understand Huey Pierce Long is to understand that he created himself
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 the 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.
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
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.