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The Rusticity and Religiosity of Huey P. Long

From: Rhetoric & Public Affairs
Volume 7, Number 2, Summer 2004
pp. 149-171 | 10.1353/rap.2004.0040


Challenging the conventional portrait of Huey P. Long as a Southern demagogue, this essay argues for a new understanding of the Kingfish that better accounts for how he simultaneously forged a fiercely loyal following of "common folk" and outraged, even terrorized, a "better" class of citizens. Focusing on Long's rise to national prominence between 1933 and 1935, we locate the rhetorical and symbolic power of Long's Share Our Wealth crusade not in the economic "deal" he offered poor people, but in the rusticity of his political persona and the religiosity of his radio addresses.

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