Huey P. Long

Speech to Senate Staffers at the Washington Press Club

11 December 1934, Washington, D.C.

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[transcription incomplete - generated partially from video above]

Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen:

I've never given a free speech in my life. I don't mean by that that I got money for everything I said.

I've, on several occasions, had the particular honor of being invited to make some speeches that I was supposed to get some kind of a mora -- an honorarium for. (I started to say moratorium.) And at the conclusion of each one of those speeches -- one time over in Cleveland I was supposed to get $150, and one time in New York I was to get five, six, seven hundred dollars -- but my conscience wouldn't allow me on either of these occasions to take the money.

Now, however, I have never made a free speech. I never made a speech unless it was before a court or before a crowd where I was trying to get votes or before an audience where I was trying to get converts. And I am probably addressing, for the benefit of the work I am pursuing, the most important and probably the farest-reaching [sic] organization that I've ever had the pleasure of speaking to, because you are the people that have the contact with the American people.

And so, I'm not leaving my beaten path. I'm going to take time to explain to you, as best as my limited ability will permit me, what I'm undertaking to accomplish in the United State Senate. Course I've had a double purpose. First thing I've had to do is fight for the right to stay there -- and I've managed to make pretty good.

But if you'll permit me to backtrack, that's been my line on every position I've ever held....

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And I, when I wiggled through that I managed to become governor in 1928. And they impeached me in the year 1929. And in 1930, I was the Democratic National Committeeman. And they made a move to unseat me in that same year. And as you probably know, they pursued me, to eliminate me from the United States Senate for a couple of years after that time.

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Our United States Government under the auspices of Woodrow Wilson, then the President, undertook to find out what was the trouble in America -- with the people generally. They appointed an Industrial Relations Committee headed by Frank P. Walsh of Kansas City, Missouri. They made an intensive study, and at the conclusion of that study they reported that the chief cause and the chief trouble with America was that a small percent of the people owned a large percent of the wealth.

Now, you'll find that in the report of 1916 published by Congress. In other words, Woodrow Wilson's Administration in 1916 said too few have too much, too many have too little. They gave a table: They said that 2% of the people own 60% of the wealth. They said there's a middle class of 33% that owns 35% of the wealth. They said that 65% of the people own less than 5% of the wealth, that 2 million people own more than 110 million people. That was the finding of our Industrial Conference serving under the appointment of Congress and Woodrow Wilson, the President.

I propose a limitation on the size of fortunes -- both ways. I propose a limitation on how big a fortune can get and a limitation on how little a fortune can get.

I propose that a third of the average is the smallest. One third the average is the smallest.

I propose that none should be over a few millions of dollars.

A capital levy tax to be levied -- the first one million not to be taxed except as it is now taxed; and second million to be taxed 1%, the third million 2%, the fourth million 4%, the fifth million 8%, the sixth million 16%, the 7th million 32%, the eighth million 64%, the ninth million 100%. That means that no man with that tax levied against him every year can possess a fortune of more than from 3 to 4 of 5 million dollars to any one man.

Now what's that going to mean? That's going to mean that within two to three years time, the United States finds that the treasure of the United States in possession of 165 billion dollars of the wealth of this country -- 165 billion at the minimum.

Then, we start from the bottom -- that the 25 or more million American families shall have a homestead -- Louisiana has a homestead. Florida has a homestead. Texas has a homestead -- that every citizen in the United States shall have a homestead up to $5000, 1/3 the average wealth per family -- not like Mr. Brisbane said. (When a man has to mistake the facts, he's probably run out of arguments.) My friend Arthur Brisbane....

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According to the tables which we have assembled, it is our estimate that 4 percent of the American people own 85 percent of the wealth of America, and that over 70 percent of the people of America don't own enough to pay for the debts that they owe.

Any man with a thimble-full of sense ought to know that if you take 85 percent off of that table and give it to one man that you are bound to have 2/3 the people starving because they haven't got enough to eat.

Give them a yacht! Give them palace! Send them to Reno and give them a new wife when they want it -- if that's what they want....

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Book/CDs by Michael E. Eidenmuller, Published by McGraw-Hill (2008)

Also in this database: Huey P. Long - "Every Man a King"

Video & Image (Screenshots) Source: Louisiana Secretary of State Archives

Copyright Status: Text = Public domain. Image = Uncertain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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