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Samuel F. B. Morse

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Samuel F. B. Morse

Samuel Finley Breese Morse (April 27, 1791 - April 2, 1872) was an American inventor, history and portrait painter, and is most famous for inventing the telegraph and Morse code.

Table of contents
1 Biography
2 Publications and works
3 See also
4 External links
5 Further reading


Early years

He was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts. He attended college at 14. He devoted himself to art and became a pupil of Washington Allston, a well-known American painter. While at Yale University, he attended lectures on electricity from Benjamin Silliman and Jeremiah Day. He earned money by painting portraits. In 1810, he graduated from Yale University, Morse later accompanied Allston to Europe in 1811.

Morse invented a marble-cutting machine that could carve three dimensionalal sculpture in marble or stone. Morse couldn't patent it because of a pre-existing 1820 Thomas Blanchard design. In 1823, Morse opened an art studio in New York City. In 1825, Morse painted Marquis de Lafayette's portrait (for $11,000). On February 7 of that same year, Morse's wife, Lucretia, died suddenly. She was buried before he returned to New Haven.

In the 1830s, Morse had invented the electrical telegraph, based on Hans Christian Ørsted's discovery in 1820 of the relationship between electricity and magnetism. In 1832, Morse developed the idea of the electromagnetic telegraphy (during conversations with Dr. Charles T. Jackson; Later, Dr. Jackson brought a legal case over the telegraph (which he ultimately lost)). Morse prototyped an electromagnetic recording telegraph and dot-and-dash code system (a signalling alphabet) in his sketchbook.

When studying in Rome in 1830, he became acquainted with the Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen; the two artists would sometimes take walks together at night among the ancient ruins. Morse also painted Thorvaldsen's portrait. In the fall of 1835, Morse built and demonstrated a recording telegraph with a moving paper ribbon. At the beginning of 1836, Morse demonstrated his recording telegraph to Dr. Leonard Gale. Also in 1836, Morse ran for Mayor of New York on a Nativist ticket, receiving 1,496 votes (he lost)

Later years

In 1837, Morse showed Gale his plans for "relays". In September of the same year, Alfred Vail witnessed a demonstration of the telegraph.

In 1838, Morse changed the telegraphic cypher, from a telegraphic dictionary with number code to a code for each letter. On January 24, Morse demonstrated the telegraph to colleges. On February 8, 1838, Morse first publicly demonstrated the electrical telegraph to a scientific committee at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (the first time it worked was on January 6). On February 21, Morse demonstrated the telegraph to President Martin Van Buren and his cabinet. Shortly afterwards, U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Commerce chairman F. O. J. Smith (Maine) became a partner with Morse (and proposed a bill in Congress, which didn't pass, for a $30,000 telegraph line project).

In 1839, Morse published (from Paris) the first American description of the daguerreotype photography by Louis Daguerre. Morse pioneered American daguerreotypes. In 1844 Morse sent the telegraph message "What hath God wrought?" (Bible, Numbers 23:23) from Washington, DC to Baltimore, Maryland.

In the 1850s, Morse came to Copenhagen and visited the Thorvaldsen Museum, where the sculptor's grave is in the inner courtyard. He was received by King Frederick VII, and he expressed his wish to donate his portrait from 1830 to the King. The Thorvaldsen portrait today belongs to Queen Margaret II of Denmark.


He died at his home at 5 West 22nd Street, New York, New York at the age of eighty-one, and was buried in the Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.

Publications and works


See also

External links


Court Cases Stamps

Further reading