Monday, February 7, 2011

November 3, 1936

Asimov, age 16, had reason to be interested in politics. Although he was an atheist, he came of Jewish stock and could not help but read about what was happening in Germany with abhorrence.

He writes in his autobiography (pg 167)
The last notable event that took place during our sojourn on Decatur Street (before his family moved to Windsor Place) was the 1936 Presidential election on November 3. I had spent a miserable few months following the Literary Digest poll, which predicted a Republican landslide. It seemed to show that the Republican cadidate, Alfred M. Landom, would carry every state outside the Solid South and the border states. There seemed no reason to disbelieve this, since The Literary Digest had polled an immense number of people whom it had drawn out of telephione directories and automobile registration lists.

On November 3, I took a nap in the afternoon because it was my intention to stay up and listen as long as Roosevelt had any chance at all of being re-elected. It is an indication of how old I was getting that my mother was willing to let me do this.

Od course, as it turned out (and I couldn't believe my ears), Roosevelt won everywhere. Landon carried only Maine and Vermont, and I stayed up all night just glorying in the gathering figures. Naturally I had made up an elaborate state-by-state checkerboard of my own. I recorded the electoral votes and then went on to record the figures and award the states this way or that once I considered a plurality to be insurmountable. I remember hesitating over New Hampshire.

Then, after we arrived at Windsor Place, the first world event of note was the capture and imprisonment of Chang Kai-Shek of China by the Young Marshall, Chang Hsueh-liang, a competing warlord, on December 12, 1936. This started a train of events that led to a renewed war between China and Japan in 1937. (Japan had begun its invasion of Cinia in 1931, while GReat Britain and the United States confined themselves to speaking loudly and doing nothing.)


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