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The last year (1935) in the life of Huey P. Long (Louisiana Senator) - Essay Example

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Commissioner Long worked tirelessly to make himself political chieftain of North Louisiana. His eyes even turned toward the Governor's Mansion in Baton Rouge. Soon he was campaigning actively for at least one candidate in every state campaign. He electioneered for John M…
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The last year (1935) in the life of Huey P. Long (Louisiana Senator)
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The last year (1935) in the life of Huey P. Long (Louisiana Senator)

Parker won the primary, and Long insisted that it was his doing. In that era before the advent of radio and electrical sound-amplifiers, a candidate's effectiveness was usually proportional to the lustiness of his voice at open-air rallies. Long's lungs were strong.
Long perfected his oratorical technique in these campaigns. He spoke in terms of "we'": "We are a-goin' ter do this -- we done that." He eschewed polysyllabic words; he exaggerated his "hillbilly" accent; he reveled in the idioms of his native hills. Long's apologies were somewhat disingenuous. His formal education had been spotty, of course, but his ignorance was a pose. He was an able lawyer. Once when he was drunk, he uttered a franker appraisal of his own abilities. 1
Soon after the election, Long broke with the new governor, nominally because Parker was reluctant to levy higher taxes on Standard Oil. On August 30, 1923, his thirtieth birthday, Long announced his own candidacy for the governorship. The campaign began at once. Some opposition candidates might offer money for votes, Long predicted to his audiences. "So take the money and then vote for me." He cited his teachers as Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Jackson, and Almighty God. He assailed Governor Parker as "a damnable demagogue." He charged the New Orleans Item and the Times-Picayune with being journals of Wall Street.
A heavy rain fell on Primary Day, January 15, 1924. Long's rural followers were kept at home. A second cause of his defeat lay in his inability to attract votes in the French parishes. The ambitious railroad commissioner soon found opportunity to appeal to Catholic Creoles and Cajuns of southern Louisiana. In 1926 United States Senator Edwin S. Broussard came up for reelection. Long set out to sell Broussard a French Creole Catholic, an advocate of a protective-tariff on sugar, and "as wet as Lake Pontchartrain" on the prohibition question to his Anglo-Saxon Protestant, low-tariff, "dry" followers in northern Louisiana. He stumped the state, told the Creoles that French blood flowed in his own veins, and referred to Broussard as "Couzain Ed." He assured his own disciples of his complete loyalty to the senator. Broussard squeaked through the primary with a 4,000-vote margin.
Opposing Long in the gubernatorial primary of 1928 was Congressman Riley Wilson, candidate of the New Orleans "Old Regular" machine, which controlled much of the state through an alliance with the rural courthouse cliques. Long ridiculed Wilson as a "babe," although Wilson was twenty-two years older than himself and had already served seven terms in Congress. Governor O. H. Simpson also filed in the primary. Long's irrelevant and crudely humorous talk amused his followers. 2
Long provided his campaign with a slogan: "Every Man a King but No Man Wears a Crown." Long said he borrowed the vote catching words from that perennial Democratic-Populist seeker after the presidency, William Jennings Bryan. In a speech on "Imperialism," delivered in the campaign of 1900, the Great Commoner spoke of a "republic in which every citizen is a sovereign, but in which no one cares or dares to wear a crown." Henceforth, "Every Man a King" was to be Long's battle cry.

Long's candidacy was considerably strengthened by ... Read More
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