Thursday 27 August 2015

All The King's Men character based on Huey Long

"Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall
All the king's horses and all the king's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again."

Robert Penn's 1946 novel All the King's Men, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, featured a character named Willie Stark.  Stark was based on the real life governor and senator of Louisiana, Huey Long. 

Long was an outspoken populist and early supporter of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  His motto was: "Every man a king, but no man wears a crown."  Long denounced banks and the rich, painting himself as a spokesman for the poor and downtrodden.  As governor of Louisiana, he established a "Share Our Wealth" program, developping public works programs to get the unemployed back to work (

Long became a controversial figure in his attempt to combat the rich.  He suggested a 5 cent a barrel tarrif on oil, a big business in Louisiana.  The reaction of the state capitol was to try to impeach him, an attempt that failed.  

In 1935, Long announced that he would be a candidate for the President of the United States.  At the peak of his popularity, Long's Share Our Wealth programs attracted 7.5 million Americans; his radio broadcasts attracted 25 million listeners; and he received 60,000 letters a week (more than the President).  

But his opponents remained.  In September of that year, he attempted to have an opponent removed form the bench of the Louisiana Court, Judge Pavy.  Pavy's son-in-law interrupted the proceedings, pulled a gun and assassinated the senator.  Long's last words were:  "God don't let me die.  I have so much to do."

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