Snapshots from the National Statuary Hall at the U. S. Capitol – Huey P. Long and Helen Keller

In this new series called “Snapshots from the National Statuary Hall at the U. S. Capitol,” I am showcasing unlikely pairs of historical figures in the National Statuary Hall who have things in common with each other.

I am pairing Louisiana’s controversial Governor, Huey P. Long, and Alabama’s Helen Keller, a deaf-blind woman who gain prominence as an American author, lecturer, political activist, and disability rights activist, in this segment.

In the first segment of this series, I paired Michigan’s Gerald Ford, a former President of the United States, and Mississippi’s Jefferson Davis, the former President of the Confederate States of America; and in the second segment, I paired Dr. Norman Borlaug, Ph.D, often called the “Father of the Green Revolution; and Colorado’s Dr. Florence R. Sabin, M.D, remembered as a pioneer for women in science.

A statue of Huey Pierce Long is in the National Statuary Hall representing the State of Louisiana.

Huey Pierce Long, Jr, was an American politician, serving as Louisiana’s Governor and as United States Senator. 

He was  assassinated in 1935.

Nicknamed “the Kingfish,” he rose to prominence during the Great Depression as a left-wing populist in the Democratic party who was critical of President Franklin Roosevelt and his New Deal, which Long didn’t think was radical enough.

Huey Long was born in August of 1893 near Winnfield, Louisiana, the seat of Winn Parish.

His family lived in a comfortable farmhouse, and were well-off compared to others in Winnfield.

In the 1890s, Winn Parish was a bastion of the Populist Party, a left-wing political party that emphasized the idea of “the People” versus “the Establishment.”

In the 1912 election, citizens of Winn Parish voted more for Socialist candidate for President Eugene V. Debs than any other candidate.

When Long was in high school, he and his friends formed a secret society, with a mission to “run things, laying down certain rules the students would have to follow.”

Cautioned by his teachers to obey the school’s rules, some of the rebellious things Long did included distributing a flyer that criticized his teachers and the necessity of a recently-mandated fourth year of secondary education, and successfully petitioning to fire the principal, though he never finished high school.

And even though he won a full academic scholarship to Louisiana State University, his family couldn’t afford to cover his books or living expenses, so he became a travelling salesman instead.

In 1911, at the urging of his mother, he attended seminary classes Oklahoma Baptist University, but only for one semester because it didn’t suit him.

Then, in 1912, he attended the University of Oklahoma College of Law in for a semester, where apparently his grades were poor because he was distracted by the gambling houses when he was attending classes there.

While working as a salesman, Long met his future wife Rose McConnell, who he married in 1913, at a baking contest he promoted to sell Cottolene Shortening, a brand of shortening made of beef suet and cottonseed oil that was produced in the U. S. from 1868 until the early 20th-century, the first mass-produced and mass-marketed alternative to lard, a natural cooking fat derived from rendered pig fat.

Long enrolled in the Tulane Law School in 1914, concentrating on the courses necessary for the bar exam.

He passed the bar, and received his license to practice law in 1915.

Long established his private law practice in Winnfield in 1915, where he represented poor plaintiff’s, mostly in Workers’ Compensation cases.

In 1918, he entered the race to serve on one of the three-seats on the Louisiana Railroad Commission.

His message to the voters throughout his career as an elected official, in a nutshell, was that he was a warrior from and for the people, battling the giants of Wall Street, with too much of America’s wealth being concentrated in too few hands.

He won by just over 600 votes.

While serving on the commission, he forced utilities to lower rates; ordered railroads to service to small towns; and demanded Standard Oil to stop importing Mexican crude oil and use more oil from Louisiana.

Long became chairman of the commission in 1922, known by then as the “Public Service Commission.”

Huey Long announced his candidacy for Louisiana governor in August of 1923.

He campaigned throughout the state, as well as in rural areas disenfranchised by the Louisiana political establishment, known as the “Old Regulars.”

He did not make it past the primary that year, even though received 31% of the vote from the electorate and carried 28 parishes, more than his opponents.

It was the only election Long ever lost.

Long spent the next four years building his political organization and reputation.

Also, Government mismanagement as a result of the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 from the people affected by it aided Huey Long.

The most destructive river flood in U. S. history, it was estimated to cost upwards of $1 billion in damages, and caused the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom joined the “Great Migration,” also known as the “Black Migration,” from the rural south to the industrial cities of the North and Midwest, that took place roughly between 1910 and 1970.

He launched his second campaign for governor in 1927, using the slogan “Every man a king, but no one wears a crown.”

Among other things, he used trucks with loudspeakers and radio commercials in his campaign.

He won the 1928 election for governor with 96.1% of the vote in the general election, and was the youngest governor elected in state history at the age of 35.

Upon entering office on May 21st of 1928, Long fired hundreds of opponents in the state bureaucracy at all levels, and replaced them with patronage appointments of his political supporters, who were expected to pay a portion of their salary into his campaign fund.

This was his office in the Old Louisiana Governor’s Mansion in Baton Rouge, said to have been built under his supervision in 1930, and inspired to resemble the White House in Washington, DC.

It is now an historic house museum under the stewardship of an organization called “Preserve Louisiana.

The previous Governor’s Mansion in Baton Rouge, the Knox Mansion said to have been built in 1857, was demolished by convicts from the State Penitentiary under the direction of Huey Long.

After Long had strengthened his control over the state political apparatus, he proceeded to push bills through the state legislature to fulfill campaign promises using aggressive tactics to ensure their passage.

Long met considerable resistance from legislators after calling the legislature into special session in 1929 in order to enact a 5-cent per barrel tax on refined oil production, and his opponents introduced an impeachment resolution against him with nineteen charges listed.

He was ultimately impeached on eight-of-the-nineteen charges in the Louisiana House but avoided conviction in the Senate, in which conviction required a two-thirds majority, particularly when fifteen Senators signed a statement pledging to vote not-guilty regardless of the evidence.

In March of 1930, Long established his own newspaper, called the “Louisiana Progress,” which promoted his political aims and attacked his opponents.

The newspaper was renamed “The American Progress” in 1935, and went national to promote Long’s “Share Our Wealth” program and his ambitions for running for President in 1936.

Not long after his impeachment proceedings, Long announced his candidacy for the U. S. Senate in the 1930 Democratic Primary.

By this time, Huey Long was known as “the Kingfish,” a name he bestowed upon himself after an “Amos ‘n’ Andy” character from the radio show which first aired in 1928, and was later turned into a television series from 1951 to 1953.

The Kingfish in “Amos ‘n’ Andy” was a man whose life revolved around his lodge, the Mystic Knights of the Sea.

The radio show had black characters, but was created, written, and voiced by two white actors, Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll, who also happened to be Freemasons and Shriners.

Long won the Senate seat for a term that started while he was still Governor of Louisiana.

This led to a showdown between Long, and his Lieutenant-Governor Paul Cyr, who declared himself the State’s legitimate Governor in October of 1931, and who threatened to undo Long’s reforms.

Using a combination of the Louisiana National Guard and the Louisiana Supreme Court, Long successfully prevented Cyr from claiming the Governorship because he had vacated the Lieutenant-Governorship and had the court eject Cyr, making Long both Governor and Senator-elect.

He was able to concentrate his power into a political machine, and continued his practice of a patronage system placing his supporters into positions of influence and power.

Long’s opponents argued that he became the dictator of Louisiana.

Long’s legacy as Governor of Louisiana was said to be his creation of an unprecedented public works program resulting in the construction of roads, bridges, hospitals, schools and state buildings, which would have taken place during the Great Depression.

Infrastructure attributed to Huey Long includes:

The Huey P. Long Bridge, a cantilevered, steel through-truss bridge carrying six-lanes of U.S. 90 and two-tracks of the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad across the Mississippi River, said to have been constructed between January of 1933 and December of 1935…

…the Field House at Louisiana State University, said to have been constructed in 1932 with a post office, ballroom, gymnasium, and the largest swimming pool in the United States at the time…

…the swimming pool of which was abandoned after the Natatorium for the LSU swim teams was completed in 1985…

…and the new Louisiana State Capitol building in Baton Rouge, said to have been constructed between 1930 and 1931, and inaugurated in May of 1932.

The Louisiana State Capitol Building in the middle brings to mind Moscow State University on the left, said to have been built in the Stalinist Architectural style between 1947 and 1953, and on the right, the George Washington Masonic National Memorial in Alexandria, Virginia, said to have been built starting in 1922, and opening in 1932.

Long continued to effectively maintain control of Louisiana as Senator, and by 1935, his consolidation of power led to those in opposition to him forming what was called the “Square Deal Association” in January of 1935, which included two former governors and the Mayor of New Orleans.

On January 25th of 1935, armed “Square Dealers” seized the East Baton Rouge Parish Courthouse.

In response, Long had the Governor, his long-time friend and supporter, Oscar Allen, call in the National Guard and declare Martial Law, banning public gatherings of more than two people and forbidding criticism of state officials.

The Square Dealers left the courthouse, and the only resulting incident was a brief armed skirmish at the airport, leaving one person wounded but no fatalities.

In the summer of 1935, Long called for two special legislative sessions, which passed laws further centralizing Long’s control over the state, and which stripped away the remaining powers of the Mayor of New Orleans.

On September 8th of 1935, Long was at the State Capitol to pass a bill that would gerrymander the district of an opponent, Judge Benjamin Pavy.

After the bill passed, Long was shot in the torso at close range, according to the official narrative, by a lone gunman, Baton Rouge physician Dr. Carl Weiss, the son-in-law of Judge Pavy.

Dr. Weiss was immediately shot by Long’s body-guards, with his autopsy findings showing that he was shot over 60 times.

Long’s funeral was held in Baton Rouge on September 12th, with an estimated 200,000 people in attendance, and he was buried on the grounds of the Louisiana State Capitol complex and memorialized by a statue of him directly facing the State Capitol building on his gravesite.

So, here we have a man who was beloved by the People for his anti-establishment rhetoric, and hated by his enemies, whose ambition for power was dictatorial in nature and whose platform was radical socialism, even though he was called a “Populist member of the Democratic Party,” and was also credited with monumental building projects as part of his legacy.

Something seems very fishy about this man and his whole story, leading to more questions than answers.

Who was this guy?

Travelling salesman, turned attorney, turned politician, turned virtual dictator?

What was really going on here?

I mean, doesn’t he even loo like he is telling a fish story in this photo of him?

Telling a “fish story” is slang for an improbable, boastful tale after the tendency of fishermen to exaggerate the size of the fish they have either caught or lost.

Helen Keller is one of the two statues representing the State of Alabama.

Helen Keller lost her sight and hearing after becoming ill at the age of 19-months.

Helen Keller was born in West Tuscumbia, Alabama, in 1880 at a home still standing today called “Ivy Green.”

Tuscumbia is the county seat of Colbert County.

Tuscumbia was the traditional territory of the Chickasaw people, one of the Five Civilized Tribes of the southeastern United States that were relocated by the U. S. Government to the Oklahoma Territory during the 1830s.

Until the age of 7, Helen communicated by home signs.

Her mother sent her and her father to Baltimore in 1886 to see an ENT specialist, who referred them to Alexander Graham Bell, who referred them to the Perkins Institute for the Blind in South Boston, who sent Anne Sullivan to work with Helen at her home in Alabama, and who became her teacher and life-long companion Ann Sullivan, and taught her how to speak, read, and write.

Helen physically attended the Perkins Institute for the Blind in Boston, starting in 1888…

…and the Horace Mann School for the Deaf in Boston in 1890, founded in 1869 and the oldest public day-school for the deaf and hard-of-hearing in the United States…

…and the Wright-Humason School for the Deaf in New York from 1894 to 1896.

Helen Keller gained admittance to Harvard’s Radcliffe College in 1900, and graduated in 1904 as the first blind-and-deaf woman to receive a Bachelor of Arts Degree.

It was during the time that Helen Keller was attending Radcliffe College that she met the Standard Oil magnate, industrialist, and financier Henry Huttleston Rogers through her admirer Mark Twain, and Rogers and his wife paid for Helen’s education there.

She also corresponded with the Austrian Jewish philosopher Wilhelm Jerusalem, who was credited with discovering her literary talent.

Wilhelm Jerusalem wrote a psychological study in 1890 on Laura Bridgman, the first deaf-blind American child to gain an education in the English language, and who gained celebrity status after meeting Charles Dickens in 1842, and he wrote about her in “American Notes.”

It is important to note that the famous American author who admired Helen Keller, Mark Twain, was a member of the Bohemian Club of Bohemian Grove fame…

…and the famous British author Charles Dickens wrote a lot of books about orphans and workhouses.

Helen Keller learned to speak, and for the rest her life gave speeches and lectures, becoming a world famous speaker and author.

She travelled to twenty-five different countries, and gave motivational speeches, in particular about deaf people’s conditions.

In 1909, Helen Keller became a member of the Socialist Party, and in 1912 she joined the IWW.

She supported Eugene V. Debs, five-time Socialist candidate for President of the United States, in his presidential campaigns.

The Industrial Workers of the World, or IWW, was founded in 1905 in Chicago by people like Eugene V. Debs, and Bill Haywood, an active Socialist and Marxist.

The IWW was founded at a convention in Chicago of 200 Socialists, Marxists, and Anarchists

The IWW contends that all workers should be united as a social class to supplant capitalism with industrial democracy.

In 1915, the Helen Keller International organization for research in vision, health, and nutrition, was founded by her and George A. Kessler, a businessman known as the “Champagne King,” who owned a wine import company.

Notably, George A. Kessler was one of the 761 survivors of the 1,960 people on-board the RMS Lusitania when it sank during World War I in May of 1915 after having been torpedoed by a German U-Boat.

Helen Keller was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964.

Helen Keller died in her sleep on June 1st of 1968 at her home in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Her funeral service was held at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC, and her ashes said to be buried next to her constant companion Anne Sullivan in a crypt in the Chapel of St. Joseph of Arimathea at the National Cathedral.

As mentioned previously, I am showcasing unlikely pairs of historical figures who are represented in the National Statuary Hall who have things in common with each other.

In this pairing, Huey P. Long and Helen Keller both had far left-learning political views.

Huey P. Long’s ambition for power was dictatorial in nature and his platform was radical socialism, even though he was called a “Populist member of the Democratic Party,” and Helen Keller was an active member of the Socialist Party.

Huey Long’s home parish of Winn Parish was a Populist Bastion that strongly supported the Socialist candidate of Eugene V. Debs in the 1912 election, and Helen Keller was also a strong supporter of his presidential candidacy as well.

And both Huey P. Long and Helen Keller had a connection to Standard Oil, albeit Huey Long’s connection was adversarial with his demand to Standard Oil to stop importing Mexican crude oil and use more oil from Louisiana when he was on the Louisiana Railroad Commission, and Helen Keller was the beneficiary of Henry Huttleston Rogers, the Standard Oil Magnate, paying for her college education.

The next unlikely pairing from the National Statuary Hall that I am going to showcase for things in common is Henry Clay for Kentucky and Lewis Cass for Michigan.

Author: Michelle Gibson

I firmly believe there would be no mysteries in history if we had been told the true history. I intend to provide compelling evidence to support this. I have been fascinated by megaliths most of my life, and my journey has led me to uncovering the key to the truth. I found a star tetrahedron on the North American continent by connecting the dots of major cities, and extended the lines out. Then I wrote down the cities that lined lined up primarily in circular fashion, and got an amazing tour of the world of places I had never heard of with remarkable similarities across countries. This whole process, and other pieces of the puzzle that fell into place, brought up information that needs to be brought back into collective awareness.

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