Friday, September 23, 2022

Podcast Episode 50 - The Men Who Would Be Washington, Part I

Was George Washington truly America's indispensable man? 

John Adams thought so, and lots of later historians agreed. Washington had the qualities the country needed at the time - dignity, gravitas, and integrity. He was perceived to be above the kind of petty squabbles that would doom the newborn republic. 

But things very nearly didn't go his way. After his defeat at the Battle of New York in 1776, the war, and with it the Revolution, was nearly over. 

Had Washington not managed to get things back on track, there were a few other commanders who would have been quite happy to take the top spot. 

Washington saved the day with a couple of surprise wintertime attacks, but things had a way of turning against him. 

1777 saw a string of British victories, except for one smashing battle won by the Americans. The only problem - George wasn't the general who won the victory. 

Uh oh. 


Ellis, Joseph J. “His Excellency: George Washington.” Alfred A. Knopf, 2004.


George Washington’s Mount Vernon. “The ‘Indispensible Man’: Would the Revolution Have Succeeded Without George Washington?” Retrieved September 23, 2022 from

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Podcast Episode 49 - The Most Dangerous Man In America, Conclusion

I’m trying to figure out who REALLY killed Huey Long.

Don’t worry. Your favorite history podcast hasn’t suddenly turned into a true crime show. Neither has this one.

We know who actually pulled the trigger: Carl Weiss, aged thirty. He was a quiet fellow who loved art and music and math and had gotten his medical degree in Paris. His wife Yvonne had recently had a baby. She was the daughter of Benjamin Pavy, a judge that Huey Long was forcing out of office. Huey claimed that the Pavy family had “coffee blood,” which is just the kind of racial slur you think it is. Huey had also fired Yvonne’s uncle, a school principal, and her sister, a third-grade teacher.

It could very well be that Carl Weiss, a student of art and history, saw himself as a modern-day Hamlet avenging his in-laws’ honor, knowing that when it comes to getting rid of dictators, there are very few options. Mostly one option.

But if this was a true crime podcast, which I hear are super-popular (just wait till I get to the trainwreck that is the Kennedy assassination) I would have to speculate that Carl Weiss might just have been the patsy, the tip of someone else’s spear.

Because there were lots of people who wanted to kill Huey Long.

Huey was killed by an assassin's bullet. His last words were "God, don't let me die. I have so much to do."

He died on September 10, 1935, but his political machine controlled Louisiana politics until the 1960's. His son served in his father's Senate seat from 1948 to 1987. 

His legacy in Louisiana lives on. 


White, Richard D. “Kingfish: The Reign of Huey P. Long.” Random House, 2009.


Wikipedia, “Huey Long.” Retrieved September 17, 2022 from


Friday, September 9, 2022

Podcast Episode 48 - The Most Dangerous Man In America, Part V

“Imagine ninety-five Senators trying to outtalk Huey Long,” Will Rogers wrote in 1933.

Huey had lost patience with the United States Senate. Which was okay – they were fed up with his antics, too, and he had only been a Senator for a year or so. They wanted no part of his wealth redistribution plan, loud suits, cigars, and complete lack of personal boundaries. Huey could talk the sun down every day, but his ideas were never going to be made into law.

“A mob is coming to hang the other ninety-five of you scoundrels,” he warned his Senate colleagues. “And I’m undecided whether to stick here with you or go out and lead them.”

It turns out that Huey wasn’t really THAT undecided.

Huey Long was losing political control of Louisiana, thanks to the Depression-era policies of the new President. Federal jobs, which were literal lifesavers, were given to Huey's opponents.

Huey's own dictatorial behavior was costing him support among the people of the state, so he took his show on the road, appealing to masses of poor Americans and fueling the fire for a 1936 presidential run.

FDR's Justice Department started investigating Huey's financial shenanigans, a trick that had worked on Al Capone, but that was taking too long.

Something permanent was going to have to be done about Louisiana's Senator, and his enemies started making assassination plans.