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Russell Long

Russell Long: A Life in Politics

Michael S. Martin
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Russell Long
    Book Description:

    Russell Long (1918-2003) occupies a unique niche in twentieth-century United States history. Born into Louisiana's most influential political family, and son of perhaps the most famous Louisianan of all time, Long extended the political power generated by other members of his family and attained heights of power unknown to his predecessors, including his father, Huey.

    The Long family and its followers pervaded Louisiana politics from the late 1920s through the 1980s. Being a Long--especially a son of Huey Long--preordained Russell for a political life. His father's assassination set the wheels in motion for his eventual political career. In 1948, Russell followed his father and his mother to a seat in the United States Senate. In due course, he rose to the politically eminent positions of majority whip and chair of the Senate Finance Committee.

    Russell Long: A Life in Politicsexamines Long's public life and places it within the context of twentieth-century Louisiana, southern, and national politics. In Louisiana, Long's politics arose out of the Longite/ Anti-Longite period of history. Yet he transcended many of those two groups' factional squabbles. In the national realm, Long's politics exhibited a working philosophy that straddled the boundaries between New Deal liberalism and southern conservatism. By the time of his retirement in early 1987, he had witnessed the demise of one political paradigm--the New Deal liberal consensus--and the creation of one dominated by a new style of conservatism.

    eISBN: 978-1-62674-018-1
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-2)
    (pp. 3-9)

    When russell long entered the United States Senate in 1948, World War II burned brightly in American memories, and the Cold War loomed ominously. The politics of civil rights and the civil rights movement were just beginning to make inroads in the nation’s public consciousness. In his home state, Louisiana, Long’s uncle, Earl Long, had earlier in the year brought the so-called Longite political faction back to power. This book provides an investigation of Long’s public life over the four decades that followed his swearing in to the Senate and places him within the context of Louisiana, southern, and national...

  5. CHAPTER ONE Learning the Ropes in the Long Family, 1918–1948
    (pp. 10-37)

    Russell long was born in the booming oil town of Shreveport, in the far northwestern corner of Louisiana, on November 3, 1918. His mother, Rose McConnell Long, named him Huey Pierce Long III for his father, who, at the time of the boy’s birth, was busy campaigning for a seat on the Louisiana Railroad Commission. Huey changed his son’s name to Russell Biliu when he arrived at the hospital.¹

    No one knows for certain why Huey changed the name, although a couple of anecdotal accounts have been handed down through the years. One has Huey, who had been named after...

  6. CHAPTER TWO Finding His Footing, 1949–1952
    (pp. 38-69)

    Arthur vandenberg was sixty-four years old when he swore Russell Long into the United States Senate. Vandenberg had served in the Senate since 1926 and had been a colleague of Long’s father, Huey, during the 1930s. Russell, for his part, had just turned thirty years old.¹

    The Senate that Russell Long encountered as a freshman legislator was vastly different from the one of Huey’s prime and Vandenberg’s youth. Certainly, some of the same politicos still haunted the halls, and the physical setting had changed very little. But the nature of American politics had been transformed by the New Deal and...

  7. CHAPTER THREE On the Outside Looking In, 1953–1960
    (pp. 70-118)

    In july 1952, Russell Long ventured to Chicago as a member of the Louisiana delegation to the Democratic National Convention. Long hoped Georgia senator Richard Russell would receive his party’s presidential nomination, but it was not to be. “Had Richard Russell not come from a Southern state,” Long later stated, “and remained loyal to the view of the people of the state that he represented . . . he probably would have been president.” But Senator Russelldidmaintain his loyalty to “the view”—a view that included the maintenance of racial segregation and black disfranchisement and that would pervade...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR In Ascent, 1960–1969
    (pp. 119-156)

    When the battle over the Civil Rights Act of 1960 ended in April of that year, Russell Long said he hoped “we are forever closing the door” on legislation to force change upon the South’s racial setting. He likely knew that the door was not completely shut, but with that year’s threat out of the way, he could then turn his attentions toward the upcoming presidential election. The campaign that year promised to be interesting for Long, from both a political point of view and a personal one. Of the major candidates, Long had worked alongside three—Republican Richard Nixon...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE Power Broker, 1969–1980
    (pp. 157-196)

    Not long before the 1968 elections, Russell Long received a letter from historian T. Harry Williams. “At 12:15 noon today I finished the book!” wrote Williams. “I feel as though a great load has been lifted.” After thirteen years of working on a biography of Long’s father, Huey, Williams was ready to ship the manuscript off to his publisher. “It’s been worth it. I think this is a great book,” Williams unabashedly stated, “and although there may be some things in it you won’t like, it will give him his deserved place in history.” Before sending the book in, however,...

  10. CONCLUSION In Descent, 1981–2003
    (pp. 197-212)

    The national elections of 1980 saw the coalescence of political, economic, and religious conservatism behind the candidacy of the Republican presidential nominee, Ronald Reagan. The former actor and California governor championed individual freedom and private enterprise in his showdown with Jimmy Carter. Reagan blamed the government itself for the difficulties the United States had faced in the late 1970s, particularly the nation’s economic stagnation. “The people have not created this disaster in our economy; the federal government has,” he said in his announcement for the presidential candidacy. “It has overspent, overestimated, and over regulated. It has failed to deliver services...

  11. NOTES
    (pp. 213-237)
    (pp. 238-250)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 251-259)