The Telegraph

Samuel was born in Massachusetts in 1761. Coming from a prosperous family, he went to school at Phillips Academy and Yale. He supported himself as a painter. He was the top portrait painter of the time, and his portraits are of the who’s who in early America.

He embedded his personal beliefs in his paintings. While his paintings were mostly portraits, he was able to portray his Calvinist beliefs in the backgrounds, clothing, and facial expressions. He was a staunch defender of the American Colonies and placed subtle support for American democracy in his works, often in opposition to his father’s beliefs.

When in Washington DC doing a portrait of the Marquis de Lafayette, a messenger on a horse delivered a letter telling him his wife had died. While Samuel left immediately and immediately returned home, he was dismayed to learn that his wife had already been buried.

When it was discovered that electrical current could be transmitted over long distances, Samuel developed an idea for sending signals over wires. He was motivated by the slow notice he received of his wife’s death.

The concept of a telegraph had been developed but its signal was very limiting. The answer was a relay that could take a signal and retransmit it. Samuel took the concept and extended its range. The problem was funding. Congress provided funding for a 38-mile telegraph line from Washington DC to Baltimore. Within a few years, the capacity was greatly expanded.

The next problem was to develop a way to translate electric signals into words. Samuel developed a code that would bear his name. The Morse code consisted of dots and dash combinations for each letter of the alphabet. The first message “What hath God wrought” became the first transmission.

Samuel was awarded patents in the U.S. and in many countries, making him very wealthy. He used his funds to found Vassar College and support Yale. He was a devout Protestant and was anti-Roman Catholic. He also believed that slavery was not against his religion. He passed away at the age of 80.

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“Science and art are not opposed.” – Samuel Morse

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