With innovation and prosperity come access. With access comes power. With power come miracles.
The Erie Canal, which celebrates its 200th birthday this year, provided many miracles—not the least of which included a means of travel and communication that allowed The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to spread and thrive better than it would have otherwise.
How so, you ask?
For one thing, the rise of wealth in the area may have contributed to the Second Great Awakening, when interest in religion throughout the existing United States was revived with notable ardency, resulting in many denominations frequently butting heads over doctrine and wrestling to retain and increase their memberships. After all, as Nephi so eloquently related, opposition is necessary for progress, and in this case, finding earthly satisfaction in material goods urged the desire to find spiritual satisfaction in one’s relationship with God as well. Although it was not the only factor that ignited the religious fire of this time period, the Erie Canal was certainly an important spark.
Furthermore, the canal’s sheer reach across the continental United States let all kinds of people carry their ideas and causes to faraway places in record time. In fact, one of its many nicknames was the “psychic highway.” Of course, among the groups that took advantage of the canal’s accessibility were the Mormons, who were able to use it to travel around the country to build cities for themselves, transport the materials necessary for such cities, and even serve missions. On its waters were brought all the paper and equipment needed to publish the Book of Mormon as well. Even the likes of Charles Dickens himself was floating on it when he was first impressed by the Mormons he met there. Never before had the Lord’s commandment to baptize the world seemed more realistic.
Before the Erie Canal was built, getting around the country was difficult and exhausting. While it was undergoing construction, however, it brought many jobs; its completion ensured more wealth in nearby areas, promoted other sectors of economic growth by providing transportation for all kinds of goods, greatly helped U.S. citizens get wherever they needed to go, and served as a symbol of America’s engineering innovations. However, equally important is its role in the rise of the kingdom of God in the latter days, for God does work through the hands of man to accomplish His ends.
Frequently whimsical and overly optimistic about how much time it will take to do things, Ashley Morales is deeply passionate about the gospel and all kinds of creativity. Her hobbies include philosophically analyzing nearly every book, play, video game, and movie that she consumes, writing music and short stories, promising herself that she will finish writing her novels, going to sleep too late, eating foods she’s never tried, putting off cleaning her house, browsing Zillow, spending as much quality time as possible with her wonderful husband, trying to be a good mother to her fantastic children, and never finding the balance between saying too much and too little. One day, she hopes to leave a positive mark on the world and visit every continent (except Antarctica) with her family.