every man a king

every man a king

“Every Man a King” is the title of a speech delivered in 1934 by Senator Huey Long of Louisiana. The speech, which Long delivered on national radio, is one of Long’s most famous speeches, along with his “Share the Wealth” speech.

Long, a populist politician, used the speeches to rail against the concentration of wealth in a few hands and to highlight the problems of the man poor people in his own state. The “every man a king” speech said, in part:

Now, we have organized a society, and we call it “Share Our Wealth Society,” a society with the motto “every man a king.”

Every man a king, so there would be no such thing as a man or woman who did not have the necessities of life, who would not be dependent upon the whims and caprices and ipsi dixit of the financial martyrs for a living. What do we propose by this society? We propose to limit the wealth of big men in the country. There is an average of $15,000 in wealth to every family in America. That is right here today.

We do not propose to divide it up equally. We do not propose a division of wealth, but we propose to limit poverty that we will allow to be inflicted upon any man’s family. We will not say we are going to try to guarantee any equality, or $15,000 to families. No; but we do say that one third of the average is low enough for any one family to hold, that there should be a guaranty of a family wealth of around $5,000; enough for a home, and automobile, a radio, and the ordinary conveniences, and the opportunity to educate their children; a fair share of the income of this land thereafter to that family so there will be no such thing as merely the select to have those things, and so there will be no such thing as a family living in poverty and distress.”

Long’s radio speeches also represented his break with President Franklin D Roosevelt. Long had introduced legislation into the U.S. Senate in an effort to limit incomes and redistribute wealth. However, his legislation never got off the ground; most of his fellow senators considered them to be too radical. 

Long had actually helped FDR win the Democratic presidential nomination in 1932, but broke with the administration in 1934, after he gave up hope that the New Deal would make a meaningful difference in the lives of most Americans. That’s when Long decided to appeal directly to the American people, with his “every man a king” and his “share the wealth” speeches.

Long had also used “every man a king” as a campaign slogan; he also made it the title of his autobiography, which was published in 1933. Long also used the phrase as the title of his campaign song. He co-wrote the song, “Every Man A King,” with Professor Castro Carazo, who was the head of the Louisiana State Band. 

The slogan may also be the origin of Long’s nickname, Kingfish.