponent and is buried in the middle of the gardens around the capitol building.
louisina governor and later senator huey p. long is one of the most interesting and controversial political figures in american history. long was elected governor in 1928 during the great depression on a populist platfrom. long supported the "share our wealth" program which taxed corporations and individuals and redistributed wealth to the poor. long was a hero to the rural poor but was hated by corporations and the middle and upper classes. during his term of office long made a number of major improvements to louisiana's infrastructure. some of his projects were the construction of the new state capitol, the huey p. long bridge over the mississippi river, the airline hwy (US 61) from baton rouge to new orleans, and a number of buildings at LSU. huey long ran louisiana with a dictatorial style and president franklin roosevelt stated that he was one of the most dangerous men in america and compared him to adolf hitler. other detractors labeled him a communist because of his socialist policies. huey p. long was shot and killed at the state capitol building on september 8 th 1935. it is believed that his assassin was carl austin weiss but many maintain that he was accidentlly shot by one of his body guards. huey p. long is buried on the grounds of the new state capitol.
The 1949 movie "All the King's Men", piqued my interest in Huey Long aka "The Kingfish". In 1960 when we lived in Louisiana, I read the book "Louisiana Hayride".
Huey Long built 2,300 more paved roads, plus 6,000 miles of gravel roads and 12 bridges across Louisiana rivers. He provided free schoolbooks for children, free night schools for adults, a new medical school and a new system of charity hospitals and he eliminated the poll tax. That's what people remember about him.
I was fascinated to find that old Huey was buried on the grounds of the new capital.
Long was critically wounded on September 8, 1935 while he was a U.S. Senator and died two days later. At the time, it was assumed that Dr. Carl Weiss was the assassin. Long was heavily guarded with submachine gun toting bodyguards and it was never determined whose bullets entered Long's body. There is speculation that bullets from his bodyguards provided the mortal wounds after richocheting. There has been some conjecture that one of Long's bodyguards may have killed Long under the influence of supporters of President Franklin Roosevelt, who perceived Long as a threat in the 1936 election. Dr. Weiss was killed at the same time. Bullet holes are still visible in the hall of the Louisiana State Capital where Long was shot.
Huey Long's body is under a large statue of him which faces the capital.
Engraving on the back of Long statue:
HUEY PIERCE LONG
1893 - 1935
Governor 1928 -1932
United States Senator
Here Lies Louisiana's Great Son
Huey Pierce Long An Unconquered
Friend of the Poor Who Dreamed Of
The Day When the Wealth of the Land
Would Be Spread Among All the People
I Know the Hearts of the People
Because I Have Not Colored My Own.
I Know When I Am Right In My Own
Conscience I Have One Language.
Its Simplicity Gains Pardon For
My Lack of Letters. Fear Will Not
Change It. Persecution Will Not
Change It. It Cannot Be Changed
While People Suffer.
Erected By The State Of Louisiana 1940
Huey Long was colourful character and Governor of Baton Rouge during the late 1920s and early 1930s when he resigned to serve as a United States Senator. During his time as Governor, Long was responsible for the construction of the mansion and the new State Capitol as well as a modern highway system and bridges crossing the Mississippi River at Baton Rouge and New Orleans. In essence, he helped build Baton Rouge.
He was assassinated in the State Capitol in September 1935. It is said that his spirit still haunts the empty rooms and darkened halls of the old Heidelberg