Long feared that his departure would allow the lieutenant governor, a fierce enemy, to gain political leverage in Louisiana. Semmes Walmsley. Plans for road construction and increased spending on education, to be funded by a new gas tax, were not far behind.
In late , Long used his control over the state court system to remove the lieutenant governor and place Oscar K. Allen , his longtime friend and business partner, in the vacant office. With the state firmly under control, Long resigned the governorship and left for Washington in January He resigned from all of his committee assignments and attacked both major political parties for their failure to redistribute wealth and resolve the problems of the Great Depression.
In Long vigorously backed the presidential candidacy of Franklin D. Roosevelt and campaigned for him in the North. With his help, she became the first woman elected to the US Senate. The president also challenged the honesty of electoral results in Louisiana and instructed agents of the Internal Revenue Service to look into the income sources of Long and his associates. While Long continued his battle with the president, he frequently visited Louisiana and used loyal operatives to preserve his influence at home.
Through his personal power and the employment of surrogates, he secured an end to the poll tax and created a homestead exemption.
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He also increased corporate levies and expanded the size and authority of state government. His foes in both Louisiana and Washington increasingly contended that Long was attaining the power and the demeanor of a dictator. Comparisons with Hitler and Mussolini abounded. He intended to use the resultant revenue to provide all American citizens with free education, homes, radios, and automobiles. His plan also included a guaranteed minimum income for all citizens, including African Americans, and a pension for the elderly.
Under the guidance of the Reverend Gerald L.
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Smith, a skilled organizer and captivating orator, SOWS branches spread across the country. In Smith and Long boasted that the organization had more than 7 million members and 27, chapters throughout the United States. Many observers contended that SOWS forced the president to move his administration toward the political left with the passage of the Social Security Act and the establishment of the Works Progress Administration.
While rumors persisted that Long would attempt to defeat Roosevelt in the presidential election, the Kingfish continued to dominant politics in his home state. In September , he went to Louisiana to supervise a special legislative session that would provide him with even greater political and governmental control. On the night of September 8, , Dr.
Carl Austin Weiss, a political enemy with unclear motives, shot Long in a rear corridor of the new state capitol. Long died on the morning of September 10, Huey Long altered Louisiana politics forever. For three decades after his death, Louisianians debated the value of his achievements and voted accordingly.
Through the s, state politics were split between Longism and Anti-Longism factions. His national impact was more mercurial. Although Long attracted many supporters throughout the country with his brash economic proposals and brazen behavior, his achievements were few.
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Many contended that Long deserved to become president, but his death pushed those prospects, and his lofty ambitions, into the fanciful domain of unrealized promise and endless conjecture. Long Jr..
Huey P. Long Jr.
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