More than anything I would like to know who really shot Huey Long or what actually happened in the marbled back corridor of the Louisiana State Capitol on September 8, 1935. And while we’re at it, I’d like to know who got the “de-duct” box, Huey’s presidential campaign chest filled with more than a million dollars in “contributions” from state workers “encouraged” to tithe to the Kingfish.
By the summer of 1935 Long had become even more ruthless and driven than ever, sure that he could beat FDR the next year and confident, even though he was a United States senator, that he could still control everything back home. After introducing forty-two power-enhancing bills in the Louisiana House on Sunday, September 8, including one that would eliminate an old enemy, Judge Benjamin Pavy, by redrawing his district, Huey confidently roamed the State Capitol. Waiting in a hall outside the House chamber was Dr. Carl A. Weiss, the son-in-law of Judge Pavy. According to some witnesses, Weiss was carrying a .38-caliber pistol. What happened next is wrapped in mystery and contradiction.
Huey came barreling out of an office, far ahead of his bodyguards, when Weiss supposedly stepped from the shadows and shot him. Huey’s men quickly pumped more than thirty bullets into Weiss’s body, ensuring he would never be able to tell his story. Huey died thirty hours later after surgeons selected for their political loyalty botched the job. His last words were: “Don’t let me die. I have so much to do.”
The “de-duct” box disappeared. And for more than fifty years rumors have swirled around the killing.
Weiss’s family has long maintained his innocence, sure he meant only to confront Long with his outrage over his father-in-law’s treatment, sure the gun was planted after the fact. Many believe that Weiss only struck at Huey and that it was overreacting guards who killed Long accidentally, covering their error by pinning it all on Weiss. Some think rival factions within Long’s organization, eager for the “de-duct” box, were behind it. One of Huey’s regular guards told me he was strangely reassigned just before the shooting. There are still many in Louisiana that say “the syndicate killed him.” And some even claim Franklin Roosevelt put someone up to it, to eliminate a formidable foe.…
Whatever happened, visitors still run their fingers over the cool pink marble feeling the pockmarks left by the gunplay that Sunday evening.