Long, Huey P. (1893-1935)
Huey Pierce Long was born on a farm in Winnfield, Louisiana on August 30, 1893. He received a standard public school education, after which he studied law at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma and Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. He passed the bar in 1915 and opened a practice in his hometown of Winnfield. Long began his political career at the age of twenty-five with his election to the Louisiana Railroad Commission, a position he held for 10 years. He served as chairman of the re-organized Public Service Commission which had been established in 1921. During his time on the commission, Long led successful litigation for independent oil companies, lowered telephone rates, prevented streetcar rate increases in Shreveport, and required pipelines to operate as common carriers. He was an unsuccessful candidate for Governor of Louisiana in 1924, though he subsequently was elected to the position in 1928. Through print media and the fairly new medium of radio, Long became nationally known for his unusual conduct and somewhat interesting political strategies. He steadily became the power behind Louisiana politics, and though many of his policies were advantageous to his constituency (he secured free textbooks for schools and a large highway appropriation), there were those in the state who were unhappy with the power that he had acquired and the methods that he used to wield it (he gained control of the appointment of police, firefighters, and school teachers, commanded the militia, and exercised influence over the judiciary, election officials, and tax assessors). In 1929, impeachment proceedings were brought against Long by legislative allies of Standard Oil, since he had advocated a special tax on the production of refined oil. Though the State House of Representatives voted in the affirmative on eight of nineteen counts, the motion failed to pass in the State Senate when 15 senators refused to vote for his impeachment. Governor Long initiated a campaign of retaliation against Standard Oil, focused on the local populace, claiming he was being persecuted for attempting to improve the lot of the common people through the enactment of his special oil tax. His constituency must have believed him, as the following year, Long was elected to the United States Senate, though he continued to serve as governor until early in 1932. This was done partly out of a sense of duty to the people of the state and partly to prevent an opponent from becoming governor (his opponent had vowed to repeal much of the legislation that Long had pushed through). His candidate, Oscar K. Allen, was elected in 1932, though most people believed that Huey Long was still running the show. Once he was in Washington, Long advocated the redistribution of money through his “Share-the-Wealth” program, though many of his peers rejected his drastic tax proposals. While serving as a senator, Long wrote two books, Every Man a King, published in 1933, and My First Days in the White House, published posthumously in 1935. Both of these books were intended to introduce Long to the national audience, with the view of his running for president against Franklin D. Roosevelt. Sadly, though surrounded by a cadre of bodyguards, Huey P. Long was shot in the abdomen on September 8, 1935 in the corridor of the Louisiana State Capitol, ostensibly by Dr. Carl Weiss. Dr. Weiss was subsequently shot 62 times (another source says 48 times) by Long’s bodyguards and died on the spot. Long was rushed to a local hospital but he died at 4:10 AM on September 10, 1935. Conspiracy theories have continued surround the shooting, as some believe that Long was actually hit by bullets from one of his bodyguard’s guns, though this was never proven. It was also suggested that the medical attention that he received was less than what it should have been, though again, no proof is available. Huey P. Long was buried on the grounds of the State Capitol on the afternoon of September 12, 1935. The site of his shooting is marked today by a plaque and several bullet holes are still present.
Offered is a $1000 state bond issued and signed by Long while he was serving as the Governor of Louisiana. The central vignette features a spread-winged bald eagle, perched on a rocky crag, looking intently to the viewer’s right. This powerful scene is flanked by geometric medallions incorporating dollar signs and boxes for the amount of the bond (in this case “1,000”). Printed below the vignette, in two lines, is “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” and “STATE OF LOUISIANA”, as well as the statement that this is a “REGISTERED SERIAL GOLD BOND”. This is followed by a lengthy financial obligation, the first part of which reads (in part) “The State of Louisiana is justly indebted and for value received hereby promises to pay to Union Indemnity Company, or registered assigns, on the first day of August, 1958 the sum of One thousand an no/100 Dollars, with interest thereon at the rate of four and one-half per cent (4½%) per annum … Both principal and interest hereof are payable on gold coin of the United States of the present standard of weight and fineness at the office of the State Treasurer in Baton Rouge or at the State’s Fiscal Agency in New Orleans or New York …”. The final paragraph states “IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the State of Louisiana, by authority of said Article of its Constitution and by order of the Board of Liquidation of the State Debt, has caused this bond to be signed by the Governor, attested by the Secretary of State under the seal of the State, and countersigned by the Auditor and Treasurer, at Baton Rouge, this 24th day of January, 1929” (with the day, month, and year added by typewriter). This is followed by the signatures of the aforementioned individuals (the Secretary of State, the Auditor, and the Treasurer), including that of “Huey P. Long” as “Governor”. The seal that is mentioned in the final paragraph appears in the lower left corner. The words “REGISTERED BOND” appear in large, green letters in the center of the financial obligation. All of the above is enclosed in a decorative green border, with the name of the printer, the “FRANKLIN-LEE BANK NOTE COMPANY”, appearing outside the border at the bottom. The verso features a condensed description of the contents of the bond (this allows the bond to be inventoried without having to be opened every time), a notation stating that “This bond is issued in exchange for a like amount of coupon bond, numbered M7035 Maturing August 1, 1958” and signed by the “Treasurer” (the same individual who signed the certificate), and a form noting two transactions regarding this certificate (probably transfers of some type). Each of these sections is enclosed in a decorative green border. The imprint of the printer appears below the description of the contents. This historic document measures approximately 10.5 x 13.0 inches, with Long’s signature measuring approximately 3.25 inches overall. This attractive certificate would frame beautifully with a portrait of Governor Long, especially if it was surrounded by colorful campaign material.
In common with almost all early stock certificates or bonds, the presently offered piece exhibits numerous folds from period use and subsequent storage. Three hard vertical creases indicate where the bond was folded for storage (these correspond to the printed divisions on the verso), while additional wrinkles and bends are scattered throughout the design (some of these may have occurred when the document was inserted into a typewriter for the various notations). One of these folds bisects the Long signature between the “P” and the “L”, with the lower loop of the latter letter being the most affected. The upper left and right corners each exhibit significant diagonal folds, though due to the type of paper used in the production of the document, no paper loss has occurred. The edges (not visible in the illustration) are somewhat ragged at the top, and the left margin appears to be cut by hand rather than by machine. A small staple remains in the upper left corner, undoubtedly used to affix pertinent paperwork to the document. Minor surface rust is present on the staple, with sopme migration to the surrounding paper noted. Common to all stocks and bonds, some form of cancellation was required upon redemption, with 10 small holes (these appear as black dots on the illustration due to the background) affecting most of the signatures (for some reason the signature of the Auditor was not affected at all, and that of the Treasurer is barely affected) and the state seal at the left. The Long signature is affected by two holes, one in his first name and the other in the upper loop of the “P”. These holes were strategically placed so no one would be able to reissue the piece after it was redeemed, but it certainly has made many collectors unhappy. The contrast is average for a piece of this period and type, with all of the signatures legible but not particularly bold. Scattered light staining is noted for accuracy, as is minor overall toning. Overall, this is a nice, representative example of this attractively designed bond, signed by one of Louisiana’s more colorful characters.
Due to the size of this document, only the central portion is illustrated. Additional scans, including enlargements of the signature are available upon request.