Share Our Wealth
Share Our Wealth was a movement begun during the Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

 by Huey Long
Huey Long
Huey Pierce Long, Jr. , nicknamed The Kingfish, served as the 40th Governor of Louisiana from 1928–1932 and as a U.S. Senator from 1932 to 1935. A Democrat, he was noted for his radical populist policies. Though a backer of Franklin D...

, a governor and later United States Senator from Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...


Major provisions of "Share Our Wealth"

The key planks of the Share Our Wealth platform included:
  1. No person would be allowed to accumulate a personal net worth
    Net worth
    In business, net worth is the total assets minus total outside liabilities of an individual or a company. For a company, this is called shareholders' preference and may be referred to as book value. Net worth is stated as at a particular year in time...

     of more than 300 times the average family fortune, which would limit personal assets to between $5 million and $8 million. A graduated capital levy tax would be assessed on all persons with a net worth exceeding $1 million.
  2. Annual incomes would be limited to $1 million and inheritances would be capped at $5 million.
  3. Every family was to be furnished with a homestead allowance of not less than one-third the average family wealth of the country. Every family was to be guaranteed an annual family income of at least $2,000 to $2,500, or not less than one-third of the average annual family income in the United States. Yearly income, however, cannot exceed more than 300 times the size of the average family income.
  4. An old-age pension
    In general, a pension is an arrangement to provide people with an income when they are no longer earning a regular income from employment. Pensions should not be confused with severance pay; the former is paid in regular installments, while the latter is paid in one lump sum.The terms retirement...

     would be made available for all persons over 60.
  5. To balance agricultural production, the government would preserve/store surplus goods, abolishing the practice of destroying surplus food and other necessities due to lack of purchasing power.
  6. Veterans would be paid what they were owed (a pension and healthcare benefits).
  7. Free education and training for all students to have equal opportunities in all schools, colleges, universities, and other institutions for training in the professions and vocations of life.
  8. The raising of revenue and taxes for the support of this program was to come from the reduction of swollen fortunes from the top, as well as for the support of public works to give employment whenever there may be any slackening necessary in private enterprise.

The death of Huey P. Long

The official slogan of the Share Our Wealth movement was "Every Man a King
Every Man a King
"Every Man a King" is a song connected with Louisiana's governor and senator Huey Long. Long was known for his political slogan "Every man a king," which was the title of his autobiography and the catch-phrase of his Share Our Wealth proposal during the Great Depression.-Writing and...

 (But No One Wears a Crown)", which also became the title of a song co-written by Long in 1935 to promote his proposal.

Huey Long was a populist
Populism can be defined as an ideology, political philosophy, or type of discourse. Generally, a common theme compares "the people" against "the elite", and urges social and political system changes. It can also be defined as a rhetorical style employed by members of various political or social...

, extremely popular in his home state of Louisiana, but many saw his Share Our Wealth proposal as an unworkable plan that threatened the reforms of Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

 and the New Deal
New Deal
The New Deal was a series of economic programs implemented in the United States between 1933 and 1936. They were passed by the U.S. Congress during the first term of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The programs were Roosevelt's responses to the Great Depression, and focused on what historians call...

. Many also suspected that Huey Long was planning on using the Share Our Wealth Society as a vehicle for mounting a third party challenge to Roosevelt during the 1936 Presidential election. Any Presidential ambitions which Long might have had were cut short when he was shot by an assassin on September 8, 1935, in Baton Rouge
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Baton Rouge is the capital of the U.S. state of Louisiana. It is located in East Baton Rouge Parish and is the second-largest city in the state.Baton Rouge is a major industrial, petrochemical, medical, and research center of the American South...

; he died two days later on September 10, 1935.

Biographers T. Harry Williams
T. Harry Williams
Thomas Harry Williams was an award-winning historian at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge whose career began in 1941 and extended for thirty-eight years until his death at the age of seventy...

 and William Ivy Hair speculated that the Senator had never intended to run for the presidency in 1936. Long planned to form a third party
Third party (politics)
In a two-party system of politics, the term third party is sometimes applied to a party other than the two dominant ones. While technically the term is limited to the third largest party or third oldest party, it is common, though innumerate, shorthand for any smaller party.For instance, in the...

 in 1936 that would run a candidate who would probably lose, but also split the progressive vote, causing Roosevelt to lose as well. Long would then run for president on his new party's ticket in 1940.

Program mismanagement after Long's death

After Long's assassination, the control of the Share Our Wealth Society fell to Gerald L. K. Smith
Gerald L. K. Smith
Gerald Lyman Kenneth Smith was an American clergyman and political organizer, who became a leader of the Share Our Wealth movement during the Great Depression and later the Christian Nationalist Crusade...

, who was widely viewed as a political demagogue. Smith brought the Share Our Wealth Society into a brief coalition with the followers of radio priest Charles Coughlin
Charles Coughlin
Father Charles Edward Coughlin was a controversial Roman Catholic priest at Royal Oak, Michigan's National Shrine of the Little Flower church. He was one of the first political leaders to use radio to reach a mass audience, as more than thirty million tuned to his weekly broadcasts during the...

 and old-age pension advocate Francis Townsend
Francis Townsend
Dr. Francis Everett Townsend was an American physician who was best known for his revolving old-age pension proposal during the Great Depression. Known as the "Townsend Plan," this proposal influenced the establishment of the Roosevelt administration's Social Security system...

 in support of the short-lived Union Party, a third party effort which ran William Lemke
William Lemke
William Frederick Lemke was a United States politician.-Life and career:He was born in Albany, Minnesota, and raised in Towner County, North Dakota, the son of Fred Lemke and Julia Anna Klier, pioneer farmers who had accumulated some of land...

 of North Dakota
North Dakota
North Dakota is a state located in the Midwestern region of the United States of America, along the Canadian border. The state is bordered by Canada to the north, Minnesota to the east, South Dakota to the south and Montana to the west. North Dakota is the 19th-largest state by area in the U.S....

for President in 1936, but under his leadership, the Share Our Wealth movement quickly fell apart.
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