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La History-Chapter 14 Review

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Chapter 14

Corruption, Reform, and Reaction, 1935-1950

Huey Long’s death marked the end of one era and the beginning of another. After Long’s assassination, politicians sought to continue his dictatorial rule, but proved to be lesser men. The resulting scandals of 1939 generated a reform movement putting the Anti-Longites into power. It was during this period that Louisiana emerged from the Great Depression and entered into the most prosperous era, yet many continued to lead second class lives.

The Leche Administration, 1936-1939

Huey Long ruled Louisiana with an iron hand. Long based his political dictatorship on cultivating popular support, which became known as his “bread and circuses” program. Long proclaimed himself champion of the poor. Long kept his campaign promises to provide Louisiana free school textbooks, new roads, bridges, hospitals, and many more. Long’s death was unexpected and many were eager to replace him, such as:

1. Earl K. LongвЂ"Huey’s brother

2. James A. NoeвЂ"A Monroe oil tycoon

3. Wade O. Martin, Sr.вЂ"the chair of the Public Service Commission

4. John B. FournetвЂ"a state supreme court justice

5. Allen J. EllenderвЂ"the speaker of the state house

6. Earle A. ChristenberryвЂ"Huey’s personal secretary

7. Richard W. LecheвЂ"Most corrupt governor in La history

But without the gifted touch of Huey, the Long machine failed and they were forced to unite. The Longites choose Richard W. Leche and Earl Long. Now the Longites swept all statewide offices and Ð'Ñ* of the seats in the legislature. In a deal made with Roosevelt, tens of millions of dollars would be funneled into the WPA. The Leche administration:

1. built numerous roads, bridges, and schools

2. implemented a state old-age pension

3. gave school teachers a hefty pay raise

4. construction/opening of Charity Hospital in New Orleans(1939)

5. enacted a teacher tenure law and a teacher’s retirement system

6. signed the Louisiana Fair Trade Law of 1936(price fixing)

The Scandals of 1939

The Leche administration is highly regarded as one of the most corrupt. Leche expanded the practices of the deduct system, and allowed state legislators to hold several offices at once. However, his increasing support for health, education, welfare, and transportation, along with his alliance with the Roosevelt administration, earned him widespread popular support between 1936-1939. The Leche administration crumbled by investigative reporting and Leche was forced to resign. Newspapers began publishing articles of the abuses of power known as scandals of 1939-the “Louisiana Hayride”.

1. LSU president James Monroe SmithвЂ"stole $ from school funds

2. George Caldwell, LSU superintendentвЂ"built himself a mansion from kickbacks

3. L. P. Abernathy, chair of LA Hwy CommissionвЂ"owned company that sold materials to the hwy department.

4. Gov. Leche--$90,000 from smuggling “hot oil”, Beinville Hotel, Mafia

5. Frank Costello, MafiaвЂ"slot machine operations, casinos, & other shady deals

The federal government stepped in led by IRS agent Elmer Irey (the man who had put Al Capone in prison). In June 1939, Leche resigned, eventually serving 4 years in prison. Earl Long took over office of governor. Dozens of others were convicted with U. S. mail fraud the most common charge.

The Triumph of the Reformers, 1940-1948

The scandals gave rise to the campaign of reform with leaders promising to clean up state government. Louisiana reformers campaign for “good government” and emphasize honesty and efficiency in the management of the state government. The 1939-40 campaign was a clash between the Longites and Anti-Longites depicted as good versus bad, but the complexity was much more than that. In the 1939-40 primaries, the candidates were dominated by former political opponents of Huey Long. Because more of the Anti-Longites politicos had themselves been involved in questionable political activities, they chose as their candidate for governor Sam Houston Jones, a Lake Charles attorney with little experience in government. Earl Long headed the Long ticket. Two other major candidates entered the race, former governor James A. Noe, and a Hammond politician, James H. Morrison. The primaries generated name-calling and mud-slinging characterizing the rhetoric. The voters had mandated reform, and Governor Sam Jones gave it them. In his May 1940 inaugural address, he promised to restore honesty and integrity to state government, and he persuaded the legislature pass acts that implemented the promise. Some of these acts repealed most of the dictatorial laws the Longs had enacted. Jones also abolished such abuses as the "deduct" system, payroll padding, nepotism, and "double dipping" (the holding of two state jobs simultaneously). The new governor opened the voter registration rolls to public inspection, and he reorganized the Orleans Parish Dock Board, the LSD Boar of Supervisors, and many other state agencies. He reduced waste and inefficiency by installing modem accounting and budgetary control measures. As the head of the triumphant Anti-Longites faction, Jones took numerous steps to ensure that his coalition would remain on top. He fired many of the people that Huey Long and Dick Leche had placed in positions of authority, such as the presidents of all state colleges and universities. Since the New Orleans city government remained under the control of Longites Robert Maestri, Governor Jones retained some of the civic laws that Huey had employed. Historically, Louisiana's spoils system gave new adminisÐ'¬trations the opportunity to reward their supporters and punish their enÐ'¬emies. With every change in administration, thousands of state employees lost their jobs simply because they



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