Comparative History of Huey P. Long and Maurice Duplessis Thesis

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¶ … History of Huey P. Long and Maurice Duplessis

The political quest for power can take many forms. Leaders use certain tools to gain power. However, different leaders use similar tools differently. Leaders must often choose whether they are for the people or for the establishment. Big, business and large institutions are considered to be in opposition to the people. Although many have attempted to seek a balance of power between these two entities, a true partnership between the establishment and the common people is yet to be achieved. It appears that taking power from one means giving power to the other. Politicians are forced to choose sides under the current social arrangement between big business and the general population.

To explore this issue further, we will explore the lives of two prominent gentlemen in politics. Both of these men ruled are contemporaries of one another and ruled during similar trying historical times. Both of these men had similar tools at their disposal, but used then differently. These two men were Huey P. Long, former Governor and U.S. Senator from Louisiana and Maurice Duplessis, Premier of Quebec. This research will explore the lives of these two men and will use comparison and contrast to support the central thesis. This research will support the thesis that a political tool is nothing more than that, a tool that can be used to give or take power from the people.

Life of the Kingfish

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In order to offer several points for comparison, let us first examine the highlights of the colorful and adventurous life of Senator Huey P. Long, referred to as the Kingfish. Huey P. Long, a Democrat from Louisiana, became famous for his radical populist stance. His long career included positions from U.S. Senator, and a presidential bid against Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933. He placed his bid to lead the country through turbulent financial times, with a plan to restore wealth to the ailing American economy of the Great Depression. The following will outline the highlights of his colorful political career.

Thesis on Comparative History of Huey P. Long and Maurice Duplessis Assignment

To gain a thorough understanding of the influences that shaped a person, one must look into their early childhood. Huey P. long was born August 30, 1893 in Winnfield, a rural area in the north-central portion of Louisiana. He was the son of Huey Pierce Long Sir, and Caledonia Palestine Tyson. His mother was of French descent. His family owned a farm and was, for the most part, middle-class. He went to local schools and was said to be an excellent student, with an astounding memory

. His father remarried after the death of his mother.

Long's first political coup was to circulate a petition at the school, asking that the principal of Winn Parish be fired. This act got him expelled from school

. It is not surprising that Huey, with his fiery personality, won a debating scholarship to attend Louisiana State University. However, he was unable to afford books, so he could not attend

. He spent the next four years using his charisma as a traveling salesman, promoting canned goods and patent medicines. He also worked as an auctioneer

. This was hardly the beginning that one would expect from a future successful politician.

In 1913, Huey married Rose McConnell, a stenographer, who had incidentally won a baking contest that he promoted

. He had a daughter named Rose, and two sons, Russell and Palmer

. Sales jobs grew scarce during World War I, so Long decided to attend seminary classes at Oklahoma Baptist University. However, he never finished this endeavor either, as he decided that preaching did not suit him.

Long then began another college career, attending the University of Oklahoma School of Law. He later attended the Tulane University Law School in New Orleans

. Once again using his charismatic personality, he convinced the board to let him take the bar exam after only one year of school. He passed the bar and began a private law practice in Winnfield

. His business grew and soon he found himself representing small plaintiffs against big businesses. He fought for the common man, representing workers in worker's compensation suits. He was proud of the fact that he never took a case against a poor man

Long's most famous case was when he sued Standard Oil for unfair business practices. He challenged Standard Oil for their influence over state politics and their willingness to use the state's enormous oil supply, at little cost to themselves. This feat was Long's most successful venture to date, winning him an elected position on the Louisiana Railroad Commission. He won this position on an anti-Standard Oil platform

. This coup set the stage that would launch his political career later on in life. His style included fervently attacking opponents. He stood for the common man, working against big business. He fought against rate increases and monopolies.

Long continued to gain popularity with the populace, winning a suit against Cumberland Telephone and Telegraph Company for unfair charges. This coup returned $440,000 to 80,000 customers. He successfully won the appeal in the U.S. Supreme Court as well

. In 1924, Long ran used his pull with the populace to run for Governor of Louisiana. In his usual style, he attacked Parker, Standard Oil, and the established political regime on all levels. It was during this time that he began the practice of wearing his trademark white linen suits

. He used sound trucks and the public radio to make addresses. These practices were ahead of their time, but Long had the personality and charisma to make it work. Surprisingly, he refused to take a stand for or against the Ku Klux Klan, a primary issue of the campaign

. He came in third, but the reason for the loss is not certain.

After the loss, Long was reelected to the Public Service Commission. He used this time to continue building his reputation and a strong political organization

. He used local demographics to his advantage, supporting Catholic candidates to build support. In 1928, he placed another bid for governor. Once again turning to populist ideals, his campaign slogan was "Every man a king, but no one wears a crown"

. Long was not the originator of this phrase, but rather it can be accredited to presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan

Long's campaign appeals to the lower classes and concentrated on the rural areas. He knew that that in order to win, he would have to appease the populace. The oil companies and big business were key campaign contributors, but Long knew that they were only a handful of votes, compared to the poor and rural population. Long knew that votes won elections and dollars only went so far. Long used class resentment among the poor as a platform against corrupt local politics

At the time of Long's campaign, Louisiana was plagued with problems. They had the highest illiteracy rate in the nation

. Families in Louisiana were so poor that they could not purchase textbooks for their children, a problem that Long had experienced himself. A poll tax kept the poor from voting, essentially taking away their constitutional rights and giving the wealthy powers that be almost unlimited control. Literacy and understanding tests were administered selectively to again exclude the poor population. African-Americans faced the worst of these conditions. Long sympathized with the plight of the poor, having come from a rural farming background himself. He was a candidate for the common man and worked to make the lives of the poor and underprivileged in Louisiana better.

Long won the 1928 election by using class resentment of the poor to his favor. Long won by a landslide. Long bridged the north and southern populations of Louisiana. During his time as governor, Long attempted to fix many of the problems that plagued the government he turned the Louisiana government upside down, firing hundreds of opponents in the state bureaucracy

. Long attempted to fulfill his campaign promises, providing free textbooks to school children and providing night courses for adults to improve literacy

. He tried to improve the lives of Louisiana's poor.

Long was responsible for vast improvements in the infrastructure, building new roads, bridges, hospitals and schools

. Long's proposals were popular with the average Louisiana citizen, but they met opposition from those in power, as they took money from their pockets. Long often showed up on the House and Senate floor, personally attacking those that opposed his measures. He became a real freedom fighter for the poor and soon achieved hero status among the common people. His power was not universal and he had enemies that did not agree with his reforms.

In 1929, Long called a session of both houses of the legislature to enact a tax on refined oil. This tax was to be used to help fund his social reforms. In a surprise move, opponents of the tax moved to impeach Long, using trumped up charges from blasphemy,… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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