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Speechifying Huey Long.

Huey Long Death Gun, Speechifying Statue

Field review by the editors.

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Huey Long is one of the few politicians interesting enough to be a tourist attraction. Many of the same things that make him interesting today, however, were the things that got him killed in 1935.

The gun.
The gun.

Huey Long ruled Louisiana as his private fiefdom and wanted to be President of the United States. He called himself "The Kingfish," and his offices in the Old State Capitol in Baton Rouge, which resembles a medieval castle, have been turned into a mini-museum of his life.

Standing just outside the front door is a plaster sculpture of Huey, used to cast a bronze statue of The Kingfish that was hidden in his hometown courthouse basement for years because his neighbors didn't like him. Visitors pull on the plaster Huey's pointing finger for luck, although the museum would prefer that they didn't.

The main exhibit gallery has a jagged crack painted down its middle, visualizing the divide between Huey's good and bad qualities. One side presents exhibits that call attention to his racial colorblindness, his concern for the poor, his efforts to provide the people of Louisiana with good roads and schools. The other side highlights Huey's thuggery, criminality, and tyrannical approach to governing. One item, a book titled My First Days in the White House, outlines what Huey planned to do once he took over the country.

He was Ruthless.

The museum's centerpiece is a room evoking one of Huey's political rallies. A life-size statue of Huey stands on a rustic campaign platform. When you enter the room his shadow comes to life, flailing theatrically as recorded clips play from Huey's speeches, his resonant voice promising, mocking, encouraging, condemning. His populist slogan was "Every Man a King," but it's clear that there was only one king in Louisiana, and it was Huey Long.

As with most self-appointed saviors, Huey came to an ugly end. A separate room chronicles his assassination in the new state capitol (which Huey had built), showcasing the gun that killed him and the bullet that did it, maybe. Even this aspect of Huey Long is controversial, as some say that he was really killed in the hail of bullets unleashed by his trigger-happy bodyguards. Somber music plays, the actual music that was composed for his funeral, which was attended by over 100,000 people. Huey was buried in the new capitol's front lawn.

Huey Long's assassination ruined his plan to become President, but it has made him the most famous person ever in Baton Rouge. Had he lived, there's no doubt he would have left an excellent presidential museum. The Old State Capitol exhibit will have to do instead, although by a cruel irony Huey hated the Old State Capitol.

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Also see: See the Bullet Hole | Huey Long's Towering Tombstone

Huey Long Death Gun, Speechifying Statue

Old State Capitol

100 North Blvd, Baton Rouge, LA
Old State Capitol. I-110 exit onto North Blvd, then east to the river. About a mile south of the current Capitol building. On the first floor.
T-Sa 9-4 (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

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