Updated:
Original:
Year
1935
Month Day
September 08

Louisiana senator Huey Long is shot

Senator Huey Long is shot in the Louisiana state capitol building. He died about 30 hours later. Called a demagogue by critics, the populist leader was a larger-than-life figure who boasted that he bought legislators “like sacks of potatoes, shuffled them like a deck of cards.” He gave himself the nickname “Kingfish,” saying “I’m a small fish here in Washington. But I’m the Kingfish to the folks down in Louisiana.”

In 1928 Long became the youngest governor of Louisiana at age 34. His brash style alienated many people, including the heads of the biggest corporation in the state, Standard Oil. Long preached the redistribution of wealth, which he believed could be done by heavily taxing the rich. One of his early propositions, which met with much opposition, was an “occupational” tax on oil refineries. Later, Long would develop these theories into the Share Our Wealth society, which promised a $2,500 minimum income per family.

Long also abolished the state’s poll tax on voting and gained free textbooks for every student. His motto was “Every Man a King.” His populism led to an impeachment attempt, but he successfully foiled the charges. In 1930, he won the election for Louisiana senator but declined to serve until his handpicked successor was able to win the governor’s seat in 1932.

Soon after vigorously campaigning for Franklin Roosevelt in 1932, Long, with his own designs on the office, began loudly denouncing the new president. In response, many of his allies in the Louisiana legislature turned against him and would no longer vote for his candidates. In an effort to regain power in the state, Long managed to pass a series of laws giving him control over the appointment of every public position in the state, including every policeman and schoolteacher.

Long, who was planning to take on Franklin Roosevelt in the next election, was shot by Dr. Carl Weiss at point-blank range outside the main hall of the capitol building. Weiss’ motives continue to be debated, but some believe he was angry about rumors Long had spread about the doctor’s in-laws, who had opposed Long politically.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Siege of Leningrad begins

During World War II, German forces begin their siege of Leningrad, a major industrial center and the USSR’s second-largest city. The German armies were later joined by Finnish forces that advanced against Leningrad down the Karelian Isthmus. The siege of Leningrad, also known as ...read more

New Amsterdam becomes New York

Dutch Governor Peter Stuyvesant surrenders New Amsterdam, the capital of New Netherland, to an English naval squadron under Colonel Richard Nicolls. Stuyvesant had hoped to resist the English, but he was an unpopular ruler, and his Dutch subjects refused to rally around him. ...read more

On This Day in History: Ford Pardons Nixon

Ford pardons Nixon

In a controversial executive action, President Gerald Ford pardons his disgraced predecessor Richard M. Nixon for any crimes he may have committed or participated in while in office. Ford later defended this action before the House Judiciary Committee, explaining that he wanted ...read more

Italian surrender is announced

On September 8, 1943, Gen. Dwight Eisenhower publicly announces the surrender of Italy to the Allies. Germany reacted with Operation Axis, the Allies with Operation Avalanche. With Mussolini deposed from power and the earlier collapse of the fascist government in July, Gen. ...read more

SEATO established

Having been directed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to put together an alliance to contain any communist aggression in the free territories of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, or Southeast Asia in general, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles forges an agreement establishing a ...read more

Oprah goes national

On September 8, 1986, The Oprah Winfrey Show is broadcast nationally for the first time. A huge success, her daytime television talk show turns Winfrey into one of the most powerful, wealthy people in show business and, arguably, the most influential woman in America. Winfrey, ...read more

German airship hits central London

On September 8, 1915, a German Zeppelin commanded by Heinrich Mathy, one of the great airship commanders of World War I, hits Aldersgate in central London, killing 22 people and causing £500,000 worth of damage. The Zeppelin, a motor-driven rigid airship, was developed by German ...read more