Study Guide

Every Man a King Main Idea

By Huey Long

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  • Main Idea

    Firebrand populist Huey P. Long delivered a scathing criticism of capitalism in America and proposed a simple solution: just take all individual wealth above a certain limit (TBD) and use it to guarantee everyone a minimal income and social welfare benefits.


    Questions About Main Idea

    1. Why do you think Long leans so heavily upon biblical passages to frame and shore up his arguments?
    2. What connections does Long draw between the economic and political climate of his day and the ideals of the Founding Fathers?
    3. Where does Huey Long fall on the political spectrum based on this speech?
    4. Why does Long separate himself from both Hoover and Roosevelt?

    Chew on This

    Long's speech addressed the concerns of average working Americans when everyone else was ignoring them.

    Long tapped into feelings of unfairness in the American economic and political system, but the true purpose of the speech was his own presidential aspirations.

  • Brief Summary

    The Set-Up

    During the Great Depression, wealth inequality was at an all-time high in America, and the majority of the people were feeling it. Huey Long, a longtime proponent of wealth redistribution in his own state, took this platform to a national scale in a radio address aimed at building support for his movement and getting his name out there for a run at the presidency.


    The Text

    The speech itself is nothing remarkable by Huey Long standards, but there are some fairly radical ideas thrown around. Radical by 1930s American standards, at least: soak the rich—who are holding on to the nation's wealth while people are struggling and children are going hungry—by limiting the amount of wealth any one person is allowed to have and using the excess to fund programs for the poor. It's a Share the Wealth program that will cap personal wealth at $50,000,000 (or less, if necessary) and spread the rest around.

    Long discusses how his program of wealth redistribution is supported by all thinking men going back to the Bible, the Founding Fathers, and the ancient Greek philosophers. He throws out stats and numbers: the debt owed by Americans is equal to forty-five times the entire money supply; 85% of the wealth of the country is dominated by only a handful of Americans. He doesn't provide sources for these figures or credible authority to support his claims.

    What will the program do with all the leftover money from the unconscionably high fortunes of the elite? Well, everyone will be guaranteed a minimum living wage and assets; work hours can be limited; people can go back to school; the elderly will be guaranteed retirement and a pension; veterans will be given pensions and health care. All this will be easy to do, because the problem isn't too few resources or not enough money. It's that too few people have most of it.

    Long criticizes the men currently in power as totally ineffectual dolts who'll do nothing to combat the real problem at the heart of America's economic and political crisis. He appeals not to his fellow senators or governors or even the president: he appeals directly to the people in classic Huey Long style. He urges them to look at the facts, to write him if they doubt or don't understand; he'll be more than happy to provide them with as much propaganda/information as they need. He then signs off with a greeting to his family and a last push to encourage people to join their local Share Our Wealth organizations, or to set up one of their own if there are none to join.

    Long out.


    Huey Long calls out the fat-cat rich guys for hoarding all the resources and he lays down his plan for a radical restructuring of the American economic system to give all Americans a fair share.

  • Questions

    1. How does Long keep his speech relatable for common folk and highbrows alike?
    2. How does Long manage the flow of his speech without making it too dense?
    3. Why does Long include so many references to the Bible, the founding fathers, and ancient Greek philosophy?
    4. What's the main goal of the speech?
    5. Long throws a great deal of stats and numbers out through the course of the speech but doesn't provide any sources for his data: how does this affect his argument?
    6. Why was Long so concerned with wealth inequality?
    7. What long-term effects might Long's plans have had on American society and the American economy?
    8. What would Bernie Sanders have to say about this speech? How might he have delivered it?
    9. Can you see Long's political ambitions peeking through in this speech? If so, where?

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