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The Election of 1936


As Roosevelt’s first term in office neared its end, many people in the United States — and in other countries — wondered if the New Deal could really solve America’s problems. More than that, they wondered if Americans would continue to follow the path of democracy. A wave of totalitarianism was sweeping the world; would it reach as far as America? There was no doubt that there were some Americans who supported Hitler and the Nazis. Members of the German-American Bund paraded in brown shirts and held a mass meeting in New York’s Madison Square Garden, but there were comparatively few Bundists. Many people felt that a more serious threat to democracy and to the Roosevelt administration came from three native American political leaders — Huey P. Long, Father Charles E. Coughlin and Dr. Francis Townsend. Most colourful of the three was Huey Long, a senator from Louisiana. Calling himself the Kingfish, he had come to power in his native state and he ran it, his critics said, as a dictatorship. He was a rousing orator and in front of a crowd he would spout folksy humour, crack sharp political jokes and play the simple country boy. His opponents, however, charged that he was a combination of brutal hoodlum and a shrewd political boss who would stop at nothing to get what he wanted. He would promise the people anything — and he did keep some of his promise. He saw that Louisiana got better roads, schools and hospitals. In return, he got power. Huey Long was not satisfied with the power he had won in Louisiana; he had his eye on the White House. At first a supporter of the New Deal, he turned against it and began attacking Roosevelt. He called Roosevelt a “scrootch owl,” explaining that “a …

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Peace-and Civil War 1917 -1924


SPEAKING BEFORE the Congress of Soviets on November 8, the second day of the November revolution, Lenin had said, “We shall now proceed to construct the Socialist order.” Constructing any kind of order in a vast country like Russia would not be easy. The Bolsheviks had won the support of the soviets, but could they win the support of all Russia? As a matter of fact, not all the people in the country known as Russia were Russians. The tsars had gathered in under their rule many territories. On these territories lived people of many different nationalities, each speaking a different language. Could the Bolsheviks mold them all into one socialistic state? A number of political observers believed that the Bolsheviks would be unable to hold the power they had gained. The test was the elections for the Constituent Assembly, which began in late November. Before the revolution, the Bolsheviks had demanded a Constituent Assembly. Even before they saw the results of the elections, however, they lost their enthusiasm for it. They had still less enthusiasm when the election returns were in. The Bolsheviks won only 175 out of 707 seats. The largest number of seats went to the Social Revolutionaries, who won 410. The Bolsheviks solved the problem by using soldiers to break up the Assembly when it met in January of 1918. Lenin later excused this action by saying that it was a time of crisis and that any government would have done the same to hold its power. Whether or not this was true, one thing was certain — there was no longer any democratic way to end the Bolsheviks’ power. On top of this, the Bolsheviks took control of the press and set up a secret police. One of the biggest problems now facing the Bolsheviks …

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