This year my academic paper was about the Huey Long assassination. I discussed its link to Acadian history and culture and that will be further discussed below. But this was connected to a previous event. Last year I presented at the Gulf South History and Humanities Conference and blogged about it here and here . I also tied it into other posts and pages I am not likely to do as much this year. A key article from my research should appear at this link. Evangeline Girls Abbeville Progress August 2, 1930
The trip was more pressed for time and energy this year and I came back tired to continue trying to make a go of a new job. But it was worthwhile. I was beset with more logistical difficulties than usual but there was paper presented which I thought was worthwhile. Many of the pictures here in this post are from the Evangeline girls Collection at the Acadian Museum. Or they are from the Dudley Leblanc exhibit at the same museum. But the most relevant documents have not reproduced for this format in the limited time that I have had to devote to thispost.
I presented again at the Gulf South History and Humanities Conference. This year it was held in the Pensacola ,Florida area in the city of Pensacola Beach at the Pensacola Beach Hilton. It was held on October 5,6 and 7. I traveled down and back with Warren Perrin of the Acadian Museum and he and Cristine Broussard of Steven F. Austin State University were my fellow presenters in a session titled Acadian History and Culture.
We had an early morning slot and attendance was down at my session and some others compared to last year. Partly this was due to Hurricane Nate’s threatening presence. This storm caused many people to shorten there stay at the conference. My thanks to Dr. Brian Rucker and Pensacola State College for hosting the event this year. I took no pictures of the Conference trip this year.
An excerpt of my paper appears below. I may choose to blog more about this event later
Blood Feud: Acadian Ethnicity and the Killing of Huey P. Long. Why Mic Mac genes and
arrogance killed the Kingfish.
The argument of this paper is spelled out in numbered bullet points below. I will announce those bullet points by speaking a number before each point after hearing that the rest of the speech is fairly optional. Depending on how much time I have for any questions I can ramble along with some uncertainty of memory about a great number of points and materials. But before I begin this speech I wish to acknowledge the work of T. Harry Williams who wrote what will always be the definitive work on Huey Pierce Long and of Davis H. Zinman who wrote The Day Huey Long Was Shot, September 8,1935. While I bring a different perspective to this work and have in that perspective a certain inevitable critique of those works — I do not directly contradict a great deal of what they do say. Nor does this paper purport to recast all measures of the importance of Huey Long or his place in history. Nonetheless my style is at time contentious and so I make the contentions openly in the argument. So here are the bullet points:
1. No history has been written of Longism which takes Acadian history very seriously or
frankly is rooted in a very deep and professional knowledge of Acadian history and
culture and so for that very real reason and others less flattering to our profession on the
same lines the importance of Dudley Leblanc in understanding the Long phenomenon
and his death have never been given fair treatment or scrutiny. This paper seeks to
correct that as regards his death.
2. Huey Long was killed by Dr. Carl Austin Weiss one of the most skilled physicians in the
state of Louisiana and the South shot Huey Long because he accused his father-in-law
and therefore his wife and children of being of Negro descent. Weiss is of course not an
Acadian name per se and neither are Summers or Perrin (the name of my colleague in
this session — though not in this paper. But Weiss was deeply connected to the Acadian
community. Most importantly, he is connected in the way which is at the very heart of his
assassination of Huey P. Long.
3. it is not much known that his wife Yvonne Pavy had been an Evangeline Girl a part of
Dudley Leblanc’s retinue which involved certification of both Acadian ancestry and
appearance by the Association of Louisiana Acadians. The Evangeline Girls had a
history going back to the Longfellow-Evangeline State Park they were symbols of the
Acadian culture and people and appeared also always in a political context of some kind
with state and national leaders as symbols of Acadian culture and the Acadian people in
national political conventions for example.However, the zenith of their function was in a
set of pilgrimages of reunion made to old Acadie (or Nova Scotia) by Acadians with the
President of the Association of Louisiana Acadians Dudley Leblanc. Arguably the most
important of these pilgrimages was the first made for an anniversary of the publication of
Longfellow’s Evangeline. Yvonne Pavy, later Yvonne Pavy Weiss was one of the young
women to represent the region — she was a college graduate and a French Teacher and
her father was the prominent Leblanc supporter and Long opponent Benjamin Pavy.
4. The long-standing political feud between Leblanc and Long as well as a whole historic
narrative is epitomized in this crisis. But that larger narrative of struggle is important both
men were much bigger than state politics, both had followings across the nation and the
world. Both symbolized a response to issues that galvanized many people who could not
vote for them in any office they ever held. There was a long history of direct antipathy
and Long had used crippling physical violence against Leblanc supporters on a number
of occasions. Benjamin Pavy was among Leblanc’s most important supporters in this
5. Race was not an issue that either man could or did ignore. Both Long and Dudley
Leblanc wrote and spoke about race. In his advocacy and defense of the Acadian
people’s importance and cultural and historic significance Dudley Leblanc did not shy
away from dealing with racial prejudices which had existed in the old Acadie because as
new arrivals came in they found that the Acadians had intermarried and interbred with
6. Finally, it was virtually inevitable that Dr. Weiss would try to kill Huey P. Long when he married into the Pavy family and the blood accusations were made which impinged on his reputation. In fact Weiss acted out of a sensibility and cultural framework deeply tied to Leblanc -ism. That is a term not actually ever used unlike Longism. His killing of
American Dictator Huey P. Long was an act of political and cultural resistance to a kind
of ruthless identity genocide as well as being a personal act. Without understanding the
context in which he lived one cannot understand the context in which he died. Nor can
one understand the significance fully of the man he killed.
So, I will not go through these points in perfect order but those are the points that I will try to touch upon ….