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Share Our Wealth

Share Our Wealth was a movement begun during the Great Depression by Huey Long, governor and later senator from Louisiana. In February, 1934, Senator Huey Long announced during a nationwide radio address that he was forming the Share Our Wealth Society, dedicated to the redistribution of the nation's wealth. Long had originally been a supporter of the New Deal policies of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, but starting with the formation of the Share Our Wealth Society, began advocating for more radical reforms than Roosevelt was willing to embrace. The key planks of the Share Our Wealth platform included:

1. Nobody should be allowed a personal fortune of more than 100 to 300 times the average family fortune, which would limit personal assets to between $1,500,000 and $5,000,000. Annual capital levy taxes would be assessed on all persons with fortunes exceeding $1,000,000.

2. Every family to be furnished with a homestead allowance of not less than one-third the average family wealth of the country.

3. A guaranteed annual family income of at least $2000 to $2500, or not less than one-third of the average annual family income in the U.S.

4. No person would be allowed an annual income in excess of 100 to 300 times the average family income. Income taxes would be levied to ensure this.

5. An old age pension for all persons over 60.

Huey Long was a radical populist, extremely popular in his home state of Louisiana, but was widely viewed as having one of the most corrupt administrations in American history during his term as governor. Many saw his Share Our Wealth proposal as an unworkable plan that threatened the more responsible reforms of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal. 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 elections. Any Presidential ambitions which Long had were cut short by his assassination on September 8, 1935 in Baton Rouge.

After Long's assassination, the control of the Share Our Wealth Society fell to Gerald L.K. Smith, who was widely viewed as a demagogue. Smith brought the Share Our Wealth Society into a brief coalition with the followers of radio priest Charles Coughlin and old-age pension advocate Francis Townsend in support of the short-lived Union Party, a third-party effort which ran William Lemke of North Dakota for President in 1936, but under his leadership, the Share Our Wealth movement quickly fell apart. Gerald L.K. Smith continued a lifelong career as a demagogue, increasingly flirting with anti-Semitism and extreme anti-Communism during the post-World War II years.