Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Earl Long

Earl Kemp Long (26 August, 1895 - 5 September, 1960) was a three-time governor of Louisiana.

Earl K. Long was born in Winnfield, Louisiana. He was the younger brother of Huey Long, who preceeded him into politics.

Earl K. Long was elected lieutenant governor in 1936, and first served as governor 1939-1940, rising to that office after Governor Richard Leche resigned. Long failed to win reelection in 1940. Long was elected goveror and served 1948-1952, and again 1956-1960.

Earl Long was a colorful character, often known as "Uncle Earl". Beneath his public persona as a simple, plain-spoken rural Louisianan of little education was an astute political mind of considerable intelligence.

While not attempting dismantle the racial segregation Jim Crow laws of his state, he was notable for a southern white politican of the time for easing the governmental indignitites placed on African-Americans and allowing many of them to vote.

Earl Long's behavior was not inconsistent with bipolar disorder and in his last term in office his wife and others attempted to remove him on the grounds of mental instability. He was never formally diagnosed with any mental illness, and a large part of the motivation for this effort may have been political; his wife's involvement may have been related to his affair with stripper Blaze Starr.

Additionally, in his later years he was alleged to have suffered from strokes, resulting in further mental impairment.

While confined in the mental hospital in Mandeville, Louisiana Long kept his political machine running via telephone. His staff discovered that nothing in Louisiana law required him relinquishing power due to committment to the mental hospital, so Long ordered the head of the state hospital system fired and replaced him with a crony who had Long released.

After his term as governor expired in 1960, Earl Long was elected to the United States House of Representatives, but died before taking office.

List of Governors of Louisiana