Final Project

December 15th, 2011

Throughout this entire semester, we as a class have studied many forms of communication.  We have discussed cave paintings and the beating of drums all the way up to the current day iphones and social networking media.  However, we were not able to cover everything.  One of those forms of communication that was never mentioned was the pamphlet.  The pamphlet is a small informational piece that provides some sort of information to the reader.  They were pertinent in American History during
several eras.  However, they were extremely important for the colonies during the Revolutionary Period from about 1730 to 1780.

The most famous pamphlet during this era might have been written by Thomas
Paine.  Common Sense was a pamphlet written in 1776 that literally could alone spark the Revolution.  Over the course of the pamphlet, Paine attacked Britain for all the atrocities that the “Mother Country” had committed.  What was amazing
about this piece is that Continental Congressmen brought home copies of Common Sense to families across the continent.  In fact, South Carolina
delegate Christopher Gadsen passed out the pamphlet while carrying the famous
yellow flag that read “Don’t Tread on Me,” while reading Paine’s pamphlet.  It may have outraged many Loyalists, but from Gadsen to Jon and Samuel Adams in Boston, Common
was everything to them in order to persuade the colonists to start a
war.  The pamphlet went across countrysides, rallying the cause to start a war.[1]

One of the pamphlets that became famous for a different reason was Thomas Whately’s
letters concerning the Stamp Act of 1765. Whately was an English politician who wrote letters in Britain discussing the fairness of the Stamp Act. Of course theses letters were compiled into pamphlets in the colonies, and were then passed out around taverns for colonists to read.  The problem with Whately’s pamphlet was that it showed the mistake the British made: it made it clear that the colonists were not even given the opportunity
to tax themselves.  This of course angered the colonists, and this lead to many problems for the British trying to govern this tax law.[2]

Another Revolutionary pamphleteer is James Otis of Massachusetts.  Now, Otis did write many pamphlets, but what made his pamphlets famous was the speech he gave on the Writs of Assistance in 1761.  Former President John Adams said that Otis “…was a flame of fire.  With a promptitude of classical allusions, a depth of research, a rapid summary of historical events and dates, a profusion of legal authorities…he carried away all before him.”[3]  Otis was a great speaker and his words after his most famous speech was put into a pamphlet in the colonies.  By defending the merchants against the Crown Lawyers (royal British lawyers), Otis in the pamphlets became another fixture of hope towards breaking away from Britain, and the pamphlets circulated the colonies as a reminder of that.[4]

“If they had, and I imagine no American will fay, they had not, then the parliament
had no right to compel them to execute it.”[5]  Spoken by John Dickinson, these words echoed in his letters as colonists grew tired of the abuses of the British.  From 1767 to 1768, Dickinson’s works were reprinted into pamphlets in the 13 colonies, specifically discussing the Townshend Acts.  Dickinson took the role of a regular farmer, but using his intellect, told a persuading tale of how Britain’s overbearing rule on the colonies was affecting this particular person’s livelihood.  For several years, his works were constantly looked at for their perspective, but also for the fact that they told an intriguing tale.[6]

Now, pamphlets are seen everywhere in America today.  They are small, compact, and provide great amounts of information.  But when this nation was first starting, pamphlets were used as an extremely powerful tool to will the colonists to fight back against the British.  During my research, I was not able to find statistics on this particular area for the amount of pamphlets produced, but many quotes were found coming from former Congressmen and Presidents during this era.  These pamphlets were used as a
war cry, a spark to fight for a much greater cause than some of us realize.  Had it not been for these pamphlets, they may not have been enough supporters to fight back against Great Britain.  That would definitely change how the world is today.

[1] Harvey J. Kaye, Thomas Paine and the Promise of America (London: Macmillan Publisers, 2006), 50-56.

[2] Edmund Sears Morgan, The Stamp Act Crisis: Prologue to Revolution (Chapel Hill: UNC Press Books, 1995),50-64.

[3] James Otis, Famous Orators of the World and Their Best Orations (Philadelphia: J.C. Winston Company, 1902), 23.

[4] Ibid., 23-25.

[5] John Dickinson, Letters From a Farmer, in Pennsylvania, to the Inhabitants of the British Colonies (London: Oxford University Press, 1774), 8-9.

[6] John Dickinson, The Writings of John Dickinson: Political Writings 1764-1774 Volume 1 (Philadelphia: The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 1895), 279-287.


Final Week

December 11th, 2011

When I chose to do a blog on the Revolutionary War pamphlets, I thought that I was somewhat rolling the dice.  In a way, I still am.

The negative thing about doing this as a project is that the information is relatively scarce.  When I did a Google books lookup, I only found about 2 or 3 reliable sources.  In fact, I don’t know how important they really are.  JSTOR and other search engines are not too helpful.  So it has taken a decent amount of time.

What has done wonders for me is Google images, which is unbelievable.  The sources that I have found through actually pictures of some of the pamphlets has opened up the door wide for me.  I have found several works of importance for the blog.  One of them of course is Thomas Paine’s Common Sense as part of the American Crisis.  I have found several other works though.  I have found some on the Stamp and Intolerable Acts, which I did not think I was going to be able to find.  It was interesting to see the writings actually have an effect on the colonists like it did.  I was shocked to find medical pamphlets from this time frame, especially one from George Washington on the medical field pertaining to war injuries.  I’m still trying to see where this blog is actually going, but I’m pretty sure it will be very intruiging at this rate.

Final Project Selection

December 2nd, 2011

What a great final week of class.  485 paper due on the 5th, presentation on the 9th, and Tuesday I am discussion leader.  Thank goodness I found something interesting and fun to do my final project on.

I have decided to do a blog on pamphlets from the Revolutionary War.  Throughout this entire semester, my group and I focused on print and its predecessors.  However, pamphlets were never mentioned once in the class.  This prompted me to do some research on the subject at hand.  I found many from the Revolutionary period, but also some more modern.  I found the pamphlet that acually had the “12 Step Program” for A.A. members, which actually was how the 12 step program got around.  I also found some of the first airflight information pamphlets, dating from the 1930s to the 1970s.  However, as mentioned already, the 1730s to 1770s was when I first found the mass spread of pamphlets on this continent.  I’m hoping to do about 400 to 500 words on this blog, which is about the length that we had to do on the second blog.  Hopefully, I will continue to find more pamphlets and more statistics on them during this time frame.

Project Blog Post

November 19th, 2011

I personally was one of the few people in the class who voted not to do a documentary, just because I was personally nervous about having to deal with video editing.  However, our group hung in and completed the task.  We each spent a good deal of time researching our topic, which was the downfall of the postal system.  We each found plenty of sources and a lot of information that we did not know about.  What made our project great to me is that when we filmed, we told a story.  It was not just interviews.  And the interviews that we did were fascinating and impactful, especially since we had a postal worker talk about the problems that USPS is facing right now.  I would also have to say that the hardest part of this project was setting everything within a specefic time frame.  5 to 10 minutes is not the amount of time that we thought it would be.  The video editing process was very difficult, since the first movie editor program our group chose did not work nearly as well as we thought it would.  Even on the final day, it was not fun posting our project onto youtube.

I think that the part of this project that is not easy to deal with is doing the interviews.  The problem was getting all group members together and finding time when the interviewees were free.  Although our group did not have a problem with this, I know that some groups did, and it is very understandable.  This kind of project may not be my favorite, but it was interesting and fun to try.

Project Update Blog

November 10th, 2011

This week, my group and I are doing all the filming for our documentary.  That way, we can spend all of next week doing the editing.  I have to admit, I really like what we have done as far as interviews go.  I had brought my mom’s friend to Mary Wash who was worked for the United States Postal Service for roughly 28 years now.  The knowledge that he gave us and the interview were musts for our project to be succesful.

I would also have to say that I am pretty disturbed at the state of the USPS right now.  Aside from what we have read, our interviewee gave us some insight that was released yesterday.  Things for the Post Office are very bad, as things may drastically change in the next two years.  The idea of not delivering mail on Saturdays has been thrown out there as an idea, and there is the notion that they may begin to heavily buy out employees and not hire more until more are retired.  For a government owned business that was created to not make money, the USPS is drastically losing more than some could have ever thought.

Weekly Blog

November 3rd, 2011

My group on the next project is covering how the postal service has decline over the years due to other forms of communication being used.  These include text messaging, e-mail, online newspapers and other forms of communication that spread information.  I think that it is an interesting topic, since the United States Postal Service has constantly released its numbers to demonstrate how over time it has been struggling.  For the documentary, my group will be interviewing somebody who has worked for the Postal Service for many years now (29 to be exact).  I think he has a great deal of information to offer to our documentary.  Right now, we are finding out sources and seeing where they lead.  All in all, I think that we can do a good job on this project as long as we can establish where we want to go with this.

Radio Advertisements

October 28th, 2011

Looking back at this past group project, I can honestly say that I did not expect for it to work the way it did.  Our project was a two minute audio clip, but it still took quite a bit of work for it to go the way we wanted too.  There was a great deal of planning involved, as well as some extensive research.  In order to make it work, we had to find multiple sources, from the information needed on the product featured in the broadcast to old radio advertisements.  They were very much over the top compared to what we hear today, but they were effective.  It was fun putting it all together.

Winston and Rosenzweig

October 21st, 2011

I thought the readings this week were quite interesting, especially the section we read by Roy Rosenzweig.  It was fascinating to me because I just did the Literature Review for History 485, and I thought it was funny how much this section reminded me of just that.  I thought it was unique how Rosenzweig examines the history of the internet through the eyes of different writers, as well as how several different ideas contributed to the creation of the internet.

Yesterday in class, one of the points that was brought up was if the military had control over certain inventions.  I would say that they have, but I don’t completely think that is a bad thing.  The military did create the internet, which is something that has become very useful in today’s society (since we use it everyday).  I also thought it was interesting how Winston made small points here and there in the last few chapters.  He skimmed right over cell phones at one point, which was not shocking seeing as how he wrote the rest of the book.  I also found it interesting how cable had so many problems years ago, especially since some people here in Virginia don’t have cable due to some areas not being economically well off.

Week 7

October 14th, 2011

This week, I was one of the discussion leaders.  I actually enjoyed doing it.  It was nice for a change to actually not have to answer questions.  However, if gave me a new perspective.  I got to see how difficult it was to keep a group of people interested on a certain topic for a period of time.

I will say though that nobody ever gives our military any credit for technological advances, but this week we were reminded of their contributions.  The military laid down the foundation for the internet today.  Had it not been for ARPANET, I would not even be able to post this blog.  People always think of weapons with the military, but there is so much more.  The Enigma machine was incredibly difficult to break, and its use in the wars proved completely effective.

Of course, we also have a project due next week.  As a group, we came together with our sources and were able to nearly complete our project.  Looking up the sources for our project was quite challenging, since it was a collective effort.  We all had to put in our own different dynamic.  Hopefully on Thursday it will pay off for us.

enigma code for class 10/13/11

October 13th, 2011



Chris Christensen, “Polish Mathematicians Finding Patterns in Enigma Messages,” Mathematics Magazine, 80, no. 4 (Oct., 2007): 255,