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Huey P. Long

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The Kingfish, seen as a potential opponent of Franklin D. Roosevelt for reelection in 1936,

signs a copy of his 1935 Senate speech criticizing FDR's tax policy

Huey Pierce Long, Jr., 1893-1935.  Governor of Louisiana, 1928-1932; United States Senator from Louisiana, 1932-1935.  Congressional Record reprint of one of Long's Senate speeches, 9" x 11⅜", signed Huey P. Long.

This is a signed copy of Long's speech on the floor of the United States Senate on January 7, 1935, entitled "A Policy of Ingratitude and Death."  The speech criticizes the taxation policy of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration, decries a newspaper account referring to Long as a "dictator,” and complains about the shrinking middle class, arguing that the government should tax the rich and reduce or eliminate taxes on the poor. 

One of the most colorful men ever to serve in the United States Senate, Long initially supported Roosevelt but quickly became skeptical of him.  He “increasingly saw Roosevelt as an equivocating, bourgeois politician rather than a man with a plan,” one who "was placating all sides, playing them off against each other without any real conviction or strategy for ending the Great Depression or redistributing the nation's wealth."  Roosevelt similarly was wary of Long.  He saw him as a left-wing radical and thought him “one of the two most dangerous men in the United States today,” the other being General Douglas MacArthur.  But FDR also saw long as a potential political opponent, since “the populist Long was widely considered a rising political star who might challenge Roosevelt in the 1936 election."  Sally Denton, The Plots Against the President:  FDR, A Nation In Crisis, and the Rise of the American Right 56-57 (2012).  Roosevelt was worried enough that the Democratic National Committee commissioned a secret poll to determine Longʼs voter appeal—and it showed that Long might get as much as 11% of the vote if he ran a third-party campaign in 1936.

This speech, from January 1935, is typical of the way Long promoted his agenda.  He began by having the clerk of the Senate read various newspaper clippings.  One,  from the New Orleans Morning Tribune, contained a UPI story stating that the Roosevelt Administration was “determined to prevent any considerable increase in taxes on the very rich, many of whom pay no taxes at all, on the ground that such a plan would cause another ʻstampedeʼ by business."  Another, from the New Orleans Item, reported that Roosevelt had “indirectly informed" Long, which it called “the Louisiana dictator,” that “the administration is likely to withhold Public Works loans from Louisiana until some of the legislation that the Senator put through the State legislature is repealed or clarified." 

Long then took the floor.  He suggested that his own ideas were right in the first place.  He also pointedly suggested that Roosevelt had grown too big for his britches:  that he had “helped to make" FDR, but that FDR was "too big to talk to thereafter."  He said that

all I know is what I read in the papers at this late date.  Of course, I can only judge all men, public and private, by their actions and by their conduct.  I do not undertake to interpret the motives of men.  In other words, we were taught in our old study of law that men intend the ordinary consequences of their acts.  About the first thing we charge to a jury in a criminal or a civil case is that every man is understood in the light that he knows the customary consequences of what he does.

I knew the consequences of what the President of the United States was doing last year when he was doing it, and I told him so.  I knew the consequences of what the President of the United States was doing year before last, and told him so.  In January 1932 I knew the consequences of what President Hoover was doing and said so from this floor.  The saddest words that we have to tell these distinguished and illustrious mensome of whom we helped to make, and made them too big to talk to thereafterare:  I told you so.

This reprint from the Congressional Record has horizontal folds, likely from mailing.  Long has boldly signed it in brown fountain pen in the blank margin at the bottom.  There is pencil underlining beneath part of the words italicized above.  Overall is in fine to very fine condition.




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