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  FATHER COUGHLIN, HUEY LONG, & UPTON SINCLAIR; VOICES FOR THE DISAFFECTED IN 1930s AMERICA

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HUEY LONG

Huey Long in HatTo understand Huey Pierce Long is to understand that he created himself and his ideas as an answer to poverty in the 1930s. His methods, though often debated, were largely successful in his home state of Louisiana, where he bankrolled projects that employed the jobless, he heavily taxed the rich in the state so that he could help the poor, and he squelched anyone who got in his way. A regular Robin Hood! This is his story.

Huey Long was any man he wanted to be. To some, he was a savior, while to others he was the Devil himself. A self-made man with a self-made history, and armed with a versatile personality, Long adapted to his environment, whether in the backwoods swamps of Louisiana with potential voters or on the floor of the U.S. Senate, he could be the human chameleon and could change his very outward persona on a moment's notice. He was born not in theHuey Long chopping wood log cabin he liked to reminisce about, but rather, according to his sister, Lucille Long Hunt, was born in a large wood-sided house in the farming community of Winnfield, Louisiana on August 30, 1893. Though his family was large in number Long's sister said they were not poor, as Long liked to say just after he told people that he was raised in a log cabin. Long's sister said, "He wanted to be just like somebody who jumped out of a stump" (Burns 1). Truly, Long wanted to be not only everyman, but a voice for the common man.

Long's education is a potted history. After dropping out of high school in 1910 without a diploma, he took jobs selling products door-to-door. His sister said his "gift for gab" made him quite a good salesman and, much like in later life, he never took no for an answer (Burns 1). Long's everyman persona didn't hurt either. After four years of door-to-door sales, Long enrolled part-time in law school at Tulane University, in New Orleans, where he spent the remainder of his time in self-study of law. In just a year he asked for a private bar exam and he passed it with ease and in sharp contradiction to the backwoods persona he liked to portray. Upon earning his degree, he set up a meager office and began taking up cases of the small farmer and laborer on the grounds of what we would now call compensation law (Brinkley 13). Through these cases, Long saw how the rich benefited at the expense of the poor man. Long vowed to avenge the poor man through his law practice, and through holding public office.

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