Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Crandall Printing Museum

I went to the Crandall Printing Museum on Monday the 29th of March and found it to be a very enjoyable experience. I went with a group of empty nesters from a ward, so I was probably the only person there under 50 or so. The tour was, in my opinion, quite wonderful. I really loved it. It was really cool to learn more about printing. I feel like there are many underrated, or under-appreciated inventions in the world. The Gutenburg press may be one of the most under-appreciated inventions in the world's history. Johannes Gutenburg was a genius. Learning about all of the problems he had to face and overcome really deepened my understanding of the significance of his crucial invention. He had to figure out what kinds of metals to use to make molds, how to make the molds for the tiny letters, how to make ink that would work, how to press it onto paper, for which he used, essentially, an olive press, and how to do many other things. In addition, he basically had to keep his work secret for a while for fear of public reaction, as people tended to have issues with new or different things in his time. Everything that went into the first printing of the Bible by Gutenburg's press was difficult. He even had to make new molds for the Latin alphabet...over 200! However, he trudged through, despite all of the factors combined against him, and managed to change the world. He went seriously into debt in order to make his dream come true, building 6 print shops and training 6 different teams of men to use his technology. Though he lost his shops to creditors, his teams were able to go and spread his great idea all over the world.
Another great printer and inventor was Benjamin Franklin. He printed Almanacks for a living, which we learned in the tour were very important for people in his day. He eventually retired and went on to invent many great things. He did not place patents on any of his inventions because he wanted them to be available to everyone. He was instrumental in the framing of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
Finally, we got to the room that talked about the printing of the Book of Mormon. The tour guides told us the story and demonstrated to us how miraculous this printing truly was. They had me pull the press to see how difficult it was. I barely managed to do it, but I got the big lever all the way around. It was harder than I anticipated.
Overall, I found the tour very interesting and enlightening. I absolutely love the passion the men who run the place have for it. It made a huge difference to me in the tour's content.
The printing of the Book of Mormon was definitely aided by Divine Providence. It was a miracle that it got printed and bound as fast as it did. It was really cool to learn about the printing of the scriptures. President Monson went to that museum, and he said that it would qualify for church service missionaries, like senior couples, once it gets the expansion they are working on getting. They want all the missionaries in the MTC to be able to go through it. It was really neat. I liked hearing the personal history of the printers who own and run the museum as well. They have both been printers since the age of 14, and they love what they do. I really enjoyed my experience, and I would recommend that everyone who gets an opportunity take a tour themselves.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


It took a very long time before women decided to organize a concentrated effort to receive equal rights for a variety of reasons. One of those reasons was abolition. The abolitionist movement was one supported by large numbers of women. Slavery was one of the great evils of 19th Century American society. It had many political and social implications. Slavery enforced the concept of the domination of white men over all elements of American society. White men in the era were essentially all powerful in politics. Women had no voice. They were not allowed in office, so they did not get a voice in politics. They did not even get to decide who did. Therefore, they were largely confined to the home. One of the things that changed their confinement was the abolitionist movement. Women in the abolitionist movement were active in the public sphere in ways that women in previous generations had not been. This activism lead to an increased awareness of the rights of all men…and women. Investigating the rights of the slave gave women cause to investigate their own rights. They found them severely lacking.
Another thing that lead women to organize was the 2nd Great Awakening. Before that, women had predominantly found their place in the home. They had not had as much occasion of venturing outside of the home to organize themselves or function in any way. The 2nd Great Awakening changed that. In the North, religious revivals were rampant. Preachers would deliver sermons and have meetings with large groups of people. These meetings were called camp meetings, and were largely popular during the 2nd Great Awakening. Camp meetings often lasted several days to a week or so, and they gave women opportunities they had never before had – those of functioning outside the home for extended periods of time. Women during the Awakening would go to Camp meetings in order to exercise one of the few freedoms they had – their religious freedom. These camp meetings, however, gave them more of a taste for social freedom by showing them that they could exist outside of the home, sometimes independently of their husbands or fathers. The 2nd Great Awakening gave women another previously unknown opportunity as well…that of having their voices heard and seeing themselves make a difference.
Protestant churches of the era were largely democratic. They were essentially governed by the common consent of the people. If, for instance, the congregation did not like a pastor, they could vote him out. In the political sphere, electing influential people to any particular office was the privilege of a minority - white men. However, in churches, women suddenly found themselves having a voice. They could cast a vote on something and see it affect their lives. This gave them more of a taste for having a voice in politics. They liked being able to dictate more of how their lives were run.
Women in this era were subject to certain ideals. They were essentially always minors, in the custody of their fathers or husbands. Being in such custody made it more difficult for them to have a voice in the way their lives were run. It was harder for them to convene and talk about their rights and what not when they had to do what their parents or husbands said all of their lives. Women’s social condition played a huge role in their not organizing to fight for their rights.
Another factor in women not organizing a concentrated effort to receive equal rights with men was their education. Women did not have the same educational opportunities as men. Being uneducated, they were thought to be less intelligent and less capable…basically, the weaker sex. Women were oppressed in other ways as well. They were not allowed to work in most industries for a long time. Eventually they were allowed to get more jobs in factories and then later as schoolteachers, but the lack of employment opportunities overall for women lead to their increased dependency on men.
Yet another reason women did not organize to fight for rights sooner was the way the law was focused against them. If a woman got a divorce from her husband, he had all custody rights over her children. He also had control of her wages, so she could not have been saving up to take care of herself after the divorce. In other words, however a husband treated a wife in these times, the law was in his favor. If a woman’s husband stringently opposed her seeking equal rights, she had many disadvantages in going against him.
These and probably many other reasons were why women did not organize sooner to fight for their rights.

Friday, March 12, 2010


I thought this movie was very interesting. It somehow did not increase my horror at the evils of the slave trade or bring it to life any more than it has already been brought to life for me. I guess I already knew that slaves went through terrible things, and that they were real people. I am comparing my experience watching this movie with my experience watching the John Adams movie. Amistad was a very good story, though. It helped me to become more passionate about the issue of slavery. I am from the south, so I have learned about slavery where it took place my entire life. I have ancestors who owned slaves. That does not stop me from thinking it was an appalling institution, though. I have also seen the effects of racism my entire life.
The movie had some powerful scenes. One of my favorites was when John Adams called on the founders in the Supreme Court. Another was when Cinque started chanting "Give us free." Slavery was truly an appalling institution. I don't know how people justified owning slaves. They were people. Animals do not form rebellions against their masters. They often do not have devoted family groups. They aren't religious. They are animals. People were enslaved and treated like animals, and sometimes worse, and there was nothing remotely acceptable in this practice. Amistad shows how revolting the practice was. When the slavers threw people off of the slave ship, this was one example of this principle. This is a really poorly written blog post.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Federalist 10

Federalist paper number 10 is one that has long resounded with me as a commentary on modern society. It is about the evils of factions. I view modern society as rife with factions. Today’s presidential elections have become name calling contests. I remember hearing so much backbiting between the candidates of the different parties. I did not know much about Barack Obama’s platform. I knew he was running as the democratic candidate, but I didn’t hear a lot of specifics. I still remember, however, hearing on the Republican talk radio shows my dad likes to listen to about how Barack Obama’s church was apparently anti-American or something like that. I find myself, more and more, agreeing with James Madison’s statement, “that the public good is disregarded in the conflicts of rival parties.” Our nation often can’t get anything done due to the extreme contention between rival parties. In his recent State of the Union Address, President Obama urged Republican congressmen not to vote against issues brought before them just to block the Democratic party’s actions. I think the way our country is run has devolved from the original intents of the Constitution. The Constitution was not framed with a 2 party system in mind. In fact, in Federalist 10, James Madison said: “By a faction I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.” I believe that today’s dominating parties, the Republican and Democratic parties, are just such factions. The majority of Americans do not seem to be staunch followers of either party. However, these two parties control our politics, laws and government. Where is the fairness in that? Why can we not be represented by people who actually represent us? I, for one, would like to see the United States go back to the way it was originally intended to be run. George Washington was no member of any political party. He did not go through a Republican, Democrat, Federalist, or Whig party caucus or primary in order to get elected. He did not even subscribe to vicious campaign techniques. He was not power hungry, and did not seek after glory or wealth. Where are the candidates today who don’t say vicious things about their opposition? Who don’t use the power of a faction to get elected? The presidency, of course, is only one example of how political parties have become the ruling factions in this country. This premise can be seen throughout government, on federal and state levels. I believe that if James Madison could see the way our country is being run, he would be appalled. I, personally, do not believe in political parties at all. I believe they will be the downfall of this country. They do not even represent the majority of the people anymore. It is time to heed the words of some of our wise founders, James Madison (the father of the Constitution), being one of them, and do away with a system that leaves the majority of middle of the road Americans unrepresented and important issues swept under the table in favor of political correctness and other such nonsense. People need to realize that they don’t have to subscribe to a political party’s view over their own. We need to create a system that will have the people represented, not just whatever party dominates at a particular given time. It is time to do away with the party system that will eventually prove the downfall of this country.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Constitution Movie

I found George Washington's involvement in the framing of the Constitution to be very interesting. I think I knew he was a very private man. One of the museums in the Smithsonian has an exhibit in which it is pointed out that Washington could have become a king if he had so desired. I believe this is true. However, instead, he denied this great power that was available to him in favor of life as a private gentleman. Obviously, this privacy did not last. When James Madison contacted him in Virginia at Mt. Vernon, he was very reluctant to leave to go to the convention in Pennsylvania. Even today, it can be seen that Mt. Vernon is a very private place. It is absolutely beautiful, and I can see why he wouldn't want to leave it, but leave it he did, to the surprise of James Madison, as he had originally told him he wouldn't come. He did come, though, and he even acted as president of the convention, foreshadowing events yet to come. He also seems to have played an influential role in getting James Madison to accept the New Jersey plan. He realized the importance of compromise. He also had a strong sense of duty to country and self. He was truly a remarkable man. I consider him to be one of my personal heroes.