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Huey Long, nicknamed The Kingfish, was an American politician from the U.S. state of
Louisiana. A Democrat, he was noted for his radical populist policies. He served as Governor of
Louisiana from 1928 to 1932 and as a U.S. senator from 1932 to 1935. Though a backer of
Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1932 presidential election, Long split with Roosevelt in June 1933
and allegedly planned to mount his own presidential bid.
Long created the Share Our Wealth program in 1934, with the motto "Every Man a King,"
proposing new wealth redistribution measures in the form of a net asset tax on large
corporations and individuals of great wealth to curb the poverty and crime resulting from the
Great Depression. He was an ardent critic of the Federal Reserve System.
Charismatic and immensely popular for his social reform programs and willingness to take
forceful action, Long was accused by his opponents of dictatorial tendencies for his neartotal
control of the state government. At the height of his popularity, the colorful and flamboyant Long
was shot on September 8, 1935, at the Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge he died two
days later at the age of 42. His last words were reportedly, "God, don't let me die. I have so
much left to do."
Francis Townsend was an American physician who was best known for his revolving oldage
pension proposal during the Great Depression. Known as the "Townsend Plan," this proposal
influenced the establishment of the Roosevelt administration's Social Security system.
The Townsend Plan called for a guaranteed monthly pension of $200 (a quiteconsiderable sum
in 1930s, which would have enabled its recipients to have lived a relatively middle class lifestyle)
to every retired citizen age 65 or older, to be paid for by a form of a national sales tax of 2% on
all business transactions (in reality a concept somewhat akin to a value added tax), with the
stipulation that each pensioner would be required to spend the money within 30 days. The idea
was to end the Depression through consumer spending by way of ending poverty among the
aged. Economists generally disdained this form of taxation as being unfairly advantageous to
large, vertically integrated enterprises which produced goods from the raw material all the way to
the finished, saleable product over intermediary operations which were involved in only one or
two steps of this process. The main argument against the plan, however, was that the taxes
would not be enough to pay for the high pensions, which would account for almost half the
national income. Townsend and Clements, the cofounder of the organization and its motive
force, quickly amended the proposal to pay out only as much as the tax would bring in. The
Townsend Plan contested oldage policy in a serious way for more than a decade.
The Farmer's Holiday Association is a group started in the summer of 1932 by Milo Reno. The
group endorsed the withholding of farm products from the market basically a farmers' strike.
The leader was Milo Reno. One person was killed when farmers began to blockade roads. Also
farmers got together to resist foreclosure. They rallied to destroy and burn their crops, thus
lowering supply and rising costs. In one account, the farmers used torpedoes to halt a train
carrying livestock into Iowa. The highways into Sioux City and Council Bluffs were blocked by
pickets who dumped any farm produce on the side of the road. At Le Mars, Iowa a bunch of
angry farmers actually dragged a judge out of his courtroom, placed a noose around his neck,
and threatened to hang him unless he stopped approving farm foreclosures
Upton Sinclair was a prolific American author and muckraker who wrote over 90 books in many
genres and was widely considered to be one of the best investigators advocating socialist views
and supporting anarchist causes. He achieved considerable popularity in the first half of the 20th
century. He gained particular fame for his 1906 novel The Jungle, which dealt with conditions in
the U.S. meat packing industry and caused a public uproar that partly contributed to the
passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act in 1906.
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Father Charles Coughlin was a Canadianborn Roman Catholic priest at Royal Oak,
Michigan's National Shrine of the Little Flower Church. He was one of the first political leaders to
use radio to reach a mass audience, as more than forty million tuned to his weekly broadcasts
during the 1930s. This radio program included praises of Hitler and Mussolini and has been
called "a variation of the Fascist agenda applied to American culture.…read more