Monday, September 12, 2005

Looking back on 1936

[I originally posted this together with my paper on the Ten Harkels.  But I've decided to also publish it separately here.]

Joel Swagman
Mrs. Walters
English 100
October 30, 1996

Looking back on 1936

On March 11, 1936, the Ten Harkels were married. Though I doubt either of them paid much attention to the newspapers that day, 1936 was a year that saw many changes. In the middle of the depression, events were happening that would have far reaching consequences in such areas as international relationships, politics, the arts, and civil rights.

Outside the United States, the seeds of World War II were already being planted. Germany reoccupied the Rhineland, which it had lost during World War I (Carruth 504). Italy formally annexed Ethiopia, which it had invaded the year before, and in doing so crippled the League of Nations as an international peace keeper (Carruth 504). Civil war broke out in Spain between the Republican government and the facist army, a war which the fascists were destined to win. France and the Soviet Union ratified the Franco-Soviet Pact for mutual defence (Bandi 14). The Soviet Communist Party began its Great Purge. By 1938, ten million would have been killed under this act (Bandi 14). On July 11, Italy and Germany concluded a secret agreement, in which Italy agreed to let Germany take over Austria. Italy and Germany cemented their alliance on October 25, in the Rome-Berlin Axis (Bandi 15). Germany and Japan signed the anti-cominterm pact, agreeing to mutual protection from the Soviet Union. On January 15, Japan denounced the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922 and withdrew from the London Naval Conference (Websters 458). On February 14, several prominent Japanese were assassinated in an army uprising (Bandi 14).

Back home, 1936 was an election year. The New Deal was a fierce subject of debate, as its opponents never tired of pointing out that the national debt had increased by twelve billion since 1932. Those in favor of the New Deal would respond that the national income had incrased by 30 billion in the same time (Carruth 504). Polls showed that on June 28, 55% of Americans thought the New Deal was helping recovery, although 90% of Republicans were convinced the New Deal was only making things worse (Gallup 47). The Republicans pitted Alfred Landon, the governor or Kansas, against Roosevelt while the Socialists nominated Norman Thomas (Carruth 504). In an election that holds the record for voter turnout, Roosevelt won in a landslide, taking every state but Maine and Vermont (Carruth 504). After the election, there were only 83 Republicans in the House, and 16 in the Senate (Carruth 504).

Roosevelt's popularity was already causing speculation about a third term. On June 14, 43% of Americans said a President should be eligible ofr a third term (Gallup 44). When asked if they thought Roosevelt should run again in 1940, only 31% of Americans were in favor of it (Gallup 44).

Despite the depression, 1936 proved to be an important year for the arts. Rober Frost wrote A Further Range, but he was over shadowed by Marget Mitchell's Gone with the Wind which sold one million copies in the first six months (Carruth 506).

About five hundred films were released in the United States. It was the most prosperous year for film making since the depression began, despite the fact that four out of every five films were deemed financial failures (Carruth 505). The Academy Awards selected Mutiny on the Bounty as the most outstanding movie (Carruth 505) and The Informer won both the best actor award for Victor McLaglen and the best directoro for John Ford (Carruth 505). Bette Davis received the best actress award for her performance in Dangerous. Walt Disney was given his fourth consecutive award in the cartoon category (Carruth 505).

Progress was also made in civil rights. On December 8, the NAACP filed Gibbs V. Board of Education, which would result in the Supreme court ordering that black school teachers receive the same salaries as white school teachers (Bandi 215). In the case of Murray V. Maryland, the Supreme Court ruled that the University of Maryland Law School must either admit Donald Murray, an African American student, or create a separate school just for him. Murray was admitted (Bandi 141).

As the events of 1936 passed by, we can only wonder how many people really realized their significance. The Ten Harkels freely admit to not having the slightest idea what sort of ramifications many of the events that happened in 1936 would have. Sixty years later we have a much broader perspective on things, but at the time, things weren't so easy to see. No matter how you look at it, 1936 was certainly an important year.


Bandi, Victor. American Decades 1930-1939. Detroit: Gale Research Incorporated. 1995.

Benton, William. The Annals of America. Vol. 15. Chicago: Encylopedia Britannica Incorporated, 1968. 16 vols.

Carruth, Gorton. The Encyclopedia of American Facts & Dates. New York: Harpers & Row. 1987.

Gallup, George H. The Gallup Poll 1930-1960. New York: Random House. 1972.

Webster, William. Webster's Guide to American History. Springfield: G&C Merriam Company. 1971.

Professor's Assistant: OK, you've dona good job of researching events of 1936. And you write in clear sentences. selective with what you include in your paper. I appreciate you're following a construction established in the first paragraph (international events, politics, arts, etc.), but you never come to any conclusions. Don't just tell us about the "New Deal"--tell us what it was- tell us why it mattered. Tell us that Margaret Mitchell's book would one day be made into the most popular movie of all time (which the Ten Harkels would see on their 5th anniversary?...)
Don't just tack the Ten Harkels into your paper-organize the events around their lives, or their life together.
Professor's Comments: Good, Joel. This is your best work so far--which is unusual for a research paper. Keep it up. There is lots of good material here that you can use in the larger paper.

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