The author was with Mr. Long when he was shot. He was at his bedside when he died. He delivered the funeral oration over his grave. Every line contained in this Handbook, except a few historical records, is based on the personal experiences and the personal observations of the author. William Howard Taft, while Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, said: "Huey P. Long is the most brilliant attorney to appear before me during my term as Chief Justice." James A. Farley who, in the lifetime of Mr. Long was considered the most powerful and knowledgeable politician in America, said in his Memoirs: "If Huey Long had not been assassinated, he would have been elected President of the United States."
This Handbook has been prepared for the benefit of people who want the real truth concerning Huey P. Long, which truth has been kept from the public by authors, journalists, and historians.
No book on the life of Huey Long has been accurate. All books that have been published concerning this great man have either been published by his enemies, his cynical observers or ignorant historians who have built their books out of the newspaper morgues.
When young Long came to the political front, he challenged the tyranny, the robbery, the greed and the graft of the “feudal lords”. In fact, he said: “Louisiana is the last stand of the ‘feudal lords’.”
Almost without exception, these same “feudal lords” controlled the press – local, national and international – and practically every story that was written concerning this political genius was unfavorable. In fact, Long’s figure of speech for the newspapers was “the lying press”. They lied about him when he started. They lied about him at the apex of his power, and they have lied about him ever since his death.
This Handbook is written by one knowledgeable concerning his greatness who loved him and respected him and dares, in this little volume, to tell things that have never been told before.
The writer is fully aware of the fact that Huey Long was surrounded by loyal friends and men and women who, at great sacrifice to themselves, helped him to rise to a position of power and influence.
I wish time and space would permit me to discuss these individuals in detail, but the purpose of this book is to give the busy reader an honest glimpse into the life of Huey Long so that when some inquirer says, “Tell me about Huey Long”, this Handbook will serve the purpose.
This Handbook is dedicated to my wife Elna whose understanding loyalty and dedicated courage have made it possible for me to carry on in the defense of truth regardless of the hazards, the lethal dangers involving character assassination, smear and ridicule.
There has never been a moment in my life when I doubted the believing loyalty of my sweet wife, who has been my companion, at this writing, for 53 years.
NOTE: This Handbook is divided into 6 sections for easier web viewing. Each section lists the book chapters that it contains. Click on a section to read its contents. You can read this in a complete book format (pdf). Click Book Format.
Huey P. Long understood the vocabulary of the common man. He loved the people. He knew how to become their defender and their protector when it was necessary to confront the robber barons that had seized and held the State of Louisiana until he came to power.
His elementary language and his colorful manner caused superficial observers, absentee commentators and enemy character assassins to brand him as a proverbial Southern demagogue and buffoon.
The fact is that his family and ancestors, who came to Louisiana from Maryland and elsewhere, were true aristocrats, born and bred in the environment of gentility and refinement. His mother was one of the most refined and influential women in Winn Parish, and his lovely sisters became known in their respective neighborhoods, as well as in the State, as women with the typical bearing of Southern aristocracy.
Huey P. Long, Sr., father of the Senator, was a tall, strong, masculine, intelligent, influential man, a good provider, brilliant in business affairs and one who commanded the respect of his children. When Huey died, his father was asked by the family to visit me and invite me to deliver the funeral oration over his grave.
His older brother Julius was one of the most important attorneys in the State of Louisiana. His younger brother Earl became Governor of the State of Louisiana after Huey’s death and another brother Dr. George Long became a prominent, influential and important member of the Congress of the United States. His sisters were prominent in sophisticated circles of society.
The grandfather of Huey Long was John Murphy Long. In 1859 he drove an ox team and wagon to Winn Parish. With him was his wife and fourteen children.
One of the fourteen children was Huey Pierce Long, Sr. who was to become the father of the famous Huey P. Long, Jr., although the term “Jr.” was never used to identify the younger Long.
The maiden name of Huey’s mother was Caledonia Tyson whose family was related to the historic Albrights and Mackeys. They were big land owners and people of prominence and aristocratic background, as were the Longs.
Grandfather Long and his family came from Maryland. They were people of breeding and prominence and although they later became Baptists in Louisiana, they were originally Episcopalians.
Huey Long had six sisters and three brothers, as follows: Caledonia, Charlotte, Clara, Helen, Lucille, Olive, Julius, George and Earl. Charlotte, the oldest daughter in marriage became Charlotte Davis. Clara became Clara Knott. Helen died in infancy. Lucille became Lucille Hunt. Olive became Olive Cooper.
Huey was married to Rose McConnell, to which union three children were born, Russell B., Rose and Palmer.
Note: As suggested elsewhere in this book, the enemies and uninformed observers of Huey Long represented him to the world as the proverbial Southern, demagogic buffoon. This was because he made a study of the vocabulary of the common man and when he addressed audiences of unprecedented size, greater in number than any public figure that had ever held public office in Louisiana, he spoke the language of the people. This sometimes brought embarrassment to his proud sisters and other sophisticated relatives because they were afraid that the public would get the impression that he came out of a background of illiterate hillbillies. It didn’t take long to correct this impression when he rose to speak on the Floor of the United States Senate. His vocabulary was complete, sophisticated and demonstrative and characteristic of a true intellectual. However, he never lost the common touch.
The reader deserves to know how it happened that the pastor of a sophisticated, influential church known by some to be aristocratic, could embrace a man that had been advertised by the “lying newspapers” as a swaggering demagogue, a boorish “half savage” political gangster and a would-be dictator.
Here is a brief answer to these questions. The subject matter could be expanded into a large and expensive volume that most people couldn’t afford or wouldn’t have the time to read. It is the hope of the author that this inexpensive literary vignette will ultimately reach one million. Every family in Louisiana, especially, should have a copy of this Handbook.
I was reared in the home of a minister of the Gospel, whose father was a minister of the Gospel. I received a liberal and sophisticated education and I rose to a position in my church, known as the Christian Church, of influence and prominence. I addressed national conventions and while in Indianapolis, Indiana, I was elected to the highest office my denomination could give me; namely, the Executive Secretary of the Marion County Council of Christian Churches.
Mrs. Smith became ill and it was necessary for us to move out of the polluted air of Indianapolis which, in those days, belched out into the community without any attempt being made to remove its impurities before it was breathed by the population. A spot developed on Mrs. Smith’s lung. When it became known that we were planning to move to a better climate, I was invited by numerous churches to come and be their pastor. One of the churches that invited me was the Kings Highway Christian Church of Shreveport. Upon investigation, with the help of expert students of public health, I learned that the “piney” woods of Northern Louisiana was one of the most healthful spots to which we could go. We were complete Northerners. We had never been South. We journeyed to Shreveport, visited with the officers of the congregation and I was called to the pastorate of one of the most important churches of my denomination in America. They had recently completed what is considered one of the most beautiful church edifices in the South.
It is not a boast for me to say that I became a prominent citizen, active in all the important community affairs. In the midnight of the depression I was appointed as Chairman of the Community Chest fund raising campaign and even with the handicap of a depression, we raised more money than had ever been raised in one year for the charitable enterprises of the city.
I was invited everywhere to speak. I addressed the State Bankers’ Convention. I addressed the State Convention of the American Federation of Labor. William Green, the late head of the American Federation before it had joined with the radical and left wing elements, made me an honorary member. It was not uncommon for me to address commencement exercises in high schools and literally scores of civic clubs.
I preached the old fashioned Gospel. I baptized, married and buried scores of people. I became one of the most active leaders in the campaign to persuade the rapidly growing cities of the South and the Southwest to save out enough land to build parks and recreation facilities for the young. My work was noticed by the most important patron in this enterprise, the widow of the late Thomas A. Edison and as an expression of respect for what I had done, Mrs. Edison invited me to come to Orange, New Jersey and be a guest in her home. This was one of the richest and most historic experiences in my life – to hear the widow of the great inventor recount details concerning the life of her illustrious husband that have never appeared in a book.
I give the reader this thumbnail sketch of my background in order that they may understand how shocked the community was, and the people of “conventional decency”, when I joined hands with a man that had been represented by the lying newspapers and the puppets of the feudal lords as a political barbarian.
The depression deepened and people began to come to me at the door of the church as they went out from worship with tears in their eyes, some even leaned over on my shoulder and wept saying, “We are about to lose our home. It is to be foreclosed by the local organization which financed our mortgage.”
Those who are old enough to remember know that at this particular time there was no money. A family with a mortgage on a beautiful home paid down to $1,000.00 or $2,000.00 or $5,000.00 couldn’t raise even $100.00 to pay on the mortgage. The local loan agency began to foreclose on these homes. Even though it was announced by those important in government that as soon as Congress met the next year they expected to make a mammoth fund available from which desperate home owners could borrow and pay off their mortgages. (go to top)
I went to the head of this loan organization, whose name I will not use because he is not alive to defend himself, and pled with him to cancel the foreclosures. He refused to do it and resented my interference. I told him that I would not stand back and watch any organization steal almost thousands of homes in the community merely because of a circumstance over which the owners had no control. The next day I received a call from one of the most important members of my church. The official board of my church included bankers, public officials, cultural and social leaders. I will not identify these men because most of them are gone and I have no desire to bring embarrassment to their families. But they came to my residence and served me an ultimatum to the effect that I was meddling in business that was not my own. I answered by saying, “I am not going to stand still and see these people lose their homes by a foreclosure trick.”
Then it was that several members of the committee that called on me confessed that they were stockholders in the company and that I was jeopardizing their opportunity to make a profit on their investment.
The beautiful new church still owed money to a central bureaucratic, ecclesiastical organization which specialized in loaning money to churches with which to complete their structures. The next day I received a call from one of these ecclesiastical bureaucrats who issued an ultimatum to the effect that unless I harmonized myself with the authorities of the church, they would have to call the loan on the building, which meant that either I must surrender to these mortgage thieves or they would effect the bringing in of a new pastor.
The developments that followed were numerous and will not be given in detail here, but the next morning I took down the telephone and called Huey Long. I told him what had happened and without a moment’s hesitation he said, “Stay where you are until you hear something.” In less than an hour the head of the loan company that held most of the mortgages that were being foreclosed called me saying, “I have just received a terrible call from Huey P. Long. He has issued ultimatums and virtually threatened the existence of my business unless I do whatever you want me to do. Can you come right down to my office?” I answered with the words, using the man’s first name, “I don’t need to come down to your office. All you need to do is to cross the street to the Court House and cancel the foreclosures.”
The rank and file in the great church loved me and believed in me and admired me but, of course, they were not the ones that would have the control, especially during the depression, over the purse strings necessary to keep the church on its feet. I announced my plan to resign and then I announced that I was embracing Huey P. Long and I was going to start a campaign to make him President of the United States.
The situation created a tremendous furor. I rented the great downtown public auditorium which then was new. It held something like 5,000 people. The people turned out by the thousands and filled up the auditorium with people standing outside, requiring an additional public address system in order to hear my address. I will not take the time or space to tell what I said, but the topic sentences of my speech were: “I am embracing Huey P. Long and I am going to attempt to help make him President of the United States, but I want you to understand that I am not becoming a whiskey-drinking ex-preacher. I am standing with the people to whom this great man has given his life. I am resigning, not because I have less faith in God but because I refuse to be a servile puppet of people who would use the holy church to satisfy their greedy ambitions.”
One who did not live during this period could scarcely realize what a shock this was to the conventional community. The common people received me gladly, as did many of the most prominent citizens, but the hypocrites and the feudal lords and the stuffed shirts and those whose estates and fortunes had been fattened by a system of legalized human slavery turned on me like wildcats and I became a victim of the same lying press, the same character assassins and the same physical assassins that eventually succeeded in persuading a neurotic enemy to fire the shot that ended the life of Huey P. Long at the age of 42. When he died I was 37.
He had a photographic mind. He could read law all night and then quote it from memory the next day. Among his most vicious and uncompromising enemies was an organization in Shreveport known as the Commercial National Bank. A client experienced a conflict with this bank resulting in a legal action. The trial was publicized and every move that Mr. Long made was misrepresented and downgraded by the lying newspapers. Both newspapers in Shreveport, Louisiana, where the bank was located gave thousands of inches of space and almost millions of inches in comment and slanted stories against the activities of this young genius.
The day of the trial was set. The officers of the bank had at their table a whole bevy of important, prominent attorneys. Huey Long was virtually alone. Space does not permit a discussion of the detail except to say that Huey Long won the case. He received a handsome fee. They asked him what he was going to do with it. He replied by saying, “I am going to build a residence in Shreveport”, which he did. When the residence was complete, the front door of the residence was an exact copy of the front door to the Commercial National Bank.
One of the most significant things that he did was to write a brief that was to be presented before the Supreme Court of the United States having to do with the giving of free school books to children attending parochial schools. The opposition contested his plan. Big taxpayers and certain anti-Catholic forces opposed this plan bitterly even though the educational life of the State of Louisiana in those early days was primitive and backward beyond estimation. When Huey Long came to power, as has been pointed out elsewhere, one-third of the children were not in any school, one-third of the children were in parochial schools and one-third of the children were in public schools.
The substance of the brief pointed out that the free school books were not to be given to the parochial schools but were to be given to the parents and that the parents must always remain the final authority over their children and it was their privilege to put the books in the arms of the children and send them to whatsoever school they desired.
Of course, that logical conclusion, which was approved by the Supreme Court of the United States, wouldn’t fit in very good with the present custom of kidnapping children in the name of racial balance and hauling them ten, twenty and thirty miles away from home, when they have a schoolhouse within walking distance. Times have changed and more than once I have prayed, “Oh God, give us a man with the intelligent, logical, effective courage of Huey P. Long.”
All lawyers feared him because he carried in his head an intelligence equal to the intelligence of ten average lawyers regardless of how prominent and allegedly influential they were. He was a prodigy. He was so intelligent and so impressive and so logical that it remained for William Howard Taft while Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States to say, “He is the most brilliant legal mind to appear before me during my term of office.”
The lying newspapers advertised him to the world as a buffoon and an ignoramus, but he had the vocabulary of the most sophisticated. He was a student of literature – modern, medieval and ancient. It was not uncommon to walk into his bedroom and find him sitting up reading one of the classics.
Due doubtless to the influence of his Christian parents, he became a student of the Bible. Few ordained ministers of the Gospel were as familiar with the contents of the Bible as he was. Seldom, if ever, did he make a nationwide broadcast that he did not quote from the Holy Scripture.
When he attempted a cleanup of the City of New Orleans, which had been known for years as the red light capital of the United States, he moved in the National Guard. His enemies screamed to high heaven and yelled “police state”. The stuffed shirts and the ministerial association who popularized themselves with their hypocritical congregations by cursing Huey Long, joined the opposition in condemning him for bringing the troops in to enforce his determination to clean out the red light district. In a broadcast he shocked the city and the state by suggesting over the air that he was fighting a strange combination of opposition in which the brothel keepers and the ministerial association were on the same side.
(continue to Section 2)This book is a downloadable pdf file.
It must be remembered that every progressive gesture that he proposed was fought by the feudal lords and their prostituted press. The same gang of political enemies was willing, when completely defeated, to assassinate him. His life, his public reputation and his general welfare was always in danger. A permanent staff of bodyguards was necessary. At times it required the State Militia to give him personal protection in his campaign to free the people of Louisiana from a bondage that had not characterized the citizens of any other state.
New Orleans, being a harbor city with close contacts to the Latin American “banana” republics, was filled with people who patterned their treatment of the citizens of Louisiana after the treatment that was dealt out to the Latins by the feudal lords of South America.
The sophisticates and snobs of New Orleans seldom journeyed into the main part of the State. They commuted between New Orleans and New York and Havana and Paris and the rest. To them Louisiana was merely their “banana republic”.
The exploiters of natural resources, whether it involved timber, gas, oil or agriculture, had no concern for the welfare of the people who did the hard work. This complex, plus the big banks and the great international interests, just assumed that their henchmen would be able to buy the legislators, regardless of who was elected, and prostitute them into a behavior satisfactory to the greedy combines that continued to “bootleg-slavery” of both the whites and the blacks – the emancipation proclamation notwithstanding.
The following numbered items suggesting the greatness of his accomplishments constitute merely a thumbnail sketch. Even so, it is amazing how many instructors of history in the great tax supported universities of Louisiana, as well as other instructors and citizens of responsibility – it is amazing how many of these people have either forgotten or have never known the facts contained in this brief summary.
1. The abolition of “debt” slavery. Sharecroppers and common laborers worked in the forests and on the plantations and in the mills and the mines. They depended for their basic necessities on the commissaries. These commissaries were owned by the same people who owned the mill or the plantation. Many of these people, and in some instances most of these people, could not add, subtract or read. Consequently, the bookkeeping operation was in the hands of a well-trained commissary manager who did not hesitate to add up the debt according to the value of the worker. Under the law, this worker could not move from one place of employment to the other until his debt was paid. Thus, when another employer wanted a worker, he did not say to the employer of the man he wanted, “How much will you take for that nigger?” Or, “How much will you take for that Cajun” or that “hillbilly”. He would merely say, “How much is his debt?” Upon paying the debt which had been in many instances, run up artificially according to the value and the muscle of the man, the worker moved to the other plantation, or to the other mill, or whatever the place of employment was to be.
The debt that was owed was transferred to the new bookkeeper and the worker was held, in some instances, all his life as a hostage to a debt that he was never able to pay. Another trick of bootleg-slavery was practiced by political complexes in Parish seats.
Note: For the benefit of anyone who is reading this book who is not familiar with the State of Louisiana, the political subdivisions of Louisiana are not called counties; they are called parishes. So when the words Parish seat are used, they have the same meaning that the words County seat has in other states.
The election of sheriffs, district attorneys and judges in many parishes was a farce. By the process of intimidation, coercion, vote stealing and intimidation in general, the sheriff, the district attorney and the judge were elected and they worked together as a gang. This complex was used for graft, tax favors and a wide variety of the normal practices of corruption. But the slavery came in when poor, ignorant workers, black and white, were arrested when they came to town. The charges could be real or false, according to the need for free labor in the parish. The arrested man would be hauled into court, sentenced to prison and then released on parole to a deputy sheriff who turned out to be an employer cooperating completely with the political machine. The paroled man would then work as a criminal without wages on a plantation, in a mill or whatever place of employment needed him.
The termination of this practice created the kind of bad blood that demanded murder and some believe that the man who assassinated Huey Long was used as a neurotic instrument of Long’s political enemies in Washington, because he and his family had been accused of various formulas of abuse, with great profit to themselves. Names will not be used in this connection for the sake of living relatives who were not responsible for the conduct of the young Jewish doctor who fired the fatal shot.
2. A modern road system built. When Long came to power, we had 33 miles of pavement in the State of Louisiana. I lived in Shreveport and it required a day and a half for us to drive to New Orleans. Those who had fought his election as Governor and had so corrupted the press as to completely assassinate his character were the same ones who opposed the building of a great road system. The building of good roads in this modern day is taken for granted by the younger generation, but the citizens of Louisiana as well as all interested parties should realize that the campaign to build good roads in Louisiana was carried on by Huey at the risk of his own life. The skeptics and the saboteurs screamed to high heaven that no road could be built through the swamps. They said the expense would be prohibitive and that the development of the highways would bankrupt the State. They were wrong in every detail and when the road system, over a period of time, was completed in harmony with the needs of the day, Louisiana began to blossom out as a state that had something in it besides the City of New Orleans. The feudal lords, the aristocrats and the sophisticated enemies of Huey Long in this great City of New Orleans, had no interest whatsoever in the comfort of the general citizenry as long as they got their sugar, their sulphur, their fish, their shrimp, their oil, their gas, their timber, etc. and as long as their program of multi-million-dollar commerce in one of the three outstanding harbors in the nation could exploit the railroads and the shipping companies as they helped supply the needs of the Western Hemisphere.
3. He built a great University system. The enemies in New Orleans and elsewhere insisted that the existing private colleges were enough and that Tulane University was sufficient to fill the needs of everyone who was entitled to a higher education. This did not satisfy Huey Long because the little State university located at Baton Rouge had only 1,500 students. Its quality of education was so low that it had a “C minus” rating among the educational experts of the nation. They were still using the old Civil War barracks as the dormitories for students. It is difficult for the “smart alecks” and ingrates connected with the present great modern University system in Louisiana that grew out of the vision of Huey Long – it is difficult for these blind ingrates to realize that the luxurious environment that has been provided not only at the great University of Baton Rouge but on the campuses of the great associated State universities came out of the aggressive campaign of a man who was willing to suffer character assassination, abuse, ridicule and even death in order to leave this as an inheritance to the boys and girls and the men and women of the State of Louisiana.
He loved the State University of Louisiana. With genius-like wisdom he became not just a football enthusiast, but a scientific meticulous student of the game. If he had had the time or had wanted to take the time to do it, he could have written a textbook for football coaches. There were times in the middle of critical games, after the university had grown and the team had become a part of the Southern Conference – there were times when the coach, during an intermission, would go over where Huey was sitting and ask his advice as to how to proceed with the game. This wasn’t the interference of an egotistical demagogue who had intimidated the coach. This was the sincere search for wisdom by men who realized that there wasn’t a more brilliant mind on the subject of football than Huey P. Long.
4. He established schools for everybody. It is difficult for the average person who is reading this Handbook to realize that when Huey Long became Governor one-third of the children were not in any school. They were growing up like illiterate human weeds, subject to one of the most ruthless programs of child labor within the memory of any living American. Some student in one of the State universities of Louisiana or any state should write a Ph.D. thesis on the subject: The development of the school system in Louisiana under the direction of Huey P. Long. This thesis alone could fill a thick book.
Suffice it to say, schools were built and made available to every school aged child in the State of Louisiana. His enemies fought him. They sabotaged him. They ridiculed him. They did everything they could to prevent him from laying his hands on the money necessary to accomplish these purposes.
When he became the Governor as indicated above, only one-third of the children were in public schools, and one-third were in the parochial schools operated chiefly by the Catholic Church.
Since the church had carried such a heavy load, providing elementary education for so many thousands of children, it was the belief of Huey Long that they should have the same benefits in the distribution of free school books as the public school. This was fought by his political enemies who mobilized religious prejudice and powerful financial interests who opposed taxation in any form. As referred to elsewhere, he fought this issue clear to the Supreme Court of the United States which made a decision in his favor. He led Louisiana into the Southern Football Conference. Under Long’s leadership, the football team of the State of Louisiana was to become one of the great teams of the nation, but it wasn’t easy. Huey Long was not only hated in Louisiana, but he was hated in other states of the South where the feudal lords functioned not as brazenly, but enough to know who to hate, and the one man they feared more than any other was the “maverick” statesman from Louisiana.
The predominating influence in the Southern Conference was the State of Georgia and the most influential family in Georgia was the “Cannon” family that controlled the manufacture of Coca-Cola. Whenever application was made to admit the Louisiana team to the Southern Conference it was vetoed. It did not bother Huey Long to be unconventional and even ruthless when the welfare of the people was at stake. So one day after the application of the State University of Louisiana for admission to the Football Conference of the South had been vetoed again, Huey just casually said to the press, “It looks like we are going to have to put a tax of 5 cents a bottle on Coca-Cola in Louisiana.”
I need not develop the details of this confrontation more than to say that the football team of the State University of Louisiana became a member of the Southern Conference.
5. He met the bank crisis. Only those who were mature and alive during the depression and the bank crisis can understand what a calamity that was. Banks were closed by the thousands. Depositors were left in the lurch, innocent stockholders were assessed. The genius of Huey Long was demonstrated in the way he handled the bank crisis.
The surrounding states were typical of what happened all over America. Texas lost hundreds of banks, either temporarily or permanently. The same thing happened in Mississippi and Arkansas, but Huey Long took the bull by the horns. He called the top officials of every bank in the State to Baton Rouge for a conference. He gave them a big dinner at the Governor’s Mansion and after the dinner, he stood up and asked his guests how they enjoyed the dinner. They gave him a hand and expressed appreciation for the good food. He then gave them what seemed to some of them as bad news. He said, “Make yourselves at home. You are going to be my guests for a while”, and as they looked toward the doors, where stood the State Troopers.
He said, “I have arranged cots on the top floor of the Mansion and I want you men to get together and count your money. I want the banks with plenty of cash to take care of the ones that are short of cash. We are going to audit every bank and we are not going to save the neck of any bank that is not honestly and sincerely in trouble.”
To make a long story short, when the compulsory conference was finished and the smoke cleared away, the State of Louisiana lost only eleven banks, compared to the hundreds and thousands that had been lost in the three adjoining states and in all the other states of the nation. (go to top)
It was the work of a genius. This story alone should be the subject of a complete book.
Incidentally, it might be well to remind the reader that when Huey Long was assassinated the bonds that had been issued against the State of Louisiana were the most marketable bonds in the financial district of New York.
He was branded as a demagogue. He was cursed as a waster, but this was false. He was a genius in his understanding of public finance. He knew how to tax the public without destroying private enterprise, while at the same time bringing great relief to the rank and file. He never indulged in the vocabulary of the modern demagogue who is constantly referring to poor people. He grew up in an environment where no proud person would say, “I am poor”, no matter how limited their resources might be.
6. He “bridged” the great rivers. There were practically no bridges across the Mississippi or the Atchafalaya River and other giant tributaries like the Red River. When he announced that he was going to build a bridge in the lower Mississippi next to New Orleans, he was not only ridiculed by his political enemies, but he was ridiculed by highly respected engineers. He knew what he was doing. He made a study of bridge engineering and became independently intelligent on this subject.
Space and time here do not permit the development of that story, but the fact still remains that a gigantic bridge was built across the Mississippi. Anyone who knows the quality of the land in that area knows that for hundreds and almost thousands of feet down the soil was nothing but soft silt brought down through the centuries by the Mississippi River from its source in states beginning with Minnesota. There were no rocks, nothing that resembled a hard foundation. No matter how deep one drills in this area, he can find nothing but soft soil. To build a bridge on this foundation was considered an engineering impossibility, but the bridge was built and it still stands strong and useful.
As time passed, new bridges were built until facilities for transportation and highway service were greatly increased. All the great bridges that now stand were not built during the lifetime of Huey Long but the pattern, the vision, the urge originated in his mind.
7. He introduced the “Severance Tax”. This drew the blood of the big interests but he announced to the world that he was not going to stand back and watch the great natural resources be sucked out of the ground and cut off the ground and mined from the ground with nothing to show for that wealth on top of the ground and on behalf of the people who lived there.
The result was a great increase in revenue without jeopardizing the great industrial enterprises, while at the same time producing revenues required to meet the commitments of progress that were made by the State Legislature under the leadership of first Governor Long and then Senator Long.
8. He saved the Louisiana producers of oil. Great refineries were built along the Mississippi River, which is an ideal channel for transportation. Foreign oil, mostly from Venezuela, was brought up this river, having been produced almost as cheaply as water in those days. Here the oil was refined and there was little or no market for the oil that had been discovered in Louisiana. This disturbed Huey Long and he organized a campaign to put a processing tax on foreign produced oil so that the great refineries could not buy and refine this oil from foreign countries cheaper than the oil that was available to them from the wells that were owned by the independent citizens and corporations in the State of Louisiana.
This made all the Louisiana oil producers happy, but it made the Standard Oil Company and its giant contemporaries very angry. Imagine an ordinary family that had discovered a well or two on their property not being able to sell that oil because they could not compete with foreign imports. Imagine how happy they were when suddenly there was a demand for their oil. People wondered where Huey Long got his campaign funds. He not only got his campaign funds from the loyal members of his organization and the political jobholders that were subject to his good will, but he got donations from businessmen who had prospered in the State of Louisiana because of his resistance to foreign imports. This almost caused a physical, gun-shooting revolution. The average young person and the average American citizen outside of Louisiana will have difficulty believing that a “civil war” was organized, men were armed and they were financed and paid by the Standard Oil Company and its affiliates. The recruits which were referred to as the Square Dealers met with guns at the airport and attempted to move in on the seat of government and capture it.
This was one of the most sensational things to have happened within the last hundred years anywhere in the United States of America.
Note: Although this killing campaign and this privately financed civil war were organized by leaders of the Standard Oil Company and their contemporaries, the writer does not hold a grudge against the great constructive corporations of America. The present leadership would have opposed such a tactic even as much as we did at the time. It was the evidence of the same old psychology with which Huey Long had to deal in the beginning days of his campaign for leadership. In fact, it was with him as long as he lived. It was the psychology that there is only one way to overthrow a political leader that the feudal lords don’t like and that is a “banana republic” revolution.
It didn’t work but it contributed to the hate campaign which finally resulted in the assassination of this young man in the prime of his life – age 42.
Volunteer revolutionists were not only from the Standard Oil Company but they were joined by the murderous enemies of Huey Long and in a few days numerous sensational facts came to the surface. One man even confessed that he had organized a plot to assassinate Huey Long and it was later uncovered that a gang of killers had been stationed on the road between Baton Rouge and New Orleans at a location later nicknamed “Dead Man’s Curve” and the plot was to shoot Huey Long as he passed by on his way to New Orleans from Baton Rouge.
The Governor declared martial law in the Baton Rouge Parish. The revolutionists had already seized the Court House. The political machine in Baton Rouge hated Huey Long like death itself and virtually cooperated with the revolutionists. The march on the Capitol was checked, the plots were uncovered and the sentiment in Louisiana was polarized around the people who loved Huey Long and around the people who hated him. The latter finally gave up in their campaign to defeat him in elections, even with the help of the lying newspapers, the feudal lords and the ruthless corporations.
When they realized that they could not defeat him at the polls or in the hearts of the people, they resorted to the only thing that was left – murder.
9. He built one of the great medical schools of the nation. It is difficult to believe that partisan opposition to Huey Long was so great that they opposed everything he did, no matter how good it was, and when he announced that he proposed to build a great medical school, later to be known as the Medical School of the University of Louisiana in New Orleans, every hazard that could be put in his way was put there by his enemies. They failed and the most unbiased observer will agree today that there isn’t a better medical school in America than the one established under the leadership of Huey P. Long in New Orleans.
10. His eloquence was unequalled. When he stood on the Floor of the United States Senate to speak, the galleries were filled. Ordinarily a Senatorial speech is only heard by four or five colleagues and an empty gallery. But the clerks and the stenographers and the executive assistants, as well as numerous members of Congress, were so impressed by his brilliance, his colorful vocabulary and his amazing intelligence that the moment he stood up to make a speech it was whispered everywhere in the capital that Huey Long was about to talk and the gallery filled up and even his enemies on the Floor of the United States Senate were so intrigued and curious that they could not resist taking the time to hear what he had to say.
11. He was a Page One personality everywhere. No public figure of this century ever attained the popularity of Huey Long. As our campaign to make him President progressed, his mail became so heavy that it equaled the mail of all the other United States Senators combined and the thing that turned the jealous heart of Roosevelt “green” was when the Huey Long mail surpassed the mail that came even to the White House. He was Page One on the Sports Page.
He was Page One in the culinary editorial department because he was a master at preparing intriguing recipes of good food which he not only talked about but on occasion served with his own hands. He was a musician and a composer and took a great interest in the University band. He loved the arts and encouraged their development at all the educational institutions of the State. His presence at a football game was the guarantee of a filled stadium no matter who was playing. One time he received a call from the authorities of the University of Tennessee begging him to come and attend the game. The man who called him said, “Huey, we realize that there is no interest in the game. Everybody knows that we will lose when Louisiana plays us, but if you will come and attend the game and bring your band, the stadium will be filled because the people of Tennessee would rather see you than to see the game.” Huey responded to the appeal and attended the game. The stadium was packed and the admission fees took the athletic department of the University out of the red.
Occasionally he would speak on a nationwide radio network. There was no television in those days, but it was a matter of common knowledge that whenever Huey Long spoke on a network the listening audience was the largest accorded any public figure and on numerous occasions he broke the record even in competition with the most popular entertainment programs.
12. Share the Wealth. This was a catch phrase used by Huey Long to appeal to the great impoverished public, and that meant about 90 per cent of the people during the depression. His economic formula would make the present Republican Party look radical. At heart Huey Long was a Conservative. As we spoke in our campaign to make him the President of the United States, we used this logic: “The great wealth on top of the ground and beneath the ground must be shared with the people who live on the ground.” In the early days the great timber magnates came in and had taken the virgin trees from hundreds and thousands of acres. The erstwhile magnificent virgin forests were destroyed as if struck by atom bombs. There was no attempt at conservation. The destroyers had no conscience along this line. Their only object was to get, get, get. Nothing was left to show for this wealth. No schoolhouses, no hospitals, no public facilities. The same looting of natural resources was being carried on by the oil companies, the gas companies and the other exploiters of natural wealth. The robbery of Louisiana by the feudal lords was an economic blood transfusion.
Huey Long proclaimed to the world that this wealth that God had given the people must be shared as it came out of the ground and off the ground.
In recent years the economists in both old parties have gone so far beyond this formula that was advocated by Huey Long that if he were alive today, making the same advocacies, he would be branded by radicals in both parties as a reactionary.
There was an interesting sidelight in our activities as he and I became known as the leaders of this new movement. We were called on by two groups of leaders that came to us from Russia and from Europe. One group wanted us to embrace the philosophy of Fascism and the other group wanted us to embrace the philosophy of Communism. They wanted to exploit the popularity of this movement in favor of these subversive philosophies. The old hardboiled reactionaries branded us as Communists and radicals and the Communists branded us as Fascists. The fact was that nobody believed in the Constitution of the United States more than we did and we proclaimed to our followers that everything that was required for the American people to prosper and to thrive was covered by the Constitution of the United States, written by our great Founding Fathers. We refused to be anything except loyal Americans. We fought the feudal lords, not private enterprise. We fought Communism and Fascism, but we glorified the right of every American citizen to be a part of his government by the exercise of his vote and by his resistance to dictatorial forces whether they be corporate monopolies or representatives of treasonable philosophies from across the water.
(continue to Section 3)This book is a downloadable pdf file.
The name “Long” became as magical in the political affairs of the State of Louisiana as the name “Lincoln” in the State of Illinois! The name was exploited and abused, but by and large those who were elected to high office because their name was Long honored the family name.
The greatest honor came to the son of Huey Long, Russell, who was 12 years of age and sat right in front of me when I delivered the funeral oration over the grave of his father. He was too young to really know his father except by what he was told and what he could read. But while he was still a boy, those who had exploited the sacrificial blood of his father for greedy purposes were about the only ones beside his mother, with whom he had contact and from whom he received information concerning his illustrious parent.
Through the aggressiveness of Seymour Weiss and others, his mother was deceived into believing that she was in danger from some of the departments of government, but this, of course, was false. Huey Long loved his cause more than he loved money and fundamentally he died a poor man. No one was able ever to say successfully that he had grafted on his power or his high position.
When Russell became old enough, it was natural that those who were ambitious for power wanted to exploit the name Long and they chose him as a candidate for the United States Senate. He not only had a good name but he had a brilliant mind and although he has never taken on the dramatic attributes of his father, he has been an important and influential member of the United States Senate.
The other children of Huey and Rose Long have remained obscure and have pursued careers of privacy, socially and commercially.
Vicious and lethal attempts by false friends to intimidate the immediate family of Huey Long have been discussed with me by one of his sisters, but the information she gave me was too sensational for me to put in this book. I have written it out in a memo and after the two of us are gone, I have instructed that a copy of it be sent to the Historical Departments of the State Universities.
The feudal lords, with the help of the lying newspapers, were determined in spite of the will of the people to destroy Governor Huey P. Long. They were accustomed to buying legislators like sacks of potatoes and they continued to be expert in this practice. Their lobbyists with money bags, prostitutes and economic inducements came into Baton Rouge like a swarm of hornets. They bought the legislature, and voted to impeach the young, fearless Governor.
The impeachment was equivalent to an indictment and as the reader doubtless knows, the indictment under such circumstances is passed on to the Senate and it was necessary that two-thirds of the members of the State Senate confirm the impeachment if Governor Long was to be convicted.
The friends of Huey Long knew that if twelve men refused to vote to confirm impeachment, he could not be impeached. Eventually twelve men joined hands and signed a letter which was later nicknamed “the round robin letter”. In this letter, signed by twelve men, they joined in saying that no matter what was done, or what evidence was brought in, they would not vote to impeach. This strategy saved Huey Long for the Governorship and was the springboard toward his increased power, resulting in his election eventually to the United States Senate and brought him to the very edge of the Presidency that the experts said would have been successful if he had not been murdered.
On August 9, 1935 Senator Long arose on the Floor of the United States Senate and announced to the world that a plot to assassinate him had been uncovered. The lying newspapers advertised it as a dramatic act based on falsehood and an attempt to promote public sympathy by sensational publicity. Time was to prove that his report was correct and he summarized the findings of the investigation which came out of a courageous bugging operation carried on by a young man who later became a Federal Judge. Mr. Christenberry and some courageous associates had secreted themselves in a room adjacent to one that had been reserved in the DeSoto Hotel. The conference of the plotters and the would-be killers was carried on for two days and the young men who operated the “bug” suffered for lack of nourishment and water.
For the benefit of readers who would like to make a deeper study of the murder plot that was held in the DeSoto Hotel in New Orleans, let me remind such individuals that the complete report recorded by Dictaphone, as referred to above, was inserted in the Congressional Record by Mr. Long August 9, 1935. It chills the blood to reflect on the fact that the plot was fulfilled approximately one month after the report concerning the conspiracy was recorded in the Congressional Record.
Here are a few highlights of statements that were made in this murder plot conference. In deference to relatives and other innocent people who might be hurt by the report, I will not identify the individuals who uttered the quotes below, even though most of them were identified in the report recorded in the Congressional Record.
1. A New Orleans political leader said, “Huey should be tied to a stake and whipped by a blue gummed nigger. I am out to murder, bulldoze, steal or anything to win the next election.”
2. “The entire resources of the United States Government (under Roosevelt) are at our disposal.”
3. “President Roosevelt probably would be willing to send Federal troops into the State, if necessary.”
4. “It will take more than political action to win the election. I would be willing to draw in a lottery to go out and kill Long. It would only take one man, one gun and one bullet.”
5. “I haven’t the slightest doubt that President Roosevelt would pardon anyone who killed him.”
6. “Should the job be done in Washington?” In answer to this question, another voice said, “I once thought that would be necessary, but I don’t think it is now.”
Anyone who doubts the unanimous regimentation of the corrupted press and the power of the Roosevelt dictatorship should be reminded that in the face of these sensational reports, no voice from the Senate and no voice from the press and no voice from political leadership outside the Long organization viewed the threat with alarm or asked for an investigation.
Even after he had been killed, such pressure was brought to bear on the Louisiana leadership that had made a deal with Roosevelt that a plan to investigate the assassination which had been introduced into the State Legislature was cancelled and smothered.
This circumstance constitutes one of the scandals of the century. Reflect on how little the nation knows about the assassination of Huey P. Long compared to the books and the articles and the volumes of investigation that have been carried on related to the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy.
To the casual observer it is almost unbelievable to reflect on the fact that even though the complex of economic and political power had been mobilized almost unanimously against this fearless statesman, he was still the most popular man in America – so much so that his worst political enemies knew that the only way that he could be kept out of the White House was to be murdered.
That’s exactly what happened.
People who had never seen the Capitol of Louisiana came to Baton Rouge for the funeral. The town was vibrating under the pressure of hot blood. Hundreds, if not thousands, of men carried pistols on their hips and knives in their bosoms. One spark from someone like myself could have ignited a bloody revolt that could have resulted in thousands of injuries and hundreds of deaths.
The only man that had ever really done anything for the common people of the State of Louisiana had been assassinated by the puppets of the feudal lords and the political enemies that had been represented by the voices of hate that came out in the conspiring voices at the DeSoto Hotel.
The coroner announced an inquest. The trick of the enemy was to try to prove that Dr. Carl Weiss, the young Jewish doctor, had not killed him. The plot was to represent his having been killed by a ricocheted bullet that was fired by one of the bodyguards. No lie was too black. No misrepresentation was too evil and no newspaper story was too satanic for those who not only destroyed the life of Huey Long but wanted to destroy his reputation and forever blight his name in the political history of Louisiana and America.
The coroner notified me that I was one who should testify. With something in mind that he did not guess, I requested that I come first. The inquest hearing was organized. The room was packed. Every newspaper on earth was represented. Every motion picture newsreel organization was there. Every radio station network was there. It seemed that there were hundreds, almost thousands, of reporters. The room was filled with devotees who would have shot or stabbed at the drop of the hat.
I was called to the witness stand and the coroner asked me just one question having to do with my name, etc. I rose from the chair, pointed my finger at him and in a loud voice I said, “I hold myself in contempt of this inquest and brand you, sir, as a part of the conspiring gang that brought about the assassination of Huey P. Long.” With that I walked out. This was the end of the inquest. There was never another inquest.
The enemy was able to hire a few brothelian authors and journalists to write stories to the effect that it was not Weiss that killed Huey Long; that it was a ricocheted bullet from the gun of one of his bodyguards. Those of us who were there know that that is a lie. He was killed by the representative of a family that hated Huey Long as much as death itself.
Huey P. Long, Sr. (the father) asked to see me at my hotel and said, “It is the desire of the family, Dr. Smith, that you deliver the funeral sermon.” I accepted. (go to top)
It was late at night and I put blank paper beside the bed and every time I thought of a sentence, I would get up and write it out.
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” – John 15:13
The lives of great men do not end with the grave.
They just begin. This place marks not the resting place of Huey Pierce Long; it marks only the burial ground for his body. His spirit shall not rest as long as hungry bodies cry for food, as long as lean human frames stand naked, as long as homeless wretches haunt this land of plenty.
His affection for these sufferers was stronger than the flesh and is as everlasting as the soul. Hatred cannot touch him now; malice cannot reach him any more. He sleeps in the shadow of the spire which he gave the sky, sepulchered close by this emblem which he raised.
He fell in the line of duty. He died for us. This tragedy fires the breast of every comrade. This untimely death makes restless the soul of us who adored him. We cannot be appeased by flattery, we cannot be set at ease by superficial consolation. The ideals which he planted in our hearts have created a gnawing hunger for a new order. This hunger pain, this parching thirst for better things can only be healed and satisfied by the completion of that victory toward which he led us.
To summarize the influence and the noble attributes of this man is as though one went out to measure the boundary of a lake, only to discover that he was on the arm of an ocean. In him there was no touch of religious prejudice, but at all times a warm, deep faith in God.
In answer to a query which I made in his home one Sunday he replied: “I know, Brother Smith, that the arms of God are about me every moment.”
Can it be that God consented to this fate in order that by this dramatic exit he might retire from the battleground of political torture to find the quiet of eternity, while at the same time his torch was left to light our way?
In him there was no trace of racial antipathy. Mental wizard was this man and we who hovered close to him never ceased to marvel at the instinctive, intuitive workings of this mental giant. Social crusader, thinking at all times of victory and power only as they related to a better social order. Educational statesman determined that his children and the children of his neighbors should not be handicapped as he was. Political genius, so much so, that his passing, so they think, has relieved the arch enemies of his crusade the world around. An orator supreme, speaking the words of the masses in campaigns and at the same time recording in the Congressional Record a series of Senatorial addresses supreme in rhetoric, artistic in style, permanent in value.
A statesman true, whose leadership led out so far ahead that shortsighted contemporaries were unable to see the star which he followed.
A tender father, a loving husband, lost to a family willing to give him up for the sake of his broader calling. A loyal friend, whose memory of tasks well done seemed flawless.
A musical heart that loved the songs of the common people and revealing a talent that for want of time lacked full expression. A writer with a pen that could warm the soul, comfort the body and fire the imagination.
He knew not the definition of disloyalty. He was a builder, a trail blazer, a ruthless foe of delay, a burner of red tape, a violent enemy of retrogression. Progress was the sweetheart of his soul. He divorced the past, he wedded the present, he wooed the future. He was the personification of intellectual courage, a masterful dynamo of personality. A symbol of the mass mind, he reacted normally to the cries and to the pains and to the psychology of the common people.
The Bible was his favorite text. Its truth to him, profound authority. Drama was his natural art. A humorist of superior quality. An actor whose stage was his work, whose scenery, the people about him. When he passed by all eyes were fastened on him, watching tensely to see something that had never been seen before – listening intently for something that had never been said before – and he never disappointed.
To you, the aged father, your loins produced a giant of history, whose mother will always live through the boundless influence of her illustrious son.
To you, the relatives, close and removed, three generations hence, your descendants will boast of your kinship to this fallen hero.
To you, the beloved wife, comrade in a million struggles, sufferer in a thousand defeats, rejoicer in ten thousand victories – be comforted in the knowledge that every moment of the remainder of your life you will have the memory of tasks well done, of services sacrificially performed and of prophecies yet to be fulfilled.
To you, sweet children, you tender offspring, forever will the works of your great father be engraved on the tablet pages of the indestructible book of history.
To you, the officials of State, the companions of political strategy, crusaders in a common cause, count memorable the day you first heard the mention of his name. The time will come when to say that you even touched his hand will be the most potent interest in your life.
This blood which dropped upon this soil shall seal our hearts together. Take up the torch, complete the task, subdue selfish ambition, sacrifice for the sake of victory.
I was with him when he died. I said, “Amen”, as he breathed his last. His final prayer was this: “Oh, God, don’t let me die. I have a few things more to do.” The work which he left undone, we must complete. As one with no political ambition, and who seeks no gratuities at the hand of the State, I challenge you, my comrades, to complete the task.
Oh, God, why did we have to lose him?
With his removal from the arena of political activity it will no longer be necessary for any force to suppress liberal and accurate descriptions of his mighty work. Like other martyrs, from the moment of his death forth, there will be an ever widening and deepening understanding of the true greatness of this apostle of progress.
Some day the people will sit on the heights above their selfish prejudices and look upon the real man that he was. Some day they will know, some day they will understand.
Children of generations unborn will be rescued from drudgery, guarded against hunger, protected from ignorance because of the life and work of Huey Pierce Long.
God willed, God ruled, God commanded Destiny to make him great. He was the victim of every form of persecution and abuse, struggling every moment of his public life under the cross of misrepresentation and the burden of misunderstanding; sacrificed to blind prejudice, but these only served in violation of precedent and convention to lift him higher and higher into the stratosphere of greatness. These tortures seemed to mark his course. They increased his necessity.
His unlimited talents invariably aroused the jealousies of those inferiors who posed as his equals. More than once, yea, many times, he has been the wounded victim of the Green Goddess; to use the figure, he was the Stradivarius, whose notes rose in competition with jealous drums, envious tom-toms. His was the unfinished symphony.
Shortly after the burial of our great friend, I was in the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans. Seymour Weiss, the hotel manager, came down into the lobby and said to me in an affected mood of excitement, “I wonder what Huey did with his money.”
With the help of all of us, large sums of money had been collected in legal tender and had been put in lock boxes in the Roosevelt Hotel where Seymour Weiss was the manager. Only two men held the keys. One was Huey Long and the other was Seymour Weiss. I will not quote what I said to Mr. Weiss. I would prefer to allow the reader to form his judgment based on the circumstances which followed.
Money that had been accumulated, anticipating the Presidential campaign, could have totalled a million or millions, but it never surfaced. None of us, who were instrumental in the campaign to make Huey Long President, ever saw it.
We did see the ownership of the most luxurious hotel in New Orleans, The Roosevelt, pass into the hands of Seymour Weiss, as did other hotels and other properties in the United States. We do know that some abortive circumstances made Seymour Weiss the deciding factor in determining the activities of men who had been prominent in the Long organization.
Footnote: In a lengthy interview with one of Huey’s sisters, I was given information and estimates and appraisals of the villainy of Seymour Weiss too strong and too damaging to put in this book, but I have typed up a report of this interview and it will be turned over to the Historical Departments of the various State Universities of Louisiana after my death. Suffice it to say, in my judgment, no man jeopardized the career of this genius more in the early days of his public life and no man did more to endanger his place in Louisiana history than did Seymour Weiss.
One of the most interesting experiences of my life took place in Washington, D. C. on the occasion when I sat in Huey’s suite of rooms in the historic Mayflower Hotel when he was visited by one of his great admirers, Will Rogers, the world renowned humorist.
To sit there and hear these brilliant men exchange conversation will live in my memory as one of the richest experiences of my life.
The smart alecks, the sophisticates and the ridiculers have been so misled and mind washed against the name of Huey Long that they don’t realize that he enjoyed great respect among a wide variety of prominent and intelligent men who realized that although he knew how to use the vocabulary of the common man in order to reach the people required to elect him, he was deep in his understanding of world history, American history, literature, art and cultural progress.
Yes, if he had not been killed he would have been elected President of the United States and he would have become one of the greatest Presidents in American history.
(continue to Section 4)This book is a downloadable pdf file.
When Huey was elected to the United States Senate, he caused to be elected as Governor to succeed him, his old neighbor in Winnfield, Oscar Allen. Oscar Allen was completely loyal and served in complete harmony with the will of Huey Long. Even after Long became the United States Senator he controlled the decisions of the governor, because the reflexes and the cunning and the subtleties necessary to hold off the enemy were not the gift of Oscar Allen. He was an old-time country boy whose footwork was not equal to the enemy.
Therefore, Huey Long telephoned him every night from Washington. Mr. Allen gave him a complete thumbnail report of everything that had happened and then received instructions as to what he should do the next day.
Following the assassination, Mr. Allen was elected to fill out the unexpired term, but circumstance did not permit it as he dropped dead in the Governor’s Mansion. This made Huey’s good friend, Jimmy Noe the Governor and he, in turn, appointed the widow, Rose Long, to fill out the unexpired term. She was a modest, humble, intelligent, completely feminine mother and wife, loved and respected by everyone who knew her.
The Long family is a strong family. Every individual in it was and is an independent thinker. Huey was never able to persuade his older brother Julius to support him. His unconventional behavior in his “civil war” to overthrow the feudal lords shocked even some of his closest relatives.
The time came when he wanted another Senator in the United States Senate that would cooperate with him. He agreed to support one of the State’s most prominent men, John Overton. The campaign was carried on. The election was consummated and John Overton was elected. The enemy had not given up. They appealed to a committee of the United States Senate which had the authority to pass on reports from people who opposed the seating of an elected Senator. Everything that could be bought with money and done with bad publicity was done in an attempt to prove to the world that John Overton was not legally elected. They attempted to prove that votes were stolen, ballot boxes had disappeared and that he was not the genuine choice of the voters of Louisiana.
Anyone who knows the history of Louisiana politics and knows the history of politics in most states knows that there is no such a thing as a completely accurate election. Back in the catacombs of isolated precincts there is always a chance that someone will do something that will create a technicality on which the opposition can base its objections to the victory of the one who came out ahead.
The enemy succeeded in persuading his youngest brother Earl to come to Washington, D. C. and testify against him. This created a furor – so much so that the people who really loved Huey Long (many of them) began to hate Earl Long more than they hated the Senator’s original enemies.
This feud continued. The press gloated. The newspaper stories were put out by the ton and it was advertised to the world that this “political gangster”, this “dictatorial buffoon” had been condemned by his own brother.
Time passed and the situation mellowed. I was sitting in the suite occupied by Huey in the old Heidelberg Hotel in Baton Rouge when Joe Messina, the head bodyguard, came in saying “Guess who is out here that wants to see you.” The Senator answered saying, “I wouldn’t know.” And Messina answered, “It’s Earl.”
Earl came in and the first thing he did was to ask his elder brother to forgive him. Huey answered with these words, “Blood is thicker than water. Forget it and we will carry on together.”
I was the only person who heard this.
Time passed. Those who had been victorious after the death of Huey Long and who had sold his blood to his political enemies carried on and controlled the political machine in Louisiana under the leadership of Seymour Weiss and others.
I was no longer interested in Louisiana politics and I became a national figure associated with popular movements that had federated in an attempt to break the dictatorial control over American politics that was held by Huey Long’s worst enemy, Franklin D. Roosevelt. I had gone to Detroit and stayed there at the invitation of one of the greatest men on earth, the late Henry Ford, the founder of the great automobile complex. Many people did not know it but Huey Long did not have a greater admirer in this world than Henry Ford who was planning to support him in his campaign for the Presidency.
One day a knock came on my door and there stood a former member of Huey’s military staff, Col. Robert Brothers. I said, “Bob, what are you doing here?” He said, “Dr. Smith, the reputation of the Long family is at stake. Earl is running for Governor and if he loses it will be advertised to the world as a reflection on his illustrious brother Huey.” I said, “What do you want me to do about it?” He said, “I happen to know that you are the only person that ever heard Huey Long forgive Earl for having betrayed him at one time. If you would come back to Louisiana and tell the voters that he could be elected Governor.”
I agreed to return with the understanding that I would not be paid, would not be rewarded and there would be no political favors granted to me because at that time Earl had associations with the regular national organization that did not meet with my complete approval.
I said, “I insist on one condition.” He said, “What is it?” I said, “You remember after the machine headed by Seymour Weiss and others had sold out to Roosevelt and his gang in return for considerations involving the Internal Revenue Department and other bureaucratic instruments, that I held a great meeting attended by 70,000 people and I broadcast on every radio station in the State, with one or two exceptions, between 9:00 P.M. until after midnight. When I returned to my hotel with my young companions who were bodyguards and cheerleaders and helpers in general, we were picked up at the Jung Hotel and thrown in a dirty, filthy prison in the back of the city with some sort of a trumped up charge such as disturbing the peace or speaking on the street after midnight, etc. It was then advertised to the world that Gerald L. K. Smith had been thrown in prison.”
I said to Col. Brothers, “The men who are supporting Earl Long for Governor are now the men who run the City of New Orleans and some of them are the ones who effected my arrest on that night. When I come back to make my statement, I want somebody to come on the train and give me the police blotter concerning that false arrest, torn out of the police record.” I carried out my commitment and when I reached New Orleans and the train had stopped, a young man who had been my close associate and aide through the years by the name of Preston Delcazel called from the end of the Pullman car, “Here’s the blotter, Doc.” I left the train, rode to Baton Rouge, stepped to a microphone in the Governor’s Mansion and told the whole State that I was with Huey when he forgave his brother.
I am told that this did much to help those who had carried hate in their hearts against Earl to forget the past and help protect the name of one of the most significant political families that ever lived in the United States.
When Mrs. Smith and I decided to use an inheritance to build a monument in Winn Parish to Huey, someone said, “Why didn’t you build it in Winnfield?” I said, “Because we didn’t want to do anything that would seem competitive in relationship to Earl, because a bronze monument had already been erected to Earl Long in the heart of Winnfield.” We, therefore, decided to build the monument at St. Maurice, on the old plantation which is convenient to travelers on two national highways. It is my belief that eventually millions of people will come to view this memorial, built by Mrs. Smith and myself in honor of the man we consider the greatest statesman of the century. It will be maintained by the Elna M. Smith Foundation.
Huey Long’s private secretary was a beautiful young woman by the name of Alice Grosjean. She was with him through thick and thin. She was the personification of competency, accuracy, loyalty and efficiency. No more brilliant woman ever occupied the office of an important executive than Alice Grosjean. She was married to a man whose derelictions were a matter of common knowledge. The time came when Huey decided to seek the United States Senate. He carried on a dynamic campaign and the story of that campaign would make a book in itself. As it approached the climax of almost certain victory, the enemy resorted to one of the dirtiest tricks in political history. They persuaded the irresponsible husband of Alice Grosjean to agree, just the day before the election, to bring a suit against Huey too late for him to answer, falsely accusing him of “alienation of affection”.
No knowledgeable student of the activities of this great man was ever able to cast one honest aspersion on his moral behavior in his relationship to his private secretary. The enemy housed the husband in a hotel in Shreveport. The suit was to be brought in Shreveport, but it never took place. Some loyal friends of the Governor entered the room of the husband and escorted him with physical persuasion out to the airport. They put him on a private plane and flew him down to Southern Louisiana and used a little spot out in the Gulf known as Grand Island as a landing base. Here he was kept until the election was completed and the votes were counted. Then he was brought into the Roosevelt Hotel and stood up before a microphone where he told the world that he couldn’t understand why the press and others had been making such a fuss over his disappearance.
This formula for dealing with blackmail might not be approved these days and it wasn’t approved in that day by many people, but there is no answer to blackmail except direct action.
The election of Governor Huey P. Long to the United States Senate was the beginning of a dramatic career unequalled in the century.
Three elements and forces were handicaps in the life of this great man and these effects and circumstances came very close to ruining his career.
1. Liquor. As the intensity of the campaigns developed and as the animosity of his enemies increased in severity, he made the mistake that too many men have made. He turned to the consumption of liquor. Every serious blunder that Mr. Long made during his lifetime was made under the influence of liquor. It became an open door for those who wanted to frame him up, ridicule him and represent him as a drunken buffoon to the world. Even under the influence of this weakness, he continued to gain power and defeat his enemies. But to those of us who were affectionate and intelligent observers, we realized that eventually he would destroy himself with alcohol unless something changed.
I was journeying with him from Washington to New Orleans on the train. As we came into the Pullman car a man of business influence hailed him and said, “Come on in and have a drink, Huey.” He responded to the invitation and during the night they drank a full bottle of scotch whiskey. The next morning when the train stopped at Atlanta for fuel and water, I walked out on the platform as did the other passengers, as was the custom, to breathe air and enjoy some relaxation during a delay of about 30 to 45 minutes.
Huey walked up to me and said, “Dr. Smith, I would to God that I looked as fresh as you do.” His beard had grown out. His face was flushed and he had the normal appearance of a man who had been drinking all night. I had shaved and made myself neat and had, of course, enjoyed a sound night’s rest. In response to his comment, I said “Senator, you are the greatest and the most brilliant man in public life. There isn’t any position of power and strength to which you cannot rise providing you are able to overcome this terrible enemy, alcohol.”
He made no comment. He gave no alibi. He merely said, “I’ll never touch another drop.”
We have all heard heavy drinkers say that and we usually expect them to violate their vow, but he never violated his vow and from then on he became a complete teetotaler even to the point where at times he appeared narrow-minded to the men who came into his suite of rooms with the smell of liquor upon their breath.
This was the beginning of his phenomenal accumulation of power and influence, not only in Louisiana but in the nation and in the world.
2. Seymour Weiss. This man whose activities in Alexandria, Louisiana were too questionable to review, became a clerk in the Roosevelt Hotel and he performed services for Huey Long, which harmonized with his conduct in the days before his sobriety and his realistic determination to make himself worthy to become President of the United States. (go to top)
There was no doubt about his ambition because the guesswork was taken out of it when he wrote a book entitled, “My First Days in the White House.” Seymour Weiss hated me. He resented my coming into the organization. Under pressures that could not safely be called blackmail he made it difficult for Mr. Long to remove from his control the campaign funds and the money collected from loyal supporters for the perpetuation of the political organization. These monies were kept in lock boxes in the Roosevelt Hotel and the keys were held by Seymour Weiss. Let the reader not forget that it was Seymour Weiss who spearheaded the campaign to consummate what later became known as the “Second Louisiana Purchase”, when the political enemies that enjoyed, effected and cooperated in the assassination of Huey Long in Washington, D. C. and elsewhere succeeded in persuading the men who had come to power on the blood of Huey Long (politically) to sell his blood to Franklin D. Roosevelt who was, indeed, Huey Long’s worst enemy. The conduct of Seymour Weiss was such that when he was sentenced to the Federal penitentiary for the mishandling of funds that should have been applied to the payment of his income taxes, together with others who had betrayed the blood of Huey Long, the lying press and the news media of the world attached the double-crossing misbehavior of these traitors to the name of Senator Huey P. Long. Whenever a story appeared in the press, it usually began “Long man sentenced …”
You must remember that all the violations for which these ominous figures were sentenced to prison took place after the assassination of Huey P. Long.
3. Collusion with “The Old Regulars”. When a man rises to prominence in the political world, he is always surrounded by advisors who tell him that he could get along better if he would compromise with some of his old enemies. A political organization in Louisiana was known as “The Old Regulars”. They had joined with the feudal lords and the press and the character assassins in an attempt to completely destroy Mr. Long and evaporate him from public life. As his strength increased, they began to make overtures to him for a confederation and on one occasion he broke the hearts of his old followers by joining hands with the Old Regulars. This proved to be one of the big mistakes of his life.
In spite of these three outstanding hazards - Liquor, Seymour Weiss, and the Old Regulars - he continued to approach an apex of popularity, political influence and intelligent statesmanship unequalled by any public figure of this century.
There is a little community in Louisiana called Shady Grove. On a certain Fourth of July I was invited to make the Fourth of July speech by the American Legion. The stage was all set and decorated with American Flags and the Chairman introduced me as the principal speaker of the day.
I was accompanied by a very colorful character by the name of Johnny Beach, who was one of the most fearless bodyguards that Huey Long ever had. Things were beginning to be rather dangerous and Long suggested that wherever I spoke that I be protected. Johnny Beach was assigned to me and we became warm friends. He was not a husky man. He was a thin, pale-skinned, tight lipped Northern Louisiana hillbilly. To use the figure, “he was not afraid of hell and all that comes out of it”.
I had just begun to speak when two big huskies in the pay of the enemy came down the aisle between the seats that were placed in an open park – bragging and screaming that they were going to knock me into unconsciousness. I kept right on speaking. I didn’t miss one sentence. Everybody on the platform except the young men that had come with me fled to cover, and between Johnny Beach and one or two of his helpers, these two big huskies were punched under the chin, and fell into the aisle in unconsciousness. A group of my supporters and Huey Long lovers carried them out and “poured them” into their own cars like a wet wash. They soon recovered consciousness but the meeting went on.
It is hard for the younger generation to realize that this dramatic experience was merely a sample of what took place in the old rough-and-tumble days. I could write a whole book and put in it nothing but experiences as dramatic and more dramatic than this one. This is merely a sample. I made over 100 speeches in Georgia in the campaign to make Huey Long President. I was mobbed, rioted, rotten-egged, ridiculed and downgraded by the press and threatened by all sorts of violence. It never fazed me. I carried on and the great audiences that I addressed were 99 per cent for me. The opposition was always synthetic and organized by a gang that had been inspired by the Roosevelt machine to do whatever it took to blunt the edge and sabotage the campaign of Huey P. Long.
I was scheduled to speak in the little county seat town in Georgia called Swainsboro. I announced in advance that I was going to expose the racketeers inside the Agricultural Department that were reporting thousands of acres of swampland as retired cotton land. It will be remembered that in those days the Roosevelt administration was paying farmers not to grow cotton. They were paying farmers to slaughter hogs to reduce the supply of pork and they were imprisoning men for refusing to slaughter their herds and refusing to plow under their cotton (every third row).
Huey Long contended that not one hog should be slaughtered and buried, not one head of cattle should be slaughtered and buried and not one row of cotton should be plowed under. He contended that if we would feed the hungry, put a new dress on every woman, two new shirts on every man and new sheets on every bed, we wouldn’t need to destroy what was then referred to as our oversupply of cotton.
When I announced that I was going to expose the racketeers in the Agricultural Department that were being paid thousands and perhaps millions of dollars for not growing cotton where it had never grown, this created some real excitement. The sound truck was all set up and the place on the Court House steps was lighted where I was to stand to speak. The regular citizens who loved and admired Huey Long had gathered for my speech and I was being cheered with enthusiastic applause.
Suddenly there appeared across the city square a howling lynch mob. They came toward me exercising profanity, vulgarity and crude conversation which I would not dare repeat in this book. They tore down the cable which connected the sound truck and threw it over the limb. The lights went out. The place was dark and the leaders of the mob began to yell “Where is the so and so?” “Where is the Huey Long gangster?” “Where is that hypocritical preacher?” “Hang him! Hang him!”
I was standing under the canopy of a store which was in the dark. I ran to a high level on the Court House steps and yelled into the crowd: “Here I am. A man of God who is sincere and honest. What man in this mob wants to bring down the judgment of God upon his soul by being the first to touch me?”
My voice was strong and I had all the characteristics of muscular youth. Believe it or not, the mob evaporated. They had already destroyed much of our machinery and had frightened the driver of the sound truck into the bushes, released the brakes on a hill and the big sound truck ran down the hill until it hit a tree.
Some people who read this book will remember that it was Huey P. Long who invented the sound truck to go along with political speakers. It wasn’t a simple case of a public address system like it is today. The sound truck then was an expensive piece of machinery that at present prices would have cost probably $20,000.00, although it cost much less then.
It required a driver who had to have the competency of an electrician, similar to the present day competency of a television engineer. The machinery was delicate and expensive.
In those days when I was making hundreds of speeches in the Carolinas and Georgia and elsewhere, we had two sound trucks. While I was speaking in one town via the facilities of one sound truck, the driver of the other truck would be setting up for me in the next town.
I could recite many experiences as dramatic or more so than the one referred to above, but this is a book about Huey P. Long and the only reason I am throwing in two or three accounts of my personal experiences is in order that the reader may know the price that some of us had to pay for being loyal to a man who had been marked for death because of his uncompromising determination to fulfill his dream for the American people.
When Huey Long was Governor, his Lieutenant Governor was a popular man from the French section of Louisiana known as John Fournet. There was an unwritten law in Louisiana which has since been repealed by logic and common sense, to the effect that a Catholic could never be Governor, but usually the political leaders would select a French Catholic for Lieutenant Governor.
John Fournet belonged to part of that great population in Louisiana known as the Acadian French. Their ancestors migrated from Canada and the historic poet referred to this migration when he wrote the lines “this is the forest primeval, the murmuring pines and the hemlocks” in the story of Evangeline. One of the parishes was named Evangeline Parish.
One day I was called into the presence of Mr. Long and he said, “Dr. Smith, I would like to have you get in the car and take a sound truck and go over into Western Louisiana and don’t come back until we have elected John Fournet to the Supreme Court.”
It is difficult for the younger people to realize how hot the blood was between the supporters of Huey Long and his enemies. When we campaigners went out on a speaking tour, we didn’t limit our appearances to parish-seat towns or the larger communities. We spoke everywhere. We began at 8 o’clock in the morning. We spoke on milk stands, store fronts, cattle markets, main streets of little towns and in front of the Court House or the City Hall in the larger towns.
I had come in one evening from a long speaking tour. I imagine I had spoken from eight to twelve times during the day. I was using the Charleston Hotel at Lake Charles as my headquarters. I had no bodyguard or protective associates. All I had was the sound truck man and myself. On a particular day I arrived back at the hotel at about 10:30 P.M. I went up to my room and took a bath and then came down into the coffee shop and had a sandwich. After I had finished my sandwich, I stepped out in front of the hotel to get a breath of good, fresh air. It was a beautiful night and the aroma of the magnolias was in the air.
As I was standing looking about a man walked up to me, rather prominent in appearance, and said to me, “Is your name Gerald Smith?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “Are you that s.o.b. that is campaigning for Huey Long?” I said, “Yes, I am proud to say.” “Well,” he said, “You have made your last speech.” And he pulled out a black automatic and stuck it in my stomach. I was young, of course, and my reflexes were terrific. It must have been God Almighty who gave me the speed and the strength to swing my hand over my stomach and grab the gun and take it away from him. I was then in command and by this time excitement developed on the street and people began to gather. I told the people what had happened and in a few moments a young man walked up to me and said, “Mr. Smith, this is my father. He has had a couple drinks and I would appreciate it if you would let him go.” I took the bullets out of the gun. Put them in my pocket. Handed the gun to the young man and then said to the older man, who was not old – he was not over 50, “I am going to be speaking around in this community for several days and the next time you see me, cross over to the other side of the street and go the other way.” He was inclined to obey my command and did nothing later to contradict what I had instructed him to do, but the shock came to me when a knowledgeable citizen revealed to me that this man was an Assistant United States District Attorney, appointed by Franklin D. Roosevelt.
I made no boasts and I did not advertise my experience but the word, by way of the grapevine, went through the whole community and surrounding parishes and far beyond what I deserved, I was advertised as an individual who feared absolutely nothing.
However, I had been subjected to much physical violence and threats, but when one loves the truth more than life itself, no threat can cause him to compromise in the exposition of that truth.
Incidental to this experience, it is well for the reader to know that John Fournet was elected to the Supreme Court and later became Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the State of Louisiana.
(continue to Section 5)This book is a downloadable pdf file.
Huey Long died at the hands of his enemies. The consummation of the assassination was the result of years of conditioning and hate venom that had been spewed by the press, exhorted by his enemies and inspired by those who were determined that he should never become the President of the United States.
Following his assassination a political machine, largely controlled by Seymour Weiss (now deceased), selected a state ticket made up largely of men who were later to sell their birthright for a mess of pottage and were willing to trade off the blood of Huey Long to satisfy his worst enemy, Franklin D. Roosevelt.
To the naive and the innocent the ticket that was approved was the Huey Long ticket being offered in opposition to a ticket we referred to as “the murder slate”. Circulars and political publications put out by our side were filled with designed blood spots which dribbled and drooled over the names that were being offered in opposition to what was called the “Huey Long slate”.
The sincere and innocent people of Louisiana joined together in electing to office Richard Leche as Governor and the ticket that went along with him. All the names need not be given here.
The reader has a right to know, however, the highlights of what happened.
After the election was over and the “Huey Long ticket” came to power, we who were the leaders were visited by the Assistant Attorney General of the United States, Joseph Keenan. It was Mr. Keenan who was appointed after World War II to go to Japan and preside over the sentencing to death as war criminals military authorities in the Japanese government. He contacted each one of us; met with us in groups and singly to assure us that we could have anything we wanted if we would deliver the Louisiana delegation to Roosevelt in Philadelphia in 1936.
Among those whom he contacted that he considered leaders of the organization, I was the only one who refused to make the deal. He paid me a flattering compliment in order to still my voice by saying, “Mr. Smith, you are the most intelligent one in the group. Just name what you want and you can have it. Do you want to be a diplomat? Do you want to be a part of the foreign service? Do you want the approval of the President for the United States Senate?”
Of course I took his flattery with a grain of salt.
These were the type of promises that were and are common among political fixers as they attempt to line up support.
As the Assistant Attorney General, he realized that Seymour Weiss and others among his pals had exploited their position of power in such a way as to evade the payment of income taxes. He made it very clear that this problem could not be solved if they did not come along with the Roosevelt gang. They made the deal and I was the first one to refer to this deal as “The Second Louisiana Purchase”.
This left me standing alone. I had been betrayed by the organization that had come to power by way of the grave of our martyr. I was already hated to the point of murder itself by the Federal Roosevelt machine. Roosevelt hated me to the hour of his death and many people do not know, or have forgotten, that Roosevelt attacked me personally in the last big public address before he died which he made in Soldier Field in Chicago (250,000 present). Furthermore, he pursued me long after the death of Huey Long and while a resident of Detroit, Michigan, I was to pick up the Free Press, the largest morning daily paper in the State, to see a banner headline reading, “Roosevelt Wants Gerald Smith in Prison.”
I thereupon wrote the Attorney General of the United States, Mr. Biddle, and told him that if he wanted to indict me, we would cover the whole “waterfront”, including a resurrection of the well established theories concerning the conspiracy to assassinate my beloved friend, Huey Long. That was the last I heard of Mr. Roosevelt’s threat to imprison me.
Upon learning that the machine in power in Louisiana had sold the blood of Huey Long for political favors, including a release of pressure from the Internal Revenue Department, I filed for a permit to speak in one of the great Plazas in New Orleans. It was announced over the air and the estimated attendance was 70,000. I “scraped the bottom of the barrel”, dug up all the money I could get my hands on and bought three hours of time on practically every radio station in Louisiana.
I spoke from 9:00 P.M. until after midnight. I told the lovers of Huey Long, as well as the others, exactly what had happened. This was more than the New Orleans gang, including Seymour Weiss, could endure. When the young men associated with me and myself returned to the Jung Hotel we had barely gotten settled and started to eat some sandwiches in the suite of rooms that we had engaged when a knock came on the door and something like eight plainclothesmen with guns, representing the City of New Orleans, announced that two of my closest associates, Preston Delcazel and Dutch Gruntmeyer, were under arrest. We were put into a paddy wagon and taken over to the back of the city and thrown into a dirty jail filled with vomit, filth and drunks.
The arrest was given complete silence by the local news media, but Mrs. Smith knew a radio newsman in Atlanta, Georgia who had begun to establish a radio station network. This was long before the Columbia Network and the NBC Network. It was called the Transradio News and it was operated by a man by the name of John Van Cronkite. Mrs. Smith told him over the long distance phone what had happened and he immediately put it on the wire and radio stations surrounding New Orleans began to broadcast and the news came into New Orleans. The public, in indignation, began to vibrate. It looked for a while as if mobs would be formed. The city gang that was a part of the “Second Louisiana Purchase” became alarmed and between three and four o’clock in the morning we were released from jail and we paraded our liberty and our defiance by marching through the lobby of the Roosevelt Hotel. It had become truly “the Franklin Roosevelt hotel” although it was originally named after the great Teddy Roosevelt. Seymour Weiss the present owner, but former clerk, was reminded that public sentiment would not permit him and his coordinates to lock Gerald L. K. Smith in prison.
Other details concerning this incident appear in the chapter entitled “A Family Heartbreak.”
The “Judas Iscariot gang”, headed by Seymour Weiss, became fabulously rich. Keenan, the fixer, who had used the Internal Revenue Department, the power of the President and the promise of great appropriations from the public treasury to buy the State of Louisiana in the “Second Louisiana Purchase”, had assured Governor Leche and others that millions of dollars would flow into Louisiana that otherwise would not have come to Louisiana because of Roosevelt’s contempt for Huey Long.
They took the money and spent it so rapidly and so extravagantly and so dishonestly that it almost required scoop shovels to handle the golden loot that came their way out of the treasury of the United States.
Time passed. I had long since become a part of the national scene and was speaking in the major cities of America and coordinating the opposition against the Roosevelt machine. In cooperation with the judgment of Mr. Henry Ford, I made my residence in Detroit.
Time has confirmed my judgment concerning the duplicity and hypocrisy and evil motivations that characterized Franklin D. Roosevelt. In my judgment practically all the troubles that America has experienced began with his abortive administration in 1932.
To summarize the evils of this man would require a book, but here are a few highlights.
1. He desired and encouraged the assassination of Huey Long.
2. He was married to a woman who encouraged every radical and Communist in the United States. It was not uncommon for her to entertain Communists in the White House and then go over to Capitol Hill and sit in a session of the House Committee on Un-American Activities and ridicule the chairman and the members of the committee as they exposed, with witnesses under oath, the Muscovite treason machine in the United States.
3. He took us into World War II contrary to the will of the American people. By a Gallup poll of 81 per cent the American people did not want to go into World War II. We who were opposed wanted to referee a fight between Stalin and Hitler, weaken both of them and keep America in a strong position without making a Frankenstein of either one of the conflicting forces. This logic was ignored and did make a Frankenstein power out of Russia.
4. In desperation Roosevelt coordinated his activities with certain conspiring henchmen in such a way as to not reveal to the world that our military had broken the Japanese code right while the Japanese were preparing to attack Pearl Harbor. Roosevelt and his henchmen knew, but they were determined to get us into a war we didn’t want. The Japanese flew in and killed our men like fish in a barrel. If our men had been warned by Roosevelt and Marshall they could have defended themselves and they could have fought off the Japanese. This is one of the all-time scandals of American history and it is not guess work. The truth of this statement has been so thoroughly documented by responsible historians that it can no longer be questioned. The best research on this subject has been done by Dean Manion, former Dean of the Law School at Notre Dame University.
5. Roosevelt’s personal morality was a disgrace to the White House. It remained for his son Elliott to write a book shortly before the publication of this Handbook in which he revealed that he could hold back some things no longer and actually admitted that his father, for a long period of time, slept in the main bedroom of their home with his secretary while, by agreement, his wife Eleanor slept in a back bedroom. After his death it was revealed that he had a paramouric connection with a beautiful woman in Maryland and at a cost to the government of something like $100,000.00 a trip he would engage special trains to pass through her place of residence in order that he might engage in his paramouric cohabitations.
6. Through his military subordinates, he disarmed the patriots of Red China and was personally responsible for permitting the Communists to seize, overrun and come into complete command of the Chinese Mainland. He fraternized with Josef Stalin and in his treaty-making conferences he attempted to divide the world between Stalin, Churchill and himself.
7. His chief adviser was Alger Hiss who later was the secretary-general of the first session of the United Nations and was exposed as the nation’s Number One traitor. Then it was revealed that Roosevelt’s chief adviser was part of the Moscow spy complex in the United States.
This was the Roosevelt that desired the assassination of Huey Long and rejoiced over his death and fought those of us who realized that he had become a true martyr.
Frank Murphy was the New Deal Governor of the State of Michigan. He was then appointed Attorney General by Franklin D. Roosevelt. His one great ambition was to become a member of the Supreme Court – as he did. Before he became a member of the Supreme Court something was to happen which few citizens in Louisiana, or elsewhere, know about.
One of Huey Long’s great friends and one of my best friends was an aggressive newspaper man by the name of Capt. George Maines who was the publicity representative for General Pershing during World War I. I was visited frequently by Mr. Maines. His associations and friendships did not follow the same sharp lines that mine did. I could never respect Frank Murphy, because he had permitted the Communists to come into Detroit and organize goon squads with which to beat workers over the head with baseball bats, in support of the organization of the Ford factory, even though the campaign of organization at the time was being led by the Reuther Brothers who had taken their training in Moscow. They, at one time, had written back from Moscow and I published the letter and read it over the air and inserted it in the report of the House Committee on Un-American Activities, which read: “Carryon for a Soviet America. May the day come when the Red flag will fly over the Ford Motor Company.”
Frank Murphy was too much of a political coward to call out the militia and protect the greatest industry in Michigan against this radical gang. He was rewarded for his limp, prostituted obedience to the left wing elements by being made Attorney General under the appointment of Franklin D. Roosevelt.
One day Capt. Maines visited me and I said, “George, I understand that Frank Murphy wants to be a member of the Supreme Court.” He said, “Yes, that’s what he wants.” I said, “You tell him he can’t be, because I happen to know (go to top)
that the Justice Department has used the Internal Revenue Department to coerce and buy the Seymour Weiss gang in Louisiana, and when the hearing comes up before the committee I am going to appear before that committee and tell them that the Justice Department permitted the Internal Revenue Department to be used to line up the Louisiana delegation.” This was a Roosevelt mania. He was almost willing to pay as high a price for Louisiana as for any other ten states because of his jealous contempt and hatred for Huey P. Long.
This turned the trick. Frank Murphy, together with others, double-crossed the commitments that had been made by the Assistant Attorney General Joe Keenan and sent in his agents. Seymour Weiss and several of his pals were sentenced to the Federal penitentiary for tax evasion. Later Frank Murphy became a member of the Supreme Court of the United States.
The whole episode is a picture of the hypocrisy and duplicity and villainy of the Roosevelt gang. No true lover of Huey P. Long could ever respect Franklin D. Roosevelt. There is not enough time in history to mellow my opinion of this international villain.
On November 11, 1973 there was a Groundbreaking Ceremony at the St. Maurice Mansion Estate in Winn Parish. The occasion of this ceremony was to announce that the famous sculptor Robert Edward McCart had been commissioned to do a bronze Statue of Huey Long to stand on ground leased by the Elna M. Smith Foundation for one hundred years.
At the time this book went to press, the Statue was in the process of completion and was about to be dedicated at a date to be announced. It is hoped that the next edition of this Handbook will carry a picture of the Statue. [Note: Before this became a reality, the dream went up in smoke in 1980 when the haters of all truth burned the St. Maurice Mansion to the ground.]
At the Groundbreaking Ceremony, I spoke the following words. There may be some repetitions here as they relate to other portions of the book, but for historical purposes and for the record in general, we quote the Groundbreaking statement exactly as it was made and distributed to a large company of people, including some of the most important citizens of the State of Louisiana.
“I was with the late United States Senator Huey P. Long in the State Capitol of Louisiana when he was shot. I was at his bedside when he died two days later. I delivered the funeral oration over his grave at the State Capitol in Baton Rouge. Following his death I toured the State, visiting every hamlet, parish and city in a campaign to elect those who were committed to the principles for which he gave his life.”
Following the election, under the pressure of Franklin D. Roosevelt and his affiliates (Mr. Long’s worst enemies), most of those who had been elected to fulfill his ideals, went over politically to his worst enemies. I refused to make this compromise by saying: “I have been catapulted into public life from the wet grave of my assassinated friend, and I shall make no deal with those who precipitated or desired his death.”
This isolated me from both the State and National organizations, and I went my own way to fulfill my own ideals.
I became the National Director of the Christian Nationalist Crusade, dedicated to the preservation of Christian civilization, private enterprise, racial self-respect and national sovereignty. Political experts agree that I have triggered, organized, financed and developed over 2,000 patriotic groups within the borders of the United States.
In 1964 we developed a part-time residence in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, which is now our legal residence and proceeded to develop sacred projects which are now the most visited Christian shrines in America. They include the giant Statue of Christ, seven stories high, known as the Christ of the Ozarks, the Great Passion Play, the Christ Only Art Gallery, the Bible Museum, and the New Holy Land, which is now being developed in such a way as to reproduce every shrine made sacred by our Lord’s visit to this earth.
In the meantime, we have maintained our publishing and educational headquarters in Los Angeles, where we have lived half the time for 25 years.
During this past year over one million people have visited the Statue from every state in the Nation and from 41 foreign nations.
Some time ago Mrs. Smith and I visited Louisiana for the purpose of renewing old acquaintances. When we returned to Eureka Springs, we came home by way of Winn Parish, only to be reminded that no shrine of consequence had been built to the greatest personality ever produced by Louisiana – the late Huey P. Long. After returning to our Eureka Springs residence, we decided to dedicate an inheritance and other earmarked monies to the building of a Statue to our martyred friend.
After numerous visits and surveys, we came into the possession of a beautiful location at the St. Maurice Mansion, located in Winn Parish.
We commissioned as the sculptor one of the most gifted young men in the five-state area, Robert Edward McCart. Before becoming an independent sculptor to be commissioned for numerous important works, he was associated with Leonard McMurray, who produced the famous Wiley Post figure and numerous figures in the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City, and with Arthur Morgan, who produced the Capt. Shreve figure in Shreveport and the Earl Long figure in Winnfield. While associated with Bernard Frazier of Kansas University, he aided in the development of numerous figures, including the three figures of communication, located on the Oklahoma City Times Building in Oklahoma City. He participated in the carving of stone figures on the Federal Building in Oklahoma City, and as an independent sculptor he did a bronze figure of former Governor Murray of Oklahoma.
As this is written, Mr. McCart has completed the working model and is in the process of completing the full-size casting model. From this casting model will be developed a nine foot solid bronze figure which will stand on four feet of granite.
By special arrangement, St. Maurice Mansion will be made available as a museum. Tracts, books, manuscripts, pictures and other gift lore will be made available to visitors. The Mansion will be furnished with furniture of the period. It will, in itself, constitute a place of great interest to all visitors.
Mrs. Smith and I are very fortunate in associating ourselves in this enterprise with three men of prominence and influence who are responsible for saving and salvaging this historic estate. They are Robert N. Smith, eminent architect, of Natchitoches, Charles B. Rice, Prosecuting Attorney of Winn Parish, and Jerry Willis, well known auditor of Baton Rouge.
Groundbreaking ceremonies took place at 3 o’clock Sunday afternoon, November 11. The public was invited. Numerous prominent guests were present, and it was my pleasure to address the gathering.
It is believed that the Statue will be completed by the spring of 1974 when a special dedication ceremony will be conducted, and it is hoped by that time that the historic Mansion will be properly furnished.
When Huey Long became Governor, there were 33 miles of paved highway in the entire State.
There were no bridges across the great rivers. One-third of the children in Louisiana were in no schools, one-third were in parochial schools, and one-third were in public schools. The University of Louisiana had a C minus rating, and there were no subordinate or associated universities. The dormitories were the old barracks of the Civil War which still stood near the State Capitol. The primitive State Capitol was preserved for historic reasons, and a new Capitol was built. At one time Mr. Long said that Louisiana was the last stand of the “feudal lords”, which was the truth. This feudalism was broken and the tax structure was reorganized. Locally produced oil was given preference to alien produced oil. Pipe lines became common carriers so the humblest producer of oil could market his oil.
Finance was so reorganized as to make Louisiana bonds to sell at the top of the market. When the bank crisis came in the depression, surrounding states lost thousands of banks, but Louisiana only lost eleven. James A. Farley, who was the political mentor of Franklin D. Roosevelt, said in his Memoirs: “If Huey Long had not been killed, he would have been elected President of the United States.”
It was my responsibility to tour the United States to lay the groundwork for the election of Mr. Long to the Presidency. During his last year in the United States Senate, he was receiving more mail than all the remainder of the United States Senators combined. He received more mail than the President of the United States, Mr. Roosevelt. William Howard Taft, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court said: “The most brilliant and competent attorney ever to appear before me has been Huey P. Long.”
The “Share the Wealth” philosophy was represented as a formula of demagoguery by his enemies. What he really meant was that the great wealth of the State of Louisiana must be shared with the people and there must be built as a symbol of this wealth hospitals, schools and roads.
Some people may have wondered why I disappeared from the political scene in Louisiana. It was because those who inherited the most political power from the assassinated Senator made a political deal with his worst enemies. No one hated Huey Long as much as Franklin D. Roosevelt. An Assistant Attorney General of the United States came to Louisiana to consummate the deal. He promised us everything, and I was the only one in a particular conference who refused to sell the blood of my fallen friend to his worst enemy.
This left me lonely and persecuted, but I carried on in the deep conviction that I would never have it on my conscience that I had betrayed the memory of the greatest man who ever lived in the State of Louisiana, and indeed, one of the greatest men who ever lived in the United States of America.
After the deal had been made and Mr. Roosevelt’s representative had assured these political leaders that they would have the authority over the spending of millions of dollars which had been held back from Louisiana because of Mr. Roosevelt’s contempt for Mr. Long, I issued a statement to the press referring to it as “The Second Louisiana Purchase”.
The reader can scarcely imagine the fulfilling joy which comes to Mrs. Smith and me as we plan to return to Louisiana to establish a tribute to the man who was assassinated by his enemies and whose memory was traded off to the highest bidder by those whom he considered to be some of his greatest friends.
Since those days I have travelled millions of miles and have addressed large audiences in every major city in the United States. The media-created image of Huey Long was so bad in some places that it would have been easy for me to have soft-pedaled my love and admiration for this great man. But at no time, regardless of the cost to my reputation, have I hesitated to praise him as he deserved to be praised.
Later on I was associated in certain enterprises involving patriotic, civic and political activity with the late Henry Ford, the founder of the great Ford Motor Co. Imagine the beautiful thrill which came to me when Mr. Ford, in one of my early conferences with him, expressed his great and devoted admiration for Huey P. Long.
The Legislature of the State of Louisiana by Constitutional methods decreed that the birthday of Mr. Long should be declared a holiday every year.
Each year a dramatic pageant portraying the life of Huey P. Long will be presented on the St. Maurice Mansion estate near the Statue. An eminent scenario writer has been commissioned to prepare the scenario. The Director of the drama will be Robert Hyde, considered by important critics as the greatest Director of outdoor drama in America. This presentation will come during a weekend and will not conflict with the outdoor drama program being initiated by the civic leaders of Natchitoches.
Assurance: I shall not participate in any of the political activities in Louisiana. The shrine dedicated to the name of Huey P. Long will not be used in any partisan way except as it glorifies the name and the memory of this great man.
Note: When the Statue is completed and paid for, it will be the property of the Elna M. Smith Foundation and will be managed and watched over by Charles F. Robertson, who has been with me 30 years and is the Coordinator of the Foundation. The Statue is being paid for by monies coming from Mrs. Smith and me, but the final possession, control and management of the enterprise will be the responsibility of the Foundation.
(continue to Section 6)This book is a downloadable pdf file.
Elsewhere in this Handbook I have told the reader about my early life and how I happened to join hands with Huey Long, but I assume that the reader will be interested in having a brief account of what I have done since the organization was sold out from under me to Huey’s worst enemies.
My association with the great Senator and the fact that I delivered the funeral oration over his grave catapulted me into the public eye and I became a national figure overnight. There were many demands for me to speak.
I proceeded to organize a campaign to federate the popular movements that were opposed to the Roosevelt regime and that we had hoped would contribute to the campaign to make Senator Long President. The absence of our political genius weakened this coalition but I coordinated my activities with such popular movements as the Townsend Club, followers of the radio priest Father Charles Coughlin, the popular movements among farmers and patriotic labor leaders.
After this phase of my activity matured, I organized a nationwide movement which I have directed since 1941 known as the Christian Nationalist Crusade. The official organ of this Crusade is the magazine known as The Cross and The Flag which is in its 33rd year of publication. I have spoken in every major city in the United States and below I reproduce an editorial written during the apex of my public speaking career by the man who was considered the dean of newspaper editorialists, Henry L. Mencken. Mr. Mencken wrote the most important books that have been written on the American Language which are now reference books in all the important universities.
Along with my personal appearances in all the important cities of the nation, including my address to 120,000 people in the Rose Bowl of Pasadena, California and the largest audience ever assembled in the great Olympic Auditorium in Detroit, etc., along with these public speaking activities, I became an editorial writer for over 200 publications and even until this day I have written something for publication an average of 300 days out of every year. My writings in pamphlet, tract and book form have reached a volume equal in size to the contents of the Encyclopedia Britannica.
Over 400 pamphlets, booklets and miscellaneous pieces of literature are available in the National Headquarters of the Christian Nationalist Crusade that have been written by myself.
Although I am 77 at this writing, I have never retired. I get up at between five and six o’clock in the morning and dictate enough material to load up three secretaries. I work on the theory that the word “retire” is the synonym for suicide.
As an expression of our Christian faith, Mrs. Smith and I, a few members of our family, and some of our best friends, have established in Eureka Springs, Arkansas what has now become the most visited Christian shrine in America. We built the giant Statue of Christ known as The Christ of The Ozarks which stands seven stories high. We established The Christ Only Art Gallery which contains ever 500 portrayals of Christ in every known form of art. We caused to be produced The Great Passion Play which has an outdoor amphitheatre seating 4,000 people and which attracts viewers from all over the world. It is now considered by the severest critics to be the greatest presentation of our Lord’s last week on earth to be presented in Christian history, even surpassing the historic play in Oberammergau and others that have been presented.
Along with these shrines, we have established the Bible Museum which contains over 7,000 rare volumes in 625 languages. It contains Bibles produced by hand before the invention of the printing press.
In 1972 Mrs. Smith and I were inspired by the desire to reproduce the Holy Land as it existed when Jesus was on earth. This is in the process of being built in life size and will include the following shrines:
Over one million people visited the giant statue and the other shrines in the development last year, coming from 41 foreign nations and all the states.
As suggested above we reproduce a portion of the editorial that appeared in the Baltimore Sun written by the famous rhetorician and editorialist, H. L. Mencken. If the reader will inquire of any professor of English or student of the American language in any important university, he is likely to be told that Mr. Mencken was one of the most highly respected students of the American way of life ever to appear on the American scene.
The editorial was written in the midst of a political campaign and the title of it was “Why Not Gerald?” The reason that Mr. Mencken used this title was because he had been bored by most of the speakers to whom he had listened all over America and at the great conventions and he suggested that a big meeting be set up in Baltimore to hear Gerald L. K. Smith. The following should prove interesting to the reader.
In the absence of indigenous virtuosi, I make the obvious suggestion that a committee be formed to bring some really first-rate rabble-rouser to Baltimore, and so lift the campaign out of its present dullness, and offer a reasonable entertainment to the plain people. Going further, I propose a definite candidate, and name him at once. He is the Rev. Gerald L. K. Smith, D.D., the gustiest and goriest, the loudest and lustiest, the deadliest and damnedest orator ever heard on this or any other earth.
I choose my words carefully, and may pretend to some knowledge of the science that Gerald so magnificently practices. For thirty-seven years, always for cash in hand, I have been listening to rhetoricians. I am old enough to have heard and reported Col. Bill Kilgour, I sat under Bryan many times, and under Burke Cochran, Chauncey M. Depew, Uncle Joe Cannon, Foraker, Gum-Shoe Bill Stone, La Follette the Elder, and all the other masters of their day. I once put in ten consecutive nights in the steaming spray of the Rev. Billy Sunday. I have heard Huey P. Long, Ramsay MacDonald, Tom Heflin, Cole Blease, and both Roosevelts.
Since June 1 of the present calamitous year I have done little save listen to speeches. In one day, at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, I heard fifty-four: on another day, at the Coughlin convention in Cleveland. I listened to Father Coughlin for five hours running and to other orators for six more. Thus, I may qualify, I hope, as a veteran, if not as an expert. As such a veteran, I assure you in all solemnity, with my eyes rolling and my hand on the Hon. Mr. Tydings’ telephone book, that Gerald is the greatest of them all – not the greatest by an inch or a foot or a yard or a mile, but the greatest by at least two light-years. He begins where the next best leaves off. He is the master of masters, the champion boob-bumper of all epochs, ancient or modern, the Aristotle and Johann Sebastian Bach of all known ear-splitters, dead or alive.
If he were brought to Baltimore he would pack the Fifth Regiment Armory like a can of sardines, and once he got under way the screams and bellows of the customers would be heard at Fort Carroll. It would be the most memorable day in the history of Baltimore since the hanging of Hollohan and Nicholson. Nor would it be only a mad carouse for the rabble: the intelligentsia would also lift up their voices and yell. Twice, at Cleveland, I saw the rev. gentleman torpedo even the press-stand. In that stand were journalists who had not shown any human emotion above the level of cupidity and lubricity for twenty years, yet he had them all howling in ten minutes.
The matter of his discourse is of only secondary importance. He is a rhetorician in general practice, and can adorn and illuminate any theme short of the metaphysical. He is a specialist in all the arts and sciences that entertain and affect multitudes, from patriotism to piety. He stands on the Bible and wraps himself in the flag. He is for the Constitution until the last galoot’s ashore. He loathes and abominates all the enemies of the Republic from boll weevils to Bolsheviks. He is against droughts, revolutions, atheism, Wall Street, Karl Marx, the dope traffic, and political economy, and in favor of justice, charity, xenophobia, lawful wedlock, the care and nurture of children, going to church on Sunday, a strong navy, and the home in all its phases, however humble.
Like any other orator, of course, he is at his best in opposition. To hear him praise is sweet, but to hear him damn is what is really thrilling. When he gets his hooks into a malefactor the whole hide comes off in one piece; there is no tedious and amateurish tugging at small patches. This gilt suggests a subject for his Baltimore effort. He has a special animosity, I observe, to Tugwell, Wallace, Morgenthau, Hopkins and the rest of the New Deal wizards. It is when he is flaying them that he is at his incomparable best. Why, then shouldn’t both parties join in sponsoring his meeting? Why not forget the unhappy differences of the campaign for one evening, and pool forces for a joint enterprise into which Republicans and Democrats alike (forgetting the Hon. Mr. Radcliffe for a moment) could put their whole hearts?
Thaddeus Caraway was the United States Senator from Arkansas in the early ’30s. He died and his widow Hattie was appointed to fill out his unexpired term. His term expired in 1932 and someone had to be elected to take his place and, of course, everyone realized that the mild mannered, modest, unaggressive little woman (Mrs. Caraway) had no chance to win reelection.
One day Senator Huey Long walked over to her desk on the Senate floor and said to Mrs. Caraway, “I am going to come into Arkansas and help reelect you to the United States Senate.”
This shocked and pleased Mrs. Caraway and in the spirit of great appreciation she accepted his offer. She didn’t have to do a thing. Of course, the press ridiculed the idea. They prophesied her easy defeat but when the Huey Long caravan hit Arkansas the tune began to change.
He came in with six trucks which included sound trucks and literature trucks loaded with circulars and meeting schedules.
When the word came out that Huey Long was coming to Arkansas, it was one of the most exciting moments in Arkansas history. People not only came out in great multitudes to hear him speak, but they lined up along the highways just to see him go by and when the campaign ended and the votes were counted, Mrs. Caraway was elected to the United States Senate by a phenomenal and overwhelming majority.
Other examples of the Long influence could be recited, but this is given as merely a sample (a biopsy) of the popularity that Huey Long enjoyed all over the United States of America. Everywhere he went, whether it was New York or Nashville or Chicago – or even Washington, D. C. crowds gathered just to take a look at this phenomenal, brilliant, dynamic, dramatic figure.
Sequel: I have had the experience of being bought and sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars without even knowing that I was on the auction block and here is one of the most unique stories that the reader will ever see in print.
After Huey Long was assassinated, I was approached by a very powerful politician and “wheeler-dealer” in Louisiana whose top priority was himself and whose second priority in the organization was Huey Long. With Huey Long dead his complete priority was his own selfish welfare. I will not use his name because some of his family are still important in the affairs of Louisiana and fundamentally they are good people.
Even the principal whom I am discussing was a “good” (?) man but when he had the choice between complete honesty and his own selfish welfare, it was frequently difficult for him to make a decision, but his welfare usually won out.
He came to me and said, “Gerald, are you going up into Arkansas to help defeat the reelection of Senator Joe Robinson for the United States Senate?” Robinson, at that time, was the most powerful politician in the State of Arkansas. He represented the big interests and was virtually the personal possession of the power and the railroad combine, personified by a very fine but aggressively powerful family by the name of Couch. During those days the representatives were Harvey Couch and Pete Couch. They were the ones who raised the campaign funds for Joe Robinson and others who voted in harmony with their desires in the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives as well as in the State Legislature.
It was generally understood that no one could be elected or reelected in Arkansas without the support of the Couch combine – if Huey Long did not interfere.
The unnamed “wheeler dealer” called on me in New Orleans and took me to lunch. He said during the conversation, “Are you going to Arkansas to campaign against Joe Robinson?” I said, “No, I’m not going to Arkansas. Huey is dead and I am no longer interested in that sort of politics. I wanted to make him President of the United States but now I am going to widen my field of endeavor and see if I cannot produce a federation of free men and women that can unseat, diminish or dissipate the dictatorial regime of Franklin D. Roosevelt.”
He then repeated himself, “Are you positive that you are not going to Arkansas to help defeat Joe Robinson?”
I answered saying, “Absolutely. I have no idea whatsoever of going to Arkansas and under no circumstances will I accept an invitation from Senator Robinson’s opposition. Not because I am for him but because I don’t want to become an Arkansas politician any more than I want to remain a Louisiana politician.” (go to top)
I heard no more from my inquirer, but one day I was riding down from New York City to Washington, D. C. weeks later. As I was going from the wash room to my berth on the Pullman car, a man in a drawing room called to me. I looked and it was Harvey Couch, the powerful Arkansas personality. Mr. Couch was a very fine gentleman and a pleasant man to talk to. It just so happened that he and Huey Long had gone in separate directions in relationship to our national welfare. He said, “Come on in Dr. Smith, and sit down a minute.” I accepted his invitation and we began to indulge in small talk relative to weather and conditions in general and then he shocked me with a very surprising statement. “I want to thank you for what you did for us in Arkansas.” I replied by saying, “Mr. Couch, I am not conscious of having done anything for you in Arkansas.” “Well,” he replied, “We could not have reelected Joe Robinson if you had not helped us.”
This was another surprise. Then the story came out. My “wheeler-dealer” friend from Louisiana had come up to Arkansas and had made a personal call on Mr. Couch and Senator Joe Robinson and others in the Arkansas machine. He said to them, “Did you know that Gerald L. K. Smith was planning to come to Arkansas and campaign against you? Because of the fact that he delivered the funeral oration over the grave of Huey Long and everywhere he speaks mammoth crowds come out to hear him, if he comes to Arkansas and campaigns against Senator Robinson, he will either defeat him or it will double the cost of your campaign.”
They remembered the Hattie Caraway drama and they were easy to convince. Mr. Couch continued to narrate his experience.
He said to the Louisiana visitor, “Is there any way we could persuade Mr. Smith not to come?” The informer said, “I think so.”
At that time there was a great feud between the Joe Robinson element and the political element represented by the unnamed visitor. It involved flood control, and the flood control projects involved millions and millions of dollars. The one plan was supported by the “wheeler-dealer” and the other plan was supported by Senator Joe Robinson.
Their aggressive visitor then told Mr. Couch and others, “I think that if we could persuade Senator Robinson to come out for our plan of flood control that I could persuade Dr. Smith not to come to Arkansas.”
Of course, he knew all the time that I was not coming. He never said anything to me about it. I never heard anything about it. The first I ever heard about it was when Mr. Couch gave me this report on the train between New York and Washington.
Thus, to use the figure, I was “bought and sold” without even knowing that I was on the auction block and this greedy politician used my innocent statement, assuring him that I had no idea of going to Arkansas, as a trading lever with which to defeat the Robinson flood control program and mobilize the spending of millions and millions of dollars on a plan that had been worked out by a fraternity of selfish interests, many of whom became multimillionaires out of the pork barrel that their plan for flood control made available to them.
One day I was sitting in the hotel suite of Huey Long, and a young, green, clear-countenanced, aggressive man was brought in. His name was Newt Mills. He was a school teacher in Northern Louisiana. As he approached Senator Long he said, “Huey, I am going to run for Congress against Riley Joe Wilson.” Without hesitation Huey said to this penniless young school teacher, “If you run I’ll support you.”
Shortly after that came the assassination and the political fixers who later sold the organization to Roosevelt for a “mess of pottage”, thus betraying the man on whose blood they had been elected – this combine decided to ditch Newt Mills and support the incumbent who was an enemy of Huey Long.
I immediately announced that I was going to help keep Huey’s promise and I would take a sound truck and go up into Northern Louisiana and help elect Newt Mills to the Congress.
One day I was stopped in the lobby of the Roosevelt Hotel by a well-groomed, high-toned, tall, cunning man whose name I shall not use. He said, “Dr. Smith, I understand you are going to go up and support Newt Mills against Riley Joe Wilson.” I said, “Yes. I was with Huey Long when he promised to support Newt and I am going to help keep his word.”
The fixers and lobbyists had long since learned that I was not subject to the ordinary temptations involving privilege, money and favors designed to change my viewpoint or alter my program of activity. This man, therefore, did not make a cold offer. He just raised this one question: “Did you ever hear of the man that made $50,000.00 merely by taking a two weeks’ vacation to Havana?” I said, “No, I never heard of him and I do not envy his experience.”
The propositioner immediately sensed that he had been repulsed.
His offer was similar to an indirect offer made to me by Dick Leche who had just been elected Governor on the blood of Huey Long and evidently knew that he was going to make a deal with Long’s worst enemy, Franklin D. Roosevelt. He approached me in the lobby of the same hotel and handed me a beautiful wallet with solid gold trimming and as he gave it to me he said, “Dr. Smith, stick with us and I’ll show you how to fill that up.”
I didn’t realize then what he had in mind but I knew he had something in mind that would not interest me. When the Assistant Attorney General of the United States, Joe Keenan came down and consummated the “Second Louisiana Purchase” and promised that millions of dollars would flow into Louisiana if the newly elected officials could get along with Mr. Roosevelt, it was not difficult for me to realize what Governor Leche had in mind. He wanted my silence which he did not get.
Later this gang of betrayers became scandalously rich. They accumulated so much graft wealth under the guidance and leadership of Seymour Weiss that it was literally running out of their ears and was so obvious that the fact was not in any sense a rumor, but something that seemed to be common knowledge among observers. Here was a man who was elected Governor and virtually had to borrow enough money from Seymour Weiss to buy his costumes for the inauguration. Shortly he was to become a man of great wealth, living in a mansion and enjoying all the extravagant luxuries similar to the type enjoyed by a man who had discovered one hundred producing oil wells.
This gang then joined with Franklin D. Roosevelt in an attempt to destroy me, paralyze my efforts and, if possible, silence my voice.
In a mechanical sense, they were partially successful because in our campaign to make Huey Long President of the United States we had accumulated the names of half a million key people all over the United States and these had been transferred to addressograph plates. When the press interviewed me as to what I planned to do, I told them that I had no desire for high office but I planned to use the addressograph plates that we had accumulated to circularize the nation and sensitize them to the high principles for which Senator Long had stood. This was my big blunder.
A few nights later in a brutal attempt to satisfy Roosevelt’s hate for me as well as his fear, two men prominent in the organization whom I shall not name in deference to their living relatives – and one of the two men is still alive – came down to our publishing headquarters and supervised the removal of all the addressograph plates that we had accumulated at great expense and ordered that they be thrown into a furnace and melted.
This left me standing alone, with the local organization sold out, with the President of the United States wanting to put me in prison and with the names of our best friends melted up and destroyed. There is only one word to use in describing this circumstance and that is the word “Alone”.
I am in the process of preparing a book concerning my lifetime experiences. It will be much thicker than this book and it will tell many things that are not contained herein. But one of the things that it will tell will be the story of how Franklin D. Roosevelt, as referred to elsewhere, announced to the world that he proposed to put me in prison. This proposal was announced with a banner headline on Page One of the Detroit Free Press.
I immediately sat down and wrote the Attorney General, Mr. Biddle, saying that I thought it would be a good idea to indict me so that in my defense I could expose their whole crooked outfit. This was at a time when we were on the border of being taken into the 2nd World War, and I was a part of the great America First movement. The leaders of this movement with whom I was associated were Henry Ford, the elder; General Wood, President of Sears, Roebuck; Col. Charles Lindbergh; Father Charles Coughlin of radio renown and myself. The warmongers were trying to represent us as seditionists who should be put in prison.
Of course, we were not pro-Nazi and we were not pro-Communist. It was our theory that we should referee the fight between Stalin and Hitler, weaken both nations and preserve our own strength without making a Frankenstein out of either one.
When I wrote to Attorney General Biddle, I said “I will be glad to defend myself against the persecutions of our President and I think that would be a good time to bring up the subject, ‘The Assassination of Huey Long – Who instigated it? Who promoted it? Who favored it and why was somebody able to say in the conference of the murder plotters in the DeSoto Hotel’, I can guarantee that if he is killed in Washington that the President will pardon the man that does it.”
That was the last I heard from the Attorney General until some years later when he wrote his Memoirs. Evidently his ghost writer didn’t do his homework and he libeled me. It only required an exchange of about three letters between my attorney and Mr. Biddle and his attorneys to recover a cash settlement which incidentally was used to help buy our residence in Eureka Springs where we now live one half of the time. We live the other half in Hollywood, California.
Some four years before this book was published, Mrs. Smith and I journeyed to New Orleans. We visited friends in various parts of the State and as we planned our return to Eureka Springs, Arkansas, our legal residence where we spend at least one half our time, we decided to go home by way of Winnfield, the hometown of Huey Long and see the old homestead.
Imagine our shock when we discovered that the homestead had been destroyed and that a motel had been built in its place. We were also shocked and disenchanted by the fact that no memorial tribute had been developed in Winn Parish in honor of their greatest citizen – not only the greatest man that ever came out of Winnfield, but the greatest man that ever came out of Louisiana.
The thought preyed upon our minds and as indicated elsewhere in this book, we decided to try to build a memorial to this man who was a combination of Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and Andrew Jackson. He had the skill of a statesman. He understood the heart of the common man and he had an aggressive fearlessness that could not be dissipated or weakened by smear, character assassination or the threat of death itself. He finally paid the supreme price.
I had remembered that one of his closest and most intimate and loyal friends was one H. B. Bozeman, Winnfield, Louisiana who held important offices and responsible appointments in the Long organization. When I attempted to contact Mr. Bozeman, my memory was refreshed by the reminder that he had passed away, but his brother Eck H. Bozeman was still alive and living in Winnfield. Mr. Bozeman has been prominent in his activities as a Public Relations man and as a creative thinker in the realm of developments in various parts of the country.
I wrote a letter to Mr. Bozeman and he was kind enough to answer my letter. We then began to communicate not only by correspondence but by long distance telephone concerning the possibility of finding the proper location on which to erect a bronze statue of Huey Long.
Later Mrs. Smith and I drove to Winnfield where we conferred with Mr. Bozeman. He had several potential locations to suggest but none of them seemed satisfactory. We concluded, as suggested elsewhere, that it would not be well to build the Statue in Winnfield because it would seem competitive, in relationship to the Statue that had already been built of his brother Governor Earl Long.
We returned to Eureka Springs without being satisfied concerning a potential location. Later we heard from Mr. Bozeman. He informed us to the effect that three of his young friends, all coming from families that admired Huey Long, had come into the possession of one of the most historic plantation properties in the State of Louisiana, located at St. Maurice on the edge of Winn Parish, approximately half way between the historic city of Natchitoches and Winnfield. An appointment was made and Mrs. Smith and I, together with a friend, went to Louisiana and conferred with these three gentlemen: Robert N. Smith, Charles B. Bice and Jerry Willis.
We went out to the St. Maurice Mansion and were greatly impressed by the location. The Mansion was built in 1829. These three civic-minded citizens had restored it to appear as it could have appeared when it was built. Alongside the mansion is a beautiful tract of land which appears more like a garden, with chestnut trees, magnolia trees and live oaks.
Mrs. Smith and I were greatly impressed and we asked these three gentlemen if they would be willing to give us a 100 year lease on this spacious tract on which to build the bronze Statue. We came to an agreement and the Elna M. Smith Foundation now holds a 100 year lease on this beautiful spot.
As this was written, agreements and plans were being made to so develop the Mansion in relationship to the Statue as to make it an object of great tourist interest.
Since the lease was signed and the publicity went out concerning the plans, the St. Maurice Estate, together with the Statue, have been recognized by the Louisiana authorities as worthy of being referred to in the maps, charts and tourist information as an historical location worthy to be visited by people from all over the world.