The Long family was long prominent in Union County.
Long became a lawyer, and then later a state senator, and one of the best-known and most powerful and influential men in Union County, although also an egregious alcoholic given to two-week benders. 
When in the senate, Long was involved in a 1961–1962 controversy over display of the Confederate Flag, and racial segregation at the American Civil War Centennial observances in the state capital. When President Kennedy ordered the national Centennial Commission to move its ceremonies from segregated facilities to the integrated Charleston Navy Base, the South Carolina delegation held its own, segregated, events at a downtown hotel, where Long – who had sponsored a resolution to display Confederate flags over the daises of the South Carolina House and Senate – addressed the crowd with: 
Long's son, John David Long III, also became a state senator and sponsored the creation of John D. Long Lake in honor of his father.