Monday, November 19, 2012

Book Report: The Mormon Experience

Book Report The Mormon Experience: A History of the Latter-day Saints Leonard J. Arrington and Davis Bitton  Alfred A. Knopf  new York 1979
This book, published in 1979, provides a look at the history of the Church, as well as a look at the present day church in 1979.  I wanted to read this book to take a look at Mormon History after they had arrived at Salt Lake, although this book provided helpful insight into the earlier church and moves; and the reason for the moves—from New York to Kirtland and Missouri, and then to Nauvoo, and finally to Utah.  It has a very good section on the church in England, and the immigration of the Saints from England.  One thing I had neglected was the influence of the Book of Mormon in the conversion experience.  Membership in the church was hard; I don’t think many people jointed the Church for help with immigration or economic reasons.  There was a different motivation.
However I wanted to get some idea of the economic system, strengths and weaknesses, after they arrived in the valleys of the mountains.  The economic system of the Mormons had its foundation in agriculture.  This was hard work, but very doable.  The field of mining for the most part, was left to “gentiles.”  However the Mormons were active in developing railroads as well as telegraph offices across the state and West.  There were attempts to develop the iron business which at first were unsuccessful. 
This book deals extensively with the relationship between the church and the government.  This includes the Utah War, as well as the Edmunds Act and the Edmunds Tucker Act and their effect on the Mormon way of life, as well as the financial stability of the Church.
The last section did not proof very helpful to my study, as it dealt with modern and current issues, including people in the sciences and the arts.

My purpose in reading this book was to help in getting a feel for the environment Isaac raised his family.  There is a poem I found interesting.  It does not have a title or author: 
We plow, we sow and irrigate,
To raise the golden grain;
And diligently labor
To independence gain;
Some haul the wood from canyons wile,
Some tend the flocks and herd,
And all our moments are beguiled
By industry’s reward.
My Valley Home, my Mountain Home,
The dear and peaceful Valley.  (Arrington and Bitton p 142)

I see Isaac in several lines of this poem.  I understand he helped establish the road up Bingham Canyon to get wood.  He also grazed sheep over a large expanse of the South Salt Lake Valley.  At the reunion someone mentioned that the grazing area extended through three Mormon Temples, Jordan River, Draper and Oquirrh.

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