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Samuel Finley Breese Morse (1791-1872)


When a scarcity of commissions led Samuel F.B. Morse to reconsider his career as an artist, he turned from painting to pursue an earlier interest in inventing. In 1832, he conceived a plan for an electromagnetic recording telegraph and dedicated his energies over the next several years to developing a working model for his invention. By the time of his U.S. patent application in 1840, Morse had succeeded in devising a relay system for transmitting messages over long distances and had created the practical transmission code that bears his name. Although for a time the future of Morse’s telegraph was imperiled by a lack of capital, in 1843 Congress funded the construction of an experimental line between Washington and Baltimore. One year later, Samuel Morse ushered in a new age in communications when he tapped out the first message: “What hath God wrought!”


Mathew Brady Studio (active 18441883)
Albumen silver print
Frederick Hill Meserve Collection
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

 

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