Tag Archives: charisma

Huey P. Long: A Unique Presence

A man of the people, Huey P. Long, Governor of Louisiana would travel the state, and eventually the entire country.  He spoke with an energy and populism that was supported by policy designed to help the working class. He had a unique charismatic presence that made him an effective orator.

Senator Huey P. Long of Louisiana, warms up for a radio speech from his Washington, DC office on March 7, 1935.

Senator Huey P. Long of Louisiana, warms up for a radio speech from his Washington, DC office on March 7, 1935.

He would gesticulate wildly, with emotion to emphasize his points.  He was poetic, and his speeches flowed well, telling a story.   He would literally yell at a large audience, carrying his voice before the regularity of teleprompters, sound amplification, and sound bite television coverage.  His spontaneity and energy would build many supporters.  His effectiveness in selling the need for roads in rural Louisiana–which at the time the need was hotly debated–still, today, makes him the patron saint of road building in the state.

His “antics” would eventually, to put it mildly, earn him less praise.  His speeches, though effective, would be labeled as buffoonery in the national media.  Because of his popularity as a speaker, he would endure many partisan smears and attacks on his character.  Eventually, Governor Long went to Washington, bringing his popularity with him.  He had large support, and was a strong contender for the presidency.  His speeches continued to make him popular, and there was fear that, if elected President, he would bring about a wave of social policies at the national level.

Combined with corruption allegations and charges of running a dictatorship back home in Louisiana, Huey Long would never get the chance. He was assassinated at age 42, with his last words being “God, don’t let me die. I have so much left to do.”

a great article: Huey Long: A Man of the People

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