Huey P. Long

Speech to Senate Staffers at the Washington Press Club

11 December 1934, Washington, D.C.


[transcription incomplete - generated partially from audio above and other sources]

Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen:

I want you to realize, [that I've never given a free] speech in my life. I don't mean by that I got any 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 to get 250 dollars, 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 the 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 lot in every position I've ever held....

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I was elected rail road commissioner of Louisiana in 1918. And they tried to impeach me in 1920....When they failed to impeach me in 1920 they indicted me in 1921.  And I, when I wiggled through that I managed to become governor in 1928. And they impeached me in 1929. And in 1930, I was the Democratic National Committeeman. And they made moves to unseat me 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....

And it's this: 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 the 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 to 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 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 dollars, 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

don't state the facts any longer. He argued with me for awhile, but he couldn't meet the facts. Now he has to misstate the facts -- just 20 to 1 for the truth. In other words, 19/20ths of what Mr. Brisbane says is a lie; and 1/20th is the truth.

That's all....

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We're not going to destroy the Gulf Refining company. We not going to destroy the Standard Oil company. But we're going to say that the limit of any one man's stock ownership in the Standard Oil company is from 3 to 5 million dollars for that individual, and that the balance of the people in America own the balance of what the Standard Oil company's worth. 

All right....

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Then what we going to do? We're going to guarantee if your plan succeeds -- and it is; don't fool yourself. It's going to win this country. It's going to win this country. Not 1940. It won in 1932 but we got -- we didn't get it, but we're going to win again in '36.

We're going to say then that every family in this country is entitled to the Florida and the Texas and the Louisiana Homestead rights, up to 5000 dollars or 1/3 the average. A home! And the comforts of a home! Including an automobile! And a radio! The things that it takes in that house to live on....

Now, if you have on that table the food and the clothing and the products that it takes for 125 million people to live on, 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.

How many men ever went to a barbecue and would let one man take off the table what's intended for 9/10ths of the people to eat. The only way you'll ever be able to feed the balance of the people is to make that man come back and bring back some of that grub he ain't got no business with.     

Now, we've got a barbecue. We have been praying to the Almighty to send us to a feast. We have knelt on our knees morning and nighttime.  "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth at it is in heaven." We have asked the Almighty to fulfill that parable of the Scripture, that He would fall on the fields, give us "rain in due season" and cause our seeds to [inaudible] the abundance necessary for life.

And [inaudible] has been yielding too much to eat, too much to wear, everything to live in.

The Lord has answered the prayer. He has called the barbecue: "Come to my feast," He said to 125 million American people. But Morgan and Rockefeller and Mellon and Baruch have walked up and took 85 percent of the vittles off the table.

Now, how you going to feed the balance of the people? What's Morgan and Baruch and Rockefeller and Mellon going to do with all of that grub. They can't ear it. They can't wear the clothes. They can't live in the houses. Give 'em a yacht! Give 'em a palace! Send them to Reno and get them a new wife when they want it, if that's what they want.

But when they've got everything on the God's loving earth that they can eat and they can wear and they can live in, and all that their children can live in and wear and eat, and all their children's children can use, then we got to call Mr. Morgan and Mr. Mellon and Mr. Rockefeller back and say, "Come back here. Put that stuff back on this table here that you took away from here -- that you don't need. Leave something else for the American people to consume." And that's the program.

Now, my friends, I have, in a rather belabored effort, told you everything that I  stand for, about everything Congress. I can't anticipate all your questions. I won't undertake to do so. I would have have had the opportunity. They don't quit depending on the newspapers. They don't know whether they are a comin' or a goin.'

They don't' know what to say. One day they say one thing and another day [say another]. But you have the nucleus, the composite group of people here...have...the majority of the people of the United States. I'd like to have you not supporting me. Maybe I can get along without it somehow or another.

I'd like to have you study, seriously, assiduously, whether or not the American people are going to survive without calling into being what the Lord said had to be done....starvation among friends...naked within the land of too much...a luxury and on the one hand, a pestilence on the other.

Whether or not, we must not forget these...and let the people of America understand that whether you got a NRA or a JRA or a PWA or a...and nothing can survive, that nothing can advance against this abundance, against this plenty, against this surplus, except that.

We say to America, 125 million, none shall be too big, none shall be too poor; none shall work too much, none shall be idle. No luxurious mansions empty, none walking the streets, none impoverished, none in pestilence, none in want. But in the land blessed by the smile of the Creator, with everything to be consumed, to be eaten, to be worn... that America will become a land, sharing the fruits of the land, not for the favored few, not to satisfy greed, but that all may live in the land in which the Lord has provided an abundance sufficient for the luxury and convenience of the people in general.

I thank you.

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

Transcript Note: Based on audio compiled from different sources. The integrity of the structure/organization of the content above is unclear.

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

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

Page Updated: 7/16/20

U.S. Copyright Status: Text, Audio, Video = Uncertain.



























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