Messiah of the Masses : Huey Pierce Long and the Great Depression
Messiah of the masses deals with the life of Huey Pierce Long. Author begins by describing Long’s childhood. Huey Long was born on 30 August, 1893 in Winnfield, Louisiana. He belonged to a large family of ten people. His father Hugh Long had a charismatic personality and was very intelligent. Huey Long in 1907 built a massive house of 16 rooms and filled it with essential commodities. His family was well educated and went on to live successful lives. Huey’s older sister Julius set a very high bar for the rest of the family to follow, by becoming an attorney. Owing to this pressure Huey started his carrier of selling things at an early age. He left school without getting a diploma in 1910. His first job was a traveling salesman for cooking oil Seed Company, which he got after his friend Bozeman persuaded his father. At this time Huey realized the importance of education, as his job was in adequate to earn a decent livelihood. He enrolled himself in a different school and earned his diploma. After graduation Huey earned his second job as a wholesaler for meat in Housten Packing Company. Again out of dissatisfaction he started studying in law school in 1912, but soon found out that it was too much hard work for him. After Law school he shifted many jobs, meanwhile found a lady named Rose Mcconnell as his soul mate. Huey was living a frustrating live especially after losing his managerial job at Faultless Starch Company and on the personal side lost his mother. After pursuance from his siblings he attended few essential courses and became a practicing lawyer at the age of twenty-one.
Long opened his own law firm in Winnfield, but the business was slow so he also carried few sales jobs by the side. This scenario opened the door of politics, and in 1918, he started off as candidate of public office. Initially he got elected as the Railroad commissioner, but his main aim was becoming the governor. He led a very popular and organized campaign. His brother Julius was his partner but after constant fights he hired Cecil Morgan as his associate. But in 1923 he lost in the primary elections. He again ran for the public office in 1924 and won. Huey also developed an extra marital affair with his secretary Alice Lee Grosjean.
Long went in the pursuance of his ambition of becoming Louisiana Governor wholeheartedly. His campaign was a long and strenuous, which effected his health adversely. He suffered from Insomnia, depression and hatred. These factors made Huey an alcoholic. Other people performed his daily chores because he felt he was above those patty things. Internally, Huey was a cold blooded and harsh person. He could go to any extent to achieve his goals, whether legal or illegal. He focused his campaign on the youth and molding them in his favour with the help of his oratory. Long’s campaign was also nicknamed the” machine” because it worked nonstop. He got money for his campaign out of donations. He was found of being in the public limelight, because he felt that by advertising himself in media he would succeed. At last in 1928 Long won the democratic primary. Long as a governor was a disappointment. He would rather brag about himself then do something for the state. Long’s lack of education and discipline got exploited. He would borrow others ideas rather then make his own. People were shocked, because by 1930 state was going in a spin. .
Long became a governor when he was only 34 years old. Owing to his youthfulness, Huey committed many mistakes. The best quality that Huey possessed was, understanding the spirit and the will of the people. As a result, he was a people pleaser no matter what means he adopted. His partner Cecil Morgan decided to lead a campaign to impeach Huey. This act outraged Long and he went to the extent of being hostile to Morgan’s father. Long also convinced people, who were carrying out city jobs, to give ten percent of their pays to his campaign. Although Huey was morally incorrect he was still able to fulfill some of his promises. The first promise that he fulfilled was providing cheap gas to the cities. He then constructed patches of well-constructed roads in different parts of the city. This was a commendable step, because once people drove over those fragments they were overwhelmed. They donated heavily for the completion of those roads. There was a downside to all this, the roads did not have proper quality control. As a result, roads started to give way. Long was accused of many acts like giving jobs to his friends and family. He was also blamed for fraud.
After charges of impeachment, Long decided to quit the office of Governor. This was just the beginning of Long’s ambitious carrier. He focused his attention in becoming the member of the senate. USA at that time was going through the tough time of great depression. Long in order to alleviate people out of this peril had many ideas. One of his important ideas was known as the program of public works. In order to win the affection of the people, Long decided that he wanted to become the President of Louisiana State University. Board of the university was against him, so he tactfully his friend James Monroe as the president. James was a puppet to Long and did everything that Huey wanted. University became a public pleasing arena where all the funds were directed to football and band programs. Long then became the member of the Senate, and then set his ambitions at the national level. His ultimate aim was becoming the president. In pursuance of that dream he participated in a wealth program for the underprivileged. He went against an experienced campaigner Roosevelt. Long had a hot and cold relationship with people. He had many admirers, but on the same end had many people who hated him. One of them Carl Austin shot him in September 1935 and died on September 12.
Conclusion: Long’s life was full of unorthodox ideals, but they ended up right. He used the god-gifted power of speaking to mesmerize people, but once it came to the practical side he was a failure. Although a controversial figure to say the least, Huey definitely was a very influential personality in the early nineteenth century in USA.
Glen Jeansonne, Messiah of the Masses: Huey P. Long and the Great Depression (New York: Addison-Wesley Educational Publishers Inc., 1993
Long Legacy Project,. Huey P. Long and the Great Depression. 2006. Retrieved from:
Wikipedia. Huey Long . 2008. Retrieved from :