Long is best known for his Share Our Wealth program, created in 1934 under the motto "Every Man a King." It proposed new wealth redistribution measures in the form of a net asset tax on corporations and individuals to curb the poverty and homelessness endemic nationwide during the Great Depression. To stimulate the economy, Long advocated federal spending on public works, schools and colleges, and old age pensions. He was an ardent critic of the policies of the Federal Reserve System.
A supporter of Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1932 presidential election, Long split with Roosevelt in June 1933 to plan his own presidential bid for 1936 in alliance with the influential Catholic priest and radio commentator Charles Coughlin. Long was assassinated in 1935 and his national movement soon faded, but his legacy continued in
Under Long's leadership, hospitals and educational institutions were expanded, a system of charity hospitals was set up that provided health care for the poor, massive highway construction and free bridges brought an end to rural isolation, and free textbooks were provided for schoolchildren. He remains a controversial figure in
In 1918 Long was elected to the Louisiana Railroad Commission (renamed the Louisiana Public Service Commission in 1921) at the age of 25 on an anti-Standard Oil platform. His campaign for the Railroad Commission used techniques he would perfect later in his political career: heavy use of printed circulars and posters, an exhaustive schedule of personal campaign stops throughout rural
As chairman of the Public Service Commission in 1922, Long won a lawsuit against the Cumberland Telephone & Telegraph Company for unfair rate increases, resulting in cash refunds of $440,000 to 80,000 overcharged customers. Long successfully argued the case on appeal before the United States Supreme Court (Comberland Telephone & Telegraph Co. v.Louisiana Public Service Commission et al., 260 U.S. 212 (1922), prompting Chief Justice [and former U.S. President] William Howard Taft to describe Long as one of the best legal minds he had ever encountered.
Long won the 1928 election [for governor] by tapping into the class resentment of rural Louisianans. He proposed government services far more expansive than anything in his state's history. His campaign manager was the Catholic Cajun Harvey Peltier, Sr., a state representative and lawyer/banker from
Early in 1928, Long won the Democratic primary election but failed to secure a majority of the vote. He polled 126,842 votes (43.9 percent). His opponents split the remaining 56 percent of the ballots. U.S. Representative Riley J. Wilson earned 81,747 votes (28.3 percent), and the short-term incumbent Governor Oramel H. Simpson garnered 80,326 (27.8 percent). At the time, Long's margin was the largest in state history, and neither opponent chose to face him in a runoff election as was permitted in