1893 - 1935
Pierce Long, Southern politician, governor of Louisiana (1928-1932), and
United States senator (1932-1935), known for his autocratic methods and colorful
Long was born
on August 30, 1893, in Winnfield, Louisiana, and educated at the University of
Oklahoma and Tulane University. Admitted to the bar in 1915, he practiced law in
Winnfield and Shreveport, and was elected Louisiana railroad commissioner (later
called public service commissioner) in 1918; he remained on the commission until
1926, serving as chairman for five years. In 1928 he won the Democratic party
nomination and was elected governor. As such, he instituted many social reforms
and built roads, bridges, and schools, but every officeholder was under his
influence, municipal government was reduced to subservience, and the courts were
powerless. He was impeached in 1929 on charges of bribery and misappropriation
of state funds, but the case was dropped.
Great Depression millions of Americans cheered the colorful, grandiose oratory
of the “Kingfish,” as Long was called. He ingratiated himself with a program
to eliminate poverty that would give every family a minimum income of $5000 per
year by limiting individual incomes to a maximum of $1 million per year and
would provide old-age pensions of $30 per month to elderly people who had less
than $10,000 in cash.
in establishing himself as virtual dictator of Louisiana. In 1930 he was elected
to the U.S. Senate; he stayed on as governor, however, and did not take his
Senate seat until 1932, when a handpicked successor became governor and he was
assured of control of the Louisiana legislature.
Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1932 presidential election, but, disappointed by
lack of patronage after Roosevelt became president, Long fought him openly in
the Senate, using the filibuster to delay passage of New Deal measures. In 1934
and 1935 Long himself was discussed as a presidential possibility. He wrote two
books in which he explained his program: Every Man a King (1933) and My First
Days in the White House (1935). On September 10, 1935, Long was assassinated by
the son-in-law of a political opponent.
Others in Long's family active in politics were his wife, Rose McConnell Long, who completed his Senate term (1936-37); his brother, George Shannon Long, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives (1953-58); another brother, Earl Kemp Long, three times governor of Louisiana (1939-40, 1948-52, and 1956-60); and his son, Russell Billiu Long, a U.S. senator (1948-86).