Influential Americans in Politics

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Sophia Interlicchio
Ms. Casserly
Ap US research paper
Due: December 21, 2012

Influential Americans in Politics
In the United States’ history, many of our presidents excelled in making this country a better place. Although they may be the head of this nation, they were not always the ones who made major impacts. Governors, senators, abolitionists and congressman all helped change this country and make it what it is today. Past senators Huey Long, Salmon Chase, and William Seward in particular helped change this great nation for the good. They all somewhat had the same view politically and had similar goals. All three of these men were very much for equal rights for all people. Huey Long was no exception to this. Long truly believed that the government should protect, enrich, and improve conditions to its most exposed citizens; the poor and the stereotyped regardless of their race or class. Huey Pierce Long, Jr. was born August 30th, 1893. He served as the 40th Governor of Louisiana (from 1928–1932) and as a U.S. Senator (from 1932 to 1935). Long was a powerful democrat and was known for his radical populist policies. He fought tooth and nail against the rich and many opponents labeled him as a defiant, oppositional, and a maverick. He established the “Share Our Wealth” program – its motto "Every Man a King" and with this he earned the title ‘Kingfish’ or ‘The Kingfish’. “I'm for the poor man — all poor men, black and white, they all gotta’ have a chance. They gotta’ have a home, a job, and a decent education for their children. 'Every man a king' — that's my slogan." — Huey Long (T. Harry Williams, Huey Long, p. 706)

In a national radio address on February 23, 1934, Huey Long revealed his “Share Our Wealth” program. This program was designed to provide a decent living standard to all Americans by spreading the nation’s wealth among the people. In his proposal, he stated that a person’s fortune is to be stopped at $50 million (approximately $600 million in today's money). Also, the proposal stated that there would be a limit annual income to one million dollars each (about $12 million today) and limits inheritances to five million dollars each (about $60 million today). As stated before, he wasn’t a fan of the rich and vice versa. He wanted the ‘average Joe’ to have the same benefits as a multi-millionaire. In his program he would guarantee every family an annual income of $2,000, allow students to go to college for free, pensions for those over the age of sixty, and also allowing veterans to have numerous benefits and healthcare. He noticed and appreciated workers and laborers, so in his program he added in a 30 hour work week and a mandatory four week vacation for every worker, every year. Long also advised shortening the work week and giving employees a month vacation to improve employment and employment activity. "I had come to the United States Senate with only one project in mind, which was that by every means of action and persuasion I might do something to spread the wealth of the land among all of the people.” * Perry, Keith Ronald. "Introduction." The Kingfish in Fiction: Huey P. Long and the Modern American Novel. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 2004. 23. Print. To organize this program around the country, Long recruited the help of Reverend Gerald L. K. Smith. Smith was a compelling and fascinating character. A minister from Shreveport, Louisiana, with a gift for public speaking, Smith traveled the nation drawing in huge crowds in support of Long’s program. By the end of 1934, the program already had nearly three million members. [1] As described in Henry C. Dethloff’s, book Huey P. Long: Southern Demagogue or American Democrat, by the end of summer, 1935, there were more than 27,000 ‘Share Our Wealth’ clubs with an affiliation of more than 7.5 million people. These members met to discuss Long’s ideas; there were no dues or fees (since it was created for the poor folk). These meetings welcomed...
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