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Title: Samuel F. B. Morse, His Letters and Journals - In Two Volumes, Volume II
Author: Morse, Samuel F. B. (Samuel Finley Breese), 1791-1872
Language: English
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available by the Bibliotheque nationale de France (BnF/Gallica) at

                             SAMUEL F.B. MORSE

                          HIS LETTERS AND JOURNALS

                               IN TWO VOLUMES

                                  VOLUME II

[Illustration: Sam'l. F.B. Morse]

                             SAMUEL F.B. MORSE

                          HIS LETTERS AND JOURNALS

                          EDITED AND SUPPLEMENTED

                                 BY HIS SON

                             EDWARD LIND MORSE

                        AND WITH NOTES AND DIAGRAMS
                               BEARING ON THE
                         INVENTION OF THE TELEGRAPH

                                  VOLUME II


                         _Published November 1914_

"Th' invention all admir'd, and each how he
To be th' inventor miss'd, so easy it seem'd
Once found, which yet unfound most would have thought




OCTOBER 1, 1832--FEBRUARY 28, 1833

Packet-ship Sully.--Dinner-table conversation.--Dr. Charles T. Jackson.--
First conception of telegraph.--Sketch-book.--Idea of 1832 basic
principle of telegraph of to-day.--Thoughts on priority.--Testimony of
passengers and Captain Pell.--Difference between "discovery" and
"invention."--Professor E.N. Hereford's paper.--Arrival in New York.--
Testimony of his brothers.--First steps toward perfection of the
invention.--Letters to Fenimore Cooper



Still painting.--Thoughts on art.--Picture of the Louvre.--Rejection as
painter of one of the pictures in the Capitol.--John Quincy Adams.--James
Fenimore Cooper's article.--Death blow to his artistic ambition.--
Washington Allston's letter.--Commission by fellow artists.--Definite
abandonment of art.--Repayment of money advanced.--Death of Lafayette.--
Religious controversies.--Appointed Professor in University of City of
New York.--Description of first telegraphic instrument.--Successful
experiments.--Relay.--Address in 1853



First exhibitions of the Telegraph.--Testimony of Robert G. Rankin and
Rev. Henry B. Tappan.--Cooke and Wheatstone.--Joseph Henry, Leonard D.
Gale, and Alfred Vail.--Professor Gale's testimony.--Professor Henry's
discoveries.--Regrettable controversy of later years.--Professor Charles
T. Jackson's claims.--Alfred Vail.--Contract of September 23, 1837.--Work
at Morristown, New Jersey.--The "Morse Alphabet."--Reading by sound.--
First and second forms of alphabet


OCTOBER 3, 1837--MAY 18, 1838

The Caveat.--Work at Morristown.--Judge Vail.--First success.--Resolution
in Congress regarding telegraphs.--Morse's reply.--Illness.--Heaviness of
first instruments.--Successful exhibition in Morristown.--Exhibition in
New York University.--First use of Morse alphabet.--Change from first
form of alphabet to present form.--Trials of an inventor.--Dr. Jackson.--
Slight friction between Morse and Vail.--Exhibition at Franklin
Institute, Philadelphia.--Exhibitions in Washington.--Skepticism of
public.--F.O.J. Smith.--F.L. Pope's estimate of Smith.--Proposal for
government telegraph.--Smith's report.--Departure for Europe


JUNE, 1838--JANUARY 21. 1839

Arrival in England.--Application for letters patent.--Cooke and
Wheatstone's telegraph.--Patent refused.--Departure for Paris.--Patent
secured in France.--Earl of Elgin.--Earl of Lincoln.--Baron de
Meyendorff.--Russian contract.--Return to London.--Exhibition at the Earl
of Lincoln's.--Letter from secretary of Lord Campbell, Attorney-General.
--Coronation of Queen Victoria.--Letters to daughter.--Birth of the Count
of Paris.--Exhibition before the Institute of France.--Arago; Baron
Humboldt.--Negotiations with the Government and Saint-Germain Railway.--
Reminiscences of Dr. Kirk.--Letter of the Honorable H. L. Ellsworth.--
Letter to F.O.J. Smith.--Dilatoriness of the French


JANUARY 6, 1839--MARCH 9, 1839

Despondent letter to his brother Sidney.--Longing for a home.--Letter to
Smith.--More delays.--Change of ministry.--Proposal to form private
company.--Impossible under the laws of France.--Telegraphs a government
monopoly.--Refusal of Czar to sign Russian contract.--Dr. Jackson.--M.
Amyot.--Failure to gain audience of king.--Lord Elgin.--Earl of Lincoln.
--Robert Walsh prophesies success.--Meeting with Earl of Lincoln in later
years.--Daguerre.--Letter to Mrs. Cass on lotteries.--Railway and
military telegraphs.--Skepticism of a Marshal of France


APRIL 15, 1839--SEPTEMBER 30, 1840

Arrival in New York.--Disappointment at finding nothing done by Congress
or his associates.--Letter to Professor Henry.--Henry's reply.--
Correspondence with Daguerre.--Experiments with daguerreotypes.--
Professor Draper.--First group photograph of a college class.--Failure of
Russian contract.--Mr. Chamberlain.--Discouragement through lack of
funds.--No help from his associates.--Improvements in telegraph made by
Morse.--Humorous letter


JUNE 20, 1840--AUGUST 12, 1842

First patent issued.--Proposal of Cooke and Wheatstone to join forces
rejected.--Letter to Rev. E.S. Salisbury.--Money advanced by brother
artists repaid.--Poverty.--Reminiscences of General Strother, "Porte
Crayon."--Other reminiscences.--Inaction in Congress.--Flattering letter
of F.O.J. Smith.--Letter to Smith urging action.--Gonon and Wheatstone.--
Temptation to abandon enterprise.--Partners all financially crippled.--
Morse alone doing any work.--Encouraging letter from Professor Henry.--
Renewed enthusiasm.--Letter to Hon. W.W. Boardman urging appropriation of
$3500 by Congress.--Not even considered.--Despair of inventor


JULY 16, 1842--MARCH 26, 1843

Continued discouragements.--Working on improvements.--First submarine
cable from Battery to Governor's Island.--The Vails refuse to give
financial assistance.--Goes to Washington.--Experiments conducted at the
Capitol.--First to discover duplex and wireless telegraphy.--Dr. Fisher.
--Friends in Congress.--Finds his statuette of Dying Hercules in basement
of Capitol.--Alternately hopes and despairs of bill passing Congress.--
Bill favorably reported from committee.--Clouds breaking.--Ridicule in
Congress.--Bill passes House by narrow majority.--Long delay in Senate.--
Last day of session.--Despair.--Bill passes.--Victory at last


MARCH 15, 1848--JUNE 18, 1844

Work on first telegraph line begun.--Gale, Fisher, and Vail appointed
assistants.--F.O.J. Smith to secure contract for trenching.--Morse not
satisfied with contract.--Death of Washington Allston.--Reports to
Secretary of the Treasury.--Prophesies Atlantic cable.--Failure of
underground wires.--Carelessness of Fisher.--F.O.J. Smith shows cloven
hoof.--Ezra Cornell solves a difficult problem.--Cornell's plan for
insulation endorsed by Professor Henry.--Many discouragements.--Work
finally progresses favorably.--Frelinghuysen's nomination as
Vice-President reported by telegraph.--Line to Baltimore completed.--
First message.--Triumph.--Reports of Democratic Convention.--First
long-distance conversation.--Utility of telegraph established.--Offer to
sell to Government


JUNE 23, 1844--OCTOBER 9, 1845

Fame and fortune now assured.--Government declines purchase of
telegraph.--Accident to leg gives needed rest.--Reflections on ways of
Providence.--Consideration of financial propositions.--F.O.J. Smith's
fulsome praise.--Morse's reply.--Extension of telegraph proceeds slowly.
--Letter to Russian Minister.--Letter to London "Mechanics' Magazine"
claiming priority and first experiments in wireless telegraphy.--Hopes
that Government may yet purchase.--Longing for a home.--Dinner at Russian
Minister's.--Congress again fails him.--Amos Kendall chosen as business
agent.--First telegraph company.--Fourth voyage to Europe.--London,
Broek, Hamburg.--Letter of Charles T. Fleischmann.--Paris.--Nothing
definite accomplished


DECEMBER 20, 1845--APRIL 19, 1848

Return to America.--Telegraph affairs in bad shape.--Degree of LL.D. from
Yale.--Letter from Cambridge Livingston.--Henry O'Reilly.--Grief at
unfaithfulness of friends.--Estrangement from Professor Henry.--Morse's
"Defense."--His regret at feeling compelled to publish it.--Hopes to
resume his brush.--Capitol panel.--Again disappointed.--Another
accident.--First money earned from telegraph devoted to religious
purposes.--Letters to his brother Sidney.--Telegraph matters.--Mexican
War.--Faith in the future.--Desire to be lenient to opponents.--Dr.
Jackson.--Edward Warren.--Alfred Vail remains loyal.--Troubles in
Virginia.--Henry J. Rogers.--Letter to J.D. Reid about O'Reilly.--F.O.J.
Smith again.--Purchases a home at last.--"Locust Grove," on the Hudson,
near Poughkeepsie.--Enthusiastic description.--More troubles without, but
peace in his new home


JANUARY 9, 1848--DECEMBER 19, 1849

Preparation for lawsuits.--Letter from Colonel Shaffner.--Morse's reply
deprecating bloodshed.--Shaffner allays his fears.--Morse attends his
son's wedding at Utica.--His own second marriage.--First of great
lawsuits.--Almost all suits in Morse's favor.--Decision of Supreme Court
of United States.--Extract from an earlier opinion.--Alfred Vail leaves
the telegraph business.--Remarks on this by James D. Reid.--Morse
receives decoration from Sultan of Turkey.--Letter to organizers of
Printers' Festival.--Letter concerning aviation.--Optimistic letter from
Mr. Kendall.--Humorous letter from George Wood.--Thomas R. Walker.--
Letter to Fenimore Cooper.--Dr. Jackson again.--Unfairness of the press.
--Letter from Charles C. Ingham on art matters.--Letter from George
Vail.--F.O.J. Smith continues to embarrass.--Letter from Morse to Smith


MARCH 5, 1850--NOVEMBER 10, 1854

Precarious financial condition.--Regret at not being able to make loan.--
False impression of great wealth.--Fears he may have to sell home.--
F.O.J. Smith continues to give trouble.--Morse system extending
throughout the world.--Death of Fenimore Cooper.--Subscriptions to
charities, etc.--First use of word "Telegram."--Mysterious fire in
Supreme Court clerk's room.--Letter of Commodore Perry.--Disinclination
to antagonize Henry.--Temporary triumph of F.O.J. Smith.--Order gradually
emerging.--Expenses of the law.--Triumph in Australia.--Gift to Yale
College.--Supreme Court decision and extension of patent.--Social
diversions in Washington.--Letters of George Wood and P. H. Watson on
extension of patent.--Loyalty to Mr. Kendall; also to Alfred Vail.--
Decides to publish "Defense."--Controversy with Bishop Spaulding.--Creed
on Slavery.--Political views.--Defeated for Congress


JANUARY 8, 1855--AUGUST 14, 1856

Payment of dividends delayed.--Concern for welfare of his country.--
Indignation at corrupt proposal from California.--Kendall hampered by the
Vails.--Proposition by capitalists to purchase patent rights.--Cyrus W.
Field.--Newfoundland Electric Telegraph Company.--Suggestion of Atlantic
Cable.--Hopes thereby to eliminate war.--Trip to Newfoundland.--Temporary
failure.--F.O.J. Smith continues to give trouble.--Financial conditions
improve.--Morse and his wife sail for Europe.--Fêted in London.--
Experiments with Dr. Whitehouse.--Mr. Brett.--Dr. O'Shaughnessy and the
telegraph in India.--Mr. Cooke.--Charles R. Leslie.--Paris.--Hamburg.--
Copenhagen.--Presentation to king.--Thorwaldsen Museum.--Oersted's
daughter.--St. Petersburg.--Presentation to Czar at Peterhoff


AUGUST 23, 1856--SEPTEMBER 15, 1858

Berlin.--Baron von Humboldt.--London, successful cable experiments with
Whitehouse and Bright.--Banquet at Albion Tavern.--Flattering speech of
W. F. Cooke.--Returns to America.--Troubles multiply.--Letter to the
Honorable John Y. Mason on political matters.--Kendall urges severing of
connection with cable company.--Morse, nevertheless, decides to
continue.--Appointed electrician of company.--Sails on U.S.S. Niagara.--
Letter from Paris on the crinoline.--Expedition sails from Liverpool.--
Queenstown harbor.--Accident to his leg.--Valencia.--Laying of cable
begun.--Anxieties.--Three successful days.--Cable breaks.--Failure.--
Returns to America.--Retires from cable enterprise.--Predicts in 1858
failure of apparently successful laying of cable.--Sidney E. Morse.--The
Hare and the Tortoise.--European testimonial: considered niggardly by
Kendall.--Decorations, medals, etc., from European nations.--Letter of
thanks to Count Walewski


SEPTEMBER 3. 1858--SEPTEMBER 21, 1863

Visits Europe again with a large family party.--Regrets this.--Sails for
Porto Rico with wife and two children.--First impressions of the
tropics.--Hospitalities.--His son-in-law's plantation.--Death of Alfred
Vail.--Smithsonian exonerates Henry.--European honors to Morse.--First
line of telegraph in Porto Rico.--Banquet.--Returns home.--Reception at
Poughkeepsie.--Refuses to become candidate for the Presidency.--Purchases
New York house.--F.O.J. Smith claims part of European gratuity.--Succeeds
through legal technicality.--Visit of Prince of Wales.--Duke of
Newcastle.--War clouds.--Letters on slavery, etc.--Matthew Vassar.--
Efforts as peacemaker.--Foresees Northern victory.--Gloomy forebodings.--
Monument to his father.--Divides part of European gratuity with widow of
Vail.--Continued efforts in behalf of peace.--Bible arguments in favor of


FEBRUARY 26, 1864--NOVEMBER 8, 1867

Sanitary Commission.--Letter to Dr. Bellows.--Letter on "loyalty."--His
brother Richard upholds Lincoln.--Letters of brotherly reproof.--
Introduces McClellan at preëlection parade.--Lincoln reelected.--Anxiety
as to future of country.--Unsuccessful effort to take up art again.--
Letter to his sons.--Gratification at rapid progress of telegraph.--
Letter to George Wood on two great mysteries of life.--Presents portrait
of Allston to the National Academy of Design.--Endows lectureship in
Union Theological Seminary.--Refuses to attend fifty-fifth reunion of his
class.--Statue to him proposed.--Ezra Cornell's benefaction.--American
Asiatic Society.--Amalgamation of telegraph companies.--Protest against
stock manipulations.--Approves of President Andrew Johnson.--Sails with
family for Europe.--Paris Exposition of 1867.--Descriptions of
festivities.--Cyrus W. Field.--Incident in early life of Napoleon III.--
Made Honorary Commissioner to Exposition.--Attempt on life of Czar.--Ball
at Hotel de Ville.--Isle of Wight.--England and Scotland.--The
"Sounder."--Returns to Paris


NOVEMBER 28, 1867--JUNE 10. 1871

Goes to Dresden.--Trials financial and personal.--Humorous letter to E.S.
Sanford.--Berlin.--The telegraph in the war of 1866.--Paris.--Returns to
America.--Death of his brother Richard.--Banquet in New York.--Addresses
of Chief Justice Chase, Morse, and Daniel Huntington.--Report as
Commissioner finished.--Professor W.P. Blake's letter urging recognition
of Professor Henry.--Morse complies.--Henry refuses to be reconciled.--
Reading by sound.--Morse breaks his leg.--Deaths of Amos Kendall and
George Wood.--Statue in Central Park.--Addresses of Governor Hoffman and
William Cullen Bryant.--Ceremonies at Academy of Music.--Morse bids
farewell to his children of the telegraph


JUNE 14, 1871--APRIL 16, 1872

Nearing the end.--Estimate of the Reverend F.B. Wheeler.--Early poem.--
Leaves "Locust Grove" for last time.--Death of his brother Sidney.--
Letter to Cyrus Field on neutrality of telegraph.--Letter of F.O.J. Smith
to H.J. Rogers.--Reply by Professor Gale.--Vicious attack by F.O.J.
Smith.--Death prevents reply by Morse.--Unveils statue of Franklin in
last public appearance.--Last hours.--Death.--Tributes of James D. Reid,
New York "Evening Post," New York "Herald," and Louisville
"Courier-Journal."--Funeral.--Monument in Greenwood Cemetery.--Memorial
services in House of Representatives, Washington.--Address of James G.
Blaine.--Other memorial services.--Mr. Prime's review of Morse's


    From a photograph.


    Now in the National Museum, Washington.



    Given to General Thomas S. Cummings at time of transmission by
    Professor S.F.B. Morse, New York University, Wednesday, January 24,
    1838. Presented to the National Museum at Washington by the family
    of General Thomas S. Cummings of New York, February 13, 1906.


    The two keys and the relay are in the National Museum, Washington.
    The Washington-Baltimore instrument is owned by Cornell University.

    From a portrait by Daniel Huntington.


    From a daguerreotype.

    From an ambrotype.



    From a photograph by Sarony.




OCTOBER 1, 1832--FEBRUARY 28, 1833

Packet-ship Sully.--Dinner-table conversation.--Dr. Charles T. Jackson.--
First conception of telegraph.--Sketch-book.--Idea of 1832 basic
principle of telegraph of to-day.--Thoughts on priority.--Testimony of
passengers and Captain Pell.--Difference between "discovery" and
"invention."--Professor E.N. Horsford's paper.--Arrival in New York.--
Testimony of his brothers.--First steps toward perfection of the
invention.--Letters to Fenimore Cooper.

The history of every great invention is a record of struggle, sometimes
Heart-breaking, on the part of the inventor to secure and maintain his
rights. No sooner has the new step in progress proved itself to be an
upward one than claimants arise on every side; some honestly believing
themselves to have solved the problem first; others striving by dishonest
means to appropriate to themselves the honor and the rewards, and these
sometimes succeeding; and still others, indifferent to fame, thinking
only of their own pecuniary gain and dishonorable in their methods. The
electric telegraph was no exception to this rule; on the contrary, its
history perhaps leads all the rest as a chronicle of "envy, hatred,
malice, and all uncharitableness." On the other hand, it brings out in
strong relief the opposing virtues of steadfastness, perseverance,
integrity, and loyalty.

Many were the wordy battles waged in the scientific world over the
questions of priority, exclusive discovery or invention, indebtedness to
others, and conscious or unconscious plagiarism. Some of these questions
are, in many minds, not yet settled. Acrimonious were the legal struggles
fought over infringements and rights of way, and, in the first years of
the building of the lines to all parts of this country, real warfare was
waged by the workers of competing companies.

It is not my purpose to treat exhaustively of any of these battles,
scientific, legal, or physical. All this has already been written down by
abler pens than mine, and has now become history. My aim in following the
career of Morse the Inventor is to shed a light (to some a new light) on
his personality, self-revealed by his correspondence, tried first by
hardships, poverty, and deep discouragement, and then by success,
calumny, and fame. Like other men who have achieved greatness, he was
made the target for all manner of abuse, accused of misappropriating the
ideas of others, of lying, deceit, and treachery, and of unbounded
conceit and vaingloriousness. But a careful study of his notes and
correspondence, and the testimony of others, proves him to have been a
pure-hearted Christian gentleman, earnestly desirous of giving to every
one his just due, but jealous of his own good name and fame, and fighting
valiantly, when needs must be, to maintain his rights; guilty sometimes
of mistakes and errors of judgment; occasionally quick-tempered and testy
under the stress of discouragement and the pressure of poverty, but frank
to acknowledge his error and to make amends when convinced of his fault;
and the calm verdict of posterity has awarded him the crown of greatness.

Morse was now forty-one years old; he had spent three delightful years in
France and Italy; had matured his art by the intelligent study of the
best of the old masters; had made new friends and cemented more strongly
the ties that bound him to old ones; and he was returning to his dearly
loved native land and to his family with high hopes of gaining for
himself and his three motherless children at least a competence, and of
continuing his efforts in behalf of the fine arts.

From Mr. Cooper's and Mr. Habersham's reminiscences we must conclude
that, in the background of his mind, there existed a plan, unformed as
yet, for utilizing electricity to convey intelligence. He was familiar
with much that had been discovered with regard to that mysterious force,
through his studies under Professors Day and Silliman at Yale, and
through the lectures and conversation of Professors Dana and Renwick in
New York, so that the charge which was brought against him that he knew
absolutely nothing of the subject, can be dismissed as simply proving the
ignorance of his critics.

Thus prepared, unconsciously to himself, to receive the inspiration which
was to come to him like a flash of the subtle fluid which afterwards
became his servant, he went on board the good ship Sully, Captain Pell
commanding, on the 1st of October, 1832. Among the other passengers were
the Honorable William C. Rives, of Virginia, our Minister to France, with
his family; Mr. J.F. Fisher, of Philadelphia; Dr. Charles T. Jackson, of
Boston, who was destined to play a malign rôle in the subsequent history
of the telegraph, and others. The following letter was written to his
friend Fenimore Cooper from Havre, on the 2d of October:--

"I have but a moment to write you one line, as in a few hours I shall be
under way for dear America. I arrived from England by way of Southampton
a day or two since, and have had every moment till now occupied in
preparations for embarking. I received yours from Vevay yesterday and
thank you for it. Yes, Mr. Rives and family, Mr. Fisher, Mr. Rogers, Mr.
Palmer and family, and a full cabin beside accompany me. What shall I do
with such an _antistatistical_ set? I wish you were of the party to shut
their mouths on some points. I shall have good opportunity to talk with
Mr. Rives, whom I like notwithstanding. I think he has good American
feeling in the main and means well, although I cannot account for his
permitting you to suffer in the chambers (of the General). I will find
out _that_ if I can.

"My journey to England, change of scene and air, have restored me
wonderfully. I knew they would. I like John's country; it is a garden
beautifully in contrast with France, and John's people have excellent
qualities, and he has many good people; but I hate his aristocratic
system, and am more confirmed in my views than ever of its oppressive and
unjust character. I saw a great deal of Leslie; he is the same good
fellow that he always was. Be tender of him, my dear sir; I could mention
some things which would soften your judgment of his political feelings.
One thing only I can now say,--remember he has married an English wife,
whom he loves, and who has never known America. He keeps entirely aloof
from politics and is wholly absorbed in his art. Newton is married to a
Miss Sullivan, daughter of General Sullivan, of Boston, an accomplished
woman and a belle. He is expected in England soon.

"I found almost everybody out of town in London. I called and left a card
at Rogers's, but he was in the country, so were most of the artists of my
acquaintance. The fine engraver who has executed so many of Leslie's
works, Danforth, is a stanch American; he would be a man after your
heart; he admires you for that very quality.--I must close in great

The transatlantic traveller did not depart on schedule time in 1832, as
we find from another letter written to Mr. Cooper on October 5:--

"Here I am yet, wind-bound, with a tremendous southwester directly in our
teeth. Yesterday the Formosa arrived and brought papers, etc., to the
10th September. I have been looking them over. Matters look serious at
the South; they are mad there; great decision and prudence will be
required to restore them to reason again, but they are so hot-headed, and
are so far committed, I know not what will be the issue. Yet I think our
institutions are equal to any crisis....

"_October 6, 7 o'clock._ We are getting under way. Good-bye."

It is greatly to be regretted that Morse did not, on this voyage as on
previous ones, keep a careful diary. Had he done so, many points relating
to the first conception of his invention would, from the beginning, have
been made much clearer. As it is, however, from his own accounts at a
later date, and from the depositions of the captain of the ship and some
of the passengers, the story can be told.

The voyage was, on the whole, I believe, a pleasant one and the company
in the cabin congenial. One night at the dinner-table the conversation
chanced upon the subject of electro-magnetism, and Dr. Jackson described
some of the more recent discoveries of European scientists--the length of
wire in the coil of a magnet, the fact that electricity passed
instantaneously through any known length of wire, and that its presence
could be observed at any part of the line by breaking the circuit. Morse
was, naturally, much interested and it was then that the inspiration,
which had lain dormant in his brain for many years, suddenly came to him,
and he said: "If the presence of electricity can be made visible in any
part of the circuit, I see no reason why intelligence may not be
transmitted instantaneously by electricity."

The company was not startled by this remark; they soon turned to other
subjects and thought no more of it. Little did they realize that this
exclamation of Morse's was to mark an epoch in civilization; that it was
the germ of one of the greatest inventions of any age, an invention which
not only revolutionized the methods by which intelligence was conveyed
from place to place, but paved the way for the subjugation, to the uses
of man in many other ways, of that mysterious fluid, electricity, which
up to this time had remained but a plaything of the laboratory. In short,
it ushered in the Age of Electricity. Least of all, perhaps, did that Dr.
Jackson, who afterwards claimed to have given Morse all his ideas,
apprehend the tremendous importance of that chance remark. The fixed idea
had, however, taken root in Morse's brain and obsessed him. He withdrew
from the cabin and paced the deck, revolving in his mind the various
means by which the object sought could be attained. Soon his ideas were
so far focused that he sought to give them expression on paper, and he
drew from his pocket one of the little sketch-books which he always
carried with him, and rapidly jotted down in sketches and words the ideas
as they rushed from his brain. This original sketch-book was burned in a
mysterious fire which, some years later, during one of the many telegraph
suits, destroyed many valuable papers. Fortunately, however, a certified
copy had wisely been made, and this certified copy is now in the National
Museum in Washington, and the reproduction here given of some of its
pages will show that Morse's first conception of a Recording Electric
Magnetic Telegraph is practically the telegraph in universal use to-day.


His first thought was evidently of some system of signs which could be
used to transmit intelligence, and he at once realized that nothing could
be simpler than a point or a dot, a line or dash, and a space, and a
combination of the three. Thus the first sketch shows the embryo of the
dot-and-dash alphabet, applied only to numbers at first, but afterwards
elaborated by Morse to represent all the letters of the alphabet.

Next he suggests a method by which these signs may be recorded
permanently, evidently by chemical decomposition on a strip of paper
passed along over two rollers. He then shows a message which could be
sent by this means, interspersed with ideas for insulating the wires in
tubes or pipes. And here I want to call attention to a point which has
never, to my knowledge, been noticed before. In the message, which, in
pursuance of his first idea, adhered to by him for several years, was to
be sent by means of numbers, every word is numbered conventionally except
the proper name "Cuvier," and for this he put a number for each letter.
How this was to be indicated was not made clear, but it is evident that
he saw at once that all proper names could not be numbered; that some
other means must be employed to indicate them; in other words that each
letter of the alphabet must have its own sign. Whether at that early
period he had actually devised any form of alphabet does not appear,
although some of the depositions of his fellow passengers would indicate
that he had. He himself put its invention at a date a few years after
this, and it has been bitterly contested that he did not invent it at
all. I shall prove, in the proper place, that he did, but I think it is
proved that it must have been thought of even at the early date of 1832,
and, at all events, the dot-and-dash as the basis of a conventional code
were original with Morse and were quite different from any other form of
code devised by others.

The next drawing of a magnet lifting sixty pounds shows that Morse was
familiar with the discoveries of Arago, Davy, and Sturgeon in
electro-magnetism, but what application of them was to be made is not

The last sketch is to me the most important of all, for it embodies the
principle of the receiving magnet which is universally used at the
present day. The weak permanent magnet has been replaced by a spring, but
the electro-magnet still attracts the lever and produces the dots and
dashes of the alphabet; and this, simple as it seems to us "once found,"
was original with Morse, was absolutely different from any other form of
telegraph devised by others, and, improved and elaborated by him through
years of struggle, is now recognized throughout the world as the

It was not yet in a shape to prove to a skeptical world its practical
utility; much had still to be done to bring it to perfection; new
discoveries had still to be made by Morse and by others which were
essential to its success; the skill, the means, and the faith of others
had to be enlisted in its behalf, but the actual invention was there and
Morse was the inventor.

How simple it all seems to us now, and yet its very simplicity is its
sublimest feature, for it was this which compelled the admiration of
scientists and practical men of affairs alike, and which gradually forced
into desuetude all other systems of telegraphy until to-day the Morse
telegraph still stands unrivalled.

That many other minds had been occupied with the same problem was a fact
unknown to the inventor at the time, although a few years later he was
rudely awakened. A fugitive note, written many years later, in his
handwriting, although speaking of himself in the third person, bears
witness to this. It is entitled "Good thought":--

"A circumstance which tends to confuse, in fairly ascertaining priority
of invention, is that a subsequent state of knowledge is confounded in
the general mind with the state of knowledge when the invention is first
announced as successful. This is certainly very unfair. When Morse
announced his invention, what was the general state of knowledge in
regard to the telegraph? It should be borne in mind that a knowledge of
the futile attempts at electric telegraphs previous to his successful one
has been brought out from the lumber garret of science by the research of
eighteen years. Nothing was known of such telegraphs to many scientific
men of the highest attainments in the centres of civilization. Professor
Morse says himself (and certainly he has not given in any single instance
a statement which has been falsified) that, at the time he devised his
system, he supposed himself to be the first person that ever put the
words 'electric telegraph' together. He supposed himself at the time the
originator of the phrase as well as the thing. But, aside from his
positive assertion, the truth of this statement is not only possible but
very probable. The comparatively few (very few as compared with the mass
who now are learned in the facts) who were in the habit of reading the
scientific journals may have read of the thought of an electric telegraph
about the year 1832, and even of Ronald's, and Betancourt's, and Salva's,
and Lomond's impracticable schemes previously, and have forgotten them
again, with thousands of other dreams, as the ingenious ideas of
visionary men; ideas so visionary as to be considered palpably
impracticable, declared to be so, indeed, by Barlow, a scientific man of
high standing and character; yet the mass of the scientific as well as
the general public were ignorant even of the attempts that had been made.
The fact of any of them having been published in some magazine at the
time, whose circulation may be two or three thousand, and which was soon
virtually lost amid the shelves of immense libraries, does not militate
against the assertion that the world was ignorant of the fact. We can
show conclusively the existence of this ignorance respecting telegraphs
at the time of the invention of Morse's telegraph."

The rest of this note (evidently written for publication) is missing, but
enough remains to prove the point.

Thus we have seen that the idea of his telegraph came to Morse as a
sudden inspiration and that he was quite ignorant of the fact that others
had thought of using electricity to convey intelligence to a distance.
Mr. Prime in his biography says: "Of all the great inventions that have
made their authors immortal and conferred enduring benefit upon mankind,
no one was so completely grasped at its inception as this."

One of his fellow passengers, J. Francis Fisher, Esq., counsellor-at-law
of Philadelphia, gave the following testimony at Morse's request:--

"In the fall of the year 1832 I returned from Europe as a passenger with
Mr. Morse in the ship Sully, Captain Pell master. During the voyage the
subject of an electric telegraph was one of frequent conversation. Mr.
Morse was most constant in pursuing it, and _alone_ the one who seemed
disposed to reduce it to a practical test, and I recollect that, for this
purpose, he devised a _system of signs for letters_ to be indicated and
marked by a quick succession of strokes or shocks of the galvanic
current, and I am sure of the fact that it was deemed by Mr. Morse
perfectly competent to effect the result stated. I did not suppose that
any other person on board the ship claimed any merit in the invention, or
was, in fact, interested to pursue it to maturity as Mr. Morse then
seemed to be, nor have I been able since that time to recall any fact or
circumstance to justify the claim of any person other than Mr. Morse to
the invention."

This clear statement of Mr. Fisher's was cheerfully given in answer to a
request for his recollections of the circumstances, in order to combat
the claim of Dr. Charles T. Jackson that he had given Morse all the ideas
of the telegraph, and that he should be considered at least its joint
inventor. This was the first of the many claims which the inventor was
forced to meet. It resulted in a lawsuit which settled conclusively that
Morse was the sole inventor, and that Jackson was the victim of a mania
which impelled him to claim the discoveries and achievements of others as
his own. I shall have occasion to refer to this matter again.

It is to be noted that Mr. Fisher refers to "signs for letters." Whether
Morse actually had devised or spoken of a conventional alphabet at that
time cannot be proved conclusively, but that it must have been in his
mind the "Cuvier" referred to before indicates.

Others of his fellow-passengers gave testimony to the same effect, and
Captain Pell stated under oath that, when he saw the completed instrument
in 1837, he recognized it as embodying the principles which Morse had
explained to him on the Sully; and he added: "Before the vessel was in
port, Mr. Morse addressed me in these words: 'Well, Captain, should you
hear of the telegraph one of these days as the wonder of the world,
remember the discovery was made on board the good ship Sully.'"

Morse always clung tenaciously to the date of 1832 as that of his
invention, and, I claim, with perfect justice. While it required much
thought and elaboration to bring it to perfection; while he used the
published discoveries of others in order to make it operate over long
distances; while others labored with him in order to produce a practical
working apparatus, and to force its recognition on a skeptical world, the
basic idea on which everything else depended was his; it was original
with him, and he pursued it to a successful issue, himself making certain
new and essential discoveries and inventions. While, as I have said, he
made use of the discoveries of others, these men in turn were dependent
on the earlier investigations of scientists who preceded them, and so the
chain lengthens out.

There will always be a difference of opinion as to the comparative value
of a new discovery and a new invention, and the difference between these
terms should be clearly apprehended. While they are to a certain extent
interchangeable, the word "discovery" in science is usually applied to
the first enunciation of some property of nature till then unrecognized;
"invention," on the other hand, is the application of this property to
the uses of mankind. Sometimes discovery and invention are combined in
the same individual, but often the discoverer is satisfied with the fame
arising from having called attention to something new, and leaves to
others the practical application of his discovery. Scientists will always
claim that a new discovery, which marks an advance in knowledge in their
chosen field, is of paramount importance; while the world at large is
more grateful to the man who, by combining the discoveries of others and
adding the culminating link, confers a tangible blessing upon humanity.

Morse was completely possessed by this new idea. He worked over it that
day and far into the night. His vivid imagination leaped into the future,
brushing aside all obstacles, and he realized that here in his hands was
an instrument capable of working inconceivable good. He recalled the days
and weeks of anxiety when he was hungry for news of his loved ones; he
foresaw that in affairs of state and of commerce rapid communication
might mean the avoidance of war or the saving of a fortune; that, in
affairs nearer to the heart of the people, it might bring a husband to
the bedside of a dying wife, or save the life of a beloved child;
apprehend the fleeing criminal, or commute the sentence of an innocent
man. His great ambition had always been to work some good for his
fellow-men, and here was a means of bestowing upon them an inestimable

After several days of intense application he disclosed his plan to Mr.
Rives and to others. Objections were raised, but he was ready with a
solution. While the idea appeared to his fellow-passengers as chimerical,
yet, as we have seen, his earnestness made so deep an impression that
when, several years afterwards, he exhibited to some of them a completed
model, they, like Captain Pell, instantly recognized it as embodying the
principles explained to them on the ship.

Without going deeply into the scientific history of the successive steps
which led up to the invention of the telegraph, I shall quote a few
sentences from a long paper written by the late Professor E.N. Horsford,
of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and included in Mr. Prime's biography:--

"What was needed to the _original conception_ of the Morse recording

"1. A knowledge that soft wire, bent in the form of a horseshoe, could be
magnetized by sending a galvanic current through a coil wound round the
iron, and that it would lose its magnetism when the current was

"2. A knowledge that such a magnet had been made to lift and drop masses
of iron of considerable weight.

"3. A knowledge, or a belief, that the galvanic current could be
transmitted through wires of great length.

"These were all. Now comes the conception of devices for employing an
agent which could produce reciprocal motion to effect registration, and
the invention of an alphabet. In order to this invention it must be seen
how up and down--reciprocal--motion could be produced by the opening and
closing of the circuit. Into this simple band of vertical tracery of
paths in space must be thrown the shuttle of time and a ribbon of paper.
It must be seen how a lever-pen, alternately dropping upon and rising at
defined intervals from a fillet of paper moved by independent clock-work,
would produce the fabric of the alphabet and writing and printing.

"Was there anything required to produce these results which was not known
to Morse?...

"He knew, for he had witnessed it years before, that, by means of a
battery and an electro-magnet, reciprocal motion could be produced. He
knew that the force which produced it could be transmitted along a wire.
He _believed_ that the battery current could be made, through an
electro-magnet, to produce physical results at a _distance_. He saw in
his mind's eye the existence of an agent and a medium by which reciprocal
motion could be not only produced but controlled at a distance. The
question that addressed itself to him at the outset was, naturally, this:
'How can I make use of the simple up-and-down motion of opening and
closing a circuit to write an intelligible message at one end of a wire,
and at the same time print it at the other?'... Like many a kindred work
of genius it was in nothing more wonderful than in its simplicity.... Not
one of the brilliant scientific men who have attached their names to the
history of electro-magnetism had brought the means to produce the
practical registering telegraph. Some of them had ascended the tower that
looked out on the field of conquest. Some of them brought keener vision
than others. Some of them stood higher than others. But the genius of
invention had not recognized them. There was needed an inventor. Now what
sort of a want is this?

"There was required a rare combination of qualities and conditions. There
must be ingenuity in the adaptation of available means to desired ends;
there must be the genius to see through non-essentials to the fundamental
principle on which success depends; there must be a kind of skill in
manipulation; great patience and pertinacity; a certain measure of
culture, and the inventor of a recording telegraph must be capable of
being inspired by the grandeur of the thought of writing, figuratively
speaking, with a pen a thousand miles long--with the thought of a postal
system without the element of time. Moreover the person who is to be the
inventor must be free from the exactions of well-compensated, everyday,
absorbing duties--perhaps he must have had the final baptism of poverty.

"Now the inventor of the registering telegraph did not rise from the
perusal of any brilliant paper; he happened to be at leisure on
shipboard, ready to contribute and share in the after-dinner conversation
of a ship's cabin, when the occasion arose. Morse's electro-magnetic
telegraph was mainly an invention employing powers and agencies through
mechanical devices to produce a given end. It involved the combination of
the results of the labors of others with a succession of special
contrivances and some discoveries of the inventor himself. There was an
ideal whole almost at the outset, but involving great thought, and labor,
and patience, and invention to produce an art harmonious in its
organization and action."

After a voyage of over a month Morse reached home and landed at the foot
of Rector Street on November 15, 1832. His two brothers, Sidney and
Richard, met him on his arrival, and were told at once of his invention.
His brother Richard thus described their meeting:--

"Hardly had the usual greetings passed between us three brothers, and
while on our way to my house, before he informed us that he had made,
during his voyage, an important invention, which had occupied almost all
his attention on shipboard--one that would astonish the world and of the
success of which he was perfectly sanguine; that this invention was a
means of communicating intelligence by electricity, so that a message
could be written down in a permanent manner by characters at a distance
from the writer. He took from his pocket and showed from his sketch-book,
in which he had drawn them, the kind of characters he proposed to use.
These characters were dots and spaces representing the ten digits or
numerals, and in the book were sketched other parts of his
electro-magnetic machinery and apparatus, actually drawn out in his

The other brother, Sidney, also bore testimony:--

"He was full of the subject of the telegraph during the walk from the
ship, and for some days afterwards could scarcely speak about anything
else. He expressed himself anxious to make apparatus and try experiments
for which he had no materials or facilities on shipboard. In the course
of a few days after his arrival he made a kind of cogged or saw-toothed
type, the object of which I understood was to regulate the interruptions
of the electric current, so as to enable him to make dots, and regulate
the length of marks or spaces on the paper upon which the information
transmitted by his telegraph was to be recorded.

"He proposed at that time a single circuit of wire, and only a single
circuit, and letters, words, and phrases were to be indicated by
numerals, and these numerals were to be indicated by dots and other marks
and spaces on paper. It seemed to me that, as wire was cheap, it would be
better to have twenty-four wires, each wire representing a letter of the
alphabet, but my brother always insisted upon the superior advantages of
his single circuit."

Thus we see that Morse, from the very beginning, and from intuition, or
inspiration, or whatever you please, was insistent on one of the points
which differentiated his invention from all others in the same field,
namely, its simplicity, and it was this feature which eventually won for
it a universal adoption. But, simple as it was, it still required much
elaboration in order to bring it to perfection, for as yet it was but an
idea roughly sketched on paper; the appliances to put this idea to a
practical test had yet to be devised and made, and Morse now entered upon
the most trying period of his career. His three years in Europe, while
they had been enjoyed to the full and had enabled him to perfect himself
in his art, had not yielded him large financial returns; he had not
expected that they would, but based his hopes on increased patronage
after his return. He was entirely dependent on his brush for the support
of himself and his three motherless children, and now this new
inspiration had come as a disturbing element. He was on the horns of a
dilemma. If he devoted himself to his art, as he must in order to keep
the wolf from the door, he would not have the leisure to perfect his
invention, and others might grasp the prize before him. If he allowed
thoughts of electric currents, and magnets, and batteries to monopolize
his attention, he could not give to his art, notoriously a jealous
mistress, that worship which alone leads to success.

An added bar to the rapid development of his invention was the total lack
(hard to realize at the present day) of the simplest essentials. There
were no manufacturers of electrical appliances; everything, even to the
winding of the wires around the magnets, had to be done laboriously by
hand. Even had they existed Morse had but scant means with which to
purchase them.

This was his situation when he returned from Europe in the fall of 1832,
and it is small wonder that twelve years elapsed before he could prove to
the world that his revolutionizing invention was a success, and the
wonder is great that he succeeded at all, that he did not sink under the
manifold discouragements and hardships, and let fame and fortune elude
him. Unknown to him many men in different lands were working over the
same problem, some of them of assured scientific position and with good
financial backing; is it then remarkable that Morse in later years held
himself to be but an instrument in the hands of God to carry out His
will? He never ceased to marvel at the amazing fact that he, poor,
scoffed at or pitied, surrounded by difficulties of every sort, should
have been chosen to wrest the palm from the hands of trained scientists
of two continents. To us the wonder is not so great, for we, if we have
read his character aright as revealed by his correspondence, can see that
in him, more than in any other man of his time, were combined the
qualities necessary to a great inventor as specified by Professor
Horsford earlier in this chapter.

In following Morse's career at this critical period it will be necessary
to record his experiences both as painter and inventor, for there was no
thought of abandoning his profession in his mind at first; on the
contrary, he still had hopes of ultimate success, and it was his sole
means of livelihood. It is true that he at times gave way to fits of
depression. In a letter to his brother Richard before leaving Europe he
had thus given expression to his fears:--

"I have frequently felt melancholy in thinking of my prospects for
encouragement when I return, and your letter found me in one of those
moments. You cannot, therefore, conceive with what feelings I read your
offer of a room in your new house. Give me a resting-place and I will yet
move the country in favor of the arts. I return with some hopes but many
fears. Will my country employ me on works which may do it honor? I want a
commission from Government to execute two pictures from the life of
Columbus, and I want eight thousand dollars for each, and on these two I
will stake my reputation as an artist."

It was in his brother Richard's house that he took the first step towards
the construction of the apparatus which was to put his invention to a
practical test. This was the manufacture of the saw-toothed type by which
he proposed to open and close the circuit and produce his conventional
signs. He did not choose the most appropriate place for this operation,
for his sister-in-law rather pathetically remarked: "He melted the lead
which he used over the fire in the grate of my front parlor, and, in his
operation of casting the type, he spilled some of the heated metal upon
the drugget, or loose carpeting, before the fireplace, and upon a
flagbottomed chair upon which his mould was placed."

He was also handicapped by illness just after his return, as we learn
from the following letter to his friend Fenimore Cooper. In this letter
he also makes some interesting comments on New York and American affairs,
but, curiously enough, he says nothing of his invention:

"_February 21, 1833._ Don't scold at me. I don't deserve a scolding if
you knew all, and I do if you don't know all, for I have not written to
you since I landed in November. What with severe illness for several
weeks after my arrival, and the accumulation of cares consequent on so
long an absence from home, I have been overwhelmed and distracted by
calls upon my time for a thousand things that pressed upon me for
immediate attention; and so I have put off and put off what I have been
longing (I am ashamed to say for weeks if not months) to do, I mean to
write to you.

"The truth is, my dear sir, I have so much to say that I know not where
to commence. I throw myself on your indulgence, and, believing you will
forgive me, I commence without further apology.

"First, as to things at home. New York is _improved_, as the word goes,
wonderfully. You will return to a strange city; you will not recognize
many of your acquaintances among the old buildings; brand-new buildings,
stores, and houses are taking the place of the good, staid, modest houses
of the early settlers. _Improvement_ is all the rage, and houses and
churchyards must be overthrown and upturned whenever the Corporation
plough is set to work for the widening of a narrow, or the making of a
new, street.

"I believe you sometimes have a fit of the blues. It is singular if you
do not with your temperament. I confess to many fits of this disagreeable
disorder, and I know nothing so likely to induce one as the finding,
after an absence of some years from home, the great hour-hand of life
sensibly advanced on all your former friends. What will be your
sensations after six or seven years if mine are acute after three years'

"I have not been much in society as yet. I have many visitations, but,
until I clear off the accumulated rubbish of three years which lies upon
my table, I must decline seeing much of my friends. I have seen twice
your sisters the Misses Delancy, and was prevented from being at their
house last Friday evening by the severest snow-storm we have had this
season. Our friends the Jays I have met several times, and have had much
conversation with them about you and your delightful family. Mr. P.A. Jay
is a member of the club, so I see him every Friday evening. Chancellor
Kent also is a member, and both warm friends of yours....

"My time for ten or twelve days past has been occupied in answering a
pamphlet of Colonel Trumbull, who came out for the purpose of justifying
his opposition to measures which had been devised for uniting the two
Academies. I send you the first copy hot from the press. There is a great
deal to dishearten in the state of feeling, or rather state of no
feeling, on the arts in this city. The only way I can keep up my spirits
is by resolutely resisting all disposition to repine, and by fighting
perseveringly against all the obstacles that hinder the progress of art.

"I have been told several times since my return that I was born one
hundred years too soon for the arts in our country. I have replied that,
if that be the case, I will try and make it but fifty. I am more and more
persuaded that I have quite as much to do with the pen for the arts as
the pencil, and if I can in my day so enlighten the public mind as to
make the way easier for those that come after me, I don't know that I
shall not have served the cause of the fine arts as effectively as by
painting pictures which might be appreciated one hundred years after I am
gone. If I am to be the Pioneer and am fitted for it, why should I not
glory as much in felling trees and clearing away the rubbish as in
showing the decorations suited to a more advanced state of

"You will certainly have the blues when you first arrive, but the longer
you stay abroad the more severe will be the disease. Excuse my
predictions.... The Georgia affair is settled after a fashion; not so the
nullifiers; they are infatuated. Disagreeable as it will be, they will be
put down with disgrace to them."

In another letter to Mr. Cooper, dated February 28, 1833, he writes in
the same vein:--

"The South Carolina business is probably settled by this time by Mr.
Clay's compromise bill, so that the legitimates of Europe may stop
blowing their twopenny trumpets in triumph at our _disunion_. The same
clashing of interests in Europe would have caused twenty years of war and
torrents of bloodshed; with us it has caused three or four years of wordy
war and some hundreds of gallons of ink; but no necks are broken, nor
heads; all will be in _statu ante bello_ in a few days....

"My dear sir, you are wanted at home. I want you to encourage me by your
presence. I find the pioneer business has less of romance in the reality
than in the description, and I find some tough stumps to pry up and heavy
stones to roll out of the way, and I get exhausted and desponding, and I
should like a little of your sinew to come to my aid at such times, as it
was wont to come at the Louvre....

"There is nothing new in New York; everybody is driving after money, as
usual, and there is an alarm of fire every half-hour, as usual, and the
pigs have the freedom of the city, as usual; so that, in these respects
at least, you will find New York as you left it, except that they are not
the same people that are driving after money, nor the same houses burnt,
nor the same pigs at large in the street.... You will all be welcomed
home, but come prepared to find many, very many things in taste and
manners different from your own good taste and manners. Good taste and
good manners would not be conspicuous if all around possessed the same



Still painting.--Thoughts on art.--Picture of the Louvre.--Rejection as
painter of one of the pictures in the Capitol.--John Quincy Adams.--James
Fenimore Cooper's article.--Death blow to his artistic ambition.--
Washington Allston's letter.--Commission by fellow artists.--Definite
abandonment of art.--Repayment of money advanced.--Death of Lafayette.--
Religious controversies.--Appointed Professor in University of City of
New York.--Description of first telegraphic instrument.--Successful
experiments.--Relay.--Address in 1853.

It was impossible for the inventor during the next few years to devote
himself entirely to the construction of a machine to test his theories,
impatient though he must have been to put his ideas into practical form.
His two brothers came nobly to his assistance, and did what lay in their
power and according to their means to help him; but it was always
repugnant to him to be under pecuniary obligations to any one, and, while
gratefully accepting his brothers' help, he strained every nerve to earn
the money to pay them back. We, therefore, find little or no reference in
the letters of those years to his invention, and it was not until the
year 1835 that he was able to make any appreciable progress towards the
perfection of his telegraphic apparatus. The intervening years were spent
in efforts to rouse an interest in the fine arts in this country; in hard
work in behalf of the still young Academy of Design; and in trying to
earn a living by the practice of his profession.

"During this time," he says, "I never lost faith in the practicability of
the invention, nor abandoned the intention of testing it as soon as I
could command the means." But in order to command the means, he was
obliged to devote himself to his art, and in this he did not meet with
the encouragement which he had expected and which he deserved. His ideals
were always high, perhaps too high for the materialistic age in which he
found himself. The following fugitive note will illustrate the trend of
his thoughts, and is not inapplicable to conditions at the present day:--

"Are not the refining influences of the fine arts needed, doubly needed,
in our country? Is there not a tendency in the democracy of our country
to low and vulgar pleasures and pursuits? Does not the contact of those
more cultivated in mind and elevated in purpose with those who are less
so, and to whom the former look for political favor and power,
necessarily debase that cultivated mind and that elevation of purpose?
When those are exalted to office who best can flatter the low appetites
of the vulgar; when boorishness and ill manners are preferred to polish
and refinement, and when, indeed, the latter, if not avowedly, are in
reality made an objection, is there not danger that those who would
otherwise encourage refinement will fear to show their favorable
inclination lest those to whom they look for favor shall be displeased;
and will not habit fix it, and another generation bear it as its own
inherent, native character?"

That he was naturally optimistic is shown by a footnote which he added to
this thought, dated October, 1833:--

"These were once my fears. There is doubtless danger, but I believe in
the possibility, by the diffusion of the highest moral and intellectual
cultivation through every class, of raising the lower classes in

But while in his leisure moments he could indulge in such hopeful dreams,
his chief care at that time, as stated at the beginning of this chapter,
was to earn money by the exercise of his profession. His important
painting of the Louvre, from which he had hoped so much, was placed on
exhibition, and, while it received high praise from the artists, its
exhibition barely paid expenses, and it was finally sold to Mr. George
Clarke, of Hyde Hall, on Otsego Lake, for thirteen hundred dollars,
although the artist had expected to get at least twenty-five hundred
dollars for it. In a letter to Mr. Clarke, of June 30, 1834, he says:--

"The picture of the Louvre was intended originally for an exhibition
picture, and I painted it in the expectation of disposing of it to some
person for that purpose who could amply remunerate himself from the
receipts of a well-managed exhibition. The time occupied upon this
picture was fourteen months, and at much expense and inconvenience, so
that that sum [$2500] for it, if sold under such circumstances, would not
be more than a fair compensation.

"I was aware that but few, if any, gentlemen in our country would be
willing to expend so large a sum on a single picture, although in fact
they would, in this case, purchase seven-and-thirty in one.

"I have lately changed my plans in relation to this picture and to my art
generally, and consequently I am able to dispose of it at a much less
price. I have need of funds to prosecute my new plans, and, if this
picture could now realize the sum of twelve hundred dollars it would at
this moment be to me equivalent in value to the sum first set upon it."

The change of plans no doubt referred to his desire to pursue his
electrical experiments, and for this ready money was most necessary, and
so he gladly, and even gratefully, accepted Mr. Clarke's offer of twelve
hundred dollars for the painting and one hundred dollars for the frame.
Even this was not cash, but was in the form of a note payable in a year!
His enthusiasm for his art seems at this period to have been gradually
waning, although he still strove to command success; but it needed a
decisive stroke to wean him entirely from his first love, and Fate did
not long delay the blow.

His great ambition had always been to paint historical pictures which
should commemorate the glorious events in the history of his beloved
country. In the early part of the year 1834 his great opportunity had,
apparently, come, and he was ready and eager to grasp it. There were four
huge panels in the rotunda of the Capitol at Washington, which were still
to be filled by historical paintings, and a committee in Congress was
appointed to select the artists to execute them.

Morse, president of the National Academy of Design, and enthusiastically
supported by the best artists in the country, had every reason to suppose
that he would be chosen to execute at least one of these paintings.
Confident that he had but to make his wishes known to secure the
commission, he addressed the following circular letter to various members
of Congress, among whom were such famous men as Daniel Webster, John C.
Calhoun, Henry Clay, and John Quincy Adams, all personally known to

March 7, 1834.

MY DEAR SIR,--I perceive that the Library Committee have before them the
consideration of a resolution on the expediency of employing four artists
to paint the remaining four pictures in the Rotunda of the Capitol. If
Congress should pass a resolution in favor of the measure, I should
esteem it a great honor to be selected as one of the artists.

I have devoted twenty years of my life, of which seven were passed in
England, France, and Italy, studying with special reference to the
execution of works of the kind proposed, and I must refer to my
professional life and character in proof of my ability to do honor to the
commission and to the country.

May I take the liberty to ask for myself your favorable recommendation to
those in Congress who have the disposal of the commissions?

With great respect, Sir,
Your most obedient servant,

While this letter was written in 1834, the final decision of the
committee was not made until 1837, but I shall anticipate a little and
give the result which had such a momentous effect on Morse's career.
There was every reason to believe that his request would be granted, and
he and his friends, many of whom endorsed by letter his candidacy, had no
fear as to the result; but here again Fate intervened and ordered

Among the committee men in Congress to whom this matter was referred was
John Quincy Adams, ex-President of the United States. In discussing the
subject, Mr. Adams submitted a resolution opening the competition to
foreign artists as well as to American, giving it as his opinion that
there were no artists in this country of sufficient talent properly to
execute such monumental works. The artists and their friends were,
naturally, greatly incensed at this slur cast upon them, and an indignant
and remarkably able reply appeared anonymously in the New York "Evening
Post." The authorship of this article was at once saddled on Morse, who
was known to wield a facile and fearless pen. Mr. Adams took great
offense, and, as a result, Morse's name was rejected and his great
opportunity passed him by. There can be no reasonable doubt that, had he
received this commission, he would have deferred the perfecting of his
telegraphic device until others had so far distanced him in the race that
he could never have overtaken them.

Instead of his having been the author of the "Evening Post" article, it
transpired that he had not even heard of Mr. Adams's resolution until his
friend Fenimore Cooper, the real author of the answer, told him of both
attack and reply.

This was the second great tragedy of Morse's life; the first was the
untimely death of his young wife, and this other marked the death of his
hopes and ambitions as an artist. He was stunned. The blow was as
unexpected as it was overwhelming, and what added to its bitterness was
that it had been innocently dealt by the hand of one of his dearest
friends, who had sought to render him a favor. The truth came out too
late to influence the decision of the committee; the die was cast, and
his whole future was changed in the twinkling of an eye; for what had
been to him a joy and an inspiration, he now turned from in despair. He
could not, of course, realize at the time that Fate, in dealing him this
cruel blow, was dedicating him to a higher destiny. It is doubtful if he
ever fully realized this, for in after years he could never speak of it
unmoved. In a letter to this same friend, Fenimore Cooper, written on
November 20, 1849, he thus laments:--

"Alas! My dear sir, the very name of _pictures_ produces a sadness of
heart I cannot describe. Painting has been a smiling mistress to many,
but she has been a cruel jilt to me. I did not abandon her, she abandoned
me. I have taken scarcely any interest in painting for many years. Will
you believe it? When last in Paris, in 1845, I did not go into the
Louvre, nor did I visit a single picture gallery.

"I sometimes indulge a vague dream that I may paint again. It is rather
the memory of past pleasures, when hope was enticing me onward only to
deceive me at last. Except some family portraits, valuable to me from
their likenesses only, I could wish that every picture I ever painted was
destroyed. I have no wish to be remembered as a painter, for I never was
a painter. My ideal of that profession was, perhaps, too exalted--I may
say is too exalted. I leave it to others more worthy to fill the niches
of art."

Of course his self-condemnation was too severe, for we have seen that
present-day critics assign him an honorable place in the annals of art,
and while, at the time of writing that letter, he had definitely
abandoned the brush, he continued to paint for some years after his
rejection by the committee of Congress. He had to, for it was his only
means of earning a livelihood, but the old enthusiasm was gone never to
return. Fortunately for himself and for the world, however, he
transferred it to the perfecting of his invention, and devoted all the
time he could steal from the daily routine of his duties to that end.

His friends sympathized with him most heartily and were indignant at his
rejection. Washington Allston wrote to him:--

I have learned the disposition of the pictures. I had hoped to find your
name among the commissioned artists, but I was grieved to find that all
my efforts in your behalf have proved fruitless. I know what your
disappointment must have been at this result, and most sincerely do I
sympathize with you. That my efforts were both sincere and conscientious
I hope will be some consolation to you.

But let not this disappointment cast you down, my friend. You have it
still in your power to let the world know what you can do. Dismiss it,
then, from your mind, and determine to paint all the better for it. God
bless you.

Your affectionate friend

The following sentences from a letter written on March 14, 1837, by
Thomas Cole, one of the most celebrated of the early American painters,
will show in what estimation Morse was held by his brother artists:--

"I have learned with mortification and disappointment that your name was
not among the _chosen_, and I have feared that you would carry into
effect your resolution of abandoning the art and resigning the presidency
of our Academy. I sincerely hope you will have reason to cast aside that
resolution. To you our Academy owes its existence and present prosperity,
and if, in after times, it should become a great institution, your name
will always be coupled with its greatness. But, if you leave us, I very
much fear that the fabric will crumble to pieces. You are the keystone of
the arch; if you remain with us time may furnish the Academy with another
block for the place. I hope my fears may be vain, and that circumstances
will conspire to induce you to remain our president."

Other friends were equally sympathetic and Morse did retain the
presidency of the Academy until 1845.

To emphasize further their regard for him, a number of artists, headed by
Thomas S. Cummings, unknown to Morse, raised by subscription three
thousand dollars, to be given to him for the painting of some historical
subject. General Cummings, in his "Annals of the Academy," thus describes
the receipt of the news by the discouraged artist:--

"The effect was electrical; it roused him from his depression and he
exclaimed that never had he read or known of such an act of professional
generosity, and that he was fully determined to paint the picture--his
favorite subject, 'The Signing of the First Compact on board the
Mayflower,'--not of small size, as requested, but of the size of the
panels in the Rotunda. That was immediately assented to by the committee,
thinking it possible that one or the other of the pictures so ordered
might fail in execution, in which case it would afford favorable
inducements to its substitution, and, of course, much to Mr. Morse's
profit; as the artists from the first never contemplated taking
possession of the picture so executed. It was to remain with Mr. Morse,
and for his use and benefit."

The enthusiasm thus roused was but a flash in the pan, however; the wound
he had received was too deep to be thus healed. Some of the money was
raised and paid to him, and he made studies and sketches for the
painting, but his mind was now on his invention, and the painting of the
picture was deferred from year to year and finally abandoned. It was
characteristic of him that, when he did finally decide to give up the
execution of this work, he paid back the sums which had been advanced to
him, with interest.

Another grief which came to him in the summer of 1834 (to return to that
year) was the death of his illustrious friend General Lafayette. The last
letter received from him was written by his amanuensis and unsigned, and
simply said:--

"General Lafayette, being detained by sickness, has sent to the reporter
of the committee the following note, which the said reporter has read to
the House."

The note referred to is, unfortunately, missing. This letter was written
on April 29 and the General died on May 20. Morse sent a letter of
sympathy to the son, George Washington Lafayette, a member of the Chamber
of Deputies, in which the following sentiments occur:--

"In common with this whole country, now clad in mourning, with the lovers
of true liberty and of exalted philanthropy throughout the world, I
bemoan the departure from earth of your immortal parent. Yet I may be
permitted to indulge in additional feelings of more private sorrow at the
loss of one who honored me with his friendship, and had not ceased, till
within a few days of his death, to send to me occasional marks of his
affectionate remembrance. Be assured, my dear Sir, that the memory of
your father will be especially endeared to me and mine."

Morse's admiration of Lafayette was most sincere, and he was greatly
influenced in his political feelings by his intercourse with that famous
man. Among other opinions which he shared with Lafayette and other
thoughtful men, was the fear of a Roman Catholic plot to gain control of
the Government of the United States. He defended his views fearlessly and
vigorously in the public press and by means of pamphlets, and later
entered into a heated controversy with Bishop Spaulding of Kentucky.

I shall not attempt to treat exhaustively of these controversies, but
think it only right to refer to them from time to time, not only that the
clearest possible light may be shed upon Morse's character and
convictions, but to show the extraordinary activity of his brain, which,
while he was struggling against obstacles of all kinds, not only to make
his invention a success, but for the very means of existence, could yet
busy itself with the championing of what he conceived to be the right.

To illustrate his point of view I shall quote a few extracts from a
letter to R.S. Willington, Esq., who was the editor of a journal which is
referred to as the "Courier." This letter was written on May 20, 1835,
when Morse's mind, we should think, would have been wholly absorbed in
the details of the infant telegraph:--

"With regard to the more important matter of the Conspiracy, I perceive
with regret that the evidence which has been convincing to so many minds
of the first order, and which continues daily to spread conviction of the
truth of the charge I have made, is still viewed by the editors of the
'Courier' as inconclusive. My situation in regard to those who dissent
from me is somewhat singular. I have brought against the absolute
Governments of Europe a charge of conspiracy against the liberties of the
United States. I support the charge by facts, and by reasonings from
those facts, which produce conviction on most of those who examine the
matter.... But those that dissent simply say, 'I don't think there is a
conspiracy'; yet give no reasons for dissent. The Catholic journals very
artfully make no defense themselves, but adroitly make use of the
Protestant defense kindly prepared for them....

"No Catholic journal has attempted any refutation of the charge. It
cannot be refuted, for it is true. And be assured, my dear sir, it is no
extravagant prediction when I say that the question of Popery and
Protestantism, or Absolutism and Republicanism, which in these two
opposite categories are convertible terms, is fast becoming and will
shortly be the _great absorbing question_, not only of this country but
of the whole civilized world. I speak not at random; I speak from long
and diligent observation in Europe, and from comparison of the state of
affairs in this country with the state of public opinion in Europe.

"We are asleep, sir, when every freeman should be awake and look to his
arms.... Surely, if the danger is groundless, there can be no harm in
endeavoring to ascertain its groundlessness. If you were told your house
was on fire you would hardly think of calling the man a maniac for
informing you of it, even if he should use a tone of voice and gestures
somewhat earnest and impassioned. The course of some of our journals on
the subject of Popery has led to the belief that they are covertly under
the control of the Jesuits. And let me say, sir, that the modes of
control in the resources of this insidious society, notorious for its
political arts and intrigues, are more numerous, more powerful, and more
various than an unsuspicious people are at all conscious of....

"Mr. Y. falls into the common error and deprecates what he calls a
_religious_ controversy, as if the subject of Popery was altogether
religious. History, it appears to me, must have been read to very little
purpose by any one who can entertain such an error in regard to the
cunningest political despotism that ever cursed mankind. I must refer you
to the preface of the second edition, which I send you, for my reasonings
on that point. If they are not conclusive, I should be glad to be shown
wherein they are defective. If they are conclusive, is it not time for
every patriot to open his eyes to the truth of the fact that we are
politically attacked under guise of a religious system, and is it not a
serious question whether our political press should advocate the cause of
foreign enemies to our government, or help to expose and repel them?"

It was in the year 1835 that Morse was appointed Professor of the
Literature of the Arts of Design in the University of the City of New
York, and here again we can mark the guiding hand of Fate. A few years
earlier he had been tentatively offered the position of instructor of
drawing at the United States Military Academy at West Point, but this
offer he had promptly but courteously declined. Had he accepted it he
would have missed the opportunity of meeting certain men who gave him
valuable assistance. As an instructor in the University he not only
received a small salary which relieved him, in a measure, from the
grinding necessity of painting pot-boilers, but he had assigned to him
spacious rooms in the building on Washington Square, which he could
utilize not only as studio and living apartments, but as a workshop. For
these rooms, however, he paid a rent, at first of $325 a year, afterwards
of $400.

Three years had clasped since his first conception of the invention, and,
although burning to devote himself to its perfecting, he had been
compelled to hold himself in check and to devote all his time to
painting. Now, however, an opportunity came to him, for he moved into the
University building before it was entirely finished, and the stairways
were in such an embryonic state that he could not expect sitters to
attempt their perilous ascent. This enforced leisure gave him the chance
he had long desired and he threw himself heart and soul into his
electrical experiments. Writing of this period in later years he thus
records his struggles:--

Now in the National Museum, Washington]

"There I immediately commenced, with very limited means, to experiment
upon my invention. My first instrument was made up of an old picture or
canvas frame fastened to a table; the wheels of an old wooden clock moved
by a weight to carry the paper forward; three wooden drums, upon one of
which the paper was wound and passed over the other two; a wooden
pendulum, suspended to the top piece of the picture or stretching-frame,
and vibrating across the paper as it passes over the centre wooden drum;
a pencil at the lower end of the pendulum in contact with the paper; an
electro-magnet fastened to a shelf across the picture or stretching
frame, opposite to an armature made fast to the pendulum; a type rule and
type, for breaking the circuit, resting on an endless band composed of
carpet-binding; which passed over two wooden rollers, moved by a wooden
crank, and carried forward by points projecting from the bottom of the
rule downward into the carpet-binding; a lever, with a small weight on
the upper side, and a tooth projecting downward at one end, operated on
by the type, and a metallic fork, also projecting downward, over two
mercury cups; and a short circuit of wire embracing the helices of the
electro-magnet connected with the positive and negative poles of the
battery and terminating in the mercury cups."

This first rude instrument was carefully preserved by the inventor, and
is now in the Morse case in the National Museum at Washington. A
reproduction of it is here given.

I shall omit certain technical details in the inventor's account of this
first instrument, but I wish to call attention to his ingenuity in
adapting the means at his disposal to the end desired. Much capital has
been made, by those who opposed his claims, out of the fact that this
primitive apparatus could only produce a V-shaped mark, thus--

      __    __        _
\/|__|  |/\/  |/\/|__/

--and not a dot and a dash, which they insist was of later introduction
and by another hand. But a reference to the sketches made on board the
Sully will show that the original system of signs consisted of dots and
lines, and that the first conception of the means to produce these signs
was by an up-and-down motion of a lever controlled by an electro-magnet.
It is easy to befog an issue by misstating facts, but the facts are here
to speak for themselves, and that Morse temporarily abandoned his first
idea, because he had not the means at his disposal to embody it in
workable form and had recourse to another method for producing
practically the same result, only shows wonderful ingenuity on his part.
It can easily be seen that the waving line traced by the first

      __    __        _
\/|__|  |/\/  |/\/|__/  --can be translated by reading the lower part into

  a       i      u
 . -     . .   . . -    of the final Morse alphabet.

The beginnings of every great invention have been clumsy and uncouth
compared with the results attained by years of study and elaboration
participated in by many clever brains. Contrast the Clermont of Fulton
with the floating palaces of the present day, the Rocket of Stephenson
with the powerful locomotives of our mile-a-minute fliers, and the
hand-press of Gutenberg with the marvellous and intricate Hoe presses of
modern times. And yet the names of those who first conceived and wrought
these primitive contrivances stand highest in the roll of fame; and with
justice, for it is infinitely easier to improve on the suggestion of
another than to originate a practical advance in human endeavor.

Returning again to Morse's own account of his early experiments I shall
quote the following sentences:--

"With this apparatus, rude as it was, and completed before the first of
the year 1836, I was enabled to and did mark down telegraphic,
intelligible signs, and to make and did make distinguishable sounds for
telegraphing; and, having arrived at that point, I exhibited it to some
of my friends early in that year, and among others to Professor Leonard
D. Gale, who was a college professor in the University. I also
experimented with the chemical power of the electric current in 1836, and
succeeded, in marking my telegraphic signs upon paper dipped in turmeric
and solution of the sulphate of soda (as well as other salts) by passing
the current through it. I was soon satisfied, however, that the
electro-_magnetic_ power was more available for telegraphic purposes and
possessed many advantages over any other, and I turned my thoughts in
that direction.

"Early in 1836 I procured forty feet of wire, and, putting it in the
circuit, I found that my battery of one cup was not sufficient to work my
instrument. This result suggested to me the probability that the
magnetism to be obtained from the electric current would diminish in
proportion as the circuit was lengthened, so as to be insufficient for
any practical purposes at great distances; and, to remove that probable
obstacle to my success, I conceived the idea of combining two or more
circuits together in the manner described in my first patent, each with
an independent battery, making use of the magnetism of the current on the
first to close and break the second; the second the third; and so on."

Thus modestly does he refer to what was, in fact, a wonderful discovery,
the more wonderful because of its simplicity. Professor Horsford thus
comments on it:--

"In 1835 Morse made the discovery of the _relay_, the most brilliant of
all the achievements to which his name must be forever attached. It was a
discovery of a means by which the current, which through distance from
its source had become feeble, could be reënforced or renewed. This
discovery, according to the different objects for which it is employed,
is variously known as the registering magnet, the local circuit, the
marginal circuit, the repeater, etc."

Professor Horsford places the date of this discovery in the year 1835,
but Morse himself, in the statement quoted above, assigned it to the
early part of 1836.

It is only fair to note that the discovery of the principle of the relay
was made independently by other scientists, notably by Davy, Wheatstone,
and Henry, but Morse apparently antedated them by a year or two, and
could not possibly have been indebted to any of them for the idea. This
point has given rise to much discussion among scientists which it will
not be necessary to enter into here, for all authorities agree in
according to Morse independent invention of the relay.

"Up to the autumn of 1837," again to quote Morse's own words, "my
telegraphic apparatus existed in so rude a form that I felt a reluctance
to have it seen. My means were very limited--so limited as to preclude
the possibility of constructing an apparatus of such mechanical finish as
to warrant my success in venturing upon its public exhibition. I had no
wish to expose to ridicule the representative of so many hours of
laborious thought.

"Prior to the summer of 1837, at which time Mr. Alfred Vail's attention
became attracted to my telegraph, I depended upon my pencil for
subsistence. Indeed, so straitened were my circumstances that, in order
to save time to carry out my invention and to economize my scanty means,
I had for months lodged and eaten in my studio, procuring my food in
small quantities from some grocery, and preparing it myself. To conceal
from my friends the stinted manner in which I lived, I was in the habit
of bringing my food to my room in the evenings, and this was my mode of
life for many years."

Nearly twenty years later, in 1853, Morse referred to this trying period
in his career at a meeting of the Association of the Alumni of the

"Yesternight, on once more entering your chapel, I saw the same marble
staircase and marble floors I once so often trod, and so often with a
heart and head overburdened with almost crushing anxieties. Separated
from the chapel by but a thin partition was that room I occupied, now
your Philomathean Hall, whose walls--had thoughts and mental struggles,
with the alternations of joys and sorrows, the power of being
daguerreotyped upon them--would show a thickly studded gallery of
evidence that there the Briarean infant was born who has stretched forth
his arms with the intent to encircle the world. Yes, that room of the
University was the birthplace of the Recording Telegraph. Attempts,
indeed, have been made to assign to it other parentage, and to its
birthplace other localities. Personally I have very little anxiety on
this point, except that the truth should not suffer; for I have a
consciousness, which neither sophistry nor ignorance can shake, that that
room is the place of its birth, and a confidence, too, that its cradle is
in hands that will sustain its rightful claim."

The old building of the University of the City of New York on Washington
Square has been torn down to be replaced by a mercantile structure; the
University has moved to more spacious quarters in the upper part of the
great city; but one of its notable buildings is the Hall of Fame, and
among the first names to be immortalized in bronze in the stately
colonnade was that of Samuel F.B. Morse.



First exhibitions of the Telegraph.--Testimony of Robert G. Rankin and
Rev. Henry B. Tappan.--Cooke and Wheatstone.--Joseph Henry, Leonard D.
Gale, and Alfred Vail.--Professor Gale's testimony.--Professor Henry's
discoveries.--Regrettable controversy of later years.--Professor Charles
T. Jackson's claims.--Alfred Vail.--Contract of September 23, 1837.--Work
at Morristown. New Jersey.--The "Morse Alphabet."--Reading by sound.--
first and second forms of alphabet.

In after years the question of the time when the telegraph was first
exhibited to others was a disputed one; it will, therefore, be well to
give the testimony of a few men of undoubted integrity who personally
witnessed the first experiments.

Robert G. Rankin, Esq., gave his reminiscences to Mr. Prime, from which I
shall select the following passages:--

"Professor Morse was one of the purest and noblest men of any age. I
believe I was among the earliest, outside of his family circle, to whom
he communicated his design to encircle the globe with wire....

"Some time in the fall of 1835 I was passing along the easterly walk of
Washington Parade-Ground, leading from Waverly Place to Fourth Street,
when I heard my name called. On turning round I saw, over the
picketfence, an outstretched arm from a person standing in the middle or
main entrance door of the unfinished University building of New York, and
immediately recognized the professor, who beckoned me toward him. On
meeting and exchanging salutations,--and you know how genial his were,--
he took me by the arm and said:

"'I wish you to go up in my sanctum and examine a piece of mechanism,
which, if you may not believe in, _you_, at least, will not laugh at, as
I fear some others will. I want you to give me your frank opinion as a
friend, for I know your interest in and love of the applied sciences.'"

Here follow a description of what he saw and Morse's explanation, and,
then he continues:--

"A long silence on the part of each ensued, which was at length broken by
my exclamation: 'Well, professor, you have a pretty play!--theoretically
true but practically useful only as a mantel ornament, or for a mistress
in the parlor to direct the maid in the cellar! But, professor, _cui
bono?_ In imagination one can make a new earth and improve all the land
communications of our old one, but my unfortunate practicality stands in
the way of my comprehension as yet.'

"We then had a long conversation on the subject of magnetism and its
modifications, and if I do not recollect the very words which clothed his
thoughts, they were substantially as follows.

"He had been long impressed with the belief that God had created the
great forces of nature, not only as manifestations of his own infinite
power, but as expressions of good-will to man, to do him good, and that
every one of God's great forces could yet be utilized for man's welfare;
that modern science was constantly evolving from the hitherto hidden
secrets of nature some new development promotive of human welfare; and
that, at no distant day, magnetism would do more for the advancement of
human sociology than any of the material forces yet known; that he would
scarcely dare to compare spiritual with material forces, yet that,
analogically, magnetism would do in the advancement of human welfare what
the Spirit of God would do in the moral renovation of man's nature; that
it would educate and enlarge the forces of the world.... He said he had
felt as if he was doing a great work for God's glory as well as for man's
welfare; that such had been his long cherished thought. His whole soul
and heart appeared filled with a glow of love and good-will, and his
sensitive and impassioned nature seemed almost to transform him in my
eyes into a prophet."

It required, indeed, the inspirational vision of a prophet to foresee, in
those narrow, skeptical days, the tremendous part which electricity was
to play in the civilization of a future age, and I wish again to lay
stress on the fact that it was the telegraph which first harnessed this
mysterious force, and opened the eyes of the world to the availability of
a power which had lain dormant through all the ages, but which was now,
for the first time, to be brought under the control of man, and which was
destined to rival, and eventually to displace, in many ways, its elder
brother steam. Was not Morse's ambition to confer a lasting good on his
fellowmen more fully realized than even he himself at that time

The Reverend Henry B. Tappan, who in 1835 was a colleague of Morse's in
the New York University and afterwards President of the University of
Michigan, gave his testimony in reply to a request from Morse, and, among
other things, he said:--

"In 1835 you had advanced so far that you were prepared to give, on a
small scale, a practical demonstration of the possibility of transmitting
and recording words through distance by means of an electro-magnetic
arrangement. I was one of the limited circle whom you invited to witness
the first experiments. In a long room of the University you had wires
extended from end to end, where the magnetic apparatus was arranged.

"It is not necessary for me to describe particulars which have now become
familiar to every one. The fact which I recall with the liveliest
interest, and which I mentioned in conversation at Mr. Bancroft's as one
of the choicest recollections of my life, was that of the first
transmission and recording of a telegraphic dispatch.

"I suppose, of course, that you had already made these experiments before
the company arrived whom you had invited. But I claim to have witnessed
_the first transmission and recording of words_ by lightning ever made
public.... The arrangement which you exhibited on the above mentioned
occasion, as well as the mode of receiving the dispatches, were
substantially the same as those you now employ. I feel certain that you
had then already grasped the whole invention, however you may have since
perfected the details."

Others bore testimony in similar words, so that we may regard it as
proved that, both in 1835 and 1836, demonstrations were made which,
uncouth though they were, compared to present-day perfection, proved that
the electric telegraph was about to emerge from the realms of fruitless
experiment. Among these witnesses were Daniel Huntington, Hon. Hamilton
Fish, and Commodore Shubrick; and several of these gentlemen asserted
that, at that early period, Morse confidently predicted that Europe and
America would eventually be united by an electric wire.

The letters written by Morse during these critical years have become
hopelessly dispersed, and but few have come into my possession. His
brothers were both in New York, so that there was no necessity of writing
to them, and the letters written to others cannot, at this late day, be
traced. As he also, unfortunately, did not keep a journal, I must depend
on the testimony of others, and on his own recollections in later years
for a chronicle of his struggles. The pencil copy of a letter written to
a friend in Albany, on August 27, 1837, has, however, survived, and the
following sentences will, I think, be found interesting:--

"Thanks to you, my dear C----, for the concern you express in regard to
my health. It has been perfectly good and is now, with the exception of a
little anxiety in relation to the telegraph and to my great pictorial
undertaking, which wears the furrows of my face a little deeper. My
Telegraph, in all its essential points, is tested to my own satisfaction
and that of the scientific gentlemen who have seen it; but the machinery
(all which, from its peculiar character, I have been compelled to make
myself) is imperfect, and before it can be perfected I have reason to
fear that other nations will take the hint and rob me both of the credit
and the profit. There are indications of this in the foreign journals
lately received. I have a defender in the 'Journal of Commerce' (which I
send you that you may know what is the progress of the matter), and
doubtless other journals of our country will not allow foreign nations to
take the credit of an invention of such vast importance as they assign to
it, when they learn that it certainly belongs to America.

"There is not a thought in any one of the foreign journals relative to
the Telegraph which I had not expressed nearly five years ago, on my
passage from France, to scientific friends; and when it is considered how
quick a hint flies from mind to mind and is soon past all tracing back to
the original suggester of the hint, it is certainly by no means
improbable that the excitement on the subject in England has its origin
from my giving the details of the plan of my Telegraph to some of the
Englishmen or other fellow-passengers on board the ship, or to some of
the many I have since made acquainted with it during the five years

In this he was mistaken, for the English telegraph of Cooke and
Wheatstone was quite different in principle, using the deflection, by a
current of electricity, of a delicately adjusted needle to point to the
letters of the alphabet. While this was in use in England for a number of
years, it was gradually superseded by the Morse telegraph which proved
its decided superiority. It is also worthy of note that in this letter,
and in all future letters and articles, he, with pardonable pride, uses a
capital T in speaking of his Telegraph.

One of the most difficult of the problems which confront the historian
who sincerely wishes to deal dispassionately with his subject is justly
to apportion the credit which must be given to different workers in the
same field of endeavor, and especially in that of invention; for every
invention is but an improvement on something which has gone before. The
sail-boat was an advance on the rude dugout propelled by paddles. The
first clumsy steamboat seemed a marvel to those who had known no other
propulsive power than that of the wind or the oar. The horse-drawn
vehicle succeeded the litter and the palanquin, to be in turn followed by
the locomotive; and so the telegraph, as a means of rapidly communicating
intelligence between distant points, was the logical successor of the
signal fire and the semaphore.

In all of these improvements by man upon what man had before
accomplished, the pioneer was not only dependent upon what his
predecessors had achieved, but, in almost every case, was compelled to
call to his assistance other workers to whom could be confided some of
the minutiæ which were essential to the successful launching of the new

I have shown conclusively that the idea of transmitting intelligence by
electricity was original with Morse in that he was unaware, until some
years after his first conception, that anyone else had ever thought of
it. I have also shown that he, unaided by others, invented and made with
his own hands a machine, rude though it may have been, which actually did
transmit and record intelligence by means of the electric current, and in
a manner entirely different from the method employed by others. But he
had now come to a point where knowledge of what others had accomplished
along the same line would greatly facilitate his labors, and when the
assistance of one more skilled in mechanical construction was a great
desideratum, and both of these essentials were at hand. It is quite
possible that he might have succeeded in working out the problem
absolutely unaided, just as a man might become a great painter without
instruction, without a knowledge of the accumulated wisdom of those who
preceded him, and without the assistance of the color-maker and the
manufacturer of brushes and canvas. But the artist is none the less a
genius because he listens to the counsels of his master, profits by the
experience of others, and purchases his supplies instead of grinding his
own colors and laboriously manufacturing his own canvas and brushes.

The three men to whom Morse was most indebted for material assistance in
his labors at this critical period were Professor Joseph Henry, Professor
Leonard D. Gale, and Alfred Vail, and it is my earnest desire to do full
justice to all of them. Unfortunately after the telegraph had become an
assured success, and even down to the present day, the claims of Morse
have been bitterly assailed, both by well-meaning persons and by the
unscrupulous who sought to break down his patent rights; and the names of
these three men were freely used in the effort to prove that to one or
all of them more credit was due than to Morse.

Now, after the lapse of nearly three quarters of a century, the verdict
has been given in favor of Morse, his name alone is accepted as that of
the Inventor of the Telegraph, and in this work it is my aim to prove
that the judgment of posterity has not erred, but also to give full
credit to those who aided him when he was most in need of assistance. My
task in some instances will be a delicate one; I shall have to prick some
bubbles, for the friends of some of these men have claimed too much for
them, and, on that account, have been bitter in their accusations against
Morse. I shall also have to acknowledge some errors of judgment on the
part of Morse, for the malice of others fomented a dispute between him
and one of these three men, which caused a permanent estrangement and was
greatly to be regretted.

The first of the three to enter into the history of the telegraph was
Leonard D. Gale, who, in 1836, was a professor in the University of the
City of New York, and he has given his recollections of those early days.
Avoiding a repetition of facts already recorded I shall quote some
sentences from Professor Gale's statement. After describing the first
instrument, which he saw in January of 1836, he continues:--

"During the years 1836 and beginning of 1837 the studies of Professor
Morse on his telegraph I found much interrupted by his attention to his
professional duties. I understood that want of pecuniary means prevented
him from procuring to be made such mechanical improvements, and such
substantial workmanship, as would make the operation of his invention
more exact.

"In the months of March and April, 1837, the announcement of an
extraordinary telegraph on the visual plan (as it afterwards proved to
be), the invention of two French gentlemen of the names of Gonon and
Servell, was going the rounds of the papers. The thought occurred to me,
as well as to Professor Morse and some others of his friends, that the
invention of his electro-magnetic telegraph had somehow become known, and
was the origin of the new telegraph thus conspicuously announced. This
announcement at once aroused Professor Morse to renewed exertions to
bring the new invention creditably before the public, and to consent to a
public announcement of the existence of his invention. From April to
September, 1837, Professor Morse and myself were engaged together in the
work of preparing magnets, winding wire, constructing batteries, etc., in
the University for an experiment on a larger, but still very limited
scale, in the little leisure that each had to spare, and being at the
same time much cramped for funds....

"The latter part of August, 1887, the operation of the instruments was
shown to numerous visitors at the University....

"On Saturday, the 2d of September, 1837, Professor Daubeny, of the
English Oxford University, being on a visit to this country, was invited
with a few friends to see the operation of the telegraph, in its then
rude form, in the cabinet of the New York University, where it had then
been put up with a circuit of seventeen hundred feet of copper wire
stretched back and forth in that long room. Professor Daubeny, Professor
Torrey, and Mr. Alfred Vail were present among others. This exhibition of
the telegraph, although of very rude and imperfectly constructed
machinery, demonstrated to all present the practicability of the
invention, and it resulted in enlisting the means, the skill, and the
zeal of Mr. Alfred Vail, who, early the next week, called at the rooms
and had a more perfect explanation from Professor Morse of the character
of the invention."

It was Professor Gale who first called Morse's attention to the
discoveries of Professor Joseph Henry, especially to that of the
intensity magnet, and he thus describes the interesting event:--

"Morse's machine was complete in all its parts and operated perfectly
through a circuit of some forty feet, but there was not sufficient force
to send messages to a distance. At this time I was a lecturer on
chemistry, and from necessity was acquainted with all kinds of galvanic
batteries, and knew that a battery of one or a few cups generates a large
quantity of electricity capable of producing heat, etc., but not of
projecting electricity to a great distance, and that, to accomplish this,
a battery of many cups is necessary. It was, therefore, evident to me
that the one large cup-battery of Morse should be made into ten or
fifteen smaller ones to make it a battery of intensity so as to project
the electric fluid.... Accordingly I substituted the battery of many cups
for the battery of one cup. The remaining defect in the Morse machine, as
first seen by me, was that the coil of wire around the poles of the
electro-magnet consisted of but a few turns only, while, to give the
greatest projectile power, the number of turns should be increased from
tens to hundreds, as shown by Professor Henry in his paper published in
the 'American Journal of Science,' 1831.... After substituting the
battery of twenty cups for that of a single cup, we added some hundred or
more turns to the coil of wire around the poles of the magnet and sent a
message through two hundred feet of conductors, then through one thousand
feet, and then through ten miles of wire arranged on reels in my own
lecture-room in the New York University in the presence of friends."

This was a most important step in hastening the reduction of the
invention to a practical, workable basis and I wish here to bear
testimony to the great services of Professor Henry in making this
possible. His valuable discoveries were freely given to the world with no
attempt on his part to patent them, which is, perhaps, to be regretted,
but much more is it to be deplored that, in, the litigation which ensued
a few years later, Morse and Henry were drawn into a controversy,
fostered and fomented by others for their own pecuniary benefit, which
involved the honor and veracity of both of these distinguished men. Both
were men of the greatest sensitiveness, proud and jealous of their own
integrity, and the breach once made was never healed. Of the rights and
wrongs of this controversy I may have occasion later on to treat more in
detail, although I should much prefer to dismiss it with the
acknowledgment that there was much to deplore in what was said and
written by Morse, although he sincerely believed himself to be in the
right, and much to regret in some of the statements and actions of Henry.

At this late day, when the mists which enveloped the questions have
rolled away, it seems but simple justice to admit that the wonderful
discoveries of Henry were essential to the successful working over long
distances of Morse's discoveries and inventions; just as the discoveries
and inventions of earlier and contemporary scientists were essential to
Henry's improvements. But it is also just to place emphasis on the fact
that Henry's experiments were purely scientific. He never attempted to
put them in concrete form for the use of mankind in general; they led up
to the telegraph; they were not a practical telegraph in themselves. It
was Morse who added the final link in the long chain, and, by combining
the discoveries of others with those which he had himself made, gave to
the world this wonderful new agent.

A recent writer in the "Scientific American" gave utterance to the
following sentiment, which, it seems to me, most aptly describes this
difference: "We need physical discoveries and revere those who seek truth
for its own sake. But mankind with keen instinct saves its warmest
acclaim for those who also make discoveries of some avail in adding to
the length of life, its joys, its possibilities, its conveniences."

We must also remember that, while the baby telegraph had, in 1837, been
recognized as a promising infant by a very few scientists and personal
friends of the inventor, it was still regarded with suspicion, if not
with scorn, by the general public and even by many men of scholarly
attainments, and a long and heart-breaking struggle for existence was
ahead of it before it should reach maturity and develop into the lusty
giant of the present day. Here again Morse proved that he was the one man
of his generation most eminently fitted to fight for the child of his
brain, to endure and to persevere until the victor's crown was grasped.

It is always idle to speculate on what might have happened if certain
events had not taken place; if certain men had not met certain other men.
A telegraph would undoubtedly have been invented if Morse had never been
born; or he might have perfected his invention without the aid and advice
of others, or with the assistance of different men from those who
appeared at the psychological moment. But we are dealing with facts and
not with suppositions, and the facts are that through Professor Gale he
was made acquainted with the discoveries of Joseph Henry, which had been
published to the world several years before, and could have been used by
others if they had had the wit or genius to grasp their significance and
hit upon the right means to make them of practical utility.

Morse was ever ready cheerfully to acknowledge the assistance which had
been given to him by others, but, at the same time, he always took the
firm stand that this did not give them a claim to an equal share with
himself in the honor of the invention. In a long letter to Professor
Charles T. Jackson, written on September 18, 1837, he vigorously but
courteously repudiates the claim of the latter to have been a co-inventor
on board the Sully, and he proves his point, for Jackson not only knew
nothing of the plan adopted by Morse, and carried by him to a successful
issue, but had never suggested anything of a practical nature. At the
same time Morse freely acknowledges that the conversation between them on
the ship suggested to him the train of thought which culminated in the
invention, for he adds:--

"You say, 'I trust you will take care that the proper share of credit
shall be given to me when you make public your doings.' This I always
have done and with pleasure. I have always given you credit for great
genius and acquirements, and have always said, in giving any account of
my Telegraph, that it was during a scientific conversation with you on
board the ship that I first conceived the thought of an electric
Telegraph. Is there really any more that you will claim or that I could
in truth and justice give?

"I have acknowledgments of a similar kind to make to Professor Silliman
and to Professor Gale; to the former of whom I am under precisely similar
obligations with yourself for several useful hints; and to the latter I
am most of all indebted for substantial and effective aid in many of my
experiments. If any one has a claim to be considered as a mutual inventor
on the score of aid by hints, it is Professor Gale, but he prefers no
claim of the kind."

And he never did prefer such a claim (although it was made for him by
others), but remained always loyal to Morse. Jackson, on the other hand,
insisted on pressing his demand, although it was an absurd one, and he
was a thorn in the flesh to Morse for many years. It will not be
necessary to go into the matter in detail, as Jackson was, through his
wild claims to other inventions and discoveries, thoroughly discredited,
and his views have now no weight in the scientific world.

The third person who came to the assistance of Morse at this critical
period was Alfred Vail, son of Judge Stephen Vail, of Morristown, New
Jersey. In 1837 he was a young man of thirty and had graduated from the
University of the City of New York in 1836. He was present at the
exhibition of Morse's invention on the 2d of September, 1837, and he at
once grasped its great possibilities. After becoming satisfied that
Morse's device of the relay would permit of operation over great
distances, he expressed a desire to become associated with the inventor
in the perfecting and exploitation of the invention. His father was the
proprietor of the Speedwell Iron Works in Morristown, and young Vail had
had some experience in the manufacture of mechanical appliances in the
factory, although he had taken the theological course at the University
with the intention of entering the Presbyterian ministry. He had
abandoned the idea of becoming a clergyman, however, on account of
ill-health, and was, for a time, uncertain as to his future career, when
the interest aroused by the sight of Morse's machine settled the matter,
and, after consulting with his father and brother, he entered into an
agreement with Morse on the 23d day of September, 1837.

In the contract drawn up between them Vail bound himself to construct, at
his own expense, a complete set of instruments; to defray the costs of
securing patents in this country and abroad; and to devote his time to
both these purposes. It was also agreed that each should at once
communicate to the other any improvement or new invention bearing on the
simplification or perfecting of the telegraph, and that such improvements
or inventions should be held to be the property of each in the proportion
in which they were to share in any pecuniary benefits which might accrue.

As the only way in which Morse could, at that time, pay Vail for his
services and for money advanced, he gave him a one-fourth interest in the
invention in this country, and one half in what might be obtained from
Europe. This was, in the following March, changed to three sixteenths in
the United States and one fourth in Europe.

Morse had now secured two essentials most necessary to the rapid
perfection of his invention, the means to purchase materials and an
assistant more skilled than he in mechanical construction, and who was
imbued with faith in the ultimate success of the enterprise. Now began
the serious work of putting the invention into such a form that it could
demonstrate to the skeptical its capability of performing what was then
considered a miracle. It is hard for us at the present time, when new
marvels of science and invention are of everyday occurrence, to realize
the hidebound incredulousness which prevailed during the first half of
the nineteenth century. Men tapped their foreheads and shook their heads
in speaking of Morse and his visionary schemes, and deeply regretted that
here was the case of a brilliant man and excellent artist evidently gone
wrong. But he was not to be turned from his great purpose by the jeers of
the ignorant and the anxious solicitations of his friends, and he was
greatly heartened by the encouragement of such men as Gale and Vail. They
all three worked over the problems yet to be solved, Morse going
backwards and forwards between New York and Morristown. That both Gale
and Vail suggested improvements which were adopted by Morse, can be taken
for granted, but, as I have said before, to modify or elaborate something
originated by another is a comparatively easy matter, and the basic idea,
first conceived by Morse on the Sully, was retained throughout.

All the details of these experiments have not been recorded, but I
believe that at first an attempt was made to put into a more finished
form the principle of the machine made by Morse, with its swinging
pendulum tracing a waving line, but this was soon abandoned in favor of
an instrument using the up-and-down motion of a lever, as drawn in the
1832 sketch-book. In other words, it was a return to first principles as
thought out by Morse, and not, as some would have us believe, something
entirely new suggested and invented independently by Vail.

It was rather unfortunate and curious, in view of Morse's love of
simplicity, that he at first insisted on using the dots and dashes to
indicate numbers only, the numbers to correspond to words in a specially
prepared dictionary. His arguments in favor of this plan were specious,
but the event has proved that his reasoning was faulty. His first idea
was that the telegraph should belong to the Government; that intelligence
sent should be secret by means of a kind of cipher; that it would take
less time to send a number than each letter of each word, especially in
the case of the longer words; and, finally, that although the labor in
preparing a dictionary of all the most important words in the language
and giving to each its number would be great, once done it would be done
for all time.

I say that this was unfortunate because the fact that the telegraphic
alphabet of dots and dashes was not used until after his association with
Vail has lent strength to the claims on the part of Vail's family and
friends that he was the inventor of it and not Morse. This claim has been
so insistently, and even bitterly, made, especially after Morse's death,
that it gained wide credence and has even been incorporated in some
encyclopedias and histories. Fortunately it can be easily disproved, and
I am desirous of finally settling this vexed question because I consider
the conception of this simplest of all conventional alphabets one of the
grandest of Morse's inventions, and one which has conferred great good
upon mankind. It is used to convey intelligence not only by electricity,
but in many other ways. Its cabalistic characters can be read by the eye,
the ear, and the touch.

Just as the names of Ampère, Volta, and Watt have been used to designate
certain properties or things discovered by them, so the name of Morse is
immortalized in the alphabet invented by him. The telegraph operators all
over the world send "Morse" when they tick off the dots and dashes of the
alphabet, and happily I can prove that this is not an honor filched from

It is a matter of record that Vail himself never claimed in any of his
letters or diaries (and these are voluminous) that he had anything to do
with the devising of this conventional alphabet, even with the
modification of the first form. On the other hand, in several letters to
Morse he refers to it as being Morse's. For instance, in a letter of
April 20, 1848, he uses the words "your system of marking, _lines_ and
_dots_, which you have patented." All the evidence brought forward by the
advocates of Vail is purely hearsay; he is said to have said that he
invented the alphabet.

Morse, however, always, in every one of his many written references to
the matter, speaks of it as "my conventional alphabet." In an article
which I contributed to the "Century Magazine" of March, 1912, I treated
this question at length and proved by documentary evidence that Morse
alone devised the dot-and-dash alphabet. It will not be necessary for me
to repeat all this evidence here; I shall simply give enough to prove
conclusively that the Morse Alphabet has not been misnamed.

The following is a fugitive note which was reproduced photographically in
the "Century" article:--

"Mr. Vail, in his work on the Telegraph, at p. 32, intimates that the
saw-teeth type for letters, as he has described them in the diagram (9),
were devised by me as early as the year 1832. Two of the elements of
these letters, indeed, were then devised, the dot and space, and used in
constructing the type for numerals, but, so far as my recollection now
serves me, it was not until I experimented with the first instrument in
1835 that I added the -- dash, which supplied me with the three elements
for combinations for letters. It was on noticing the fact that, when the
circuit was closed a longer time than was necessary to make a dot, there
was produced a line or dash, that, if I rightly remember, the broken
parts of a continuous line as the means of imprinting at a distance were
suggested to me; since the inequalities of long and short lines,
separated by long and short spaces, gave me all the variations or
combinations of long and short lines necessary to form the alphabet. The
date of the code complete must, therefore, be put at 1835, and not 1832,
although at the date of 1832 the principle of the code was _evolved_."

In addition to this being a definite claim in writing on the part of
Morse that he had devised an alphabetic code in 1836, two years before
Vail had ever heard of the telegraph, it is well to note his scrupulous
insistence on historical accuracy.

In a letter to Professor Gale, referring to reading by sound as well as
by sight, occur the following sentences. (Let me remark, by the way, that
it is interesting to note that Morse thus early recognized the
possibility of reading by sound, an honor which has been claimed for many

"Exactly at what time I recognized the adaptation of the difference in
the intervals in reading the _letters_ as well as the numerals, I have
now no means of fixing except in a general manner. It was, however,
almost immediately on the construction of the letters by dots and lines,
and this was some little time previous to your seeing the instrument.

"Soon after the first operation of the instrument in 1835, in which the
type for writing numbers were used, I not only conceived the letter type,
but made them from some leads used in the printing-office. I have still
quite a quantity of these type. They were used in Washington as well as
the type for numerals in the winter of 1837-38.

"In the earlier period of the invention it was a matter which experience
alone could determine whether the _numerical_ system, by means of a
numbered dictionary, or the alphabetic mode, by spelling of the words,
was the better. While I perceived some advantages in the alphabetic
system, especially in the writing of proper names, I at that time leaned
rather towards the _numerical_ mode under the impression that it would,
on the whole, be the more rapid. A very short experience, however, showed
the superiority of the alphabetic mode, and the big leaves of the
numbered dictionary, which cost me a world of labor, and which you,
perhaps, remember, were discarded and the alphabetic installed in its
stead."  Perhaps the most conclusive evidence that Vail did not invent
this alphabet is contained in his own book on the "American
Electro-Magnetic Telegraph," published in 1845, in which he lays claim to
certain improvements. After describing the dot-and-dash alphabet, he

"This conventional alphabet was originated on board the packet Sully by
Professor Morse, the very first elements of the invention, and arose from
the necessity of the case; the motion produced by the magnet being
limited to a single action. During the period of the thirteen years _many
plans have been devised by the inventor_ to bring the telegraphic
alphabet to its simplest form."

The italics are mine, for the advocates of Vail have always quoted the
first sentence only, and have said that the word "originated" implies
that, while Vail admitted that the embryo of the alphabet--the dots and
dashes to represent numbers only--was conceived on the Sully, he did not
admit that the alphabetical code was Morse's. But when we read the second
sentence with the words "devised by the inventor," the meaning is so
plain that it is astonishing that any one at all familiar with the facts
could have been misled.

The first form of the alphabet which was attached to Morse's caveat of
October 3, 1837, is shown in the drawing of the type in the accompanying

Showing the first form of the alphabet and the changes to the present

It has been stated by some historians that the system of signs for
letters was not attached to the caveat, but a careful reading of the
text, in which reference is made to the drawing, will prove conclusively
that it was. Moreover, in this caveat under section 5, "The Dictionary or
Vocabulary," the very first sentence reads: "The dictionary is a complete
vocabulary of words alphabetically arranged and regularly numbered,
_beginning with the letters of the alphabet_." The italics are mine. The
mistake arose because the drawing was detached from the caveat and
affixed to the various patents which were issued, even after the first
form of the alphabet had been superseded by a better one, the principle,
however, remaining the same, so that it was not necessary to patent the
new form.

As soon as it was proved that it would be simpler to use the letters of
the alphabet in sending intelligence, the first form of the alphabet was
changed in the manner shown in the preceding figure. Exactly when this
was done has not been recorded, but it was after Vail's association with
Morse, and it is quite possible that they worked over the problem
together, but there is no written proof of this, whereas the accompanying
reproduction of calculations in Morse's handwriting will prove that he
gave himself seriously to its consideration.

The large numbers represent the quantities of type found in the
type-cases of a printing-office; for, after puzzling over the question of
the relative frequency of the occurrence of the different letters in the
written language, a visit to the printing-office easily settled the

This dispute, concerning the paternity of the alphabet, lasting for many
years after the death of both principals, and regrettably creating much
bad feeling, is typical of many which arose in the case of the telegraph,
as well as in that of every other great invention, and it may not be
amiss at this point to introduce the following fugitive note of Morse's,
which, though evidently written many years later, is applicable to this
as well as to other cases:--

"It is quite common to misapprehend the nature and extent of an
improvement without a thorough knowledge of an original invention. A
casual observer is apt to confound the new and the old, and, in noting a
new arrangement, is often led to consider the whole as new. It is,
therefore, necessary to exercise a proper discrimination lest injustice
be done to the various laborers in the same field of invention. I trust
it will not be deemed egotistical on my part if, while conscious of the
unfeigned desire to concede to all who are attempting improvements in the
art of telegraphy that which belongs to them, I should now and then
recognize the familiar features of my own offspring and claim their

Calculation made by Morse to aid him in simplifying alphabet]


OCTOBER 3, 1837--MAY 16, 1838

The Caveat.--Work at Morristown.--Judge Vail.--First success.--Resolution
in Congress regarding telegraphs.--Morse's reply.--Illness.--Heaviness of
first instruments.--Successful exhibition in Morristown.--Exhibition in
New York University.--First use of Morse alphabet.--Change from first
form of alphabet to present form.--Trials of an inventor.--Dr. Jackson.--
Slight friction between Morse and Vail.--Exhibition at Franklin
Institute, Philadelphia.--Exhibitions in Washington.--Skepticism of
public.--F.O.J. Smith,--F.L. Pope's estimate of Smith.--Proposal for
government telegraph.--Smith's report.--Departure for Europe.

I have incidentally mentioned the caveat in the preceding chapter, but a
more detailed account of this important step in bringing the invention
into the light of day should, perhaps, be given. The reports in the
newspapers of the activities of others, especially of scientists in
Europe, led Morse to decide that he must at once take steps legally to
protect himself if he did not wish to be distanced in the race. He
accordingly wrote to the Commissioner of Patents, Henry L. Ellsworth, who
had been a classmate of his at Yale, for information as to the form to be
used in applying for a caveat, and, after receiving a cordial reply
enclosing the required form, he immediately set to work to prepare his
caveat. This was in the early part of September, 1887, before he had met
Vail. The rough draft, which is still among his papers, was completed on
September 28, and the finished copy was sent to Washington on October 3,
and the receipt acknowledged by Commissioner Ellsworth on October 6. The
drawing containing the signs for both numbers and letters was attached to
this caveat. Having now safeguarded himself, he was able to give his
whole mind to the perfecting of the mechanical parts of his invention,
and in this he was ably assisted by his new partner, Alfred Vail, and by
Professor Gale.

The next few months were trying ones to both Morse and Vail. It must not
be supposed that the work went along smoothly without a hitch. Many were
the discouragements, and many experiments were tried and then discarded.
To add to the difficulties, Judge Vail, who, of course, was supplying the
cash, piqued by the sneers of his neighbors and noting the feverish
anxiety of his son and of Morse, lost faith, and would have willingly
abandoned the whole enterprise. The two enthusiasts worked steadily on,
however, avoiding the Judge as much as possible, and finally, on the 6th
of January, 1838, they proudly invited him to come to the workshop and
witness the telegraph in operation.

His hopes renewed by their confident demeanor, he hastened down from his
house. After a few words of explanation he handed a slip of paper to his
son on which he had written the words--"A patient waiter is no loser." He
knew that Morse could not possibly know what he had written, and he said:
"If you can send this and Mr. Morse can read it at the other end, I shall
be convinced."

Slowly the message was ticked off, and when Morse handed him the
duplicate of his message, his enthusiasm knew no bounds, and he proposed
to go at once to Washington and urge upon Congress the establishment of a
government line. But the instrument was not yet in a shape to be seen of
all men, and many years were yet to elapse before the legislators of the
country awoke to their opportunity.

Morse and Vail were, of course, greatly encouraged by this first triumph,
and worked on with increased enthusiasm.

Many years after their early struggles, when the telegraph was an
established success and Morse had been honored both at home and abroad,
he thus spoke of his friend:--

"Alfred Vail, then a student in the university, and a young man of great
ingenuity, having heard of my invention, came to my rooms and I explained
it to him, and from that moment he has taken the deepest interest in the
Telegraph. Finding that I was unable to command the means to bring my
invention properly before the public, and believing that he could command
those means through his father and brother, he expressed the belief to
me, and I at once made such an arrangement with him as to procure the
pecuniary means and the skill of these gentlemen. It is to their joint
liberality, but especially to the attention, and skill, and faith in the
final success of the enterprise maintained by Alfred Vail, that is due
the success of my endeavors to bring the Telegraph at that time
creditably before the public."

The idea of telegraphs seems to have been in the air in the year 1837,
for the House of Representatives had passed a resolution on the 3d of
February, 1887, requesting the Secretary of the Treasury, Hon. Levi
Woodbury, to report to the House upon the propriety of establishing a
system of telegraphs for the United States. The term "telegraph" in those
days included semaphores and other visual appliances, and, in fact,
anything by which intelligence could be transmitted to a distance.

The Secretary issued a circular to "Collectors of Customs, Commanders of
Revenue Cutters, and other Persons," requesting information. Morse
received one of these circulars, and in reply sent a long account of his
invention. But so hard to convince were the good people of that day, and
so skeptical and even flippant were most of the members of Congress that
six long years were to elapse, years filled with struggles,
discouragements, and heart-breaking disappointments, before the victory
was won.

Morse had still to contend with occasional fits of illness, for he writes
to his brother Sidney from Morristown on November 8, 1837:--

"You will perhaps be surprised to learn that I came out here to be sick.
I caught a severe cold the day I left New York from the sudden change of
temperature, and was taken down the next morning with one of my bilious
attacks, which, under other treatment and circumstances, might have
resulted seriously. But, through a kind Providence, I have been thrown
among most attentive, and kind, and skilful friends, who have treated me
more like one of their own children than like a stranger. Mrs. Vail has
been a perfect mother to me; our good Nancy Shepard can alone compare
with her. Through her nursing and constant attention I am now able to
leave my room and have been downstairs to-day, and hope to be out in a
few days. This sickness will, of course, detain me a while longer than I
intended, for I must finish the portraits before I return."

This refers to portraits of various members of the Vail family which he
had undertaken to execute while he was in Morristown. Farther on in the
letter he says:--

"The machinery for the Telegraph goes forward daily; slowly but well and
thorough. You will be surprised at the strength and quantity of
machinery, greater, doubtless, than will eventually be necessary, yet it
gives the main points, certainty and accuracy."

It may be well to note here that Morse evidently foresaw that the
machinery constructed by Alfred Vail was too heavy and cumbersome; that
more delicate workmanship would later be called for, and this proved to
be the case. The iron works at Morristown were only adapted to the
manufacture of heavy machinery for ships, etc., and Alfred Vail had had
experience in that class of work only, so that he naturally made the
telegraphic instruments much heavier and more unwieldy than was
necessary. While these answered the purpose for the time being, they were
soon superseded by instruments of greater delicacy and infinitely smaller
bulk made by more skilful hands.

The future looked bright to the sanguine inventor in the early days of
the year 1838, as we learn from the following letter to his brother
Sidney, written on the 13th of January:--

"Mr. Alfred Vail is just going in to New York and will return on Monday
morning. The machinery is at length completed and we have shown it to the
Morristown people with great _éclat_. It is the talk of all the people
round, and the principal inhabitants of Newark made a special excursion
on Friday to see it. The success is complete. We have tried the
experiment of sending a pretty full letter, which I set up from the
numbers given me, transmitting through two miles of wire and deciphered
with but a single unimportant error.

"I am staying out to perfect a modification of my portrule and hope to
see you on Tuesday, or, at the farthest, on Wednesday, when I shall tell
you all about it. The matter looks well now, and I desire to feel
grateful to Him who gives success, and be always prepared for any
disappointment which He in infinite wisdom may have in store."

We see from this letter, and from an account which appeared in the
Morristown "Journal," that in these exhibitions the messages were sent by
numbers with the aid of the cumbersome dictionary which Morse had been at
such pains to compile. Very soon after this, however, as will appear from
what follows, the dictionary was discarded forever, and the Morse
alphabet came into practical use.

The following invitation was sent from the New York University on January
22, 1838:--

"Professor Morse requests the honor of Thomas S. Cummings, Esq., and
family's company in the Geological Cabinet of the University, Washington
Square, to witness the operation of the Electro-Magnetic Telegraph at a
private exhibition of it to a few friends, previous to its leaving the
city for Washington.

"The apparatus will be prepared at precisely twelve o'clock on Wednesday,
24th instant. The time being limited punctuality is specially requested."

Similar invitations were sent to other prominent persons and a very
select company gathered at the appointed hour. That the exhibition was a
success we learn from the following account in the "Journal of Commerce"
of January 29, 1838:--

"THE TELEGRAPH.--We did not witness the operation of Professor Morse's
Electro-Magnetic Telegraph on Wednesday last, but we learn that the
numerous company of scientific persons who were present pronounced it
entirely successful. Intelligence was instantaneously transmitted through
a circuit of TEN MILES, and legibly written on a cylinder at the
extremity of the circuit. The great advantages which must result to the
public from this invention will warrant an outlay on the part of the
Government sufficient to test its practicability as a general means of
transmitting intelligence.

"Professor Morse has recently improved on his mode of marking by which he
can dispense altogether with the telegraphic dictionary, using letters
instead of numbers, and he can transmit ten words per minute, which is
more than double the number which can be transmitted by means of the

A charming and rather dramatic incident occurred at this exhibition which
was never forgotten by those who witnessed it. General Cummings had just
been appointed to a military command, and one of his friends, with this
fact evidently in mind, wrote a message on a piece of paper and, without
showing it to any one else, handed it to Morse. The assembled company was
silent and only the monotonous clicking of the strange instrument was
heard as the message was ticked off in the dots and dashes, and then from
the other end of the ten miles of wire was read out this sentence
pregnant with meaning:--

"Attention, the Universe, by kingdoms right wheel." The name of the man
who indited that message seems not to have been preserved, but, whoever
he was, he must have been gifted with prophetic vision, and he must have
realized that he was assisting at an occasion which was destined to mark
the beginning of a new era in civilization. The attention of the universe
was, indeed, before long attracted to this child of Morse's brain, and
kingdom after kingdom wheeled into line, vying with each other in
admiration and acceptance.

The message was recorded fourfold by means of a newly invented fountain
pen, and was given to General Cummings and preserved by him. It is here

Facsimile of the First Morse Alphabet Message, now In the National
Museum, Washington]

It will be noticed that the signs for the letters are those, not of the
first form of the alphabet as embodied in the drawing attached to the
caveat, but of the finally adopted code. This has led some historians,
notably Mr. Franklin Leonard Pope, to infer that some mistake has been
made in giving out this as a facsimile of this early message; that the
letters should have been those of the earlier alphabet. I think, however,
that this is but an added proof that Morse devised the first form of the
code long before he met Vail, and that the changes to the final form, a
description of which I have given, were made by Morse in 1837, or early
in 1838, as soon as he became convinced of the superiority of the
alphabetic mode, in plenty of time to have been used in this exhibition.

The month of January, 1838, was a busy one at Morristown, for Morse and
Vail were bending all their energies toward the perfecting and completion
of the instruments, so that a demonstration of the telegraph could be
given in Washington at as early a date as possible. Morse refers
feelingly to the trials and anxieties of an inventor in a letter to a
friend, dated January 22, 1838:--

"I have just returned from nearly six weeks' absence at Morristown, New
Jersey, where I have been engaged in the superintendence of the making of
my Telegraph for Washington.

"Be thankful, C----, that you are not an inventor. Invention may seem an
easy way to _fame_, or, what is the same thing to many, _notoriety_,
different as are in reality the two objects. But it is far otherwise. I,
indeed, desire the first, for true fame implies well-deserving, but I
have no wish for the latter, which yet seems inseparable from it.

"The condition of an inventor is, indeed, not enviable. I know of but one
condition that renders it in any degree tolerable, and that is the
reflection that his fellow-men may be benefited by his discoveries. In
the outset, if he has really made a _discovery_, which very word implies
that it was before unknown to the world, he encounters the incredulity,
the opposition, and even the sneers of many, who look upon him with a
kind of pity, as a little beside himself if not quite mad. And, while
maturing his invention, he has the comfort of reflection, in all the
various discouragements he meets with from petty failures, that, should
he by any means fail in the grand result, he subjects himself rather to
the ridicule than the sympathy of his acquaintances, who will not be slow
in attributing his failure to a want of that common sense in which, by
implication, they so much abound, and which preserves them from the
consequences of any such delusions.

"But you will, perhaps, think that there is an offset in the honors and
emoluments that await the successful inventor, one who has really
demonstrated that he has made an important discovery. This is not so.
Trials of another kind are ready for him after the appropriate
difficulties of his task are over. Many stand ready to snatch the prize,
or at least to claim a share, so soon as the success of an invention
seems certain, and honor and profit alone remain to be obtained.

"This long prelude, C----, brings me at the same time to the point of my
argument and to my excuse for my long silence. My argument goes to prove
that, unless there is a benevolent consideration in our discoveries, one
which enables us to rejoice that others are benefited even though we
should suffer loss, our happiness from any honor awarded to a successful
invention is exposed to constant danger from the designs of the
unprincipled. My excuse is that, ever since the receipt of your most
welcome letter, I have been engaged in preparing to repel a threatened
invasion of my rights to the invention of the Telegraph by a
fellow-passenger from France, one from whom I least expected any such
insidious design. The attempt startled me and put me on my guard, and set
me to the preparation for any attack. I have been compelled for some
weeks to use my pen only for this purpose, and have written much in the
hope of preventing the public exposure of my antagonist; but I fear my
labor will be vain on this point, from what I hear and the tone in which
he writes. I have no fear for myself, being now amply prepared with
evidence to repel any attempt which may be made to sustain any claim he
may prefer to a share with me in the invention of the Telegraph."

I have already shown that this claim of Dr. Jackson's was proved to be
but the hallucination of a disordered brain, and it will not be necessary
to go into the details of the controversy.

These were anxious and nerve-racking days for both Morse and Vail, and it
is small wonder that there should have been some slight friction. Vail in
his private correspondence makes some mention of this. For instance, in a
letter to his brother George, of January 22, 1838, he says:--

"We received the machine on Thursday morning, and in an hour we made the
first trial, which did not succeed, nor did it with perfect success until
Saturday--all which time Professor M. was rather _unwell_. To-morrow we
shall make our first exhibition, and continue it until Wednesday, when we
must again box up. Professor M. has received a letter from Mr. Patterson
inviting us to exhibit at Philadelphia, and has answered it, but has said
nothing to me about his intentions. He is altogether inclined to operate
in his own name, so much so that he has had printed five hundred blank
invitations in his own name at your expense."

On the other hand, this same George Vail, writing to Morse on January 26,
1838, asks him to "bear with A., which I have no doubt you will. He is
easily vexed. Trusting to your universal coolness, however, there is
nothing to fear. Keep him from running ahead too fast."

Again writing to his brother George from Washington, on February 20,
1838, Alfred says: "In regard to Professor M. calling me his
'_assistant_,' this is also settled, and he has said as much as to
apologize for using the term."

Why Vail should have objected to being called Morse's assistant, I cannot
quite understand, for he was so designated in the contract later made
with the Government; but Morse was evidently willing to humor him in

I have thought it best to refer to these little incidents partly in the
interest of absolute candor, partly to emphasize the nervous tension
under which both were working at that time. That there was no lasting
resentment in the mind of Vail is amply proved by the following extract
from a long letter written by him on March 19, 1838:--

"The great expectations I had on my return home of going into partnership
with George, founded, or semi-founded, on the promises made by my father,
have burst. I am again on vague promises for three months, and they
resting upon the success of the printing machine.

"I feel, Professor Morse, that, if I am ever worth anything, it will be
wholly attributable to your kindness. I now should have no _earthly_
prospect of happiness and domestic bliss had it not been for what you
have done. For which I shall ever remember [you] with the liveliest
emotions of gratitude, whether it is eventually successful or not."

Aside from the slight friction to which I have referred, and which was
most excusable under the circumstances, the joint work on the telegraph
proceeded harmoniously. The invitation from Mr. Patterson, to exhibit the
instrument before the Committee of Science and Arts of the Franklin
Institute of Philadelphia, was accepted. The exhibition took place on
February 8, and was a pronounced success, and the committee, in
expressing their gratification, voiced the hope that the Government would
provide the funds for an experiment on an adequate scale.

From Philadelphia Morse proceeded to Washington accompanied by Vail,
confidently believing that it would only be necessary to demonstrate the
practicability of his invention to the country's legislators assembled in
Congress, in order to obtain a generous appropriation to enable him
properly to test it. But he had not taken into account that trait of
human nature which I shall dignify by calling it "conservatism," in order
not to give it a harder name.

The room of the Committee on Commerce was placed at his disposal, and
there he hopefully strung his ten miles of wire and connected them with
his instruments. Outwardly calm but inwardly nervous and excited, as he
realized that he was facing a supreme moment in his career, he patiently
explained to all who came, Congressmen, men of science, representatives
of foreign governments, and hard-headed men of business, the workings of
the instrument and proved its feasibility. The majority saw and wondered,
but went away unconvinced. On February 21, President Martin Van Buren and
his entire Cabinet, at their own special request, visited the room and
saw the telegraph in operation. But no action was taken by Congress; the
time was not yet ripe for the general acceptance of such a revolutionary
departure from the slow-going methods of that early period. While
individuals here and there grasped the full significance of what the
mysterious ticking of that curious instrument foretold, they were vastly
in the minority. The world, through its representatives in the capital
city of the United States, remained incredulous.

Among those who at once recognized the possibilities of the invention was
Francis O.J. Smith, member of Congress from Portland, Maine, and chairman
of the Committee on Commerce. He was a lawyer of much shrewdness and a
man of great energy, and he very soon offered to become pecuniarily
interested in the invention. Morse was, unfortunately, not a keen judge
of men. Scrupulously honest and honorable himself, he had an almost
childlike faith in the integrity of others, and all through his life he
fell an easy victim to the schemes of self-seekers. In this case a man of
more acute intuition would have hesitated, and would have made some
enquiries before allying himself with one whose ideas of honor proved
eventually to be so at variance with his own. Smith did so much in later
years to injure Morse, and to besmirch his fame and good name, that I
think it only just to give the following estimate of his character, made
by the late Franklin Leonard Pope in an article contributed to the
"Electrical World" in 1895:--

"A sense of justice compels me to say that the uncorroborated statements
of F.O.J. Smith, in any matter affecting the credit or honor due to
Professor Morse, should be allowed but little weight.... For no better
reason than that Morse in 1843-1844 courteously but firmly refused to be
a party to a questionable scheme devised by Smith for the irregular
diversion into his own pocket of a portion of the governmental
appropriation of $30,000 for the construction of the experimental line,
he ever after cherished toward the inventor the bitterest animosity; a
feeling which he took no pains to conceal. Many of his letters to him at
that time, and for many years afterward, were couched in studiously
insulting language, which must have been in the highest degree irritating
to a sensitive artistic temperament like that of Morse.

"It probably by no means tended to mollify the disposition of such a man
as Smith to find that Morse, in reply to these covert sneers and open
insinuations, never once lost his self-control, nor permitted himself to
depart from the dignified tone of rejoinder which becomes a gentleman in
his dealings with one who, in his inmost nature, was essentially a

However, it is an old saying that we must "give the devil his due," and
the cloven foot did not appear at first. On the other hand, a man of
business acumen and legal knowledge was greatly needed at this stage of
the enterprise, and Smith possessed them both. Morse was so grateful to
find any one with faith enough to be willing to invest money in the
invention; and to devote his time and energy to its furtherance, that he
at once accepted Smith's offer, and he was made a partner and given a
one-fourth interest, Morse retaining nine sixteenths, Vail two
sixteenths, and Professor Gale, also admitted as a partner, being
allotted one sixteenth. It was characteristic of Morse that he insisted,
before signing the contract, that Smith should obtain leave of absence
from Congress for the remainder of the term, and should not stand for
reelection. It was agreed that Smith should accompany Morse to Europe as
soon as possible and endeavor to secure patents in foreign countries,
and, if successful, the profits were to be divided differently, Morse
receiving eight sixteenths, Smith five, Vail two, and Gale one.

In spite of the incredulity of the many, Morse could not help feeling
encouraged, and in a long letter to Smith, written on February 15, 1838,
proposing an experiment of one hundred miles, he thus forecasts the
future and proposes an intelligent plan of government control:--

"If no insurmountable obstacles present themselves in a distance of one
hundred miles, none may be expected in one thousand or in ten thousand
miles; and then will be presented for the consideration of the Government
the propriety of completely organizing this _new telegraphic system as a
part of the Government_, attaching it to some department already
existing, or creating a new one which may be called for by the
accumulating duties of the present departments.

"It is obvious, at the slightest glance, that this mode of instantaneous
communication must inevitably become an instrument of immense power, to
be wielded for good or for evil, as it shall be properly or improperly
directed. In the hands of a company of speculators, who should monopolize
it for themselves, it might be the means of enriching the corporation at
the expense of the bankruptcy of thousands; and even in the hands of
Government alone it might become the means of working vast mischief to
the Republic.

"In considering these prospective evils, I would respectfully suggest a
remedy which offers itself to my mind. Let the sole right of using the
Telegraph belong, in the first place, to the Government, who should
grant, for a specified sum or bonus, to any individual or company of
individuals who may apply for it, and under such restrictions and
regulations as the Government may think proper, the right to lay down a
communication between any two points for the purpose of transmitting
intelligence, and thus would be promoted a general competition. The
Government would have a Telegraph of its own, and have its modes of
communicating with its own officers and agents, independent of private
permission or interference with and interruption to the ordinary
transmissions on the private telegraphs. Thus there would be a system of
checks and preventives of abuse operating to restrain the action of this
otherwise dangerous power within those bounds which will permit only the
good and neutralize the evil. Should the Government thus take the
Telegraph solely under its own control, the revenue derived from the
bonuses alone, it must be plain, will be of vast amount.

"From the enterprising character of our countrymen, shown in the manner
in which they carry forward any new project which promises private or
public advantage, it is not visionary to suppose that it would not be
long ere the whole surface of this country would be channelled for those
_nerves_ which are to diffuse, with the speed of thought, a knowledge of
all that is occurring throughout the land, making, in fact, one
neighborhood of the whole country.

"If the Government is disposed to test this mode of telegraphic
communication by enabling me to give it a fair trial for one hundred
miles, I will engage to enter into no arrangement to dispose of my
rights, as the inventor and patentee for the United States, to any
individual or company of individuals, previous to offering it to the
Government for such a just and reasonable compensation as shall be
mutually agreed upon."

We have seen that Morse was said to be a hundred years ahead of his time
as an artist. From the sentences above quoted it would appear that he was
far in advance of his contemporaries in some questions of national
policy, for the plan outlined by him for the proper governmental control
of a great public utility, like the telegraph, it seems to me, should
appeal to those who, at the present time, are agitating for that very
thing. Had the legislators and the people of 1838 been as wise and
clear-headed as the poor artist-inventor, a great leap forward in
enlightened statecraft would have been undertaken at a cost inconceivably
less than would now be the case. Competent authorities estimate that to
purchase the present telegraph lines in this country at their market
valuation would cost the Government in the neighborhood of $500,000,000;
to parallel them would cost some $25,000,000. The enormous difference in
these two sums represents what was foretold by Morse would happen if the
telegraph should become a monopoly in the hands of speculators. The
history of the telegraph monopoly is too well known to be more than
alluded to here, but it is only fair to Morse to state that he had sold
all his telegraph stock, and had retired from active participation in the
management of the different companies, long before the system of
stock-watering began which has been carried on to the present day.

And for what sum could the Government have kept this great invention
under its own control? It is on record that Morse offered, in 1844, after
the experimental line between Washington and Baltimore had demonstrated
that the telegraph was a success, to sell all the rights in his invention
to the Government for $100,000, and would have considered himself amply

But the legislators and the people of 1838, and even those of 1844, were
not wise and far-sighted; they failed utterly to realize what a
magnificent opportunity had been offered to them for a mere song; and
this in spite of the fact that the few who did glimpse the great future
of the telegraph painted it in glowing terms.

It is true that the House of Representatives had passed the resolution
referred to earlier in this chapter, but that is as far as they went for
several years. On the 6th of April, 1838, Mr. F.O.J. Smith made a long
report on the petition of Morse asking for an appropriation sufficient to
enable him to test his invention adequately. In the course of this report
Mr. Smith indulged in the following eulogistic words:--

"It is obvious, however, that the influence of this invention over the
political, commercial, and social relations of the people of this widely
extended country, looking to nothing beyond, will, in the event of
success, of itself amount to a revolution unsurpassed in moral grandeur
by any discovery that has been made in the arts and sciences, from the
most distant period to which authentic history extends to the present
day. With the means of almost instantaneous communication of intelligence
between the most distant points of the country, and simultaneously
between any given number of intermediate points which this invention
contemplates, space will be, to all practical purposes of information,
completely annihilated between the States of the Union, as also between
the individual citizens thereof. The citizen will be invested with, and
reduce to daily and familiar use, an approach to the HIGH ATTRIBUTE OP
UBIQUITY in a degree that the human mind, until recently, has hardly
dared to contemplate seriously as belonging to human agency, from an
instinctive feeling of religious reverence and reserve on a power of such
awful grandeur."

In the face of these enthusiastic, if somewhat stilted, periods the
majority of his colleagues remained cold, and no appropriation was voted.
Morse, however, was prepared to meet with discouragements, for he wrote
to Vail on March 15:--

"Everything looks encouraging, but I need not say to you that in this
world a continued course of prosperity is not a rational expectation. We
shall, doubtless, find troubles and difficulties in store for us, and it
is the part of true wisdom to be prepared for whatever may await us. If
our hearts are right we shall not be taken by surprise. I see nothing now
but an unclouded prospect, for which let us pay to Him who shows it to us
the homage of grateful and obedient hearts, with most earnest prayers for
grace to use prosperity aright."

This was written while there was still hope that Congress might take some
action at that session, and Morse was optimistic. On March 31, he thus
reports progress to Vail:--

"I write you a hasty line to say, in the first place, that I have
overcome all difficulties in regard to a portrule, and have invented one
which will be perfect. It is very simple, and will not take much time or
expense to make it. Mr. S. has incorporated it into the specification for
the patent. Please, therefore, not to proceed with the type or portrule
as now constructed: I will see you on my return and explain it in season
for you to get one ready for us.

"I find it a most arduous and tedious process to adjust the
specification. I have been engaged steadily for three days with Mr. S.,
and have not yet got half through, but there is one consolation, when
done it will be well done. The drawings, I find on enquiry, would cost
you from forty to fifty dollars if procured from the draughtsman about
the Patent Office. I have, therefore, determined to do them myself and
save you that sum."

The portrule, referred to above, was a device for sending automatically
messages which were recorded permanently on the tape at the other end of
the line. It worked well enough, but it was soon superseded by the key
manipulated by hand, as this was much simpler and the dots and dashes
could be sent more rapidly. It is curious to note, however, that down to
the present day inventors have been busy in an effort to devise some
mechanism by which messages could be sent automatically, and consequently
more rapidly than by hand, which was Morse's original idea, but, to the
best of my knowledge, no satisfactory solution of the problem has yet
been found.

Morse was now preparing to go to Europe with Smith to endeavor to secure
patents abroad, and, while he had put in his application for a patent in
this country, he requested that the issuing of it should be held back
until his return, so that a publication on this side should not injure
his chances abroad.

All the partners were working under high pressure along their several
lines to get everything in readiness for a successful exhibition of the
telegraph in Europe. Vail sent a long letter to Morse on April 18,
detailing some of the difficulties which he was encountering, and Morse
answered on the 24th:--

"I write in greatest haste, just to say that the boxes have safely
arrived, and we shall proceed immediately to examine into the
difficulties which have troubled you, but about which we apprehend no
serious issue....

"If you can possibly get the circular portrule completed before we go it
will be a great convenience, not to say an indispensable matter, for I
have just learned so much of Wheatstone's Telegraph as to be pretty well
persuaded that my superiority over him will be made evident more by the
rapidity with which I can make the portrule work than in almost any other

At last every detail had been attended to, and in a postscript to a
letter of April 28 he says: "We sail on the 16th of May for Liverpool in
the ship Europe, so I think you will have time to complete circular
portrule. Try, won't you?"


JUNE, 1838--JANUARY 21, 1839

Arrival in England.--Application for letters patent.--Cooke and
Wheatstone's telegraph.--Patent refused.--Departure for Paris.--Patent
secured in France.--Earl of Elgin.--Earl of Lincoln.--Baron de
Meyendorff.--Russian contract.--Return to London.--Exhibition at the Earl
of Lincoln's.--Letter from secretary of Lord Campbell, Attorney-General.
--Coronation of Queen Victoria.--Letters to daughter.--Birth of the Count
of Paris.--Exhibition before the Institute of France.--Arago; Baron
Humboldt.--Negotiations with the Government and Saint-Germain Railway.--
Reminiscences of Dr. Kirk.--Letter of the Honorable H.L. Ellsworth.--
Letter to F.O.J. Smith.--Dilatoriness of the French.

It seems almost incredible to us, who have come to look upon marvel after
marvel of science and invention as a matter of course, that it should
have taken so many years to convince the world that the telegraph was a
possibility and not an iridescent dream. While men of science and a few
far-sighted laymen saw that the time was ripe for this much-needed
advance in the means of conveying intelligence, governments and
capitalists had held shyly aloof, and, even now, weighed carefully the
advantages of different systems before deciding which, if any, was the
best. For there were at this time several different systems in the field,
and Morse soon found that he would have to compete with the trained
scientists of the Old World, backed, at last, by their respective
governments, in his effort to prove that his invention was the simplest
and the best of them all. That he should have persisted in spite of
discouragement after discouragement, struggling to overcome obstacles
which to the faint-hearted would have seemed insuperable, constitutes one
of his greatest claims to undying fame. He left on record an account of
his experiences in Europe on this voyage, memorable in more ways than
one, and extracts from this, and from letters written to his daughter and
brothers, will best tell the story:--

"On May 16, 1838, I left the United States and arrived in London in June,
for the purpose of obtaining letters patent for my Electro-Magnetic
Telegraph System. I learned before I left the United States that
Professor Wheatstone and Mr. Cooke, of London, had obtained letters
patent in England for a '_Magnetic-Needle Telegraph_,' based, as the name
implies, on the _deflection of the magnetic needle_. Their telegraph, at
that time, required _six conductors_ between the two points of
intercommunication _for a single instrument_ at each of the two termini.
Their mode of indicating signs for communicating intelligence was by
deflecting _five magnetic needles_ in various directions, in such a way
as to point to the required letters upon a diamond-shaped dial-plate. It
was necessary that the signal should be _observed at the instant_, or it
was lost and vanished forever.

"I applied for letters patent for my system of communicating intelligence
at a distance by electricity, differing in all respects from Messrs.
Wheatstone and Cooke's system, invented five years before theirs, and
having nothing in common in the whole system but the use of _electricity_
on _metallic conductors_, for which use no one could obtain an exclusive
privilege, since this much had been used for nearly one hundred years. My
system is peculiar in the employment of _electro-magnetism_, or the
_motive_ power of electricity, _to imprint permanent signs at a

"I made no use of the deflections of the magnetic needle as _signs_. I
required but _one conductor_ between the two termini, or any number of
intermediate points of intercommunication. I used _paper moved by
clockwork_ upon which I caused a _lever_ moved by _magnetism_ to _imprint
the letters_ and _words_ of any required dispatch, having also invented
and adapted to telegraph writing a _new and peculiar alphabetic
character_ for that purpose, a _conventional alphabet_, easily acquired
and easily made and used by the operator. It is obvious at once, from a
simple statement of these facts, that the system of Messrs. Wheatstone
and Cooke and my system were wholly unlike each other. As I have just
observed, there was _nothing in common in the two systems_ but the use of
electricity upon metallic conductors, for which no one could obtain an
exclusive privilege.

"The various steps required by the English law were taken by me to
procure a patent for my mode, and the fees were paid at the Clerk's
office, June 22, and at the Home Department, June 25, 1838; also, June
26, caveats were entered at the Attorney and Solicitor-General's, and I
had reached that part of the process which required the sanction of the
Attorney-General. At this point I met the opposition of Messrs.
Wheatstone and Cooke, and also of Mr. Davy, and a hearing was ordered
before the Attorney-General, Sir John Campbell, on July 12, 1838. I
attended at the Attorney-General's residence on the morning of that day,
carrying with me my telegraphic apparatus for the purpose of explaining
to him the total dissimilarity between my system and those of my
opponents. But, contrary to my expectation, the similarity or
dissimilarity of my mode from that of my opponents was not considered by
the Attorney-General. He neither examined my instrument, which I had
brought for that purpose, nor did he ask any questions bearing upon its
resemblance to my opponents' system. I was met by the single declaration
that my '_invention had been published_,' and in proof a copy of the
London 'Mechanics' Magazine,' No. 757, for February 10, 1838, was
produced, and I was told that 'in consequence of said publication I could
not proceed.'

"At this summary decision I was certainly surprised, being conscious that
there had been no such publication of my method as the law required to
invalidate a patent; and, even if there had been, I ventured to hint to
the Attorney-General that, if I was rightly informed in regard to the
British law, it was the province of a court and jury, and not of the
Attorney-General, to try, and to decide that point."

The publication to which the Attorney-General referred had merely stated
results, with no description whatever of the means by which these results
were to be obtained and it was manifestly unfair to Morse on the part of
this official to have refused his sanction; but he remained obdurate.
Morse then wrote him a long letter, after consultation with Mr. Smith,
setting forth all these points and begging for another interview.

"In consequence of my request in this letter I was allowed a second
hearing. I attended accordingly, but, to my chagrin, the Attorney-General
remarked that he had not had time to examine the letter. He carelessly
took it up and turned over the leaves without reading it, and then asked
me if I had not taken measures for a patent in my own country. And, upon
my reply in the affirmative, he remarked that: 'America was a large
country and I ought to be satisfied with a patent there.' I replied that,
with all due deference, I did not consider that as a point submitted for
the Attorney-General's decision; that the question submitted was whether
there was any legal obstacle in the way of my obtaining letters patent
for my Telegraph in England. He observed that he considered my invention
as having been _published_, and that he must _therefore_ forbid me to

"Thus forbidden to proceed by an authority from which there was no
appeal, as I afterward learned, but to Parliament, and this at great cost
of time and money, I immediately left England for France, where I found
no difficulty in securing a patent. My invention there not only attracted
the regards of the distinguished savants of Paris, but, in a marked
degree, the admiration of many of the English nobility and gentry at that
time in the French capital. To several of these, while explaining the
operation of my telegraphic system, I related the history of my treatment
by the English Attorney-General. The celebrated Earl of Elgin took a deep
interest in the matter and was intent on my obtaining a special Act of
Parliament to secure to me my just rights as the inventor of the
Electro-Magnetic Telegraph. He repeatedly visited me, bringing with him
many of his distinguished friends, and on one occasion the noble Earl of
Lincoln, since one of Her Majesty's Privy Council. The Honorable Henry
Drummond also interested himself for me, and through his kindness and
Lord Elgin's I received letters of introduction to Lord Brougham and to
the Marquis of Northampton, the President of the Royal Society, and
several other distinguished persons in England. The Earl of Lincoln
showed me special kindness. In taking leave of me in Paris he gave me his
card, and, requesting me to bring my telegraphic instruments with me to
London, pressed me to give him the earliest notice of my arrival in

"I must here say that for weeks in Paris I had been engaged in
negotiation with the Russian Counselor of State, the Baron Alexander de
Meyendorff, arranging measures for putting the telegraph in operation in
Russia. The terms of a contract had been mutually agreed upon, and all
was concluded but the signature of the Emperor to legalize it. In order
to take advantage of the ensuing summer season for my operations in
Russia, I determined to proceed immediately to the United States to make
some necessary preparations for the enterprise, without waiting for the
formal completion of the contract papers, being led to believe that the
signature of the Emperor was sure, a matter of mere form.

"Under these circumstances I left Paris on the 13th of March, 1839, and
arrived in London on the 15th of the same month. The next day I sent my
card to the Earl of Lincoln and my letter and card to the Marquis of
Northampton, and in two or three days received a visit from both. By Earl
Lincoln I was at once invited to send my Telegraph to his house in Park
Lane, and on the 19th of March I exhibited its operation to members of
both Houses of Parliament, of the Royal Society, and the Lords of the
Admiralty, invited to meet me by the Earl of Lincoln. From the
circumstances mentioned my time in London was necessarily short, my
passage having been secured in the Great Western to sail on the 23d of
March. Although solicited to remain a while in London, both by the Earl
of Lincoln and the Honorable Henry Drummond, with a view to obtaining a
special Act of Parliament for a patent, I was compelled by the
circumstances of the case to defer till some more favorable opportunity,
on my expected return to England, any attempt of the kind. The Emperor of
Russia, however, refused to ratify the contract made with me by the
Counselor of State, and my design of returning to Europe was frustrated,
and I have not to this hour [April 2, 1847] had the means to prosecute
this enterprise to a result in England. All my exertions were needed to
establish my telegraphic system in my own country.

"Time has shown conclusively the essential difference of my telegraphic
system from those of my opponents; time has also shown that my system
_was not published_ in England, as alleged by the Attorney-General, for,
to this day, no work in England has published anything that does not show
that, as yet, it is perfectly misunderstood....

"The refusal to grant me a patent was, at that period, very disastrous.
It was especially discouraging to have made a long voyage across the
Atlantic in vain, incurring great expenditure and loss of time, which in
their consequences also produced years of delay in the prosecution of my
enterprise in the United States."

The long statement, from which I have taken the above extracts, was
written, as I have noted, on April 2, 1847, but the following interesting
addition was made to it on December 11, 1848:--

"At the time of preparing this statement I lacked one item of evidence,
which it was desirable to have aside from my own assertion, viz.,
evidence that the refusal of the Attorney-General was on the ground
'_that a publication of the invention had been made_.' I deemed it
advisable rather to suffer from the delay and endure the taunts, which my
unscrupulous opponents have not been slow to lavish upon me in
consequence, if I could but obtain this evidence in proper shape. I
accordingly wrote to my brother, then in London, to procure, if possible,
from Lord Campbell or his secretary an acknowledgment of the ground on
which he refused my application for a patent in 1838, since no public
report or record in such cases is made.

"My brother, in connection with Mr. Carpmael, one of the most
distinguished patent agents in England, addressed a note to Mr. H.
Cooper, the Attorney-General's secretary at the time, and the only
official person besides Lord Campbell connected with the matter. The
following is Mr. Cooper's reply:--

"'WILMINGTON SQUARE, May 23d, 1848.

"'GENTLEMEN,--In answer to yours of the 20th inst., I beg to state that I
have a distinct recollection of Professor Morse's application for a
patent, strengthened by the fact of his not having paid the fees for the
hearing, etc., and these being now owing. I understood at the time that
the patent was stopped on the ground that a publication of the invention
had been made, but I cannot procure Lord Campbell's certificate of that

"'I am, gentlemen
"'Your obedient servant

"I thus have obtained the evidence I desired in the most authentic form,
but accompanied with as gross an insult as could well be conceived. On
the receipt of this letter I immediately wrote to F.O.J. Smith, Esq., at
Portland, who accompanied me to England, and at whose sole expense,
according to agreement, all proceedings in taking out patents in Europe
were to be borne, to know if this charge of the Attorney-General's
secretary could possibly be true; not knowing but through some
inadvertence on his (Mr. Smith's) part, this bill might have been

"Mr. Smith writes me in answer, sending me a copy _verbatim_ of the
following receipt, which he holds and which speaks for itself:--

"'Mr. Morse to the Attorney-General, Dr.
                            £ s. d.
Hearing on a patent . . . . 3 10 0
Giving notice on the same . 1  1 0
                            4 11 0
  Settled the 13th of August, 1838.
    "'(Signed) H. COOPER.'

"This receipt is signed, as will be perceived, by the same individual, H.
Cooper, who, nearly ten years after his acknowledgment of the money, has
the impudence to charge me with leaving my fees unpaid. I now leave the
public to make their own comments both on the character of the whole
transaction in England, and on the character and motives of those in this
country who have espoused Lord Campbell's course, making it an occasion
to charge me with having _invented nothing_.


I have, in these extracts from an account of his European experiences,
written by Morse at a later date, given but a brief summary of certain
events; it will now be necessary to record more in detail some of the
happenings on that memorable trip.

Attention has been called before to the fact that it was Morse's good
fortune to have been an eye-witness of many events of historic interest.
Still another was now to be added to the list, for, while he was in
London striving unsuccessfully to secure a patent for his invention, he
was privileged to witness the coronation of Queen Victoria; our Minister,
the Honorable Andrew Stevenson, having procured for him a ticket of
admission to Westminster Abbey.

Writing to his daughter Susan on June 19, 1838, before he had met with
his rebuff from the Attorney-General, he comments briefly on the
festivities incident to the occasion:--

"London is filling fast with crowds of all characters, from ambassadors
and princes to pickpockets and beggars, all brought together by the
coronation of the queen, which takes place in a few days (the 28th of
June). Everything in London now is colored by the coming pageant. In the
shop windows are the robes of the nobility, the crimson and ermine
dresses, coronets, etc. Preparations for illuminations are making all
over the city.

"I have scarcely entered upon the business of the Telegraph, but have
examined (tell Dr. Gale) the specification of Wheatstone at the Patent
Office, and except the alarum part, he has nothing which interferes with
mine. His invention is ingenious and beautiful, but very complicated, and
he must use twelve wires where I use but four. I have also seen a
telegraph exhibiting at Exeter Hall invented by Davy, something like
Wheatstone's but still complicated. I find mine is yet the simplest and
hope to accomplish something, but always keep myself prepared for

At a later date he recounted the following pretty incident, showing the
kindly character of the young queen, which may not be generally known:--

"I was in London in 1838, and was present with my excellent friend, the
late Charles R. Leslie, R.A., at the imposing ceremonies of the
coronation of the queen in Westminster Abbey. He then related to me the
following incident which, I think, may truly be said to have been the
first act of Her Majesty's reign.

"When her predecessor, William IV, died, a messenger was immediately
dispatched by his queen (then become by his death queen dowager) to
Victoria, apprising her of the event. She immediately called for paper
and indited a letter of condolence to the widow. Folding it, she directed
it 'To the Queen of England.' Her maid of honor in attendance, noting the
inscription, said: 'Your Majesty, you are Queen of England.' 'Yes,' she
replied, 'but the widowed queen is not to be reminded of that fact first
by me.'"

Writing to his daughter from Havre, on July 26, 1838, while on his way to
Paris, after telling her of the unjust decision of the Attorney-General,
he adds:--

"Professor Wheatstone and Mr. Davy were my opponents. They have each very
ingenious inventions of their own, particularly the former, who is a man
of genius and one with whom I was personally much pleased. He has
invented his, I believe, without knowing that I was engaged in an
invention to produce a similar result; for, although he dates back into
1832, yet, as no publication of our thoughts was made by either, we are
evidently independent of each other. My time has not been lost, however,
for I have ascertained with certainty that the _Telegraph of a single
circuit_ and a _recording apparatus_ is mine....

"I found also that both Mr. Wheatstone and Mr. Davy were endeavoring to
simplify theirs by adding a recording apparatus and reducing theirs to a
single circuit. The latter showed to the Attorney-General a drawing,
which I obtained sight of, of a method by which he proposed a bungling
imitation of my first characters, those that were printed in our
journals, and one, however plausible on paper, and sufficiently so to
deceive the Attorney-General, was perfectly impracticable. Partiality,
from national or other motives, aside from the justice of the case, I am
persuaded, influenced the decision against me.

"We are now on our way to Paris to try what we can do with the French
Government. I confess I am not sanguine as to any favorable pecuniary
result in Europe, but we shall try, and, at any rate, we have seen enough
to know that the matter is viewed with great interest here, and the plan
of such telegraphs will be adopted, and, of course, the United States is
secured to us, and I do hope something from that.

"Be economical, my dear child, and keep your wants within bounds, for I
am preparing myself for an unsuccessful result here, yet every proper
effort will be made. I am in excellent health and spirits and leave
to-morrow morning for Paris."

"_Paris, August 29, 1838._ I have obtained a patent here and it is
exciting some attention. The prospects of future benefit from the
invention are good, but I shall not probably realize much, or even
anything, immediately.

"I saw by the papers, before I got your letter, that Congress had not
passed the appropriation bill for the Telegraph. On some accounts I
regret it, but it is only delayed, and it will probably be passed early
in the winter."

Little did he think, in his cheerful optimism, that nearly five long
years must elapse before Congress should awaken to its great opportunity.

"You will be glad to learn, my dear daughter, that your father's health
was never so good, and probably before this reaches you he will be on the
ocean on his return. I think of leaving Paris in a very few days. I am
only waiting to show the Telegraph to the King, from whom I expect a
message hourly. The birth of a prince occupies the whole attention just
how of the royal family and the court. He was born on the 24th inst., the
son of the Duke and Duchess of Orleans. My rooms are as delightfully
situated, perhaps, as any in Paris; they are close to the palace of the
Tuileries and overlook the gardens, and are within half a stone's throw
of the rooms of the Duke and Duchess of Orleans. From my balcony I look
directly into their rooms. I saw the company that was there assembled on
the birthday of the little prince, and saw him in his nurse's arms at the
window the next day after his birth. He looked very much like any other
baby, and not half so handsome as little Hugh Peters.

"I received from the Minister of War, General Bernard, who has been very
polite to me, a ticket to be present at the _Te Deum_ performed yesterday
in the great cathedral of Paris, Notre Dame, on account of the birth of
the prince. The king and all the royal family and the court, with all the
officers of state, were present. The cathedral was crowded with all the
fashion of Paris. Along the ways and around the church were soldiers
without number, almost; a proof that some danger was apprehended to the
king, and yet he ought to be popular for he is the best ruler they have
had for years. The ceremonies were imposing, appealing to the senses and
the imagination, and not at all to the reason or the heart."

The king was Louis Philippe; the little prince, his grandson, was the
Count of Paris.

"_Paris, September 29, 1838._ Since my last matters have assumed a
totally different aspect. At the request of Monsieur Arago, the most
distinguished astronomer of the day, I submitted the Telegraph to the
Institute at one of their meetings, at which some of the most celebrated
philosophers of France and of Germany and of other countries were
present. Its reception was in the highest degree flattering, and the
interest which they manifested, by the questions they asked and the
exclamations they used, showed to me then that the invention had obtained
their favorable regard. The papers of Paris immediately announced the
Telegraph in the most favorable terms, and it has literally been the
topic of the day ever since. The Baron Humboldt, the celebrated
traveller, a member of the Institute and who saw its operation before
that body, told Mr. Wheaton, our Minister to Prussia, that my Telegraph
was the best of all the plans that had been devised.

"I received a call from the administrator-in-chief of all the telegraphs
of France, Monsieur Alphonse Foy. I explained it to him; he was highly
delighted with it, and told me that the Government was about to try an
experiment with the view of testing the practicability of the Electric
Telegraph, and that he had been requested to see mine and report upon it;
that he should report that '_mine was the best that had been submitted to
him_'; and he added that I had better forthwith get an introduction to
the Minister of the Interior, Mons. the Count Montalivet. I procured a
letter from our Minister, and am now waiting the decision of the

"Everything looks promising thus far, as much so as I could expect, but
it involves the possibility, not to say the probability, of my remaining
in Paris during the winter.

"If I should be delayed till December it would be prudent to remain until
April. If it be possible, without detriment to my affairs, to make such
arrangements that I may return this autumn, I shall certainly do it; but,
if I should not, you must console yourselves that it is in consequence of
meeting with success that I am detained, and that I shall be more likely
to return with advantage to you all on account of the delay.

"I ought to say that the directors of the Saint-Germain Railroad have
seen my Telegraph, and that there is some talk (as yet vague) of
establishing a line of my Telegraph upon that road. I mention these, my
dear child, to show you that I cannot at this moment leave Paris without
detriment to my principal object."

"_Paris, October 10, 1838._ You are at an age when a parent's care, and
particularly a mother's care, is most needed. You cannot know the depth
of the wound that was inflicted when I was deprived of your dear mother,
nor in how many ways that wound was kept open. Yet I know it is all well;
I look to God to take care of you; it is his will that you should be
almost truly an orphan, for, with all my efforts to have a home for you
and to be near you, I have met hitherto only with disappointment. But
there are now indications of a change, and, while I prepare for
disappointment and wish you to prepare for disappointment, we ought to
acknowledge the kind hand of our Heavenly Father in so far prospering me
as to put me in the honorable light before the world which is now my lot.
With the eminence is connected the prospect of pecuniary prosperity, yet
this is not consummated, but only in prospect; it may be a long time
before anything is realized. Study, therefore, prudence and economy in
all things; make your wants as few as possible, for the habit thus
acquired will be of advantage to you whether you have much or little."

Thus did hope alternate with despondency as the days and weeks wore away
and nothing tangible was accomplished. All who saw the working of the
telegraph were loud in their expressions of wonder and admiration, but,
for reasons which shall presently be explained, nothing else was gained
by the inventor at that time.

An old friend of Morse's, the Reverend Dr. Kirk, was then living in
Paris, and the two friends not only roomed together but Dr. Kirk,
speaking French fluently, which Morse did not, acted as interpreter in
the many exhibitions given. Writing of this in later years, Dr. Kirk

"I remember rallying my friend frequently about the experience of great
inventors, who are generally permitted to starve while living and are
canonized after death.

"When the model telegraph had been set up in our rooms, Mr. Morse desired
to exhibit it to the savants of Paris, but, as he had less of the talking
propensity than myself, I was made the grand exhibitor.

"Our levee-day was Tuesday, and for weeks we received the visits of
distinguished citizens and strangers, to whom I explained the principles
and operation of the Telegraph. The visitors would agree upon a word
among themselves which I was not to hear; then the Professor would
receive it at the writing end of the wires, while it devolved upon me to
interpret the characters which recorded it at the other end. As I
explained the hieroglyphics the announcement of the word, which they saw
could have come to me only through the wire, would often create a deep
sensation of delighted wonder; and much do I now regret that I did not
take notes of these interviews, for it would be an interesting record of
distinguished names and of valuable remarks."

On the 10th of September, 1838, Morse enjoyed the greatest triumph of
all, for it was on that day that, by invitation of M. Arago, the
exhibition of his invention before the Institute of France, casually
mentioned in one of his letters to his daughter, took place. Writing of
the occasion to Alfred Vail, he says:--

"I exhibited the Telegraph to the Institute and the sensation produced
was as striking as at Washington. It was evident that hitherto the
assembled science of Europe had considered the plan of an Electric
Telegraph as ingenious but visionary, and, like aëronautic navigation,
practicable in little more than theory and destined to be useless.

"I cannot describe to you the scene at the Institute when your box with
the registering-machine, just as it left Speedwell, was placed upon the
table and surrounded by the most distinguished men of all Europe,
celebrated in the various arts and sciences--Arago, Baron Humboldt,
Gay-Lussac, and a host of others whose names are stars that shine in both
hemispheres. Arago described it to them, and I showed its action. A buzz
of admiration and approbation filled the whole hall and the exclamations
'_Extraordinaire!' 'Très bien!' 'Très admirable!_' I heard on all sides.
The sentiment was universal."

Another American at that time in Paris, the Honorable H.L. Ellsworth,
also wrote home about the impression which was produced by the exhibition
of this new wonder:--

"I am sure you will be glad to learn that our American friend, Professor
Morse, is producing a very great sensation among the learned men of this
kingdom by his ingenious and wonderful Magnetic Telegraph. He submitted
it to the examination of the Academy of Sciences of the Royal Institute
of France, at their sitting on Monday last, and the deepest interest was
excited among the members of that learned body on the subject. Its
novelty, beauty, simplicity, and power were highly commended....

"Other projects for the establishment of a magnetic telegraph have been
broached here, especially from Professor Wheatstone, of London, and
Professor Steinheil, of Munich. It is said, however, to be very manifest
that our Yankee Professor is ahead of them all in the essential
requisitions of such an invention, and that he is in the way to bear off
the palm. In simplicity of design, cheapness of construction and
efficiency, Professor Morse's Telegraph transcends all yet made known. In
each of these qualities it is admitted, by those who have inspected it
closely, there seems to be little else to desire. It is certain,
moreover, that in priority of discovery he antedates all others."

Encouraged by the universal praise which was showered upon him, the
hopeful inventor redoubled his efforts to secure in some way, either
through the Government or through private parties, the means to make a
practical test of his invention.

Mr. F.O.J. Smith had, in the mean time, returned to America, and Morse
kept him informed by letter of the progress of affairs in Paris.
Avoiding, as far as possible, repetitions and irrelevant details, I shall
let extracts from these letters tell the story:--

"_September 29, 1838._ On Monday I received a very flattering letter from
our excellent Minister, Governor Cass, introducing me to the Count
Montalivet, and I accordingly called the next day. I did not see him, but
had an interview with his secretary, who told me that the Administrator
of the Telegraphs had not yet reported to the Minister, but that he would
see him the next day, and that, if I would call on Friday, he would
inform me of the result. I called on Friday. The secretary informed me
that he had seen M. Foy, and that he had more than confirmed the
flattering accounts in the American Minister's letter respecting the
Telegraph, but was not yet prepared with his report to the Minister--he
wished to make a detailed account of the _differences in favor of mine
over all others that had been presented to him_, or words to that effect;
and the secretary assured me that the report would be all I could wish.
This is certainly flattering and I am to call on Monday to learn

"_October 24._ I can only add, in a few words, that everything here is as
encouraging as could be expected. The report of the Administrator of
Telegraphs has been made to the Minister of the Interior, and I have been
told that I should be notified of the intentions of the Government in a
few days. I have also shown the railroad telegraph to the Saint-Germain
directors, who are delighted with it, and from them I expect a
proposition within a few days."

"_November 22._ I intend sending this letter by the packet of the 24th
inst., and am in hopes of sending with it some intelligence from those
from whom I have been so long expecting something. Everything moves at a
snail's pace here. I find delay in all things; at least, so it appears to
me, who have too strong a development of the American organ of
'go-ahead-ativeness' to feel easy under its tantalizing effects. A
Frenchman ought to have as many lives as a cat to bring to pass, on his
dilatory plan of procedure, the same results that a Yankee would
accomplish in his single life."

"_Afternoon, November 22._ Called on the Ministre de l'Intérieur; no one
at home; left card and will call again to-morrow, and hope to be in time
yet for the packet."

"_November 23._ I have again called, but do not find at home the chief
secretary, M. Merlin.... I shall miss the packet of the 24th, but I am
told she is a slow ship and that I shall probably find the letters reach
home quite as soon by the next. I will leave this open to add if anything
occurs between this and next packet day."

"_November 30._ I have been called off from this letter until the last
moment by stirring about and endeavoring to expedite matters with the
Government. I have been to see General Cass since my last date. I talked
over matters with him. He complains much of their dilatoriness, but sees
no way of quickening them.... I called again this morning at the
Minister's and, as usual, the secretary was absent; at the palace they
said. If I could once get them to look at it I should be sure of them,
for I have never shown it to any one who did not seem in raptures. I
showed it a few days ago to M. Fremel, the Director of Light-Houses, who
came with Mr. Vail and Captain Perry. He was cautious at first, but
afterwards became as enthusiastic as any.

"The railroad directors are as dilatory as the Government, but I know
they are discussing the matter seriously at their meetings, and I was
told that the most influential man among them said they 'must have it.'
There is nothing in the least discouraging that has occurred, but, on the
contrary, everything to confirm the practicability of the plan, both on
the score of science and expense."

"_January 21, 1839._ I learn that the Telegraph is much talked of in all
society, and I learn that the _Théâtre des Variétés_, which is a sort of
mirror of the popular topics, has a piece in which persons are made to
converse by means of this Telegraph some hundreds of miles off.

"This is a straw which shows the way of the wind, and although matters
move too slow for my impatient spirit, yet the Telegraph is evidently
gaining on the popular notice, and in time will demand the attention of

"I have the promise of a visit from the Count Boudy, Chief of the
Household of the King, and who, I understand, has great influence with
the king and can induce him to adopt the Telegraph between some of his

"Hopes, you perceive, continue bright, but they are somewhat
unsubstantial to an empty purse. I look for the first fruits in America.
My confidence increases every day in the certainty of the eventual
adoption of this means of communication throughout the civilized world.
Its practicability, hitherto doubted by savants here, is completely
established, and they do not hesitate to give me the credit of having
established it. I rejoice quite as much for my country's sake as for my
own that both priority and superiority are awarded to my invention."


JANUARY 6, 1839--MARCH 9, 1839

Despondent letter to his brother Sidney.--Longing for a home.--Letter to
Smith.--More delays.--Change of ministry.--Proposal to form private
company.--Impossible under the laws of France.--Telegraphs a government
monopoly.--Refusal of Czar to sign Russian contract.--Dr. Jackson.--M.
Amyot.--Failure to gain audience of king.--Lord Elgin.--Earl of Lincoln.
--Robert Walsh prophesies success.--Meeting with Earl of Lincoln in later
years.--Daguerre.--Letter to Mrs. Cass on lotteries.--Railway and
military telegraphs.--Skepticism of a Marshal of France.

Thus hopefully the inventor kept writing home, always maintaining that
soon all obstacles would be overcome, and that he would then have a
chance to demonstrate in a really practical way the great usefulness of
his invention. But, instead of melting away, new obstacles kept arising
at every turn. The dilatoriness of the French Government seems past all
belief, and yet, in spite of his faith in the more expeditious methods of
his own country, he was fated to encounter the same exasperating slowness
at home. It was, therefore, only natural that in spite of the courageous
optimism of his nature, he should at times have given way to fits of
depression, as is instanced by the following extracts from a letter
written to his brother Sidney on January 6, 1839:--

"I know not that I feel right to indulge in the despondency which, in
spite of all reason to the contrary, creeps over me when I think of
returning. I know the feelings of Tantalus perfectly. All my prospects in
regard to the Telegraph are bright and encouraging, and so they have been
for months, and they still continue to be so; but the sober _now_ is that
I am expending and not acquiring; it has, as yet, been all _outgo_ and no
income. At the rate business is done here, the slow, dilatory manner in
which the most favorable projects are carried forward, I have no reason
to believe that anything will be realized before I must leave France,
which will probably be in about six weeks. If so, then I return
penniless, and, worse than penniless, I return to find debts and no home;
to find homeless children with all hope extinguished of ever seeing them
again in a family. Indeed, I may say that, in this latter respect, the
last ray is departed; I think no more of it.

"I now feel anxious to see my children educated with the means they have
of their own, and in a way of usefulness, and for myself I desire to live
secluded, without being burdensome to my friends. I should be glad to
exchange my rooms in the university for one or two in your new building.
I shall probably resign both Professorship and Presidency on my return.
The first has become merely nominal, and the latter is connected with
duties which properly confine to the city, and, as I wish to be free to
go to other places, I think it will be best to resign.

"If our Government should take the Telegraph, or companies should be
formed for that purpose, so that a sum is realized from it when I get
home, this will, of course, change the face of things; but I dare not
expect it and ought not to build any plans on such a contingency. So far
as praise goes I have every reason to be satisfied at the state of things
here in regard to the Telegraph. All the savants, committees of learned
societies, members of the Chamber of Deputies, and officers of Government
have, without exception, been as enthusiastic in its reception as any in
the United States. Both the priority and superiority of my invention are
established, and thus the credit, be it more or less, is secured to our
country. The Prefect of the Seine expressed a desire to see it and called
by appointment yesterday. He was perfectly satisfied, and said of his own
accord that he should see the king last evening and should mention the
Telegraph to him. I shall probably soon be requested, therefore, to show
the Telegraph to the king.

"All these are most encouraging prospects; there is, indeed, nothing that
has arisen to throw any insurmountable obstacle in the way of its
adoption with complete success; and for all this I ought to feel
gratitude, and I wish to acknowledge it before Him to whom gratitude is
due. Is it right or is it wrong, in view of all this, to feel

"In spite of all I do feel sad. I am no longer young; I have children,
but they are orphans, and orphans they are likely to be. I have a
country, but _no home_. It is this _no home_ that perpetually haunts me.
I feel as if it were duty, duty most urgent, for me to settle in a family
state at all hazards on account of these children. I know they suffer in
this forming period of their lives for the want of a home, of the care of
a father and a mother, and that no care and attention from friends, be
they ever so kind, can supply the place of parents. But all efforts,
direct and indirect, to bring this about have been frustrated.

"My dear brother, may you never feel, as I have felt, _the loss of a
wife_. That wound bleeds afresh daily, as if it were inflicted but
yesterday. There is a meaning in all these acute mental trials, and they
are at times so severe as almost to deprive me of reason, though few
around me would suspect the state of my mind."

These last few lines are eminently characteristic of the man. While
called upon to endure much, both mentally and physically, he possessed
such remarkable self-control that few, if any, of those around him were
aware of his suffering. Only to his intimates did he ever reveal the pain
which sometimes gnawed at his heart, and then only occasionally and under
great stress. It was this self-control, united to a lofty purpose and a
natural repugnance to wearing his heart on his sleeve, which enabled him
to accomplish what he did. Endowed also with a saving sense of humor, he
made light of his trials to others and was a welcome guest in every
social gathering.

The want of a place which he could really call home was an ever-present
grief. It is the dominant note in almost all the letters to his brothers
and his children, and it is rather quaintly expressed in a letter, of
November 14, 1838, to his daughter:--

"Tell Uncle Sidney to take good care of you, and to have a little snug
room in the upper corner of his new building, where a bed can be placed,
a chair, and a table, and let me have it as my own, that there may be one
little particular spot which I can call _home_. I will there make three
wooden stools, one for you, one for Charles, and one for Finley, and
invite you to your father's house."

In spite of the enthusiasm which the exhibition of his invention aroused
among the learned men and others in Paris, he met with obstructions of
the most vexatious kind at every turn, in his effort to bring it into
practical use. Just as the way seemed clear for its adoption by the
French Government, something happened which is thus described in a letter
to Mr. Smith, of January 28, 1889:

"I wrote by the Great Western a few days ago. The event then anticipated
in regard to the Ministry has occurred. The Ministers have resigned, and
it is expected that the new Cabinet will be formed this day with Marshal
Soult at its head. Thus you perceive new causes of delay in obtaining any
answer from the Government. As soon as I can learn the name of the new
Minister of the Interior I will address a note to him, or see him, as I
may be advised, and see if I can possibly obtain an answer, or at least a
report of the administration of the Telegraphs. Nothing has occurred in
other respects but what is agreeable....

"All my leisure (if that may be called leisure which employs nearly all
my time) is devoted to perfecting the whole matter. The invention of the
correspondent, I think you will say, is a more essential improvement. It
has been my winter's labor, and, to avoid expense, I have been compelled
to make it entirely with my own hands. I can now give you its exact
dimensions--twelve and a half inches long, six and a half wide, and six
and a half deep. It dispenses entirely with boxes of type (one set alone
being necessary) and dispenses also with the rules, and with all
machinery for moving the rules. There is no winding up and it is ready at
all times. You touch the letter and the letter is written immediately at
the other extremity.... In my next I hope to send you reports of my
further progress. One thing seems certain, my Telegraph has driven out of
the field all the other plans on the magnetic principle. I hear nothing
of them in public or private. No society notices them."

"_February 2._ I can compare the state of things here to an April day, at
one moment sunshine, at the next cloudy. The Telegraph is evidently
growing in favor; testimonials of approbation and compliments multiply,
and yesterday I was advised by the secretary of the _Academie
Industrielle_ to interest moneyed men in the matter if I intended to
profit by it; and he observed that now was the precise time to do it in
the interval of the Chambers.

"I am at a loss how to act. I am not a business man and fear every
movement which suggests itself to me. I am thinking of proposing a
company on the same plan you last proposed in your letter from Liverpool,
and which you intend to create in case the Government shall choose to do
nothing; that is to say, a company taking the right at one thousand
francs per mile, paying the proprietors fifty per cent in stocks and
fifty per cent in cash, raising about fifty thousand francs for a trial
some distance. I shall take advice and let you know the result.

"I wish you were here; I am sure something could be done by an energetic
business man like yourself. As for poor me I feel that I am a child in
business matters. I can invent and perfect the invention, and demonstrate
its uses and practicability, but 'further the deponent saith not.'
Perhaps I underrate myself in this case, but that is not a usual fault in
human nature."

It was natural that a keen business man like F.O.J. Smith should have
leaned rather toward a private corporation, with its possibilities of
great pecuniary gain, than toward government ownership. Morse, on the
contrary, would have preferred, both at home and abroad, to place the
great power which he knew his invention was destined to wield in the
hands of a responsible government. However, so eager was he to make a
practical test of the telegraph that, governments apparently not
appreciating their great opportunity, he was willing to entrust the
enterprise to capitalists. Here again he was balked, however, for,
writing of his trials later, he says:--

"An unforeseen obstacle was interposed which has rendered my patent in
France of no avail to me. By the French patent law at the time one who
obtained a patent was obliged to put into operation his invention within
two years from the issue of his patent, under the penalty of forfeiture
if he does not comply with the law. In pursuance of this requisition of
the law I negotiated with the president (Turneysen) of the Saint-Germain
Railroad Company to construct a line of my Telegraph on their road from
Paris to Saint-Germain, a distance of about seven English miles. The
company was favorably disposed toward the project, but, upon application
(as was necessary) to the Government for permission to have the Telegraph
on their road, they received for answer that telegraphs were a government
monopoly, and could not, therefore, be used for private purposes. I thus
found myself crushed between the conflicting forces of two opposing

This was, indeed, a crushing blow, and ended all hope of accomplishing
anything in France, unless the Government should, in the short time still
left to him, decide to take it up. The letters home, during the remainder
of his stay in Europe, are voluminous, but as they are, in the main, a
repetition of experiences similar to those already recorded, it will not
be necessary to give them in full. He tells of the enthusiastic reception
accorded to his invention by the savants, the high officials of the
Government and the Englishmen of note then stopping in Paris. He tells
also of the exasperating delays to which he was subjected, and which
finally compelled him to return home without having accomplished anything
tangible. He goes at length into his negotiations with the representative
of the Czar, Baron Meyendorf, from which he entertained so many hopes,
hopes which were destined in the end to be blasted, because the Czar
refused to put his signature to the contract, his objection being that
"Malevolence can easily interrupt the communication." This was a terrible
disappointment to the inventor, for he had made all his plans to return
to Europe in the spring of 1839 to carry out the Russian contract, which
he was led to believe was perfectly certain, and the Czar's signature
simply a matter of form. While at the time, and probably for all his
life, Morse considered his failure in Europe as a cruel stroke of Fate,
we cannot but conclude, in the light of future developments, that here
again Fate was cruel in order to be kind. The invention, while it had
been pronounced a scientific success, and had been awarded the palm over
all other systems by the foremost scientists of the world, had yet to
undergo the baptism of fire on the field of battle. It had never been
tried over long distances in the open air, and many practical
modifications had yet to be made, the necessity for which could only be
ascertained during the actual construction of a commercial line. Morse's
first idea, adhered to by him until found by experience, in the building
of the first line between Washington and Baltimore, to be impracticable,
had been to bury the wires in a trench in the ground. I say it was found
to be impracticable, but that is true only of the conditions at that
early date. The inventor was here again ahead of his time, for the
underground system is now used in many cities, and may in time become
universal. However, we shall see, when the story of the building of that
first historic line is told, that in this respect, and in many others,
great difficulties were encountered and failure was averted only by the
ingenuity, the resourcefulness, and the quick-wittedness of the inventor
himself and his able assistants. Is it too much to suppose that, had the
Russian, or even the French, contract gone through, and had Morse been
compelled to recruit his assistants from the people of an alien land,
whose language he could neither speak nor thoroughly understand, the
result would have been a dismal failure, calling down only ridicule on
the head of the luckless inventor, and perhaps causing him to abandon the
whole enterprise, discouraged and disheartened?

Be this as it may, the European trip was considered a failure in a
practical sense, while having resulted in a personal triumph in so far as
the scientific elements of the invention were concerned. I shall,
therefore, give only occasional extracts from the letters, some of them
dealing with matters not in any way related to the telegraph.

He writes to Mr. Smith on February 18, 1839:--

"I have been wholly occupied for the last week in copying out the
correspondence and other documents to defend myself against the infamous
attack of Dr. Jackson, notice of which my brother sent me.... I have sent
a letter to Dr. Jackson calling on him to save his character by a total
disclaimer of his presumptuous claim within one week from the receipt of
the letter, and giving him the plea of a 'mistake' and 'misconception of
my invention' by which he may retreat. If he fails to do this, I have
requested my brother to publish immediately my defense, in which I give a
history of the invention, the correspondence between Dr. Jackson and
myself, and close with the letters of Hon. Mr. Rives, Mr. Fisher, of
Philadelphia, and Captain Pell.

"I cannot conceive of such infatuation as has possessed this man. He can
scarcely be deceived. It must be his consummate self-conceit that
deceives him, if he is deceived. But this cannot be; he knows he has no
title whatever to a single hint of any kind in the matter."

I have already alluded to the claim of Dr. Jackson, and have shown that
it was proved to be utterly without foundation, and have only introduced
this reference to it as an instance of the attacks which were made upon
Morse, attacks which compelled him to consume much valuable time, in the
midst of his other labors, in order to repel them, which he always
succeeded in doing.

In writing of his negotiations with the Russian Government he mentions M.
Amyot, "who has proposed also an Electric Telegraph, but upon seeing mine
he could not restrain his gratification, and with his whole soul he is at
work to forward it with all who have influence. He is the right-hand man
of the Baron Meyendorf, and he is exerting all his power to have the
Russian Government adopt my Telegraph.... He is really a noble-minded
man. The baron told me he had a _large soul_, and I find he has. I have
no claim on him and yet he seems to take as much interest in my invention
as if it were his own. How different a conduct from Jackson's!... Every
day is clearing away all the difficulties that prevent its adoption; the
only difficulty that remains, it is universally said, is the protection
of the wires from malevolent attack, and this can be prevented by proper
police and secret and deep interment. I have no doubt of its universal
adoption; it may take time but it is certain."

"_Paris, March 2, 1839._ By my last letter I informed you of the more
favorable prospects of the telegraphic enterprise. These prospects still
continue, and I shall return with the gratifying reflection that, after
all my anxieties, and labors, and privations, and your and my other
associates' expenditures and risks, we are all in a fair way of reaping
the fruits of our toil. The political troubles of France have been a
hindrance hitherto to the attention of the Government to the Telegraph,
but in the mean time I have gradually pushed forward the invention into
the notice of the most influential individuals of France. I had Colonel
Lasalle, aide-de-camp to the king, and his lady to see the Telegraph a
few days ago. He promised that, without fail, it should be mentioned to
the king. You will be surprised to learn, after all the promises hitherto
made by the Prefect of the Seine, Count Remberteau, and by various other
officers of the Government, and after General Cass's letter to the aide
on service, four or five months since, requesting it might be brought to
the notice of the king, that the king has not yet heard of it. But so
things go here.

"Such dereliction would destroy a man with us in a moment, but here there
is a different standard (this, of course, _entre nous_).... Among the
numerous visitors that have thronged to see the Telegraph, there have
been a great many of the principal English nobility. Among them the Lord
and Lady Aylmer, former Governor of Canada, Lord Elgin and son, the
Celebrated preserver, not depredator (as he has been most slanderously
called) of the Phidian Marbles. Lord Elgin has been twice and expressed a
great interest in the invention. He brought with him yesterday the Earl
of Lincoln, a young man of unassuming manners; he was delighted and gave
me his card with a pressing invitation to call on him when I came to

"I have not failed to let the English know how I was treated in regard to
my application for a patent in England, and contrasted the conduct of the
French in this respect to theirs. I believe they felt it, and I think it
was Lord Aylmer, but am not quite sure, who advised that the subject be
brought up in Parliament by some member and made the object of special
legislation, which he said might be done, the Attorney-General to the
contrary notwithstanding. I really believe, if matters were rightly
managed in England, something yet might be done there, if not by patent,
yet by a parliamentary grant of a proper compensation. It is remarkable
that they have not yet made anything like mine in England. It is evident
that neither Wheatstone nor Davy comprehended my mode, after all their
assertions that mine had been published.

"If matters move slower here than with us, yet they gain surely. I am
told every hour that the two great wonders of Paris just now, about which
everybody is conversing, are Daguerre's wonderful results in fixing
permanently the image of the _camera obscura_, and Morse's
Electro-Magnetic Telegraph, and they do not hesitate to add that,
beautiful as are the results of Daguerre's experiments, the invention of
the Electro-Magnetic Telegraph is that which will surpass, in the
greatness of the revolution to be effected, all other inventions. Robert
Walsh, Esq., who has just left me, is beyond measure delighted. I was
writing a word from one room to another; he came to me and said:--'The
next word you may write is IMMORTALITY, for the sublimity of this
invention is of surpassing grandeur. _I see now that all physical
obstacles, which may for a while hinder, will inevitably be overcome; the

This prophecy of the celebrated American author, who was afterwards
Consul-General to France for six years, is noteworthy considering the
date at which it was made. There were indeed many "physical obstacles
which for a while hindered" the practical adoption of the invention, but
they were eventually overcome, and the problem was solved. Five years of
heart-breaking struggle, discouragement and actual poverty had still to
be endured by the brave inventor before the tide should turn in his
favor, but Robert Walsh shared with Morse the clear conviction that the
victory would finally be won.

Reference having been made to Lord Elgin, the following letter from him
will be found interesting:--

Paris, 12th March, 1839.

Dear Sir,--I cannot help expressing a very strong desire that, instead of
delaying till your return from America your wish to take out a patent in
England for your highly scientific and simple mode of communicating
intelligence by an Electric Telegraph, you would take measures to that
effect at this moment, and for that purpose take your model now with you
to London. Your discovery is now much known as well as appreciated, and
the ingenuity now afloat is too extensive for one not to apprehend that
individuals, even in good faith, may make some addition to qualify them
to take out a _first patent_ for the principle; whereas, if you brought
it at once, now, before the competent authorities, especially under the
advantage of an introduction such as Mr. Drummond can give you to Lord
Brougham, a short delay in your proceeding to America may secure you this
desirable object immediately.

With every sincere good wish for your success and the credit you so
richly deserve, I am, dear sir,

Yours faithfully

While it is futile to speculate on what might have been, it does seem as
if Morse made a serious mistake in not taking Lord Elgin's advice, for
there is no doubt that, with the influential backing which he had now
secured, he could have overcome the churlish objections of the
Attorney-General, and have secured a patent in England much to his
financial benefit. But with the glamour of the Russian contract in his
eyes, he decided to return home at once, and the opportunity was lost.

We must also marvel at the strange fact that the fear expressed by Lord
Elgin, that another might easily appropriate to himself the glory which
was rightly due to Morse, was not realized. Is it to be wondered at that
Morse should have always held that he, and he alone, was the humble
instrument chosen by an All-Wise Providence to carry to a successful
issue this great enterprise?

Regarding one of his other visitors, the Earl of Lincoln, it is
interesting to learn that there was another meeting between the two men
under rather dramatic circumstances, in later years. This was on the
occasion of the visit of the Prince of Wales, afterward Edward VII, to
America, accompanied by a suite which included, among others, the Duke of
Newcastle. Morse was invited to address the Prince at a meeting given in
his honor at the University of the City of New York, and in the course of
his address he said:--

"An allusion in most flattering terms to me, rendered doubly so in such
presence, has been made by our respected Chancellor, which seems to call
for at least the expression of my thanks. At the same time it suggests
the relation of an incident in the early history of the Telegraph which
may not be inappropriate to this occasion. The infant Telegraph, born and
nursed within these walls, had scarcely attained a feeble existence ere
it essayed to make its voice heard on the other side of the Atlantic. I
carried it to Paris in 1838. It attracted the warm interest, not only of
the continental philosophers, but also of the intelligent and
appreciative among the eminent nobles of Britain then on a visit to the
French capital. Foremost among these was the late Marquis of Northampton,
then President of the Royal Society, the late distinguished Earl of
Elgin, and, in a marked degree, the noble Earl of Lincoln. The last-named
nobleman in a special manner gave it his favor. He comprehended its
important future, and, in the midst of the skepticism that clouded its
cradle, he risked his character for sound judgment in venturing to stand
godfather to the friendless child. He took it under his roof in London,
invited the statesmen and the philosophers of Britain to see it, and
urged forward with kindly words and generous attentions those who had the
infant in charge. It is with no ordinary feelings, therefore, that, after
the lapse of twenty years, I have the singular honor this morning of
greeting with hearty welcome, in such presence, before such an
assemblage, and in the cradle of the Telegraph, this noble Earl of
Lincoln in the person of the present Duke of Newcastle."

Reference was made by Morse, in the letter to Mr. Smith of March 2, to
Daguerre and his wonderful discovery. Having himself experimented along
the same lines many years before, he was, naturally, much interested and
sought the acquaintance of Daguerre, which was easily brought about. The
two inventors became warm friends, and each disclosed to the other the
minutiae of his discoveries. Daguerre invited Morse to his workshop,
selecting a Sunday as a day convenient to him, and Morse replied in the
following characteristic note:--

"Professor Morse asks the indulgence of M. Daguerre. The _time_ M.
Daguerre, in his great kindness, has fixed to show his most interesting
experiments is, unfortunately, one that will deprive Mr. M. of the
pleasure he anticipated, as Mr. M. has an engagement for the entire
Sunday of a nature that cannot be broken. Will Monday, or any other day,
be agreeable to M. Daguerre?

"Mr. M. again asks pardon for giving M. Daguerre so much trouble."

Having thus satisfied his Puritan conscience, another day was cheerfully
appointed by Daguerre, who generously imparted the secret of this new art
to the American, by whom it was carried across the ocean and successfully
introduced into the United States, as will be shown further on.

Writing of this experience to his brothers on March 9, 1839, he says:--

"You have, perhaps, heard of the Daguerreotype, so called from the
discoverer, M. Daguerre. It is one of the most beautiful discoveries of
the age. I don't know if you recollect some experiments of mine in New
Haven, many years ago, when I had my painting-room next to Professor
Silliman's,--experiments to ascertain if it were possible to fix the
image of the _camera obscura_. I was able to produce different degrees of
shade on paper, dipped into a solution of nitrate of silver, by means of
different degrees of light, but finding that light produced dark, and
dark light, I presumed the production of a true image to be
impracticable, and gave up the attempt. M. Daguerre has realized in the
most exquisite manner this idea."

Here follows the account of his visit to Daguerre and an enthusiastic
description of the wonders seen in his workshop, and he closes by

"But I am near the end of my paper, and I have, unhappily, to give a
melancholy close to my account of this ingenious discovery. M. Daguerre
appointed yesterday at noon to see my Telegraph. He came and passed more
than an hour with me, expressing himself highly gratified at its
operation. But, while he was thus employed, the great building of the
Diorama, with his own house, all his beautiful works, his valuable notes
and papers, the labor of years of experiment, were, unknown to him, at
that moment the prey of the flames. His secret, indeed, is still safe
with him, but the steps of his progress in the discovery and his valuable
researches in science, are lost to the scientific world. I learn that his
Diorama was insured, but to what extent I know not.

"I am sure all friends of science and improvement will unite in
expressing the deepest sympathy in M. Daguerre's loss, and the sincere
hope that such a liberal sum will be awarded him by his Government as
shall enable him, in some degree at least, to recover from his loss."

It is pleasant to record that the French Government did act most
generously toward Daguerre.

The reader may remember that, when Morse was a young man in London,
lotteries were considered such legitimate ways of raising money, that not
only did he openly purchase tickets in the hope of winning a money prize,
but his pious father advised him to dispose of his surplus paintings and
sketches in that way. As he grew older, however, his views on this
question changed, as will be seen by the following letter addressed to
Mrs. Cass, wife of the American Minister, who was trying to raise money
to help a worthy couple, suddenly reduced from wealth to poverty:--

January 31, 1889.

I am sure I need make no apology to you, my dear madam, for returning the
three lottery tickets enclosed in the interesting note I have just had
the honor to receive from you, because I know you can fully appreciate
the motive which prompts me. In the measures taken some years since for
opposing the lottery system in the State of New York, and which issued in
its entire suppression, I took a very prominent part under the conviction
that the principle on which the lottery system was founded was wrong. But
while, on this account, I cannot, my dear madam, consistently take the
tickets, I must beg of you to put the price of them, which I enclose,
into such a channel as shall, in your judgment, best promote the
benevolent object in which you have interested yourself.

Poverty is a bitter lot, even when the habit of long endurance has
reconciled the mind and body to its severities, but how much more bitter
must it be when it comes in sudden contrast to a life of affluence and

I thank you for giving me the opportunity of contributing my mite to the
relief of such affliction, hoping sincerely that all their earthly wants
may lead the sufferers to the inexhaustible fountain of true riches.

With sincere respect and Christian regard I remain, my dear madam

Your most obedient servant

Before closing the record of this European trip, so disappointing in many
ways and yet so encouraging in others, it may be well to note that, while
he was in Paris, Morse in 1838 not only took out a patent on his
recording telegraph, but also on a system to be used on railways to
report automatically the presence of a train at any point on the line. A
reproduction of his own drawing of the apparatus to be used is here
given, and the mechanism is so simple that an explanation is hardly
necessary. From it can be seen not only that he did, at this early date,
realize the possibilities of his invention along various lines, but that
it embodies the principle of the police and fire-alarm systems now in
general use.

It is not recorded that he ever realized anything financially from this
ingenious modification of his main invention. Commenting on it, and on
his plans for a military telegraph, he gives this amusing sketch:--

"On September 10, 1838, a telegraph instrument constructed in the United
States on the same principles, but slightly modified to make it portable,
was exhibited to the Academy of Sciences in Paris, and explained by M.
Arago at the session of that date. An account of this exhibition is
recorded in the _Comptes Rendus_.

"A week or two after I exhibited at my lodgings, in connection with this
instrument, my railroad telegraph, an application of signals by sound,
for which I took out letters patent in Paris, and at the same time I
communicated to the Minister of War, General Bernard, my plans for a
military telegraph with which he was much pleased.

Patented by him in France in 1838, and embodying principles of Police and
Fire Alarm Telegraph]

"I dined with him by invitation, and in the evening, repairing with him
to his billiard-room, while the rest of the guests were amusing
themselves with the game, I gave him a general description of my plan. He
listened with deep attention while I advocated its use on the
battle-field, and gave him my reasons for believing that the army first
using the facilities of the electric telegraph for military purposes
would be sure of victory. He replied to me, after my answering many of
his questions:--

"'Be reticent,' said he, 'on this subject for the present. I will send an
officer of high rank to see and converse with you on the matter

"The next day I was visited by an old Marshal of France, whose name has
escaped my memory. Conversing by an interpreter, the Reverend E.N. Kirk,
of Boston, I found it difficult to make the Marshal understand its
practicability or its importance. The dominant idea in the Marshal's
mind, which he opposed to the project, was that it involved an increase
of the material of the army, for I proposed the addition of two or more
light wagons, each containing in a small box the telegraph instruments
and a reel of fine insulated wire to be kept in readiness at the
headquarters on the field. I proposed that, when required, the wagons
with the corps of operators, two or three persons, at a rapid rate should
reel off the wire to the right, the centre and the left of the army, as
near to these parts of the army as practicable or convenient, and thus
instantaneous notice of the condition of the whole army, and of the
enemy's movements, would be given at headquarters.

"To all this explanation of my plan was opposed the constant objection
that it increased the material of the army. The Hon. Marshal seemed to
consider that the great object to be gained by an improvement was a
decrease of this material; an example of this economy which he
illustrated by the case of the substitution of the leather drinking cup
for the tin cup hung to the soldier's knapsack, an improvement which
enabled the soldier to put his cup in his vest pocket. For this
improvement, if I remember right, he said the inventor, who was a common
soldier, received at the hands of the Emperor Napoleon I the cross of the
Legion of Honor.

"So set was the good Marshal in his repugnance to any increase to the
material of the army that, after a few moments' thought, I rebutted his
position by putting to him the following case:--

"'M. Marshal,' I said, 'you are investing a fortress on the capture of
which depends the success of your campaign; you have 10,000 men; on
making your calculations of the chances of taking it by assault, you find
that with the addition of 5000 more troops you could accomplish its
capture. You have it in your power, by a simple order, to obtain from the
Government these 5000 men. In this case what would you do?'

"He replied without hesitation: 'I should order the 5000, of course.'

"'But,' I rejoined, 'the material of the army would be greatly increased
by such an order.'

"He comprehended the case, and, laughing heartily, abandoned the
objection, but took refuge in the general skepticism of that day on the
practicability of an electric telegraph. He did not believe it could ever
be put in practise. This was an argument I could not then repel. Time
alone could vindicate my opinion, and time has shown both its
practicability and its utility."


APRIL 15, 1839--SEPTEMBER 30, 1840

Arrival in New York.--Disappointment at finding nothing done by Congress
or his associates.--Letter to Professor Henry.--Henry's reply.--
Correspondence with Daguerre.--Experiments with Daguerreotypes.-Professor
Draper.--First group photograph of a college class.--Failure of Russian
contract.--Mr. Chamberlain.--Discouragement through lack of funds.--No
help from his associates.--Improvements in telegraph made by Morse.--
Humorous letter.

Morse sailed from Europe on the Great Western on the 23d of March, 1889,
and reached New York, after a Stormy passage, on the 15th of April.
Discouraged by his lack of success in establishing a line of telegraph in
Europe on a paying basis, and yet encouraged by the enthusiasm shown by
the scientists of the Old World, he hoped much from what he considered
the superior enterprise of his own countrymen. However, on this point he
was doomed to bitter disappointment, and the next few years were destined
to be the darkest through which he was to pass.

On the day after his arrival in New York he wrote to Mr. F.O.J. Smith:--

"I take the first moment of rest from the fatigues of my boisterous
voyage to apprise you of my arrival yesterday in the Great Western.... I
am quite disappointed in finding nothing done by Congress, and nothing
accomplished in the way of company. I had hoped to find on my return some
funds ready for prosecuting with vigor the enterprise, which I fear will
suffer for the want.

"Think a moment of my situation. I left New York for Europe to be gone
three months, but have been gone eleven months. My only means of support
are in my profession, which I have been compelled to abandon entirely for
the present, giving my undivided time and efforts to this enterprise. I
return with not a farthing in my pocket, and have to borrow even for my
meals, and even worse than this, I have incurred a debt of rent by my
absence which I should have avoided if I had been at home, or rather if I
had been aware that I should have been obliged to stay so long abroad. I
do not mention this in the way of complaint, but merely to show that I
also have been compelled to make great sacrifices for the common good,
and am willing to make more yet if necessary. If the enterprise is to be
pursued, we must all in our various ways put the shoulder to the wheel.

"I wish much to see you and talk over all matters, for it seems to me
that the present state of the enterprise in regard to Russia affects
vitally the whole concern."

Thus gently did he chide one of his partners, who should have been
exerting himself to forward their joint interests in America while he
himself was doing what he could in Europe. The other partners, Alfred
Vail and Dr. Leonard Gale, were equally lax and seem to have lost
interest in the enterprise, as we learn from the following letter to Mr.
Smith, of May 24, 1839:--

"You will think it strange, perhaps, that I have not answered yours of
the 28th ult. sooner, but various causes have prevented an earlier
attention to it. My affairs, in consequence of my protracted absence and
the stagnant state of the Telegraph here at home, have caused me great
embarrassment, and my whole energies have been called upon to extricate
myself from the confusion in which I have been unhappily placed. You may
judge a little of this when I tell you that my absence has deprived me of
my usual source of income by my profession; that the state of the
University is such that I shall probably leave, and shall have to move
into new quarters; that my family is dispersed, requiring my care and
anxieties under every disadvantage; that my engagements were such with
Russia that every moment of my time was necessary to complete my
arrangements to fulfill the contract in season; and, instead of finding
my associates ready to sustain me with counsel and means, I find them all
dispersed, leaving me without either the opportunity to consult or a cent
of means, and consequently bringing everything in relation to the
Telegraph to a dead stand.

"In the midst of this I am called on by the state of public opinion to
defend myself against the outrageous attempt of Dr. Jackson to pirate
from me my invention. The words would be harsh that are properly
applicable to this man's conduct....

"You see, therefore, in what a condition I found myself when I returned.
I was delayed several days beyond the computed time of my arrival by the
long passage of the steamer. Instead of finding any funds by a vote of
Congress, or by a company, and my associates ready to back me, I find not
a cent for the purpose, and my associates scattered to the four winds.

"You can easily conceive that I gave up all as it regarded Russia, and
considered the whole enterprise as seriously injured if not completely
destroyed. In this state of things I was hourly dreading to hear from the
Russian Minister, and devising how I should save myself and the
enterprise without implicating my associates in a charge of neglect; and
as it has most fortunately happened for us all, the 10th of May has
passed without the receipt of the promised advices, and I took advantage
of this, and by the Liverpool steamer of the 18th wrote to the Baron
Meyendorff, and to M. Amyot, that it was impossible to fulfill the
engagement this season, since I had not received the promised advices in
time to prepare."

This was, of course, before he had heard of the Czar's refusal to sign
the contract, and he goes on to make plans for carrying out the Russian
enterprise the next year, and concludes by saying:--

"Do think of this matter and see if means cannot be raised to keep ahead
with the American Telegraph. I sometimes am astonished when I reflect how
I have been able to take the stand with my Telegraph in competition with
my European rivals, backed as they are with the purses of the kings and
wealthy of their countries, while our own Government leaves me to fight
their battles for the honor of this invention fettered hand and foot.
Thanks will be due to you, not to them, if I am able to maintain the
ground occupied by the American Telegraph."

Shortly after his return from abroad, on April 24, Morse wrote the
following letter to Professor Henry at Princeton:--

My Dear Sir,--On my return a few days since from Europe, I found directed
to me, through your politeness, a copy of your valuable "Contributions,"
for which I beg you to accept my warmest thanks. The various cares
consequent upon so long an absence from home, and which have demanded my
more immediate attention, have prevented me from more than a cursory
perusal of its interesting contents, yet I perceive many things of great
interest to me in my telegraphic enterprise.

I was glad to learn, by a letter received in Paris from Dr. Gale, that a
spool of five miles of my wire was loaned to you, and I perceive that you
have already made some interesting experiments with it.

In the absence of Dr. Gale, who has gone South, I feel a great desire to
consult some scientific gentleman on points of importance bearing upon my
Telegraph, which I am about to establish in Russia, being under an
engagement with the Russian Government agent in Paris to return to Europe
for that purpose in a few weeks. I should be exceedingly happy to see you
and am tempted to break away from my absorbing engagements here to find
you at Princeton. In case I should be able to visit Princeton for a few
days a week or two hence, how should I find you engaged? I should come as
a learner and could bring no "contributions" to your stock of experiments
of any value, nor any means of furthering your experiments except,
perhaps, the loan of an additional five miles of wire which it may be
desirable for you to have.

I have many questions to ask, but should be happy, in your reply to this
letter, of an answer to this general one: Have you met with any facts in
your experiments thus far that would lead you to think that my mode of
telegraphic communication will prove impracticable? So far as I have
consulted the savants of Paris, they have suggested no insurmountable
difficulties; I have, however, quite as much confidence in your judgment,
from your valuable experience, as in that of any one I have met abroad. I
think that you have pursued an original course of experiments, and
discovered facts of more value to me than any that have been published

Morse was too modest in saying that he could bring nothing of value to
Henry in his experiments, for, as we shall see from Henry's reply, the
latter had no knowledge at that time of the "relay," for bringing into
use a secondary battery when the line was to stretch over long distances.
This important discovery Morse had made several years before.

PRINCETON; May 6, 1889.

DEAR SIR,--Your favor of the 24th ult. came to Princeton during my
absence, which will account for the long delay of my answer. I am pleased
to learn that you fully sanction the loan which I obtained from Dr. Gale
of your wire, and I shall be happy if any of the results are found to
have a practical bearing on the electrical telegraph.

It will give me much pleasure to see you in Princeton after this week. My
engagements will not then interfere with our communications on the
subject of electricity. During this week I shall be almost constantly
engaged with a friend in some scientific labors which we are prosecuting

I am acquainted with no fact which would lead me to suppose that the
project of the electro-magnetic telegraph is unpractical; on the
contrary, I believe that science is now ripe for the application, and
that there are no difficulties in the way but such as ingenuity and
enterprise may obviate. But what form of the apparatus, or what
application of the power will prove best, can, I believe, be only
determined by careful experiment. I can say, however, that, so far as I
am acquainted with the minutiae of your plan, I see no practical
difficulty in the way of its application for comparatively short
distances; but, if the length of the wire between the stations is great,
I think that some other modification will be found necessary in order to
develop a sufficient power at the farther end of the line.

I shall, however, be happy to converse freely with you on these points
when we meet. In the meantime I remain, with much respect

Yours, etc.,

I consider this letter alone a sufficient answer to those who claim that
Henry was the real inventor of the telegraph. He makes no such claim

In spite of the cares of various kinds which overwhelmed him during the
whole of his eventful life, Morse always found time to stretch out a
helping hand to others, or to do a courteous act. So now we find him
writing to Daguerre on May 20, 1839:--

My dear sir,--I have the honor to enclose you the note of the Secretary
of our Academy informing you of your election, at our last annual
meeting, into the board of Honorary Members of our National Academy of
Design. When I proposed your name it was received with enthusiasm, and
the vote was _unanimous_. I hope, my dear sir, you will receive this as a
testimonial, not merely of my personal esteem and deep sympathy in your
late losses, but also as a proof that your genius is, in some degree,
estimated on this side of the water.

Notwithstanding the efforts made in England to give to another the credit
which is your due, I think I may with confidence assure you that
throughout the United States your name alone will be associated with the
brilliant discovery which justly bears your name. The letter I wrote from
Paris, the day after your sad loss, has been published throughout this
whole country in hundreds of journals, and has excited great interest.
Should any attempts be made here to give to any other than yourself the
honor of this discovery, my pen is ever ready for your defense.

I hope, before this reaches you, that the French Government, long and
deservedly celebrated for its generosity to men of genius, will have
amply supplied all your losses by a liberal sum. If, when the proper
remuneration shall be secured to you in France, you should think it may
be for your advantage to make an arrangement with the government to hold
back the secret for six months or a year, and would consent to an
exhibition of your _results_ in this country for a short time, the
exhibition might be managed, I think, to your pecuniary advantage. If you
should think favorably of the plan, I offer you my services

To this letter Daguerre replied on July 26:--

MY DEAR SIR,--I have received with great pleasure your kind letter by
which you announce to me my election as an honorary member of the
National Academy of Design. I beg you will be so good as to express my
thanks to the Academy, and to say that I am very proud of the honor which
has been conferred upon me. I shall seize all opportunities of proving my
gratitude for it. I am particularly indebted to you in this circumstance,
and I feel very thankful for this and all other marks of interest you
bestowed upon me.

The transaction with the French Government being nearly at an end, my
discovery shall soon be made public. This cause, added to the immense
distance between us, hinders me from taking the advantage of your good
offer to get up at New York an exhibition of my results.

Believe me, my dear sir, your very devoted servant,

A prophecy, shrewd in some particulars but rather faulty in others, of
the influence of this new art upon painting, is contained in the
following extracts from a letter of Morse's to his friend and master
Washington Allston:--

"I had hoped to have seen you long ere this, but my many avocations have
kept me constantly employed from morning till night. When I say morning I
mean _half past four_ in the morning! I am afraid you will think me a
Goth, but really the hours from that time till twelve at noon are the
richest I ever enjoy.

"You have heard of the Daguerreotype. I have the instruments on the point
of completion, and if it be possible I will yet bring them with me to
Boston, and show you the beautiful results of this brilliant discovery.
Art is to be wonderfully enriched by this discovery. How narrow and
foolish the idea which some express that it will be the ruin of art, or
rather artists, for every one will be his own painter. One effect, I
think, will undoubtedly be to banish the sketchy, slovenly daubs that
pass for spirited and learned; those works which possess mere general
effect without detail, because, forsooth, detail destroys general effect.
Nature, in the results of Daguerre's process, has taken the pencil into
her own hands, and she shows that the minutest detail disturbs not the
general repose. Artists will learn how to paint, and amateurs, or rather
connoisseurs, how to criticise, how to look at Nature, and, therefore,
how to estimate the value of true art. Our studies will now be enriched
with sketches from nature which we can store up during the summer, as the
bee gathers her sweets for winter, and we shall thus have rich materials
for composition and an exhaustless store for the imagination to feed

An interesting account of his experiences with this wonderful new
discovery is contained in a letter written many years later, on the 10th
of February, 1855:--

"As soon as the necessary apparatus was made I commenced experimenting
with it. The greatest obstacle I had to encounter was in the quality of
the plates. I obtained the common, plated copper in coils at the hardware
shops, which, of course, was very thinly coated with silver, and that
impure. Still I was able to verify the truth of Daguerre's revelations.
The first experiment crowned with any success was a view of the Unitarian
Church from the window on the staircase from the third story of the New
York City University. This, of course, was before the building of the New
York Hotel. It was in September, 1839. The time, if I recollect, in which
the plate was exposed to the action of light in the camera was about
fifteen minutes. The instruments, chemicals, etc., were strictly in
accordance with the directions in Daguerre's first book.

"An English gentleman, whose name at present escapes me, obtained a copy
of Daguerre's book about the same time with myself. He commenced
experimenting also. But an American of the name of Walcott was very
successful with a modification of Daguerre's apparatus, substituting a
metallic reflector for the lens. Previous, however, to Walcott's
experiments, or rather results, my friend and colleague, Professor John
W. Draper, of the New York City University, was very successful in his
investigations, and with him I was engaged for a time in attempting

"In my intercourse with Daguerre I specially conversed with him in regard
to the practicability of taking portraits of living persons. He expressed
himself somewhat skeptical as to its practicability, only in consequence
of the time necessary for the person to remain immovable. The time for
taking an outdoor view was from fifteen to twenty minutes, and this he
considered too long a time for any one to remain sufficiently still for a
successful result. No sooner, however, had I mastered the process of
Daguerre than I commenced to experiment with a view to accomplish this
desirable result. I have now the results of these experiments taken in
September, or beginning of October, 1889. They are full-length portraits
of my daughter, single, and also in group with some of her young friends.
They were taken out of doors, on the roof of a building, in the full
sunlight and with the eyes closed. The time was from ten to twenty

"About the same time Professor Draper was successful in taking portraits,
though whether he or myself took the first portrait successfully, I
cannot say."

It was afterwards established that to Professor Draper must be accorded
this honor, but I understand that it was a question of hours only between
the two enthusiasts.

"Soon after we commenced together to take portraits, causing a glass
building to be constructed for that purpose on the roof of the
University. As our experiments had caused us considerable expense, we
made a charge to those who sat for us to defray this expense. Professor
Draper's other duties calling him away from the experiments, except as to
their bearing on some philosophical investigations which he pursued with
great ingenuity and success, I was left to pursue the artistic results of
the process, as more in accordance with my profession. My expenses had
been great, and for some time, five or six months, I pursued the taking
of portraits by the Daguerreotype as a means of reimbursing these
expenses. After this object had been attained, I abandoned the practice
to give my exclusive attention to the Telegraph, which required all my

Before leaving the subject of the Daguerreotype, in which, as I have
shown, Morse was a pioneer in this country, it will be interesting to
note that he took the first group photograph of a college class. This was
of the surviving members of his own class of 1810, who returned to New
Haven for their thirtieth reunion in 1840.

It was not until August of the year 1839 that definite news of the
failure of the Russian agreement was received, and Morse, in a letter to
Smith, of August 12, comments on this and on another serious blow to his

"I received yours of the 2d inst., and the paper accompanying it
containing the notice of Mr. Chamberlain. I had previously been apprised
that my forebodings were true in regard to his fate.... Our enterprise
abroad is destined to give us anxiety, if not to end in disappointment.

"I have just received a letter from M. Amyot, who was to have been my
companion to Russia, and learn from him the unwelcome news that the
Emperor has decided against the Telegraph.... The Emperor's objections
are, it seems, that 'malevolence can easily interrupt the communication.'
M. Amyot scouts the idea, and writes that he refuted the objection to the
satisfaction of the Baron, who, indeed, did not need the refutation for
himself, for the whole matter was fully discussed between us when in
Paris. The Baron, I should judge from the tone of M. Amyot's letter, was
much disappointed, yet, as a faithful and obedient subject of one whose
nay is nay, he will be cautious in so expressing himself as to be

"Thus, my dear sir, prospects abroad look dark. I turn with some faint
hope to my own country again. Will Congress do anything, or is my time
and your generous zeal and pecuniary sacrifice to end only in
disappointment? If so, I can bear it for myself, but I feel it most
keenly for those who have been engaged with me; for you, for the Messrs.
Vail and Dr. Gale. But I will yet hope. I don't know that our enterprise
looks darker than Fulton's once appeared. There is no intrinsic
difficulty; the depressing causes are extrinsic. I hope to see you soon
and talk over all our affairs."

Mr. Smith, in sending a copy of the above letter to Mr. Prime, thus
explains the reference to Mr. Chamberlain:--

"The allusion made in the letter just given to the fate of Mr.
Chamberlain, was another depressing disappointment which occurred to the
Professor contemporaneously with those of the Russian contract. Before I
left Paris we had closed a contract with Mr. Chamberlain to carry the
telegraph to Austria, Prussia, the principal cities of Greece and of
Egypt, and put it upon exhibition with a view to its utilization there.
He was an American gentleman (from Vermont, I think) of large wealth, of
eminent business capacities, of pleasing personal address and sustaining
a character for strict integrity. He parted with Professor Morse in Paris
to enter upon his expedition, with high expectations of both pleasure and
profit, shortly after my own departure from Paris in October, 1838. He
had subsequently apprised Professor Morse of very interesting exhibitions
of the telegraph which he had made, and under date of Athens, January 5,
1839, wrote as follows: 'We exhibited your telegraph to the learned of
Florence, much to their gratification. Yesterday evening the King and
Queen of Greece were highly delighted with its performance. We have shown
it also to the principal inhabitants of Athens, by all of whom it was
much admired. Fame is all you will get for it in these poor countries. We
think of starting in a few days for Alexandria, and hope to get something
worth having from Mehemet Ali. It is, however, doubtful. Nations appear
as poor as individuals, and as unwilling to risk their money upon such
matters. I hope the French will avail themselves of the benefits you
offer them. It is truly strange that it is not grasped at with more
avidity. If I can do anything in Egypt, I will try Turkey and St.

Morse himself writes: "In another letter from Mr. Chamberlain to Mr.
Levering, dated Syra, January 9, he says: 'The pretty little Queen of
Greece was delighted with Morse's telegraph. The string which carried the
cannon-ball used for a weight broke, and came near falling on Her
Majesty's toes, but happily missed, and we, perhaps, escaped a prison. My
best respects to Mr. Morse, and say I shall ask Mehemet Ali for a purse,
a beauty from his seraglio, and something else.'" And Morse concludes: "I
will add that, if he will bring me the purse just now, I can dispense
with the beauty and the something else."

Tragedy too often treads on the heels of comedy, and it is sad to have to
relate that Mr. Chamberlain and six other gentlemen were drowned while on
an excursion of pleasure on the Danube in July of 1839.

That all these disappointments, added to the necessity for making money
in some way for his bare subsistence, should have weighed on the
inventor's spirits, is hardly to be wondered at; the wonder is rather
that he did not sink under his manifold trials. Far from this, however,
he only touches on his needs in the following letter to Alfred Vail,
written on November 14, 1839:--

"As to the Telegraph, I have been compelled from necessity to apply
myself to those duties which yield immediate pecuniary relief. I feel the
pressure as well as others, and, having several pupils at the University,
I must attend to them. Nevertheless, I shall hold myself ready in case of
need to go to Washington during the next session with it. The one I was
constructing is completed except the rotary batteries and the pen-and-ink
apparatus, which I shall soon find time to add if required.

"Mr. Smith expects me in Portland, but I have not the means to visit him.
The telegraph of Wheatstone is going ahead in England, even with all its
complications; so, I presume, is the one of Steinheil in Bavaria. Whether
ours is to be adopted depends on the Government or on a company, and the
times are not favorable for the formation of a company. Perhaps it is the
part of wisdom to let the matter rest and watch for an opportunity when
times look better, and which I hope will be soon."

He gives freer vent to his disappointment in a letter to Mr. Smith, of
November 20, 1839:--

"I feel the want of that sum which Congress ought to have appropriated
two years ago to enable me to compete with my European rivals. Wheatstone
and Steinheil have money for their projects; the former by a company, and
the latter by the King of Bavaria. Is there any national feeling with us
on the subject? I will not say there is not until after the next session
of Congress. But, if there is any cause for national exultation in being
not merely _first_ in the invention as to time, but _best_ too, as
decided by a foreign tribunal, ought the inventor to be suffered to work
with his hands tied? Is it honorable to the nation to boast of its
inventors, to contend for the credit of their inventions as national
property, and not lift a finger to assist them to perfect that of which
they boast?

"But I will not complain for myself. I can bear it, because I made up my
mind from the very first for this issue, the common fate of all
inventors. But I do not feel so agreeable in seeing those who have
interested themselves in it, especially yourself, suffer also. Perhaps I
look too much on the unfavorable side. I often thus look, not to
discourage others or myself, but to check those too sanguine expectations
which, with me, would rise to an inordinate height unless thus reined in
and disciplined.

"Shall you not be in New York soon? I wish much to see you and to concoct
plans for future operations. I am at present much straitened in means, or
I should yet endeavor to see you in Portland; but I must yield to
necessity and hope another season to be in different and more prosperous

Thus the inventor, who had hoped so much from the energy and business
acumen of his own countrymen, found that the conditions at home differed
not much from those which he had found so exasperating abroad. Praise in
plenty for the beauty and simplicity of his invention, but no money,
either public or private, to enable him to put it to a practical test.
His associates had left him to battle alone for his interests and theirs.
F.O.J. Smith was in Portland, Maine, attending to his own affairs;
Professor Gale was in the South filling a professorship; and Alfred Vail
was in Philadelphia. No one of them, as far as I can ascertain, was doing
anything to help in this critical period of the enterprise which was to
benefit them all.

When credit is to be awarded to those who have accomplished something
great, many factors must be taken into consideration. Not only must the
aspirant for undying fame in the field of invention, for instance, have
discovered something new, which, when properly applied, will benefit
mankind, but he must prove its practical value to a world
constitutionally skeptical, and he must persevere through trials and
discouragements of every kind, with a sublime faith in the ultimate
success of his efforts, until the fight be won. Otherwise, if he retires
beaten from the field of battle, another will snatch up his sword and hew
his way to victory.

It must never be forgotten that Morse won his place in the Hall of Fame,
not only because of his invention of the simplest and best method of
conveying intelligence by electricity, but because he, alone and unaided,
carried forward the enterprise when, but for him, it would have been
allowed to fail. With no thought of disparaging the others, who can
hardly be blamed for their loss of faith, and who were of great
assistance to him later on when the battle was nearly won, I feel that it
is only just to lay emphasis on this factor in the claim of Morse to

It will not be necessary to record in detail the events of the year 1840.
The inventor, always confident that success would eventually crown his
efforts, lived a life of privation and constant labor in the two fields
of art and science. He was still President of the National Academy of
Design, and in September he was elected an honorary member of the
Mercantile Library Association. He strove to keep the wolf from the door
by giving lessons in painting and by practising the new art of
daguerreotypy, and, in the mean time, he employed every spare moment in
improving and still further simplifying his invention.

He heard occasionally from his associates. The following sentences are
from a letter of Alfred Vail's, dated Philadelphia, January 13, 1840:--

Friend S.F.B. Morse,

Dear Sir, It is many a day since I last had the pleasure of seeing and
conversing with you, and, if I am not mistaken, it is as long since any
communications have been exchanged. However I trust it will not long be
so. When I last had the pleasure of seeing you it was when on my way to
Philadelphia, at which time you had the kindness to show me specimens of
the greatest discovery ever made, with the exception of the
Electro-Magnetic Telegraph. By the by, I have been thinking that it is
time money in some way was made out of the Telegraph, and I am almost
ready to order an instrument made, and to make the proposition to you to
exhibit it here. What do you think of the plan? If Mr. Prosch will make
me a first-rate, most perfect machine, and as speedily as possible, and
will wait six or nine months for his pay, you may order one for me.

Morse's reply to this letter has not been preserved, but he probably
agreed to Vail's proposition,--anything honorable to keep the telegraph
in the public eye,--for, as we shall see, in a later letter he refers to
the machines which Prosch was to make. Before quoting from that letter,
however, I shall give the following sentences from one to Baron
Meyendorff, of March 18, 1840:

"I have, since I returned to the United States, made several important
improvements, which I regret my limited time will not permit me to
describe or send you.... I have so changed the _form_ of the apparatus,
and condensed it into so small a compass, that you would scarcely know it
for the same instrument which you saw in Paris."

This and many other allusions, in the correspondence of those years, to
Morse's work in simplifying and perfecting his invention, some of which I
have already noted, answer conclusively the claims of those who have said
that all improvements were the work of other brains and hands.

On September 7, 1840, he writes again to Vail:--

"Your letter of 28th ult. was received several days ago, but I have not
had a moment's time to give you a word in return. I am tied hand and foot
during the day endeavoring to realize something from the Daguerreotype
portraits.... As to the Telegraph, I know not what to say. The delay in
finishing the apparatus on the part of Prosch is exceedingly tantalizing
and vexatious. He was to have finished them more than six months ago, and
I have borne with his procrastination until I utterly despair of their
being completed.... I suppose something might be done in Washington next
session if I, or some of you, could go on, but I have expended so much
time in vain, there and in Europe, that I feel almost discouraged from
pressing it any further; only, however, from want of funds. I have none
myself, and I dislike to ask it of the rest of you. You are all so
scattered that there is no consultation, and I am under the necessity of
attending to duties which will give me the means of living.

"The reason of its not being in operation is not _the fault of the
invention_, nor is it _my neglect_. My faith is not only unshaken in its
_eventual adoption throughout the world_, but it is confirmed by every
new discovery in the science of electricity."

While the future looked dark and the present was darker still, Morse
maintained a cheerful exterior, and was still able to write to his
friends in a light and airy vein. The following letter, dated September
30, 1840, was to a Mr. Levering in Paris:--

"Some time since (I believe nearly a year ago) I wrote you to procure for
me two lenses and some plates for the Daguerreotype process, but have
never heard from you nor had any intimation that my letter was ever
received. After waiting some months, I procured both lenses and plates
here. Now, if I knew how to scold at you, wouldn't I scold.

"Well, I recollect a story of a captain who was overloaded by a great
many ladies of his acquaintance with orders to procure them various
articles in India, just as he was about to sail thither, all which he
promised to fulfill. But, on his return, when they flocked round him for
their various articles, to their surprise he had only answered the order
of one of them. Upon their expressing their disappointment he addressed
them thus: 'Ladies,' said he, 'I have to inform you of a most unlucky
accident that occurred to your orders. I was not unmindful of them, I
assure you; so one fine day I took your orders all out of my pocketbook
and arranged them on the top of the companionway, but, just as they were
all arranged, a sudden gust of wind took them all overboard.' 'Aye, a
very good excuse,' they exclaimed. 'How happens it that Mrs. ----'s did
not go overboard, too?' 'Oh!' said the captain, 'Mrs. ---- had
fortunately enclosed in her order some dozen doubloons which kept the
wind from blowing hers away with the rest.'

"Now, friend Lovering, I have no idea of having my new order blown
overboard, so I herewith send by the hands of my young friend and pupil,
Mr. R. Hubbard, whom I also commend to your kind notice, ten golden
half-eagles to keep my order down."


JUNE 20, 1840--AUGUST 12, 1842

First patent issued.--Proposal of Cooke and Wheatstone to join forces
rejected.--Letter to Rev. E.S. Salisbury.--Money advanced by brother
artists repaid.--Poverty.--Reminiscences of General Strother, "Porte
Crayon."--Other reminiscences.--Inaction in Congress.--Flattering letter
of F.O.J. Smith.--Letter to Smith urging action.--Gonon and Wheatstone.--
Temptation to abandon enterprise.--Partners all financially crippled.--
Morse alone doing any work.--Encouraging letter from Professor Henry.--
Renewed enthusiasm.--Letter to Hon. W.W. Boardman urging appropriation of
$3500 by Congress.--Not even considered.--Despair of inventor.

It is only necessary to remember that the year 1840, and the years
immediately preceding and following it, were seasons of great financial
depression, and that in 1840 the political unrest, which always precedes
a presidential election, was greatly intensified, to realize why but
little encouragement was given to an enterprise so fantastic as that of
an electric telegraph. Capitalists were disinclined to embark on new and
untried ventures, and the members of Congress were too much absorbed in
the political game to give heed to the pleadings of a mad inventor. The
election of Harrison, followed by his untimely death only a month after
his inauguration and the elevation of Tyler to the Presidency, prolonged
the period of political uncertainty, so that Morse and his telegraph
received but scant attention on Capitol Hill.

However, the year 1840 marked some progress, for on the 20th of June the
first patent was issued to Morse. It may be remembered that, while his
caveat and petition were filed in 1837, he had requested that action on
them be deferred until after his return from Europe. He had also during
the year been gradually perfecting his invention as time and means

It was during the year 1840, too, that Messrs. Wheatstone and Cooke
proposed to join forces with the Morse patentees in America, but this
proposition was rejected, although Morse seems to have been almost
tempted, for in a letter to Smith he says:--

"I send you copies of two letters just received from England. What shall
I say in answer? Can we make any arrangements with them? Need we do it?
Does not our patent secure us against foreign interference, or are we to
be defeated, not only in England but in our own country, by the
subsequent inventions of Wheatstone?

"I feel my hands tied; I know not what to say. Do advise immediately so
that I can send by the British Queen, which sails on the first prox."

Fortunately Smith advised against a combination, and the matter was

It will not be necessary to dwell at length on the events of the year
1841. The situation and aims of the inventor are best summed up in a
beautiful and characteristic letter, written on February 14 of that year,
to his cousin, the Reverend Edward S. Salisbury:--

"Your letter containing a draft for three hundred dollars I have
received, for which accept my sincere thanks. I have hesitated about
receiving it because I had begun to despair of ever being able to touch
the pencil again. The blow I received from Congress, when the decision
was made concerning the pictures for the Rotunda, has seriously and
vitally affected my enthusiasm in my art. When that event was announced
to me I was tempted to yield up all in despair, but I roused myself to
resist the temptation, and, determining still to fix my mind upon the
work, cast about for the means of accomplishing it in such ways as my
Heavenly Father should make plain. My telegraphic enterprise was one of
those means. Induced to prosecute it by the Secretary of the Treasury,
and encouraged by success in every part of its progress, urged forward to
complete it by the advice of the most judicious friends, I have carried
the invention on my part to perfection. That is to say, so far as the
invention itself is concerned. I _have done my part_. It is approved in
the highest quarters--in England, France, and at home--by scientific
societies and by governments, and waits only the action of the latter, or
of capitalists, to carry it into operation.

"Thus after several years' expenditure of time and money in the
expectation (of my friends, _never of my own_ except as I yielded my own
judgment to theirs) of so much at least as to leave me free to pursue my
art again, I am left, humanly speaking, farther from my object than ever.
I am reminded, too, that my prime is past; the snows are on my temples,
the half-century of years will this year be marked against me; my eyes
begin to fail, and what can I now expect to do with declining powers and
habits in my art broken up by repeated disappointments?

"That prize which, through the best part of my life, animated me to
sacrifice all that most men consider precious--prospects of wealth,
domestic enjoyments, and, not least, the enjoyment of country--was
snatched from me at the moment when it appeared to be mine beyond a

"I do not state these things to you, my dear cousin, in the spirit of
complaint of the dealings of God's Providence, for I am perfectly
satisfied that, mysterious as it may seem to me, it has all been ordered
in its minutest particulars in infinite wisdom, so satisfied that I can
truly say I rejoice in the midst of all these trials, and in view of my
Heavenly Father's hand guiding all, I have a joy of spirit which I can
only express by the word 'singing.' It is not in man to direct his steps.
I know I am so short-sighted that I dare not trust myself in the very
next step; how then could I presume to plan for my whole life, and expect
that my own wisdom had guided me into that way best for me and the
universe of God's creatures?

"I have not painted a picture since that decision in Congress, and I
presume that the mechanical skill I once possessed in the art has
suffered by the unavoidable neglect. I may possibly recover this skill,
and if anything will tend to this end, if anything can tune again an
instrument so long unstrung, it is the kindness and liberality of my
Cousin Edward. I would wish, therefore, the matter put on this ground
that my mind may be at ease. I am at present engaged in taking portraits
by the Daguerreotype. I have been at considerable expense in perfecting
apparatus and the necessary fixtures, and am just reaping a little profit
from it. My ultimate aim is the application of the Daguerreotype to
accumulate for my studio models for my canvas. Its first application will
be to the study of your picture. Yet if any accident, any unforeseen
circumstances should prevent, I have made arrangements with my brother
Sidney to hold the sum you have advanced subject to your order. On these
conditions I accept it, and will yet indulge the hope of giving you a
picture acceptable to you."

The picture was never painted, for the discouraged artist found neither
time nor inclination ever to pick up his brush again; but we may be sure
that the money, so generously advanced by his cousin, was repaid.

It was in the year 1841 also that, in spite of the difficulty he found in
earning enough to keep him from actual starvation, he began to pay back
the sums which had been advanced to him by his friends for the painting
of a historical picture, which should, in a measure, atone to him for the
undeserved slight of Congress. In a circular addressed to each of the
subscribers he gives the history of the matter and explains why he had
hoped that the telegraph would supply him with the means to paint the
picture, and then he adds:--

"I have, as yet, not realized one cent, and thus I find myself farther
from my object than ever. Upon deliberately considering the matter the
last winter and spring, I came to the determination, in the first place,
to free myself from the pecuniary obligation under which I had so long
lain to my friends of the Association, and I commenced a system of
economy and retrenchment by which I hoped gradually to amass the
necessary sum for that purpose, which sum, it will be seen, amounts in
the aggregate to $510. Three hundred dollars of this sum I had already
laid aside, when an article in the New York 'Mirror,' of the 16th
October, determined me at once to commence the refunding of the sums

What the substance of the article in the "Mirror" was, I do not know, but
it was probably one of those scurrilous and defamatory attacks, from many
of which he suffered in common with other persons of prominence, and
which was called forth, perhaps, by his activity in the politics of the

That I have not exaggerated in saying that he was almost on the verge of
starvation during these dark years is evidenced by the following word
picture from the pen of General Strother, of Virginia, known in the world
of literature under the pen name of "Porte Crayon":--

"I engaged to become Morse's pupil, and subsequently went to New York and
found him in a room in University Place. He had three other pupils, and I
soon found that our professor had very little patronage. I paid my fifty
dollars that settled for one quarter's instruction. Morse was a faithful
teacher, and took as much interest in our progress--more indeed than--we
did ourselves. But he was very poor. I remember that when my second
quarter's pay was due my remittance from home did not come as expected,
and one day the professor came in and said, courteously:--

"'Well, Strother my boy, how are we off for money?'

"'Why, Professor,' I answered, 'I am sorry to say I have been
disappointed; but I expect a remittance next week.'

"'Next week!' he repeated sadly. 'I shall be dead by that time.'

"'Dead, Sir?'

"'Yes, dead by starvation.'

"I was distressed and astonished. I said hurriedly:--

"'Would ten dollars be of any service?'

"'Ten dollars would save my life; that is all it would do.'

"I paid the money, all that I had, and we dined together. It was a modest
meal but good, and, after he had finished, he said:--

"'This is my first meal for twenty-four hours. Strother, don't be an
artist. It means beggary. Your life depends upon people who know nothing
of your art and care nothing for you. A house-dog lives better, and the
very sensitiveness that stimulates an artist to work keeps him alive to

Another artist describes the conditions in 1841 in the following words:--

"In the spring of 18411 was searching for a studio in which to set up my
easel. My 'house-hunting' ended at the New York University, where I found
what I wanted in one of the turrets of that stately edifice. When I had
fixed my choice, the janitor, who accompanied me in my examination of the
rooms, threw open a door on the opposite side of the hall and invited me
to enter. I found myself in what was evidently an artist's studio, but
every object in it bore indubitable signs of unthrift and neglect. The
statuettes, busts, and models of various kinds were covered with dust and
cobwebs; dusty canvases were faced to the wall, and stumps of brushes and
scraps of paper littered the floor. The only signs of industry consisted
of a few masterly crayon drawings, and little luscious studies of color
pinned to the wall.

"'You will have an artist for a neighbor,' said the janitor, 'though he
is not here much of late; he seems to be getting rather shiftless; he is
wasting his time over some silly invention, a machine by which he expects
to send messages from one place to another. He is a very good painter,
and might do well if he would only stick to his business; but, Lord!' he
added with a sneer of contempt, 'the idea of telling by a little streak
of lightning what a body is saying at the other end of it.'

"Judge of my astonishment when he informed me that the 'shiftless
individual' whose foolish waste of time so much excited his
commiseration, was none other than the President of the National Academy
of Design--the most exalted position, in my youthful artistic fancy, it
was possible for mortal to attain--S.F.B. Morse, since better known as
the inventor of the Electric Telegraph. But a little while after this his
fame was flashing through the world, and the unbelievers who voted him
insane were forced to confess that there was, at least, 'method in his

The spring and summer of 1841 wore away and nothing was accomplished. On
August 16 Morse writes to Smith:--

"Our Telegraph matters are in a situation to do none of us any good,
unless some understanding can be entered into among the proprietors. I
have recently received a letter from Mr. Isaac N. Coffin, from
Washington, with a commendatory letter from Hon. R. McClellan, of the
House. Mr. Coffin proposes to take upon himself the labor of urging
through the two houses the bill relating to my Telegraph, which you know
has long been before Congress. He will press it and let his compensation
depend on his success."

This Mr. Coffin wrote many long letters telling, in vivid language, of
the great difficulties which beset the passage of a bill through both
houses of Congress, and of how skilled he was in all the diplomatic moves
necessary to success, and finally, after a long delay, occasioned by the
difficulty of getting powers of attorney from all the proprietors, he was
authorized to go ahead. The sanguine inventor hoped much from this
unsolicited offer of assistance, but he was again doomed to
disappointment, for Mr. Coffin's glowing promises amounted to nothing at
all, and the session of 1841-42 ended with no action taken on the bill.

In view of the fact, alluded to in a former chapter, that Francis O.J.
Smith later became a bitter enemy of Morse's, and was responsible for
many of the virulent attacks upon him, going so far as to say that most,
if not all, of the essentials of the telegraph had been invented by
others, it may be well to quote the following sentences from a letter of
August 21, 1841, in reply to Morse's of August 16:--

"I shall be in Washington more next winter, and will lend all aid in my
power, of course, to any agent we may have there. My expenditures in the
affair, as you know, have been large and liberal, and have somewhat
embarrassed me. Hence I cannot incur more outlay. I am, however,
extremely solicitous for the double purpose of having you witness with
your own eyes and in your own lifetime the consummation in actual,
practical, national utility [of] this beautiful and wonderful offspring
of your mechanical and philosophical genius, and know that you have not
overestimated the service you have been ambitious of rendering to your
country and the world."

On December 8, 1841, Morse again urges Smith to action:--

"Indeed, my dear sir, something ought to be done to carry forward this
enterprise that we may all receive what I think we all deserve. The whole
labor and expense of moving at all devolve on me, and I have nothing in
the world. Completely crippled in means I have scarcely (indeed, I have
not at all) the means even to pay the postage of letters on the subject.
I feel it most tantalizing to find that there is a movement in Washington
on the subject; to know that telegraphs will be before Congress this
session, and from the means possessed by Gonon and Wheatstone!! (yes,
Wheatstone who successfully headed us off in England), one or the other
of their two plans will probably be adopted. Wheatstone, I suppose you
know, has a patent here, and has expended $1000 to get everything
prepared for a campaign to carry his project into operation, and more
than that, his patent is dated _before mine!_

"My dear sir, to speak as I feel, I am sick at heart to perceive how
easily others, _foreigners_, can manage our Congress, and can contrive to
cheat our country out of the honor of a discovery of which the country
boasts, and our countrymen out of the profits which are our due; to
perceive how easily they can find men and means to help them in their
plans, and how difficult, nay, impossible, for us to find either. Is it
really so, or am I deceived? What can be done? Do write immediately and
propose something. Will you not be in Washington this winter? Will you
not call on me as you pass through New York, if you do go?

"Gonon has his telegraph on the Capitol, and a committee of the Senate
reported in favor of trying his for a short distance, and will pass a
bill this session if we are not doing something. Some means, somehow,
must be raised. I have been compelled to stop my machine just at the
moment of completion. I cannot move a step without running in debt, and
that I cannot do.

"As to the company that was thought of to carry the Telegraph into
operation here, it is another of those _ignes fatui_ that have just led
me on to waste a little more time, money, and patience, and then
vanished. The gentleman who proposed the matter was, doubtless, friendly
disposed, but he lacks judgment and perseverance in a matter of this

"If Congress would but pass the bill of $30,000 before them, there would
be no difficulty. There is no difficulty in the scientific or mechanical
part of the matter; that is a problem solved. The only difficulty that
remains is obtaining funds, which Congress can furnish, to carry it into
execution. I have a great deal to say, but must stop for want of time to
write more."

But he does not stop. He is so full of his subject that he continues at
some length:--

"Everything done by me in regard to the Telegraph is at arm's length. I
can do nothing without consultation, and when I wish to consult on the
most trivial thing I have three letters to write, and a week or ten days
to wait before I can receive an answer.

"I feel at times almost ready to cast the whole matter to the winds, and
turn my attention forever from the subject. Indeed, I feel almost
inclined, at tunes, to destroy the evidences of priority of invention in
my possession and let Wheatstone and England take the credit of it. For
it is tantalizing in the highest degree to find the papers and the
lecturers boasting of the invention as one of the greatest of the age,
and as an honor to America, and yet to have the nation by its
representatives leave the inventor without the means either to put his
invention fairly before his countrymen, or to defend himself against
foreign attack.

"If I had the means in any way of support in Washington this winter, I
would go on in the middle of January and push the matter, but I cannot
run the risk. I would write a detailed history of the invention, which
would be an interesting document to have printed in the Congressional
documents, and establish beyond contradiction both priority and
superiority of my invention. Has not the Postmaster-General, or Secretary
of War or Treasury, the power to pay a few hundred dollars from a
contingent fund for such purposes?

"Whatever becomes of the invention through the neglect of those who could
but would not lend a helping hand, _you_, my dear sir, will have the
reflection that you did all in your power to aid me, and I am deterred
from giving up the matter as desperate most of all for the consideration
that those who kindly lent their aid when the invention was in its
infancy would suffer, and that, therefore, I should not be dealing right
by them. If this is a little _blue_, forgive it."

It appears from this letter that Morse bore no ill-will towards his
partners for not coming to his assistance at this critical stage of the
enterprise, so that it behooves us not to be too harsh in our judgment.
Perhaps I have not sufficiently emphasized the fact that, owing to the
great financial depression which prevailed at that time, Mr. Smith and
the Vails were seriously crippled in their means, and were not able to
advance any more money, and Professor Gale had never been called upon to
contribute money. This does not alter my main contention, however, for it
still remains true that, if it had not been for Morse's dogged
persistence during these dark years, the enterprise would, in all
probability, have failed. With the others it was merely an incident, with
him it had become his whole life.

The same refrain runs through all the letters of 1841 and 1842;
discouragement at the slow progress which is being made, and yet a
sincere conviction that eventually the cause will triumph. On December
13, 1841, he says in a letter to Vail:--

"We are all somewhat crippled, and I most of all, being obliged to
superintend the getting up of a set of machinery complete, and to make
the greater part myself, and without a cent of money.... All the burden
now rests on my shoulders after years of time devoted to the enterprise,
and I am willing, as far as I am able, to bear my share if the other
proprietors will lend a helping hand, and give me facilities to act and a
reasonable recompense for my services in case of success."

Vail, replying to this letter on December 15, says: "I have recently
given considerable thought to the subject of the Telegraph, and was
intending to get permission of you, if there is anything to the contrary
in our articles of agreement, to build for myself and my private use a
Telegraph upon your plan."

In answering this letter, on December 18, Morse again urges Vail to give
him a power of attorney, and adds:--

"You can see in a moment that, if I have to write to all the scattered
proprietors of the Telegraph every time any movement is made, what a
burden falls upon me both of expense of time and money which I cannot
afford. In acting for my own interest in this matter I, of course, act
for the interest of all. If we can get that thirty thousand dollars bill
through Congress, the experiment (if it can any longer be called such)
can then be tried on such a scale as to insure its success.

"You ask permission to make a Telegraph for your own use. I have no
objection, but, before you commence one, you had better see me and the
improvements which I have made, and I can suggest a few more, rather of
an ornamental character, and some economical arrangements which may be of
use to you.

"I thank you for your kind invitation, and, when I come to Philadelphia,
shall _A. Vail_ myself of your politeness. I suppose by this time you
have a brood of chickens around you. Well, go on and prosper. As for me,
I am not well; am much depressed at times, and have many cares,
anxieties, and disappointments, in which I am aware I am not alone. But
all will work for the best if we only look through the cloud and see a
kind Parent directing all. This reflection alone cheers me and gives me
renewed strength."

Conditions remained practically unchanged during the early part of the
year 1842. If it had not been for occasional bits of encouragement from
different quarters the inventor would probably have yielded to the
temptation to abandon all and depend on his brush again for a living.
Perhaps the ray of greatest encouragement which lightened the gloom of
this depressing period was the following letter from Professor Henry,
dated February 24, 1842:--

MY DEAR SIR--I am pleased to learn that you have again petitioned
Congress in reference to your telegraph, and I most sincerely hope you
will succeed in convincing our representatives of the importance of the
invention. In this you may, perhaps, find some difficulty, since, in the
minds of many, the electro-magnetic telegraph is associated with the
various chimerical projects constantly presented to the public, and
particularly with the schemes so popular a year or two ago for the
application of electricity as a moving power in the arts. I have
asserted, from the first, that all attempts of this kind are premature
and made without a proper knowledge of scientific principles. The case
is, however, entirely different in regard to the electro-magnetic
telegraph. Science is now fully ripe for this application, and I have not
the least doubt, if proper means be afforded, of the perfect success of
the invention.

The idea of transmitting intelligence to a distance by means of
electrical action, has been suggested by various persons, from the time
of Franklin to the present; but, until the last few years, or since the
principal discoveries in electro-magnetism, all attempts to reduce it to
practice were, necessarily, unsuccessful. The mere suggestion however, of
a scheme of this kind is a matter for which little credit can be claimed,
since it is one which would naturally arise in the mind of almost any
person familiar with the phenomena of electricity; but the bringing it
forward at the proper moment, when the developments of science are able
to furnish the means of certain success, and the devising a plan for
carrying it into practical operation, are the grounds of a just claim to
scientific reputation, as well as to public patronage.

About the same time with yourself Professor Wheatstone, of London, and
Dr. Steinheil, of Germany, proposed plans of the electro-magnetic
telegraph, but these differ as much from yours as the nature of the
common principle would well permit; and, unless some essential
improvements have lately been made in these European plans, _I should
'prefer the one invented by yourself_.

With my best wishes for your success I remain, with much esteem

Yours truly

I consider this one of the most important bits of contemporary evidence
that has come down to us. Professor Henry, perfectly conversant with, all
the minutiae of science and invention, practically gives to Morse all the
credit which the inventor himself at any time claimed. He dismisses the
claims of those who merely suggested a telegraph, or even made
unsuccessful attempts to reduce one to practice, unsuccessful because the
time was not yet ripe; and he awards Morse scientific as well as popular
reputation. Furthermore Professor Henry, with the clear vision of a
trained mind, points out that advances in discovery and invention are
necessarily slow and dependent upon the labors of many in the same field.
His cordial endorsement of the invention, in this letter and later, so
pleased and encouraged Morse that he refers to it several times in his
correspondence. To Mr. Smith, on July 16, 1842, he writes:--

"Professor Henry visited me a day or two ago; he knew the principles of
the Telegraph, but had never before seen it. He told a gentleman, who
mentioned it again to me, that without exception it was the most
beautiful and ingenious instrument he had ever seen. He says mine is the
only truly practicable plan. He has been experimenting and making
discoveries on celestial electricity, and he says that Wheatstone's and
Steinheil's telegraphs must be so influenced in a highly electrical state
of the atmosphere as at times to be useless, they using the deflection of
the needle, while mine, from the use of the magnet, is not subject to
this disturbing influence. I believe, if the truth were known, some such
cause is operating to prevent our hearing more of these telegraphs."

In this same letter he tells of the application of a certain Mr. John P.
Manrow for permission to form a company, but, as nothing came of it, it
will not be necessary to particularize. Mr. Manrow, however, was a
successful contractor on the New York and Erie Railroad, and it was a
most encouraging sign to have practical business men begin to take notice
of the invention.

So cheered was the ever-hopeful inventor by the praise of Professor
Henry, that he redoubled his efforts to get the matter properly before
Congress; and in this he worked alone, for, in the letter to Smith just
quoted from, he says: "I have not heard a word from Mr. Coffin at
Washington since I saw you. I presume he has abandoned the idea of doing
anything on the terms we proposed, and so has given it up. Well, so be
it; I am content."

Taking advantage of the fact that he was personally acquainted with many
members of Congress, he wrote to several of them on the subject. In some
of the letters he treats exhaustively of the history and scientific
principles of his telegraph, but I have selected the following, addressed
to the Honorable W.W. Boardman, as containing the most essential facts in
the most concise form:--

August 10, 1842.

My Dear Sir,--I enclose you a copy of the "Tribune" in which you will see
a notice of my Telegraph. I have showed its operation to a few friends
occasionally within a few weeks, among others to Professor Henry, of
Princeton (a copy of whose letter to me on this subject I sent you some
time since). He had never seen it in operation, but had only learned from
description the principle on which it is founded. He is not of an
enthusiastic temperament, but exceedingly cautious in giving an opinion
on scientific inventions, yet in this case he expressed himself in the
warmest terms, and told my friend Dr. Chilton (who informed me of it)
that he had just been witnessing "the operation of the most beautiful and
ingenious instrument he had ever seen."

Indeed, since I last wrote you, I have been wholly occupied in perfecting
its details and making myself familiar with the whole system. There is
not a shadow of a doubt as to its performing all that I have promised in
regard to it, and, indeed, all that has been conceived of it. Few can
understand the obstacles arising from want of pecuniary means that I have
had to encounter the past winter. To avoid debt (which I will never
incur) I have been compelled to make with my own hands a great part of my
machinery, but at an expense of time of very serious consideration to me.
I have executed in six months what a good machinist, if I had the means
to employ him, would have performed in as many weeks, and performed much

I had hoped to be able to show my perfected instrument in Washington long
before this, and was (until this morning) contemplating its
transportation thither next week. The news, just arrived, of the proposed
adjournment of Congress has stopped my preparations, and interposes, I
fear, another year of anxious suspense.

Now, my dear sir, as your time is precious, I will state in few words
what I desire. The Government will eventually, without doubt, become
possessed of this invention, for it will be necessary from many
considerations; not merely as a direct advantage to the Government and
public at large if regulated by the Government, but as a preventive of
the evil effects which must result if it be a monopoly of a company. To
this latter mode of remunerating myself I shall be compelled to resort if
the Government should not eventually act upon it.

You were so good as to call the attention of the House to the subject by
a resolution of inquiry early in the session. I wrote you some time after
requesting a stay of action on the part of the committee, in the hope
that, long before this, I could show them the Telegraph in Washington;
but, just as I am ready, I find that Congress will adjourn before I can
reach Washington and put the instrument in order for their inspection.

Will it be possible, before Congress rises, to appropriate a small sum,
say $3500, under the direction of the Secretary of the Treasury, to put
my Telegraph in operation for the inspection of Congress the next
session? If Congress will grant this sum, I will engage to have a
complete Telegraph on my Electro-Magnetic plan between the President's
house, or one of the Departments, and the Capitol and the Navy Yard, so
that instantaneous communication can be held between these three points
at pleasure, at any time of day or night, at any season, in clear or
rainy weather, and ready for their examination during the next session of
Congress, so that the whole subject may be fairly understood.

I believe that, did the great majority of Congress but consider seriously
the results of this invention of the Electric Telegraph on all the
interests of society; did they suffer themselves to dwell but for a
moment on the vast consequences of the instantaneous communication of
intelligence from one part to the other of the land in a commercial point
of view, and as facilitating the defenses of the country, which my
invention renders certain; they would not hesitate to pass all the acts
necessary to secure its control to the Government. I ask not this until
they have thoroughly examined its merits, but will they not assist me in
placing the matter fairly before them? Surely so small a sum to the
Government for so great an object cannot reasonably be denied.

I hardly know in what form this request of mine should be made. Should it
be by petition to Congress, or will this letter handed in to the
committee be sufficient? If a petition is required, for form's sake, to
be referred to the committee to report, shall I ask the favor of you to
make such petition in proper form?

You know, my dear sir, just what I wish, and I know, from the kind and
friendly feeling you have shown toward my invention, I may count on your
aid. If, on your return, you stop a day or two in New York, I shall be
glad to show you the operation of the Telegraph as it is.

This modest request of the inventor was doomed, like so many of his
hopes, to be shattered, as we learn from the courteous reply of Mr.
Boardman, dated August 12:--

DEAR SIR,--Yours of the 10th is received. I had already seen the notice
of your Telegraph in the "Tribune," and was prepared for such a report.
This is not the time to commence any new project before Congress. We are,
I trust, within ten days of adjournment. There is no prospect of a tariff
at this session, and, as that matter appears settled, the sooner Congress
adjourns the better. The subject of your Telegraph was some months ago,
as you know, referred to the Committee on Commerce, and by that committee
it was referred to Mr. Ferris, one of the members of that committee, from
the city of New York, and who, by-the-way, is now at home in the city and
will be glad to see you on the subject. I cannot give you his address,
but you can easily find him.

The Treasury and the Government are both bankrupt, and that foolish Tyler
has vetoed the tariff bill; the House is in bad humor and nothing of the
kind you propose could be done. The only chance would be for the
Committee on Commerce to report such a plan, but there would be little or
no chance of getting such an appropriation through this session. I have
much faith in your plan, and hope you will continue to push it toward

This was almost the last straw, and it is not strange that the
long-suffering inventor should have been on the point of giving up in
despair, nor that he should have given vent to his despondency in the
following letter to Smith:--

"While, so far as the invention itself is concerned, everything is
favorable, I find myself without sympathy or help from any who are
associated with me, whose interest, one would think, would impel them at
least to inquire if they could render some assistance. For two years past
I have devoted all my time and scanty means, living on a mere pittance,
denying myself all pleasures and even necessary food, that I might have a
sum to put my Telegraph into such a position before Congress as to insure
success to the common enterprise.

"I am, crushed for want of means, and means of so trivial a character,
too, that they who know how to ask (which I do not) could obtain in a few
hours. One more year has gone for want of these means. I have now
ascertained that, however unpromising were the times last session, if I
could but have gone to Washington, I could have got some aid to enable me
to insure success at the next session."

The other projects for telegraphs must have been abandoned, for he goes
on to say:--

"As it is, although everything is favorable, although I have no
competition and no opposition--on the contrary, although every member of
Congress, as far as I can learn, is favorable--yet I fear all will fail
because I am too poor to risk the trifling expense which my journey and
residence in Washington will occasion me. I will not run in debt if I
lose the whole matter. So, unless I have the means from some source, I
shall be compelled, however reluctantly, to leave it, and, if I get once
engaged in my proper profession again, the Telegraph and its proprietors
will urge me from it in vain.

"No one can tell the days and months of anxiety and labor I have had in
perfecting my telegraphic apparatus. For want of means I have been
compelled to make with my own hands (and to labor for weeks) a piece of
mechanism which could be made much better, and in a tenth part of the
time, by a good mechanician, thus wasting _time_--time which I cannot
recall and which seems double-winged to me.

"'Hope deferred maketh the heart sick.' It is true and I have known the
full meaning of it. Nothing but the consciousness that I have an
invention which is to mark an era in human civilization, and which is to
contribute to the happiness of millions, would have sustained me through
so many and such lengthened trials of patience in perfecting it."


JULY 16. 1842--MARCH 26, 1843

Continued discouragements.--Working on improvements.--First submarine
cable from Battery to Governor's Island.--The Vails refuse to give
financial assistance.--Goes to Washington.--Experiments conducted at the
Capitol.--First to discover duplex and wireless telegraphy.--Dr. Fisher.
--Friends in Congress.--Finds his statuette of Dying Hercules in basement
of Capitol.--Alternately hopes and despairs of bill passing Congress.--
Bill favorably reported from committee.--Clouds breaking.--Ridicule in
Congress.--Bill passes House by narrow majority.--Long delay in Senate.--
Last day of session.--Despair.--Bill passes.--Victory at last.

Slowly the mills of the gods had been grinding, so slowly that one
marvels at their leaden pace, and wonders why the dream of the man so
eager to benefit his fellowmen could not have been realized sooner. We
are forced to echo the words of the inventor himself in a previously
quoted letter: "I am perfectly satisfied that, mysterious as it may seem
to me, it has all been ordered in its minutest particulars in infinite
wisdom." He enlarges on this point in the letter to Smith of July 16,
1842. Referring to the difficulties he has encountered through lack of
means, he says:--

"I have oftentimes risen in the morning not knowing where the means were
to come from for the common expenses of the day. Reflect one moment on my
situation in regard to the invention. Compelled from the first, from my
want of the means to carry out the invention to a practical result, to
ask assistance from those who had means, I associated with me the Messrs.
Vail and Dr. Gale, by making over to them, on certain conditions, a
portion of the patent right. These means enabled me to carry it
successfully forward to a certain point. At this point you were also
admitted into a share of the patent on certain conditions, which carried
the enterprise forward successfully still further. Since then
disappointments have occurred and disasters to the property of every one
concerned in the enterprise, but of a character not touching the
intrinsic merits of the invention in the least, yet bearing on its
progress so fatally as for several years to paralyze all attempts to

"The depressed situation of all my associates in the invention has thrown
the whole burden of again attempting a movement entirely on me. With the
trifling sum of five hundred dollars I could have had my instruments
perfected and before Congress six months ago, but I was unable to run the
risk, and I therefore chose to go forward more slowly, but at a great
waste of time.

"In all these remarks understand me as not throwing the least blame on
any individual. I believe that the situation in which you all are thrown
is altogether providential--that human foresight could not avert it, and
I firmly believe, too, that the delays, tantalizing and trying as they
have been, will, in the end, turn out to be beneficial."

I have hazarded the opinion that it was a kindly fate which frustrated
the consummation of the Russian contract, and here again I venture to say
that the Fates were kind, that Morse was right in saying that the
"delays" would "turn out to be beneficial." And why? Because it needed
all these years of careful thought and experiment on the part of the
inventor to bring his instruments to the perfection necessary to complete
success, and because the period of financial depression, through which
the country was then passing, was unfavorable to an enterprise of this
character. The history of all inventions proves that, no matter how clear
a vision of the future some enthusiasts may have had, the dream was never
actually realized until all the conditions were favorable and the
psychological moment had arrived. Professor Henry showed, in his letter
of February 24, that he realized that some day electricity would be used
as a motive power, but that much remained yet to be discovered and
invented before this could be actually and practically accomplished. So,
too, the conquest of the air remained a dream for centuries until, to use
Professor Henry's words, "science" was "ripe for its application."
Therefore I think we can conclude that, however confident Morse may have
been that his invention could have stood the test of actual commercial
use during those years of discouragement, it heeded the perfection which
he himself gave it during those same years to enable it to prove its
superiority over other methods.

Among the other improvements made by Morse at this time, the following is
mentioned in the letter to Smith of July 16, 1842, just quoted from: "I
have invented a battery which will delight you; it is the most powerful
of its size ever invented, and this part of my telegraphic apparatus the
results of experiments have enabled me to simplify and truly to perfect."

Another most important development of the invention was made in the year
1842. The problem of crossing wide bodies of water had, naturally,
presented itself to the mind of the inventor at an early date, and during
the most of this year he had devoted himself seriously to its solution.
He laboriously insulated about two miles of copper wire with pitch, tar,
and rubber, and, on the evening of October 18, 1842, he carried it, wound
on a reel, to the Battery in New York and hired a row-boat with a man to
row him while he paid out his "cable." Tradition says that it was a
beautiful moonlight night and that the strollers on the Battery were
mystified, and wondered what kind of fish were being trolled for. The
next day the following editorial notice appeared in the New York


This important invention is to be exhibited in operation at Castle Garden
between the hours of twelve and one o'clock to-day. One telegraph will be
erected on Governor's Island, and one at the Castle, and messages will be
interchanged and orders transmitted during the day.

Many have been incredulous as to the powers of this wonderful triumph of
science and art. All such may now have an opportunity of fairly testing
it. _It is destined to work a complete revolution in the mode of
transmitting intelligence throughout the civilized world._

Before the appointed hour on the morning of the 19th, Morse hastened to
the Battery, and found a curious crowd already assembled to witness this
new marvel. With confidence he seated himself at the instrument and had
succeeded in exchanging a few signals between himself and Professor Gale
at the other end on Governor's Island, when suddenly the receiving
instrument was dumb. Looking out across the waters of the bay, he soon
saw the cause of the interruption. Six or seven vessels were anchored
along the line of his cable, and one of them, in raising her anchor, had
fouled the cable and pulled it up. Not knowing what it was, the sailors
hauled in about two hundred feet of it; then, finding no end, they cut
the cable and sailed away, ignorant of the blow they had inflicted on the
mortified inventor. The crowd, thinking they had been hoaxed, turned away
with jeers, and Morse was left alone to bear his disappointment as
philosophically as he could.

Later, in December, the experiment was repeated across the canal at
Washington, and this time with perfect success.

Still cramped for means, chafing under the delay which this necessitated,
he turned to his good friends the Vails, hoping that they might be able
to help him. While he shrank from borrowing money he considered that, as
they were financially interested in the success of the invention, he
could with propriety ask for an advance to enable him to go to

To his request he received the following answer from the Honorable George

December 31, 1842.
S.F.B. MORSE, Esq.,

DEAR SIR,--Your favor is at hand. I had expected that my father would
visit you, but he could not go out in the snow-storm of Wednesday, and,
if he had, I do not think anything could induce him to raise the needful
for the prosecution of our object. He says: "Tell Mr. Morse that there is
no one I would sooner assist than him if I could, but, in the present
posture of my affairs, I am not warranted in undertaking anything more
than to make my payments as they become due, of which there are not a

He thinks that Mr. S---- might soon learn how to manage it, and, as he is
there, it would save a great expense. I do not myself know that he could
learn; but, as my means are nothing at the present time, I can only wish
you success, if you go on.

Of course Mr. Vail meant "if you go on to Washington," but to the
sensitive mind of the inventor the words must have seemed to imply a
doubt of the advisability of going on with the enterprise. However, he
was not daunted, but in some way he procured the means to defray his
expenses, perhaps from his good brother Sidney, for the next letter to
Mr. Vail is from Washington, on December 18, 1842:--

"I have not written you since my arrival as I had nothing special to say,
nor have I now anything very decided to communicate in relation to my
enterprise, except that it is in a very favorable train. The Telegraph,
as you will see by Thursday or Friday's 'Intelligencer,' is established
between two of the committee rooms in the Capitol, and excites universal
admiration. I am told from all quarters that there is but one sentiment
in Congress respecting it, and that the appropriation will unquestionably

"The discovery I made with Dr. Fisher, just before leaving New York, of
the fact that two or more currents will pass, without interference, at
the same time, on the same wire, excites the wonder of all the scientific
in and out of Congress here, and when I show them the certainty of it, in
the practical application of it to simplify my Telegraph, their
admiration is loudly expressed, and it has created a feeling highly
advantageous to me.

"I believe I drew for you a method by which I thought I could pass
rivers, _without any wires_, through the water. I tried the experiment
across the canal here on Friday afternoon _with perfect success_. This
also has added a fresh interest in my favor, and I begin to hope that I
am on the eve of realizing something in the shape of compensation for my
time and means expended in bringing my invention to its present state. I
dare not be sanguine, however, for I have had too much experience of
delusive hopes to indulge in any premature exultation. Now there is no
opposition, but it may spring up unexpectedly and defeat all....

"I find Dr. Fisher a great help. He is acquainted with a great many of
the members, and he is round among them and creating an interest for the
Telegraph. Mr. Smith has not yet made his appearance, and, if he does not
come soon, everything will be accomplished without him. My associate
proprietors, indeed, are at present broken reeds, yet I am aware they are
disabled in various ways from helping me, and I ought to remember that
their help in the commencement of the enterprise was essential in putting
the Telegraph into the position it now is [in]; therefore, although they
give me now no aid, it is not from unwillingness but from inability, and
I shall not grudge them their proportion of its profits, nor do I believe
they will be unwilling to reimburse me my expenses, should the Telegraph
eventually be purchased by the Government.

"Mr. Ferris, our representative, is very much interested in understanding
the scientific principles on which my Telegraph is based, and has exerted
himself very strongly in my behalf; so has Mr. Boardman, and, in a
special manner, Dr. Aycrigg, of New Jersey, the latter of whom is
determined the bill shall pass by acclamation. Mr. Huntington, of the
Senate, Mr. Woodbury and Mr. Wright are also very strongly friendly to
the Telegraph."

This letter, to the best of my knowledge, has never before been
published, and yet it contains statements of the utmost interest. The
discovery of duplex telegraphy, or the possibility of sending two or more
messages over the same wire at the same time has been credited by various
authorities to different persons; by some to Moses G. Farmer in 1852, by
others to Gintl, of Vienna, in 1853, or to Frischen or Siemens and Halske
in 1854. Yet we see from this letter that Morse and his assistant Dr.
Fisher not only made the discovery ten years earlier, in 1842, but
demonstrated its practicability to the scientists and others in
Washington at that date. Why this fact should have been lost sight of I
cannot tell, but I am glad to be able to bring forward the proof of the
paternity of this brilliant discovery even at this late day.

Still another scientific principle was established by Morse at this early
period, as we learn from this letter, and that is the possibility of
wireless telegraphy; but, as he has been generally credited with the
first suggestion of what has now become one of the greatest boons to
humanity, it will not be necessary to enlarge on it.

A brighter day seemed at last to be dawning, and a most curious
happening, just at this time, came to the inventor as an auspicious omen.
In stringing his wires between the two committee rooms he had to descend
into a vault beneath them which had been long unused. A workman, who was
helping him, went ahead and carried a lamp, and, as he glanced around the
chamber, Morse noticed something white on a shelf at one side. Curious to
see what this could be, he went up to it, when what was his amazement to
find that it was a plaster cast of that little statuette of the Dying
Hercules which had won for him the Adelphi Gold Medal so many years
before in London. There was the token of his first artistic success
appearing to him out of the gloom as the harbinger of another success
which he hoped would also soon emerge from behind the lowering clouds.

The apparently mysterious presence of the little demigod in such an
out-of-the-way place was easily explained. Six casts of the clay model
had been made before the original was broken up. One of these Morse had
kept for himself, four had been given to various institutions, and one to
his friend Charles Bulfinch, who succeeded Latrobe as the architect of
the Capitol. A sinister fate seemed to pursue these little effigies, for
his own, and the four he had presented to different institutions, were
all destroyed in one way and another. After tracing each one of these
five to its untimely end, he came to the conclusion that this evidence of
his youthful genius had perished from the earth; but here, at last, the
only remaining copy was providentially revealed to the eyes of its
creator, having undoubtedly been placed in the vault for safe-keeping and
overlooked. It was cheerfully returned to him. By him it was given to his
friend, the Reverend E. Goodrich Smith, and by the latter presented to
Yale University, where it now rests in the Fine Arts Building.

So ended the year 1842, a decade since the first conception of the
telegraph on board the Sully, and it found the inventor making his last
stand for recognition from that Government to which he had been so loyal,
and upon which he wished to bestow a priceless gift. With the dawn of the
new year, a year destined to mark an epoch in the history of
civilization, his flagging spirits were revived, and he entered with zest
on what proved to be his final and successful struggle.

It passes belief that with so many ocular demonstrations of the
practicability of the Morse telegraph, and with the reports of the
success of other telegraphs abroad, the popular mind, as reflected in its
representatives in Congress, should have remained so incredulous. Morse
had been led to hope that his bill was going to pass by acclamation, but
in this he was rudely disappointed. Still he had many warm friends who
believed in him and his invention. First and foremost should be mentioned
his classmate, Henry L. Ellsworth, the Commissioner of Patents, at whose
hospitable home the inventor stayed during some of these anxious days,
and who, with his family, cheered him with encouraging words and help.
Among the members of Congress who were energetic in support of the bill
especially worthy of mention are--Kennedy, of Maryland; Mason, of Ohio;
Wallace, of Indiana; Ferris and Boardman, of New York; Holmes, of South
Carolina; and Aycrigg, of New Jersey.

The alternating moods of hope and despair, through which the inventor
passed during the next few weeks, are best pictured forth by himself in
brief extracts from letters to his brother Sidney:--

"_January 6, 1843._ I sent you a copy of the Report on the Telegraph a
day or two since. I was in hopes of having it called up to-day, but the
House refused to go into Committee of the Whole on the State of the
Union, so it is deferred. The first time they go into Committee of the
Whole on the State of the Union it will probably be called up and be
decided upon.

"Everything looks favorable, but I do not suffer myself to be sanguine,
for I do not know what may be doing secretly against it. I shall believe
it passed when the signature of the President is affixed to it, and not

"_January 16._ I snatch the moments of waiting for company in the
Committee Room of Commerce to write a few lines. Patience is a virtue
much needed and much tried here. So far as opinion goes everything is
favorable to my bill. I hear of no opposition, but should not be
surprised if it met with some. The great difficulty is to get it up
before the House; there are so many who must '_define their position_,'
as the term is, so many who must say something to 'Bunkum,' that a great
deal of the people's time is wasted in mere idle, unprofitable
speechifying. I hope something may be done this week that shall be
decisive, so that I may know what to do.... This waiting at so much risk
makes me question myself: am I in the path of duty? When I think that the
little money I brought with me is nearly gone, that, if nothing should be
done by Congress, I shall be in a destitute state; that perhaps I shall
have again to be a burden to friends until I know to what to turn my
hands, I feel low-spirited. I am only relieved by naked trust in God, and
it is right that this should be so."

"_January 20._ My patience is still tried in waiting for the action of
Congress on my bill. With so much at stake you may easily conceive how
tantalizing is this state of suspense. I wish to feel right on this
subject; not to be impatient, nor distrustful, nor fretful, and yet to be
prepared for the worst. I find my funds exhausting, my clothing wearing
out, my time, especially, rapidly waning, and my affairs at home
requiring some little looking after; and then, if I should after all be
disappointed, the alternative looks dark, and to human eyes disastrous in
the extreme.

"I hardly dare contemplate this side of the matter, and yet I ought so
far to consider it as to provide, if possible, against being struck down
by such a blow. At times, after waiting all day and day after day, in the
hope that my bill may be called up, and in vain, I feel heart-sick, and
finding nothing accomplished, that no progress is made, that _precious
time_ flies, I am depressed and begin to question whether I am in the way
of duty. But when I feel that I have done all in my power, and that this
delay may be designed by the wise disposer of all events for a trial of
patience, I find relief and a disposition quietly to wait such issue as
he shall direct, knowing that, if I sincerely have put my trust in him,
he will not lead me astray, and my way will, in any event, be made

"_January 25._ I am still _waiting, waiting_. I know not what the issue
will be and wish to be prepared, and have you all prepared, for the worst
in regard to the bill. Although I learn of no opposition yet I have seen
enough of the modes of business in the House to know that everything
there is more than in ordinary matters uncertain. It will be the end of
the session, probably, before I return. I will not have to reproach
myself, or be reproached by others, for any neglect, but under all
circumstances I am exceedingly tried. I am too foreboding probably, and
ought not so to look ahead as to be distrustful. I fear that I have no
right feelings in this state of suspense. It is easier to say 'Thy will
be done' than at all tunes to feel it, yet I can pray that God's will may
be done whatever becomes of me and mine."

"_January 30._ I am still kept in suspense which is becoming more and
more tantalizing and painful. But I endeavor to exercise patience."

"_February 21._ I think the clouds begin to break away and a little
sunlight begins to cheer me. The House in Committee of the Whole on the
State of the Union have just passed my bill through committee to report
to the House. There was an attempt made to cast ridicule upon it by a
very few headed by Mr. Cave Johnson, who proposed an amendment that half
the sum should be appropriated to mesmeric experiments. Only 26 supported
him and it was laid aside to be reported to the House without amendment
and without division.

"I was immediately surrounded by my friends in the House, congratulating
me and telling me that the crisis is passed, and that the bill will pass
the House by a large majority. Mr. Kennedy, chairman of the Committee on
Commerce, has put the bill on the Speaker's calendar for Thursday
morning, when the final vote in the House will be taken. It then has to
go to the Senate, where I have reason to believe it will meet with a
favorable reception. Then to the President, and, if signed by him, I
shall return with renovated spirits, for I assure you I have for some
time been at the lowest ebb, and can now scarcely realize that a turn has
occurred in my favor. I don't know when I have been so much tried as in
the tedious delays of the last two months, but I see a reason for it in
the Providence of God. He has been pleased to try my patience, and not
until my impatience had yielded unreservedly to submission has He
relieved me by granting light upon my path. Praised be His name, for to
Him alone belongs all the glory.

"I write with a dreadful headache caused by over excitement in the House,
but hope to be better after a night's rest, I have written in haste just
to inform you of the first symptoms of success."

On the same date as that of the preceding letter, February 21, the
following appeared in the "Congressional Globe," and its very curtness
and flippancy is indicative of the indifference of the public in general
to this great invention, and the proceedings which are summarized cast
discredit on the intelligence of our national lawmakers:--


On motion of Mr. Kennedy of Maryland, the committee took up the bill to
authorize a series of experiments to be made in order to test the merits
of Morse's electro-magnetic telegraph. The bill appropriates $30,000, to
be expended under the direction of the Postmaster-General.

On motion of Mr. Kennedy, the words "Postmaster-General" were stricken
out and "Secretary of the Treasury" inserted.

Mr. Cave Johnson wished to have a word to say upon the bill. As the
present Congress had done much to encourage science, he did not wish to
see the science of mesmerism neglected and overlooked. He therefore
proposed that one half of the appropriation be given to Mr. Fisk, to
enable him to carry on experiments, as well as Professor Morse.

Mr. Houston thought that Millerism should also be included in the
benefits of the appropriation.

Mr. Stanly said he should have no objection to the appropriation for
mesmeric experiments, provided the gentleman from Tennessee [Mr. Cave
Johnson] was the subject. [A laugh.]

Mr. Cave Johnson said he should have no objection provided the gentleman
from North Carolina [Mr. Stanly] was the operator. [Great laughter.]

Several gentlemen called for the reading of the amendment, and it was
read by the Clerk, as follows:--

"_Provided_, That one half of the said sum shall be appropriated for
trying mesmeric experiments under the direction of the Secretary of the

Mr. S. Mason rose to a question of order. He maintained that the
amendment was not _bona fide_, and that such amendments were calculated
to injure the character of the House. He appealed to the chair to rule
the amendment out of order.

The Chairman said it was not for him to judge of the motives of members
in offering amendments, and he could not, therefore, undertake to
pronounce the amendment not _bona fide_. Objections might be raised to it
on the ground that it was not sufficiently analogous in character to the
bill under consideration, but, in the opinion of the Chair, it would
require a scientific analysis to determine how far the magnetism of
mesmerism was analogous to that to be employed in telegraphs. [Laughter.]
He therefore ruled the amendment in order.

On taking the vote, the amendment was rejected--ayes 22, noes not

The bill was then laid aside to be reported.

On February 23, the once more hopeful inventor sent off the following
hurriedly written letter to his brother:--

"You will perceive by the proceedings of the House to-day that _my bill
has passed the House by a vote of 89 to 80_. A close vote after the
expectations raised by some of my friends in the early part of the
session, but enough is as good as a feast, and it is safe so far as the
House is concerned. I will advise you of the progress of it through the
Senate. All my anxieties are now centred there. I write in great haste."

A revised record of the voting showed that the margin of victory was even
slighter, for in a letter to Smith, Morse says:--

"The long agony (truly agony to me) is over, for you will perceive by the
papers of to-morrow that, so far as the House is concerned, the matter is
decided. _My bill has passed by a vote of eighty-nine to eighty-three._ A
close vote, you will say, but explained upon several grounds not
affecting the disposition of many individual members, who voted against
it, to the invention. In this matter six votes are as good as a thousand,
so far as the appropriation is concerned.

"The yeas and nays will tell you who were friendly and who adverse to the
bill. I shall now bend all my attention to the Senate. There is a good
disposition there and I am now strongly encouraged to think that my
invention will be placed before the country in such a position as to be
properly appreciated, and to yield to all its proprietors a proper

"I have no desire to vaunt my exertions, but I can truly say that I have
never passed so trying a period as the last two months. Professor Fisher
(who has been of the greatest service to me) and I have been busy from
morning till night every day since we have been here. I have brought him
on with me at my expense, and he will be one of the first assistants in
the first experimental line, if the bill passes.... My feelings at the
prospect of success are of a joyous character, as you may well believe,
and one of the principal elements of my joy is that I shall be enabled to
contribute to the happiness of all who formerly assisted me, some of whom
are, at present, specially depressed."

Writing to Alfred Vail on the same day, he says after telling of the
passage of the bill:--

"You can have but a faint idea of the sacrifices and trials I have had in
getting the Telegraph thus far before the country and the world. I cannot
detail them here; I can only say that, for two years, I have labored all
my time and at my own expense, without assistance from the other
proprietors (except in obtaining the iron of the magnets for the last
instruments obtained of you) to forward our enterprise. My means to
defray my expenses, to meet which every cent I owned in the world was
collected, are nearly all gone, and if, by any means, the bill should
fail in the Senate, I shall return to New York with the _fraction of a
dollar_ in my pocket."

And now the final struggle which meant success or failure was on. Only
eight days of the session remained and the calendar was, as usual,
crowded. The inventor, his nerves stretched to the breaking point, hoped
and yet feared. He had every reason to believe that the Senate would show
more broad-minded enlightenment than the House, and yet he had been told
that his bill would pass the House by acclamation, while the event proved
that it had barely squeezed through by a beggarly majority of six. He
heard disquieting rumors of a determination on the part of some of the
House members to procure the defeat of the bill in the Senate. Would they
succeed, would the victory, almost won, be snatched from him at the last
moment, or would his faith in an overruling Providence, and in his own
mission as an instrument of that Providence, be justified at last?

Every day of that fateful week saw him in his place in the gallery of the
Senate chamber, and all day long he sat there, listening, as we can well
imagine, with growing impatience to the senatorial oratory on the merits
or demerits of bills which to him were of such minor importance, however
heavily freighted with the destinies of the nation they may have been.
And every night he returned to his room with the sad reflection that one
more of the precious days had passed and his bill had not been reached.
And then came the last day, March 3, that day when the session of the
Senate is prolonged till midnight, when the President, leaving the White
House, sits in the room provided for him at the Capitol, ready to sign
the bills which are passed in these last few hurried hours, if they meet
with his approval, or to consign them to oblivion if they do not.

The now despairing inventor clung to his post in the gallery almost to
the end, but, being assured by his senatorial friends that there was no
possibility of the bill being reached, and unable to bear the final blow
of hearing the gavel fall which should signalize his defeat, shrinking
from the well-meant condolences of his friends, he returned almost
broken-hearted to his room.

The future must have looked black indeed. He had staked his all and lost,
and he was resolved to abandon all further efforts to press his invention
on an unfeeling and a thankless world. He must pick up his brush again;
he must again woo the fickle goddess of art, who had deserted him before,
and who would, in all probability, be chary of her favors now. In that
dark hour it would not have been strange if his trust in God had wavered,
if he had doubted the goodness of that Providence to whose mysterious
workings he had always submissively bowed. But his faith seems to have
risen triumphant even under this crushing stroke, for he thus describes
the events of that fateful night, and of the next morning, in a letter to
Bishop Stevens, of Pennsylvania, written many years later:--

"The last days of the last session of that Congress were about to close.
A bill appropriating thirty thousand dollars for my purpose had passed
the House, and was before the Senate for concurrence. On the last day of
the session [3d of March, 1843] I had spent the whole day and part of the
evening in the Senate chamber, anxiously watching, the progress of the
passing of the various bills, of which there were, in the morning of that
day, over one hundred and forty to be acted upon before the one in which
I was interested would be reached; and a resolution had a few days before
been passed to proceed with the bills on the calendar in their regular
order, forbidding any bill to be taken up out of its regular place.

"As evening approached there seemed to be but little chance that the
Telegraph Bill would be reached before the adjournment, and consequently
I had the prospect of the delay of another year, with the loss of time,
and all my means already expended. In my anxiety I consulted with two of
my senatorial friends--Senator Huntington, of Connecticut, and Senator
Wright, of New York--asking their opinion of the probability of reaching
the bill before the close of the session. Their answers were
discouraging, and their advice was to prepare myself for disappointment.
In this state of mind I retired to my chamber and made all my
arrangements for leaving Washington the next day. Painful as was this
prospect of renewed disappointment, you, my dear sir, will understand me
when I say that, knowing from experience whence my help must come in any
difficulty, I soon disposed of my cares, and slept as quietly as a child.

"In the morning, as I had just gone into the breakfast-room, the servant
called me out, announcing that a young lady was in the parlor wishing to
speak with me. I was at once greeted with the smiling face of my young
friend, the daughter of my old and valued friend and classmate, the
Honorable H.L. Ellsworth, the Commissioner of Patents. On my expressing
surprise at so early a call, she said:--

"'I have come to congratulate you.'

"'Indeed, for what?'

"'On the passage of your bill.'

"'Oh! no, my young friend, you are mistaken; I was in the Senate chamber
till after the lamps were lighted, and my senatorial friends assured me
there was no chance for me.'

"'But,' she replied, 'it is you that are mistaken. Father was there at
the adjournment at midnight, and saw the President put his name to your
bill, and I asked father if I might come and tell you, and he gave me
leave. Am I the first to tell you?'

"The news was so unexpected that for some moments I could not speak. At
length I replied:--

"'Yes, Annie, you are the first to inform me, and now I am going to make
you a promise; the first dispatch on the completed line from Washington
to Baltimore shall be yours.'

"'Well,' said she, 'I shall hold you to your promise.'"

This was the second great moment in the history of the Morse Telegraph.
The first was when the inspiration came to him on board the Sully, more
than a decade before, and now, after years of heart-breaking struggles
with poverty and discouragements of all kinds, the faith in God and in
himself, which had upheld him through all, was justified, and he saw the
dawning of a brighter day.

On what slight threads do hang our destinies! The change of a few votes
in the House, the delay of a few minutes in the Senate, would have doomed
Morse to failure, for it is doubtful whether he would have had the heart,
the means, or the encouragement to prosecute the enterprise further.

He lost no time in informing his associates of the happy turn in their
affairs, and, in the excitement of the moment, he not only dated his
letter to Smith March 3, instead of March 4, but he seems not to have
understood that the bill had already been signed by the President, and
had become a law:--

"Well, my dear Sir, the matter is decided. _The Senate has just passed my
bill without division and without opposition_, and it will probably be
signed by the President in a few hours. This, I think, is news enough for
you at present, and, as I have other letters that I must write before the
mail closes, I must say good-bye until I see you or hear from you. Write
to me in New York, where I hope to be by the latter part of next week."

And to Vail he wrote on the same day:--

"You will be glad to learn, doubtless, that my bill has passed the Senate
without a division and without opposition, so that now the telegraphic
enterprise begins to look bright. I shall want to see you in New York
after my return, which will probably be the latter part of next week. I
have other letters to write, so excuse the shortness of this, which, IF
SHORT, IS SWEET, at least. My kind regards to your father, mother,
brothers, sisters, and wife. The whole delegation of your State, without
exception, deserve the highest gratitude of us all."

The Representatives from the State of New Jersey in the House voted
unanimously for the bill, those of every other State were divided between
the yeas and the nays and those not voting.

Congratulations now poured in on him from all sides; and the one he,
perhaps, prized the most was from his friend and master, Washington
Allston, then living in Boston:--

"_March 24, 1843._ All your friends here join me in rejoicing at the
passing of the act of Congress appropriating thirty thousand dollars
toward carrying out your Electro-Magnetic Telegraph. I congratulate you
with all my heart. Shakespeare says: 'There is a tide in the affairs of
men that, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.' You are now fairly
launched on what I hope will prove to you another Pactolus. _I pede

"This has been but a melancholy year to me. I have been ill with one
complaint or another nearly the whole time; the last disorder the
erysipelas, but this has now nearly disappeared. I hope this letter will
meet you as well in health as I take it you are now in spirits."

Morse lost no time in replying:--

"I thank you, my dear sir, for your congratulations in regard to my
telegraphic enterprise. I hope I shall not disappoint the expectations of
my friends. I shall exert all my energies to show a complete and
satisfactory result. When I last wrote you from Washington, I wrote under
the apprehension that my bill would not be acted upon, and consequently I
wrote in very low spirits.

"'What has become of painting?' I think I hear you ask. Ah, my dear sir,
when I have diligently and perseveringly wooed the coquettish jade for
twenty years, and she then jilts me, what can I do? But I do her
injustice, she is not to blame, but her guardian for the time being. I
shall not give her up yet in despair, but pursue her even with lightning,
and so overtake her at last.

"I am now absorbed in my arrangements for fulfilling my designs with the
Telegraph in accordance with the act of Congress. I know not that I shall
be able to complete my experiment before Congress meets again, but I
shall endeavor to show it to them at their next session."


MARCH 15, 1848--JUNE 13, 1844

Work on first telegraph line begun.--Gale, Fisher, and Vail appointed
assistants.--F.O.J. Smith to secure contract for trenching.--Morse not
satisfied with contract.--Death of Washington Allston.--Reports to
Secretary of the Treasury.--Prophesies Atlantic cable.--Failure of
underground wires.--Carelessness of Fisher.--F.O.J. Smith shows cloven
hoof.--Ezra Cornell solves a difficult problem.--Cornell's plan for
insulation endorsed by Professor Henry.--Many discouragements.--Work
finally progresses favorably.--Frelinghuysen's nomination as
Vice-President reported by telegraph.--Line to Baltimore completed.--
First message.--Triumph.--Reports of Democratic Convention.--First
long-distance conversation.--Utility of telegraph established.--Offer to
sell to Government.

Out of the darkness of despair into which he had been plunged, Morse had
at last emerged into the sunlight of success. For a little while he
basked in its rays with no cloud to obscure the horizon, but his respite
was short, for new difficulties soon arose, and new trials and sorrows
soon darkened his path.

Immediately after the telegraph bill had become a law he set to work with
energy to carry out its provisions. He decided, after consultation with
the Secretary of the Treasury, Hon. J.C. Spencer, to erect the
experimental line between Washington and Baltimore, along the line of
railway, and all the preliminaries and details were carefully planned.
With the sanction of the Secretary he appointed Professors Gale and
Fisher as his assistants, and soon after added Mr. Alfred Vail to their
number. He returned to New York, and from there wrote to Vail on March

"You will not fail, with your brother and, if possible, your father, to
be in New York on Tuesday the 21st, to meet the proprietors of the
Telegraph. I was on the point of coming out this afternoon with young Mr.
Serrell, the patentee of the lead-pipe machine, which I think promises to
be the best for our purposes of all that have been invented, as to it can
be applied '_a mode of filling lead-pipe with wire_,' for which Professor
Fisher and myself have entered a caveat at the Patent Office."

Vail gladly agreed to serve as assistant in the construction of the line,
and, on March 21 signed the following agreement:--

PROFESSOR MORSE,--As an assistant in the telegraphic experiment
contemplated by the Act of Congress lately passed, I can superintend and
procure the making of the _Instruments complete_ according to your
direction, namely: the registers, the correspondents with their magnets,
the batteries, the reels, and the paper, and will attend to the procuring
of the acids, the ink, and the preparation of the various stations. I
will assist in filling the tubes with wire, and the resinous coating, and
I will devote my whole time and attention to the business so as to secure
a favorable result, and should you wish to devolve upon me any other
business connected with the Telegraph, I will cheerfully undertake it.

Three dollars per diem, with travelling expenses, I shall deem a
satisfactory salary.

Very respectfully, your ob't ser't,

Professor Fisher was detailed to superintend the manufacture of the wire,
its insulation and its insertion in the lead tubes, and Professor Gale's
scientific knowledge was to be placed at the disposal of the patentees
wherever and whenever it should be necessary. F.O.J. Smith undertook to
secure a favorable contract for the trenching, which was necessary to
carry out the first idea of placing the wires underground, and Morse
himself was, of course, to be general superintendent of the whole

In advertising for lead pipe the following quaint answer was received
from Morris, Tasker & Morris, of Philadelphia:--

"Thy advertisements for about one hundred and twenty miles of 1/2 in.
lead tube, for Electro Magnetic Telegraphic purposes, has induced us to
forward thee some samples of Iron Tube for thy inspection. The quantity
required and the terms of payment are the inducement to offer it to thee
at the exceeding low price here stated, which thou wilt please keep _to
thyself undivulged to other person_, etc., etc."

As iron tubing would not have answered Morse's purpose, this decorous
solicitation was declined with thanks.

During the first few months everything worked smoothly, and the prospect
of an early completion of the line was bright. Morse kept all his
accounts in the most businesslike manner, and his monthly accounts to the
Secretary of the Treasury were models of accuracy and a conscientious
regard for the public interest.

One small cloud appeared above the horizon, so small that the
unsuspecting inventor hardly noticed it, and yet it was destined to
develop into a storm of portentous dimensions. On May 17, he wrote to
F.O.J. Smith from New York:--

"Yours of the 27th April I have this morning received enclosing the
contracts for trenching. I have examined the contract and I must say I am
not exactly pleased with the terms. If I understood you right, before you
left for Boston, you were confident a contract could be made far within
the estimates given in to the Government, and I had hoped that something
could be saved from that estimate as from the others, so as to present
the experiment before the country in as cheap a form as possible.

"I have taken a pride in showing to Government how cheaply the Telegraph
could be laid, since the main objection, and the one most likely to
defeat our ulterior plans, is its great expense. I have in my other
contracts been able to be far within my estimates to Government, and I
had hoped to be able to present to the Secretary the contract for
trenching likewise reduced. There are plenty of applicants here who will
do it for much less, and one even said he thought for one half. I shall
do nothing in regard to the matter until I see you."

A great personal sorrow came to him also, a short time after this, to dim
the brilliance of success. On July 9, 1843, his dearly loved friend and
master, Washington Allston, died in Boston after months of suffering.
Morse immediately dropped everything and hastened to Boston to pay the
last tributes of respect to him whom he regarded as his best friend. He
obtained as a memento one of the brushes, still wet with paint, which
Allston was using on his last unfinished work, "The Feast of Belshazzar,"
when he was suddenly stricken. This brush he afterwards presented to the
National Academy of Design, where it is, I believe, still preserved.

Sorrowfully he returned to his work in Washington, but with the
comforting thought that his friend had lived to see his triumph, the
justification for his deserting that art which had been the bond to first
bring them together.

On July 24, in his report to the Secretary of the Treasury, he says:--

"I have also the gratification to report that the contract for the wire
has been faithfully fulfilled on the part of Aaron Benedict, the
contractor; that the first covering with cotton and two varnishings of
the whole one hundred and sixty miles is also completed; that experiments
made upon forty-three miles have resulted in the most satisfactory
manner, and that the whole work is proceeding with every prospect of a
successful issue."

It was at first thought necessary to insulate the whole length of the
wire, and it was not until some time afterwards that it was discovered
that naked wires could be successfully employed.

On August 10, in his report to the Secretary, he indulges in a prophecy
which must have seemed in the highest degree visionary in those early

"Some careful experiments on the decomposing power at various distances
were made from which the law of propulsion has been deduced, verifying
the results of Ohm and those which I made in the summer of 1842, and
alluded to in my letter to the Honorable C.G. Ferris, published in the
House Report, No. 17, of the last Congress.

"The practical inference from this law is that a telegraphic
communication on my plan may with certainty be established across the

"Startling as this may seem now, the time will come when this project
will be realized."

On September 11, he reports an item of saving to the Government which
illustrates his characteristic honesty in all business dealings:--

"I would also direct the attention of the Honorable Secretary to the
payment in full of Mr. Chase, (voucher 215), for covering the wire
according to the contract with him. The sum of $1010 was to be paid him.
In the course of the preparation of the wire several improvements
occurred to me of an economical character, in which Mr. Chase cheerfully
concurred, although at a considerable loss to him of labor contracted
for; so that my wire has been prepared at a cost of $551.25, which is
receipted in full, instead of $1010, producing an economy of $458.75."

The work of trenching was commenced on Saturday, October 21, at 8 A.M.,
and then his troubles began. Describing them at a later date he says:--

"Much time and expense were lost in consequence of my following the plan
adopted in England of laying the conductors beneath the ground. At the
time the Telegraph bill was passed there had been about thirteen miles of
telegraph conductors, for Professor Wheatstone's telegraph system in
England, put into tubes and interred in the earth, and there was no hint
publicly given that that mode was not perfectly successful. I did not
feel, therefore, at liberty to expend the public moneys in useless
experiments on a plan which seemed to be already settled as effective in
England. Hence I fixed upon this mode as one supposed to be the best. It
prosecuted till the winter of 1843-44. It was abandoned, among other
reasons, in consequence of ascertaining that, in the process of inserting
the wire into the leaden tubes (which was at the moment of forming the
tube from the lead at melting heat), the insulating covering of the wires
had become charred, at various and numerous points of the line, to such
an extent that greater delay and expense would be necessary to repair the
damage than to put the wire on posts.

"In my letter to the Secretary of the Treasury, of September 27, 1837,
one of the modes of laying the conductors for the Telegraph was the
present almost universal one of extending them on posts set about two
hundred feet apart. This mode was adopted with success."

The sentence in the letter of September 27, 1837, just referred to, reads
as follows: "If the circuit is laid through the air, the first cost
would, doubtless, be much lessened. Stout spars, of some thirty feet in
height, well planted in the ground and placed about three hundred and
fifty feet apart, would in this case be required, along the tops of which
the circuit might be stretched."

A rough drawing of this plan also appears in the 1832 sketch-book.

It would seem, from a voluminous correspondence, that Professor Fisher
was responsible for the failure of the underground system, inasmuch as he
did not properly test the wires after they had been inserted in the lead
pipe. Carelessness of this sort Morse could never brook, and he was
reluctantly compelled to dispense with the services of one who had been
of great use to him previously. He refers to this in a letter to his
brother Sidney of December 16, 1843:--

"The season is against all my operations, and I expect to resume in the
spring. I have difficulties and trouble in my work, but none of a nature
as yet to discourage; they arise from neglect and unfaithfulness (_inter
nos_) on the part of Fisher, whom I shall probably dismiss, although on
many accounts I shall do it reluctantly. I shall give him an opportunity
to excuse himself, if he ever gets here. I have been expecting both him
and Gale for three weeks, and written, but without bringing either of
them. They may have a good excuse. We shall see."

The few months of sunshine were now past, and the clouds began again to

December 18, 1843.

DEAR SIDNEY,--I have made every effort to try and visit New York. Twice I
have been ready with my baggage in hand, but am prevented by a pressure
of difficulties which you cannot conceive. I was never so tried and never
needed more your prayers and those of Christians for me. Troubles cluster
in such various shapes that I am almost overwhelmed.

And then the storm of which the little cloud was the forerunner burst in

December 30, 1843.

DEAR SIDNEY,--I have no heart to give you the details of the troubles
which almost crush me, and which have unexpectedly arisen to throw a
cloud over all my prospects. It must suffice at present to say that the
unfaithfulness of Dr. Fisher in his inspection of the wires, and
connected with Serrell's bad pipe, is the main origin of my difficulties.

The trenching is stopped in consequence of this among other reasons, and
has brought the contractor upon me for damages (that is, upon the
Government). Mr. Smith is the contractor, and where I expected to find a
_friend_ I find a FIEND. The word is not too strong, as I may one day
show you. I have been compelled to dismiss Fisher, and have received a
very insolent letter from him in reply. The lead-pipe contract will be
litigated, and Smith has written a letter full of the bitterest malignity
against me to the Secretary of the Treasury. He seems perfectly reckless
and acts like a madman, and all for what? Because the condition of my
pipe and the imperfect insulation of my wires were such that it became
necessary to stop trenching on this account alone, but, taken in
connection with the advanced state of the season, when it was impossible
to carry on my operations out of doors, I was compelled to stop any
further trenching. This causes him to lose his profit on the contract.
_Hinc illæ lachrymæ._ And because I refused to accede to terms which, as
a public officer, I could not do without dishonor and violation of trust,
he pursues me thus malignantly.

Blessed be God, I have escaped snares set for me by this arch-fiend, one
of which a simple inquiry from you was the means of detecting. You
remember I told you that Mr. Smith had made an advantageous contract with
Tatham & Brothers for pipe, and had divided the profits with me by which
I should gain five hundred dollars. You asked if it was all right and, if
it should be made public, it would be considered so. I replied, 'Oh! yes;
Mr. Smith says it is all perfectly fair' (for I had the utmost confidence
in his fair dealing and uprightness). But your remark led me to think of
the matter, and I determined at once that, since there was a doubt, I
would not touch it for myself, but credit it to the Government, and I
accordingly credited it as so much saved to the Government from the

And now, will you believe it! the man who would have persuaded me that
all was right in that matter, turns upon me and accuses me to the
Secretary as dealing in bad faith to the Government, citing this very
transaction in proof. But, providentially, my friend Ellsworth, and also
a clerk in the Treasury Department, are witnesses that that sum was
credited to the Government before any difficulties arose on the part of

But I leave this unpleasant matter. The enterprise yet looks lowering,
but I know who can bring light out of darkness, and in Him I trust as a
sure refuge till these calamities be overpast.... Oh! how these troubles
drive all thought of children and brothers and all relatives out of my
mind except in the wakeful hours of the night, and then I think of you
all with sadness, that I cannot add to your enjoyment but only to your
anxiety. ... Love to all. Specially remember me in your prayers that I
may have wisdom from above to act wisely and justly and calmly in this
sore trial.

While thus some of those on whom he had relied failed him at a critical
moment, new helpers were at hand to assist him in carrying on the work.
On December 27, he writes to the Secretary of the Treasury: "I have the
honor to report that I have dismissed Professor James C. Fisher, one of
my assistants, whose salary was $1500 per annum.... My present labors
require the services of an efficient mechanical assistant whom I believe
I have found in Mr. Ezra Cornell, and whom I present for the approval of
the Honorable Secretary, with a compensation at the rate of, $1000 per
annum from December 27, 1843."

Cornell proved himself, indeed, an efficient assistant, and much of the
success of the enterprise, from that time forward, was due to his energy,
quick-wittedness, and faithfulness.

Mr. Prime, in his biography of Morse, thus describes a dramatic episode
of those trying days:--

"When the pipe had been laid as far as the Relay House, Professor Morse
came to Mr. Cornell and expressed a desire to have the work arrested
until he could try further experiments, but he was very anxious that
nothing should be said or done to give to the public the impression that
the enterprise had failed. Mr. Cornell said he could easily manage it,
and, stepping up to the machine, which was drawn by a team of eight
mules, he cried out: 'Hurrah, boys! we must lay another length of pipe
before we quit.' The teamsters cracked their whips over the mules and
they started on a lively pace. Mr. Cornell grasped the handles of the
plough, and, watching an opportunity, canted it so as to catch the point
of a rock, and broke it to pieces while Professor Morse stood looking on.

"Consultations long and painful followed. The anxiety of Professor Morse
at this period was greater than at any previous hour known in the history
of the invention. Some that were around him had serious apprehensions
that he would not stand up under the pressure."

Cornell having thus cleverly cut the Gordian knot, it was decided to
string wires on poles, and Cornell himself thus describes the solution of
the insulation problem:--

"In the latter part of March Professor Morse gave me the order to put the
wires on poles, and the question at once arose as to the mode of
_fastening the wires to the poles_, and the insulation of them at the
point of fastening. I submitted a plan to the Professor which I was
confident would be successful as an insulating medium, and which was
easily available then and inexpensive. Mr. Vail also submitted a plan for
the same purpose, which involved the necessity of going to New York or
New Jersey to get it executed. Professor Morse gave preference to Mr.
Vail's plan, and started for New York to get the fixtures, directing me
to get the wire ready for use and arrange for setting the poles.

"At the end of a week Professor Morse returned from New York and came to
the shop where I was at work, and said he wanted to provide the
insulators for putting the wires on the poles upon the plan I had
suggested; to which I responded: 'How is that, Professor; I thought you
had decided to use Mr. Vail's plan?' Professor Morse replied: 'Yes, I did
so decide, and on my way to New York, where I went to order the fixtures,
I stopped at Princeton and called on my old friend, Professor Henry, who
inquired how I was getting along with my Telegraph.

"'I explained to him the failure of the insulation in the pipes, and
stated that I had decided to place the wires on poles in the air. He then
inquired how I proposed to insulate the wires when they were attached to
the poles. I showed him the model I had of Mr. Vail's plan, and he said,
"It will not do; you will meet the same difficulty you had in the pipes."
I then explained to him your plan which he said would answer.'"

However, before the enterprise had reached this point in March, 1844,
many dark and discouraging days and weeks had to be passed, which we can
partially follow by the following extracts from letters to his brother
Sidney and others. To his brother he writes on January 9, 1844:--

"I thank you for your kind and sympathizing letter, which, I assure you,
helped to mitigate the acuteness of my mental sufferings from the then
disastrous aspect of my whole enterprise. God works by instrumentalities,
and he has wonderfully thus far interposed in keeping evils that I feared
in abeyance. All, I trust, will yet be well, but I have great
difficulties to encounter and overcome, with the details of which I need
not now trouble you. I think I see light ahead, and the great result of
these difficulties, I am persuaded, will be a great economy in laying the
telegraphic conductors.... I am well in health but have sleepless nights
from the great anxieties and cares which weigh me down."

"_January 13._ I am working to retrieve myself under every disadvantage
and amidst accumulated and most diversified trials, but I have strength
from the source of strength, and courage to go forward. Fisher I have
dismissed for unfaithfulness; Dr. Gale has resigned from ill-health;
Smith has become a malignant enemy, and Vail only remains true at his
post. All my pipe is useless as the wires are all injured by the _hot
process_ of manufacture. I am preparing (as I said before, under every
disadvantage) a short distance between the Patent Office and Capitol,
which I am desirous of having completed as soon as possible, and by means
of it relieving the enterprise from the heavy weight which now threatens

To his good friend, Commissioner Ellsworth, he writes from Baltimore on
February 7:--

"In complying with your kind request that I would write you, I cannot
refrain from expressing my warm thanks for the words of sympathy and the
promise of a welcome on my return, which you gave me as I was leaving the
door. I find that, brace myself as I will against trouble, the spirit so
sympathises with the body that its moods are in sad bondage to the
physical health; the latter vanquishing the former. For the spirit is
often willing and submits, while the flesh is weak and rebels.

"I am fully aware that of late I have evinced an unusual sensitiveness,
and exposed myself to the charge of great weakness, which would give me
the more distress were I not persuaded that I have been among real
friends who will make every allowance. My temperament, naturally
sensitive, has lately been made more so by the combination of attacks
from deceitful associates without and bodily illness within, so that even
the kind attentions of the dear friends at your house, and who have so
warmly rallied around me, have scarcely been able to restore me to my
usual buoyancy of spirit, and I feel, amidst other oppressive thoughts,
that I have not been grateful enough for your friendship. But I hope yet
to make amends for the past.... I have no time to add more than that I
desire sincere love to dear Annie, to whom please present for me the
accompanying piece from my favorite Bellini, and the book on Etiquette,
after it shall have passed the ordeal of a mother's examination, as I
have not had time to read it myself."

On March 4, he writes to his brother:--

"I have nothing new. Smith continues to annoy me, but I think I have got
him in check by a demand for compensation for my services for seven
months, for doing that for him in Paris which he was bound to do. The
agreement stipulates that I give my services for '_three months and no
longer_,' but, at his earnest solicitation, I remained seven months
longer and was his agent in 'negotiating the sale of rights,' which by
the articles he was obliged to do; consequently I have a right to
compensation, and Mr. E. and others think my claim a valid one. If it is
sustained the tables are completely turned on him, and he is debtor to me
to the amount of six or seven hundred dollars. I have commenced my
operations with posts which promise well at present."

"_March 23._ My Telegraph labors go on well at present. The whole matter
is now critical, or, as our good father used to say, 'a crisis is at
hand.' I hope for the best while I endeavor to prepare my mind for the
worst. Smith, if he goes forward with his claim, is a ruined man in
reputation, but he may sink the Telegraph also in his passion; but, when
he returns from the East, where he fortunately is now, we hope through
his friends to persuade him to withdraw it, which he may do from fear of
the consequences. As to his claims privately on me, I think I have him in
check, but he is a man of consummate art and unprincipled; he will,
therefore, doubtless give me trouble."

"_April 10._ A brighter day is dawning upon me. I send you the
Intelligencer of to-day, in which you will see that the Telegraph is
successfully under way. Through six miles the experiment has been most
gratifying. In a few days I hope to advise you of more respecting it. I
have preferred reserve until I could state something positive. I have my
posts set to Beltsville, twelve miles, and you will see by the
Intelligencer that I am prepared to go directly on to Baltimore and hope
to reach there by the middle of May."

"_May 7._ Let me know when Susan and the two Charles arrive [his son and
his grandson] for, if they come within the next fortnight, I think I can
contrive to run on and pay a visit of two or three days, unless my
marplot Smith should prevent again, as he is likely to do if he comes on
here. As yet there is no settlement of that matter, and he seems
determined (_inter nos_) to be as ugly as he can and defeat all
application for an appropriation if I am to have the management of it. He
chafes like a wild boar, but, when he finds that he can effect nothing by
such a temper, self-interest may soften him into terms.

"You will see by the papers that the Telegraph is in successful operation
for twenty-two miles, to the Junction of the Annapolis road with the
Baltimore and Washington road. The nomination of Mr. Frelinghuysen as
Vice-President was written, sent on, and the receipt acknowledged back in
two minutes and one second, a distance of forty-four miles. The news was
spread all over Washington one hour and four minutes before the cars
containing the news by express arrived. In about a fortnight I hope to be
in Baltimore, and a communication will be established between the two
cities. Good-bye. I am almost asleep from exhaustion, so excuse abrupt

This was the first great triumph of the telegraph. Morse and Vail and
Cornell had worked day and night to get the line in readiness as far as
the Junction so that the proceedings of the Whig Convention could be
reported from that point. Many difficulties were encountered--crossing of
wires, breaks, injury from thunder storms, and the natural errors
incidental to writing and reading what was virtually a new language. But
all obstacles were overcome in time, and the day before the convention
met, Morse wrote to Vail:--

"Get everything ready in the morning for the day, and do not be out of
hearing of your bell. When you learn the name of the candidate nominated,
see if you cannot give it to me and receive an acknowledgment of its
receipt before the cars leave you. If you can it will do more to excite
the wonder of those in the cars than the mere announcement that the news
is gone to Washington."

The next day's report was most encouraging:--

"Things went well to-day. Your last writing was good. You did not correct
your error of running your letters together until some time. Better be
deliberate; we have time to spare, since we do not spend upon our stock.
Get ready to-morrow (Thursday) as to-day. There is great excitement about
the Telegraph and my room is thronged, therefore it is important to have
it in action during the hours named. I may have some of the Cabinet
to-morrow.... Get from the passengers in the cars from Baltimore, or
elsewhere, all the news you can and transmit. A good way of exciting
wonder will be to tell the passengers to give you some short sentence to
send me; let them note time and call at the Capitol to verify the time I
received it. Before transmitting notify me with (48). Your message to-day
that 'the passengers in the cars gave three cheers for Henry Clay,'
excited the highest wonder in the passenger who gave it to you to send
when he found it verified at the Capitol."

In a letter to his friend, Dr. Aycrigg of New Jersey, written on May 8,
and telling of these successful demonstrations, this interesting sentence
occurs: "I find that the ground, in conformity with the results of
experiments of Dr. Franklin, can be made a part of the circuit, and I
have used one wire and the ground with better effect for one circuit than
two wires."

On the 11th of May he again cautions Vail about his writing: "Everything
worked well yesterday, but there is one defect in your writing. Make a
_longer_ space between each letter and a still longer space between each
word. I shall have a great crowd to-day and wish all things to go off
well. Many M.C.s will be present, perhaps Mr. Clay. Give me news by the
cars. When the cars come along, try and get a newspaper from Philadelphia
or New York and give items of intelligence. The arrival of the cars at
the Junction begins to excite here the greatest interest, and both
morning and evening I have had my room thronged."

And now at last the supreme moment had arrived. The line from Washington
to Baltimore was completed, and on the 24th day of May, 1844, the company
invited by the inventor assembled in the chamber of the United States
Supreme Court to witness his triumph. True to his promise to Miss Annie
Ellsworth, he had asked her to indite the first public message which
should be flashed over the completed line, and she, in consultation with
her good mother, chose the now historic words from the 23d verse of the
23d chapter of Numbers--"What hath God wrought!" The whole verse reads:
"Surely there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any
divination, against Israel: according to this time it shall be said of
Jacob and of Israel, What hath God wrought!" To Morse, with his strong
religious bent and his belief that he was but a chosen vessel, every word
in this verse seemed singularly appropriate. Calmly he seated himself at
the instrument and ticked off the inspired words in the dots and dashes
of the Morse alphabet. Alfred Vail, at the other end of the line in
Baltimore, received the message without an error, and immediately flashed
it back again, and the Electro-Magnetic Telegraph was no longer the wild
dream of a visionary, but an accomplished fact.

Mr. Prime's comments, after describing this historic occasion, are so
excellent that I shall give them in full:--

"Again the triumph of the inventor was sublime. His confidence had been
so unshaken that the surprise of his friends in the result was not shared
by him. He knew what the instrument would do, and the fact accomplished
was but the confirmation to others of what to him was a certainty on the
packet-ship Sully in 1832. But the result was not the less gratifying and
sufficient. Had his labors ceased at that moment, he would have
cheerfully exclaimed in the words of Simeon: 'Lord, now lettest thou thy
servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation.'

[Illustration: FIRST FORM OF KEY]

[Illustration: IMPROVED FORM OF KEY]

[Illustration: EARLY RELAY
The two keys and the relay are in the National Museum, Washington]

The Washington-Baltimore instrument is owned by Cornell University]

"The congratulations of his friends followed. He received them with
modesty, in perfect harmony with the simplicity of his character. Neither
then nor at any subsequent period of his life did his language or manner
indicate exultation. He believed himself an instrument employed by Heaven
to achieve a great result, and, having accomplished it, he claimed simply
to be the original and only instrument by which that result had been
reached. With the same steadiness of purpose, tenacity and perseverance,
with which he had pursued the idea by which he was inspired in 1832, he
adhered to his claim to the paternity of that idea, and to the merit of
bringing it to a successful issue. Denied, he asserted it; assailed, he
defended it. Through long years of controversy, discussion and
litigation, he maintained his right. Equable alike in success and
discouragement, calm in the midst of victories, and undismayed by the
number, the violence, and the power of those who sought to deprive him of
the honor and the reward of his work, he manfully maintained his ground,
until, by the verdict of the highest courts of his country, and of
academies of science, and the practical adoption and indorsement of his
system by his own and foreign nations, those wires, which were now
speaking only forty miles from Washington to Baltimore, were stretched
over continents and under oceans making a network to encompass and unite,
in instantaneous intercourse, for business and enjoyment, all parts of
the civilized world."

It was with well-earned but modest satisfaction that he wrote to his
brother Sidney on May 31:--

"You will see by the papers how great success has attended the first
efforts of the Telegraph. That sentence of Annie Ellsworth's was divinely
indited, for it is in my thoughts day and night. 'What hath God wrought!'
It is his work, and He alone could have carried me thus far through all
my trials and enabled me to triumph over the obstacles, physical and
moral, which opposed me.

"'Not unto us, not unto us, but to thy name, O Lord, be all the praise.'

"I begin to fear now the effects of public favor, lest it should kindle
that pride of heart and self-sufficiency which dwells in my own as well
as in others' breasts, and which, alas! is so ready to be inflamed by the
slightest spark of praise. I do indeed feel gratified, and it is right I
should rejoice, but I rejoice with fear, and I desire that a sense of
dependence upon and increased obligation to the Giver of every good and
perfect gift may keep me humble and circumspect.

"The conventions at Baltimore happened most opportunely for the display
of the powers of the Telegraph, especially as it was the means of
correspondence, in one instance, between the Democratic Convention and
the first candidate elect for the Vice-Presidency. The enthusiasm of the
crowd before the window of the Telegraph Room in the Capitol was excited
to the highest pitch at the announcement of the nomination of the
Presidential candidate, and the whole of it afterwards seemed turned upon
the Telegraph. They gave the Telegraph three cheers, and I was called to
make my appearance at the window when three cheers were given to me by
some hundreds present, composed mainly of members of Congress.

"Such is the feeling in Congress that many tell me they are ready to
grant anything. Even the most inveterate opposers have changed to
admirers, and one of them, Hon. Cave Johnson, who ridiculed my system
last session by associating it with the tricks of animal magnetism, came
to me and said: 'Sir, I give in. It is an astonishing invention.'

"When I see all this and such enthusiasm everywhere manifested, and
contrast the present with the past season of darkness and almost despair,
have I not occasion to exclaim 'What hath God wrought'? Surely none but
He who has all hearts in his hands, and turns them as the rivers of
waters are turned could so have brought light out of darkness. 'Sorrow
may continue for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.' Pray for me
then, my dear brother, that I may have a heart to praise the great
Deliverer, and in future, when discouraged or despairing, be enabled to
remember His past mercy, and in full faith rest all my cares on Him who
careth for us.

"Mr. S. still embarrasses the progress of the invention by his
stubbornness, but there are indications of giving way; mainly, I fear,
because he sees his pecuniary interest in doing so, and not from any
sense of the gross injury he has done me. I pray God for a right spirit
in dealing with him."

The incident referred to in this letter with regard to the nomination for
the Vice-Presidency by the Democratic Convention is worthy of more
extended notice. The convention met in Baltimore on the 26th of May, and
it was then that the two-thirds rule was first adopted. Van Buren had a
majority of the votes, but could not secure the necessary two thirds, and
finally James K. Polk was unanimously nominated. This news was instantly
flashed to Washington by the telegraph and was received with mingled
feelings of enthusiasm, disappointment, and wonder, and not believed by
many until confirmed by the arrival of the mail.

The convention then nominated Van Buren's friend, Senator Silas Wright,
of New York, for the Vice-Presidency. This news, too, was immediately
sent by wire to Washington. Morse at once informed Mr. Wright, who was in
the Capitol at the time, of his nomination, but he refused to accept it,
and Morse wired his refusal to Vail in Baltimore, and it was read to the
convention only a few moments after the nomination had been made. This
was too much for the credulity of the assembly, and they adjourned till
the following day and sent a committee to Washington to verify the
dispatch. Upon the return of the committee, with the report that the
telegraph had indeed performed this wonder, this new instrumentality
received such an advertisement as could not fail to please the most

Then a scene was enacted new in the annals of civilization. In Baltimore
the committee of conference surrounded Vail at his instrument, and in
Washington Senator Wright sat beside Morse, all others being excluded.
The committee urged Wright to accept the nomination, giving him good
reasons for doing so. He replied, giving as good reasons for refusing.
This first long-distance conversation was carried on until the committee
was finally convinced that Wright was determined to refuse, and they so
reported to the convention. Mr. Dallas was then nominated, and in
November of that year Polk and Dallas were elected.

On June 3, Morse made his report to the Honorable McClintock Young, who
was then Secretary of the Treasury _ad interim_. It was with great
satisfaction that he was able to say: "Of the appropriation made there
will remain in the Treasury, after the settlement of outstanding
accounts, about $3500, which may be needed for contingent liabilities and
for sustaining the line already constructed, until provision by law shall
be made for such an organization of a telegraphic department or bureau as
shall enable the Telegraph at least to support itself, if not to become a
profitable source of revenue to the Government."

In the course of this report mention is also made of the following
interesting incidents:--

"In regard to the _utility_ of the Telegraph, time alone can determine
and develop the whole capacity for good of so perfect a system. In the
few days of its infancy it has already casually shown its usefulness in
the relief, in various ways, of the anxieties of thousands; and, when
such a sure means of relief is available to the public at large, the
amount of its usefulness becomes incalculable. An instance or two will
best illustrate this quality of the Telegraph.

"A family in Washington was thrown into great distress by a rumor that
one of its members had met with a violent death in Baltimore the evening
before. Several hours must have elapsed ere their state of suspense could
be relieved by the ordinary means of conveyance. A note was dispatched to
the telegraph rooms at the Capitol requesting to have inquiry made at
Baltimore. The messenger had occasion to wait but _ten minutes_ when the
proper inquiry was made at Baltimore, and the answer returned that the
rumor was without foundation. Thus was a worthy family relieved
immediately from a state of distressing suspense.

"An inquiry from a person in Baltimore, holding the check of a gentleman
in Washington upon the Bank of Washington, was sent by telegraph to
ascertain if the gentleman in question had funds in that bank. A
messenger was instantly dispatched from the Capitol who returned in a few
minutes with an affirmative answer, which was returned to Baltimore
instantly, thus establishing a confidence in a money arrangement which
might have affected unfavorably (for many hours, at least) the business
transactions of a man of good credit.

"Other cases might be given, but these are deemed sufficient to
illustrate the point of utility, and to suggest to those who will reflect
upon them thousands of cases in the public business, in commercial
operations, and in private and social transactions, which establish
beyond a doubt the immense advantages of such a speedy mode of conveying

While such instances of the use of the telegraph are but the commonplaces
of to-day, we can imagine with what wonder they were regarded in 1844.

Morse then addressed a memorial to Congress, on the same day, referring
to the report just quoted from, and then saying:--

"The proprietors respectfully suggest that it is an engine of power, for
good or for evil, which all opinions seem to concur in desiring to have
subject to the control of the Government, rather than have it in the
hands of private individuals and associations; and to this end the
proprietors respectfully submit their willingness to transfer the
exclusive use and control of it, from Washington City to the city of New
York, to the United States, together with such improvements as shall be
made by the proprietors, or either of them, if Congress shall proceed to
cause its construction, and upon either of the following terms."

Here follow the details of the two plans: either outright purchase by the
Government of the existing line and construction by the Government of the
line from Baltimore to New York, or construction of the latter by the
proprietors under contract to the Government; but no specific sum was
mentioned in either case.

This offer was not accepted, as will appear further on, but $8000 was
appropriated for the support of the line already built, and that was all
that Congress would do. It was while this matter was pending that Morse
wrote to his brother Sidney, on June 13:--

"I am in the crisis of matters, so far as this session of Congress is
concerned, in relation to the Telegraph, which absorbs all my time.
Perfect enthusiasm seems to pervade all classes in regard to it, but
there is still the thorn in the flesh which is permitted by a wise Father
to keep me humble, doubtless. May his strength be sufficient for me and I
shall fear nothing, and will bear it till He sees fit to remove it. Pray
for me, as I do for you, that, if prosperity is allotted to us, we may
have hearts to use it to the glory of God."


JUNE 28, 1844--OCTOBER 9, 1846

Fame and fortune now assured.--Government declines purchase of
telegraph.--Accident to leg gives needed rest.--Reflections on ways of
Providence.--Consideration of financial propositions.--F.O.J. Smith's
fulsome praise.--Morse's reply.--Extension of telegraph proceeds slowly.
--Letter to Russian Minister.--Letter to London "Mechanics' Magazine"
claiming priority and first experiments in wireless telegraphy.--Hopes
that Government may yet purchase.--Longing for a home.--Dinner at Russian
Minister's.--Congress again fails him.--Amos Kendall chosen as business
agent.--First telegraph company.--Fourth voyage to Europe.--London,
Broek, Hamburg.--Letter of Charles T. Fleischmann.--Paris.--Nothing
definite accomplished.

Morse's fame was now secure, and fortune was soon to follow. Tried as he
had been in the school of adversity, he was now destined to undergo new
trials, trials incident to success, to prosperity, and to world-wide
eminence. That he foresaw the new dangers which would beset him on every
hand is clearly evidenced in the letters to his brother, but, heartened
by the success which had at last crowned his efforts, he buckled on his
armor ready to do battle to such foes, both within and without, as should
in the future assail him. Fatalist as we must regard him, he believed in
his star; or rather he went forward with sublime faith in that God who
had thus far guarded him from evil, and in his own good time had given
him the victory, and such a victory! For twelve years he had fought on
through trials and privations, hampered by bodily ailments and the deep
discouragements of those who should have aided him. Pitted against the
trained minds and the wealth of other nations, he had gone forth a very
David to battle, and, like David, the simplicity of his missile had given
him the victory. Other telegraphs had been devised by other men; some had
actually been put into operation, but it would seem as if all the nations
had held their breath until his appeared, and, sweeping all the others
from the field, demonstrated and maintained its supremacy.

From this time forward his life became more complex. Honors were showered
upon him; fame carried his name to the uttermost parts of the earth; his
counsel was sought by eminent scientists and by other inventors, both
practical and visionary.

On the other hand, detractors innumerable arose; his rights to the
invention were challenged, in all sincerity and in insincerity;
infringements of his patent rights necessitated long and acrimonious
lawsuits, and, like other men of mark, he was traduced and vilified. In
addition to all this he took an active interest in the seething politics
of the day and in religious questions which, to his mind and that of many
others, affected the very foundations of the nation.

To follow him through all these labyrinthine ways would require volumes,
and I shall content myself with selecting only such letters as may give a
fair idea of how he bore himself in the face of these new and manifold
trials, of how he sometimes erred in judgment and in action, but how
through all he was sincere and firm in his faith, and how, at last, he
was to find that home and that domestic bliss which he had all his life
so earnestly desired, but which had until the evening of his days been
denied to him.

Having won his great victory, retirement from the field of battle would
have best suited him. He was now fifty-three years of age, and he felt
that he had earned repose. To this end he sought to carry out his
long-cherished idea that the telegraph should become the property of the
Government, and he was willing to accept a very modest remuneration. As I
have said before, he and the other proprietors joined in offering the
telegraph to the Government for the paltry sum of $100,000. But the
Administration of that day seems to have been stricken with unaccountable
blindness, for the Postmaster-General, that same wise and sapient Cave
Johnson who had sought to kill the telegraph bill by ridicule in the
House, and in despite of his acknowledgment to Morse, reported: "That the
operation of the Telegraph between Washington and Baltimore had not
satisfied him that, under any rate of postage that could be adopted, its
revenues could be made equal to its expenditures." Congress was equally
lax, and so the Government lost its great opportunity, for when, in after
years, the question of government ownership again came up, it was found
that either to purchase outright or to parallel existing lines would cost
many more millions than it would have taken thousands in 1844.

The failure of the Government to appreciate the value of what was offered
to them was always a source of deep regret to Morse. For, while he
himself gained much more by the operation of private companies, the evils
which he had foretold were more than realized.

But to return to the days of '44, it would seem that in the spring of
that year he met with a painful accident. Its exact nature is not
specified, but it must have been severe, and yet we learn from the
following letter to his brother Sidney, dated June 23, that he saw in it
only another blessing:--

"I am still in bed, and from appearances I am likely to be held here for
many days, perhaps weeks. The wound on the leg was worse than I at first
supposed. It seems slow in healing and has been much inflamed, although
now yielding to remedies. My hope was to have spent some weeks in New
York, but it will now depend on the time of the healing of my leg.

"The ways of God are mysterious, and I find prayer answered in a way not
at all anticipated. This accident, as we are apt to call it, I can
plainly see is calculated to effect many salutary objects. I needed rest
of body and mind after my intense anxieties and exertions, and I might
have neglected it, and so, perhaps, brought on premature disease of both;
but I am involuntarily laid up so that I must keep quiet, and, although
the fall that caused my wound was painful at first, yet I have no severe
pain with it now. But the principal effect is, doubtless, intended to be
of a spiritual character, and I am afforded an opportunity of quiet
reflection on the wonderful dealings of God with me.

"I cannot but constantly exclaim, 'What hath God wrought!' When I look
back upon the darkness of last winter and reflect how, at one time
everything seemed hopeless; when I remember that all my associates in the
enterprise of the Telegraph had either deserted me or were discouraged,
and one had even turned my enemy, reviler and accuser (and even Mr. Vail,
who has held fast to me from the beginning, felt like giving up just in
the deepest darkness of all); when I remember that, giving up all hope
myself from any other source than his right arm which brings salvation,
his salvation did come in answer to prayer, faith is strengthened, and
did I not know by too sad experience the deceitfulness of the heart, I
should say that it was impossible for me again to distrust or feel
anxiety, undue anxiety, for the future. But He who knows the heart knows
its disease, and, as the Good Physician, if we give ourselves
unreservedly into his hands to be cured, He will give that medicine which
his perfect knowledge of our case prescribes.

"I am well aware that just now my praises ring from one end of the
country to the other. I cannot take up a paper in which I do not find
something to flatter the natural pride of the heart. I have prayed,
indeed, against it; I have asked for a right spirit under a trial of a
new character, for prosperity is a trial, and our Saviour has denounced a
woe on us 'when all men speak well of us.' May it not then be in answer
to this prayer that He shuts me up, to strengthen me against the
temptations which the praises of the world present, and so, by meditation
on his dealings with me and reviewing the way in which He has led me,
showing me my perfect helplessness without Him, He is preparing to bless
me with stronger faith and more unreserved faith in Him?

"To Him, indeed, belongs all the glory. I have had evidence enough that
without Christ I could do nothing. All my strength is there and I
fervently desire to ascribe to Him all the praise. If I am to have
influence, increased influence, I desire to have it for Christ, to use it
for his cause; if wealth, for Christ; if more knowledge, for Christ. I
speak sincerely when I say I fear prosperity lest I should be proud and
forget whence it comes."

Having at length recovered from the accident which had given him, in
spite of himself, the rest which he so much needed, Morse again devoted
himself to his affairs with his accustomed vigor. The Government still
delaying to take action, he was compelled, much to his regret, to
consider the offers of private parties to extend the lines of the
telegraph to important points in the Union. He had received propositions
from various persons who were eager to push the enterprise, but in all
negotiations he was hampered by the dilatoriness of Smith, who seemed
bent on putting as many obstacles in the way of an amicable settlement as
possible, and some of whose propositions had to be rejected for obvious
reasons. Before Congress had finally put the quietus on his hopes in that
direction, he considered the advisability of parting with his interest to
some individual, and, on July 1, 1844, he wrote to Mr. David Burbank from

"In reply to your query for what sum I would sell my share of the patent
right in the Telegraph, which amounts to one half, I frankly say that, if
_one hundred and ten thousand dollars_ shall be secured to me in cash,
current funds in the United States, or stocks at cash value, such as I
may be disposed to accept if presented, so that in six months from this
date I shall realize that sum, I will assign over all my rights and
privileges in the Telegraph in the United States.

"I offer it at this price, not that I estimate the value of the invention
so low, for it is perfectly demonstrable that the sum above mentioned is
not half its value, but that I may have my own mind free to be occupied
in perfecting the system, and in a general superintendence of it,
unembarrassed by the business arrangements necessary to secure its utmost
usefulness and value."

A Mr. Fry of Philadelphia had also made an offer, and, referring to this,
he wrote to Smith from New York, on July 17: "A letter from Mr. Fry, of
Philadelphia, in answer to the proposals which you sent, I have just
received. I wish much to see you, as I cannot move in this matter until I
know your views. I am here for about a fortnight and wish some
arrangements made by which our business can be transacted without the
necessity of so much waiting and so much writing."

All these negotiations seem to have come to nothing, and I have only
mentioned them as showing Morse's willingness to part with his interest
for much less than he knew it was worth, in order that he might not prove
an obstacle in the expansion of the system by being too mercenary, and so
that he might obtain some measure of freedom from care.

Mr. F.O.J. Smith, while still proving himself a thorn in the flesh to
Morse in many ways, had compiled a Telegraph Dictionary which he called:
"The Secret Corresponding Vocabulary, adapted for Use to Morse's
Electro-Magnetic Telegraph, and also in conducting Written Correspondence
transmitted by the Mails, or otherwise." The dedication reads as follows:

_To Professor Samuel F.B. Morse, Inventor of the Electro-Magnetic

Sir,--The homage of the world during the last half-century has been, and
will ever continue to be, accorded to the name and genius of the
illustrious American philosopher, Benjamin Franklin, for having first
taught mankind that the wild and terrific ways and forces of the electric
fluid, as it flies and flashes through the rent atmosphere, or descends
to the surface of the earth, are guided by positive and fixed laws, as
much as the movements of more sluggish matter in the physical creation,
and that its terrible death-strokes may be rendered harmless by proper
scientific precautions.

To another name of another generation, yet of the same proud national
nativity, the glory has been reserved of having first taught mankind to
reach even beyond the results of Franklin, and to subdue in a modified
state, into the familiar and practical uses of a household servant who
runs at his master's bidding, this same once frightful and tremendous
element. Indeed the great work of science which Franklin commenced for
the protection of man, you have most triumphantly subdued to his
convenience. And it needs not the gift of prophecy to foresee, nor the
spirit of personal flattery to declare, that the names of Franklin and
Morse are destined to glide down the declivity of time together, the
equals in the renown of inventive achievements, until the hand of History
shall become palsied, and whatever pertains to humanity shall be lost in
the general dissolution of matter.

Of one thus rich in the present applause of his countrymen, and in the
prospect of their future gratitude, it affords the author of the
following compilation, which is designed to contribute in a degree to the
practical usefulness of your invention, a high gratification to speak in
the presence of an enlightened public feeling.

That you may live to witness the full consummation of the vast revolution
in the social and business relations of your countrymen, which your
genius has proved to be feasible, under the liberal encouragement of our
national councils, and that you may, with this great gratification, also
realize from it the substantial reward, which inventive merit too seldom
acquires, in the shape of pecuniary independence, is the sincere wish of

Your most respectful and obedient servant
The Author.

This florid and fulsome eulogy was written by that singular being who
could thus flatter, and almost apotheosize, the inventor in public, while
in secret he was doing everything to thwart him, and who never, as long
as he lived, ceased to antagonize him, and later accused him of having
claimed the credit of an invention all the essentials of which were
invented by others. No wonder that Morse was embarrassed and at a loss
how to reply to the letter of Smith's enclosing this eulogy and, at the
same time, bringing up one of the subjects in dispute:--

New York, November 13, 1844.

Dear Sir,--I have received yours of the 4th and 5th inst., and reply in
relation to the several subjects you mention in their order.

I like very well the suggestion in regard to the presentation of a set of
the Telegraph Dictionary you are publishing to each member of Congress,
and, when I return to Washington, will see the Secretary of the Treasury
and see if he will assent to it.

As to the dedication to me, since you have asked my opinion, I must say I
should prefer to have it much curtailed and less laudatory. I must refer
it entirely to you, however, as it is not for me to say what others
should write and think of me.

In regard to the Bartlett claim against the Government and your plan for
settling it, I cannot admit that, as proprietors of the Telegraph, we
have anything to do with it. I regret that there has been any mention of
it, and I had hoped that you yourself had come to the determination to
leave the matter altogether, or at least until the Telegraph bill had
been definitely settled in Congress. However much I may deprecate
agitation of the subject in the Senate, to mar and probably to defeat all
our prospects, it is a matter over which I have no control in the aspect
that has been given to it, and therefore--"the suppression of details
which had better not be pushed to a decision"--does not rest with me.

In regard, however, to such a division of the property of the Telegraph
as shall enable each of us to labor for the general benefit without
embarrassment from each other, I think it worthy of consideration, and
the principle on which such a division is proposed to be made might be
extended to embrace the entire property. The subject, however, requires
mature deliberation, and I am not now prepared to present the plan, but
will think it over and consult with Vail and Gale and arrange it, perhaps
definitely, when I see you again in Washington.

I have letters from Vail at Washington and Rogers at Baltimore stating
the fact that complete success has attended all the transmission of
results by Telegraph, there not having been a failure in a single
instance, and to the entire satisfaction of both political parties in the
perfect impartiality of the directors of the Telegraph.

While the success of the Telegraph had now been fully demonstrated, and
while congratulations and honors were showered on the inventor from all
quarters, negotiations for its extension proceeded but slowly. Morse
still kept hoping that the Government would eventually purchase all the
rights, and it was not until well into 1845 that he was compelled to
abandon this dream. In the mean time he was kept busy replying to
enquiries from the representatives of Russia, France, and other European
countries, and in repelling attacks which had already been launched
against him in scientific circles. As an example of the former I shall
quote from a letter to His Excellency Alexander de Bodisco, the Russian
Minister, written in December, 1844:--

"In complying with your request to write you respecting my invention of
the Electro-Magnetic Telegraph, I find there are but few points of
interest not embraced in the printed documents already in your
possession. The principle on which, my whole invention rests is the power
of the electro-magnet commanded at pleasure at any distance. The
application of this power to the telegraph is original with me. If the
electro-magnet is now used in Europe for telegraphic purposes, it has
been subsequently introduced. All the systems of electric telegraphs in
Europe from 1820 to 1840 are based on the _deflection of the magnetic
needle_, while my system, invented in 1832, is based, as I have just
observed, on the electro-magnet....

"Should the Emperor be desirous of the superintendence of an experienced
person to put the Telegraph in operation in Russia, I will either engage
myself to visit Russia for that purpose; or, if my own or another
government shall, previous to receiving an answer from Russia, engage my
personal attendance, I will send an experienced person in my stead."

As a specimen of the vigorous style in which he repelled attacks on his
merits as an inventor, I shall give the following:--

Messrs. Editors,--The London "Mechanics' Magazine," for October, 1844,
copies an article from the Baltimore "American" in which my discovery in
relation to causing electricity to cross rivers without wires is
announced, and then in a note to his readers the editor of the magazine
makes the following assertion: "The English reader need scarcely be
informed that Mr. Morse has in this, as in other matters relating to
magneto telegraphs, only _re_discovered what was previously well known in
this country."

More illiberality and deliberate injustice has been seldom condensed
within so small a compass. From the experience, however, that I, in
common with many American scientific gentlemen, have already had of the
piratical conjoined with the abusive propensity of a certain class of
English _savans_ and writers, I can scarcely expect either liberality or
justice from the quarter whence this falsehood has issued. But there is,
fortunately, an appeal to my own countrymen, to the impartial and
liberal-minded of Continental Europe, and the truly noble of England

I claim to be the original inventor of the Electro-Magnetic Telegraph; to
be the first who planned and operated a really practicable Electric
Telegraph. This is the broad claim I make in behalf of my country and
myself before the world. If I cannot substantiate this claim, if any
other, to whatever country he belongs, can make out a previous or better
claim, I will cheerfully yield him the palm.

Although I had planned and completed my Telegraph unconscious, until
after my Telegraph was in operation, that even the words "Electric
Telegraph" had ever been combined until I had combined them, I have now
made myself familiar with, I believe, all the plans, abortive and
otherwise, which have been given to the world since the time of Franklin,
who was the first to suggest the possibility of using electricity as a
means of transmitting intelligence. With this knowledge, both of the
various plans devised and the time when they were severally devised, I
claim to be the first inventor of a really practicable telegraph on the
electric principle. When this shall be seriously called in question by
any responsible name, I have the proof in readiness.

As to English electric telegraphs, the telegraph of Wheatstone and Cooke,
called the Magnetic Needle Telegraph, inefficient as it is, was invented
five years after mine, and the printing telegraph, so-called (the title
to the invention of which is litigated by Wheatstone and Bain) was
invented seven years after mine.

So much for my _re_discovering what was previously known in England.

As to the discovery that electricity may be made to cross the water
without wire conductors, above, through, or beneath the water, the very
reference by the editor to another number of the magazine, and to the
experiments of Cooke, or rather Steinheil, and of Bain, shows that the
editor is wholly ignorant of the nature of my experiment. I have in
detail the experiments of Bain and Wheatstone. They were merely in effect
repetitions of the experiments of Steinheil. Their object was to show
that the earth or water can be made one half of the circuit in conducting
electricity, a fact proved by Franklin with ordinary electricity in the
last century, and by Professor Steinheil, of Munich, with magnetic
electricity in 1837. Mr. Bain, and after him Mr. Wheatstone, in England
repeated, or (to use the English editor's phrase) rediscovered the same
fact in 1841. But what have these experiments, in which _one wire_ is
carried across the river, to do with mine _which dispenses with wires
altogether_ across the river? I challenge the proof that such an
experiment has ever been tried in Europe, unless it be since the
publication of my results.

The year 1844 was drawing to a close and Congress still was dilatory.
Morse hated to abandon his cherished dream of government ownership, and,
while carrying on negotiations with private parties in order to protect
himself, he still hoped that Congress would at last see the light. He
writes to his brother from Washington on December 30:--

"Telegraph matters look exceedingly encouraging, not only for the United
States but for Europe. I have just got a letter from a special agent of
the French Government, sent to Boston by the Minister of Foreign Affairs,
in which he says that he has seen mine and 'is convinced of its
superiority,' and wishes all information concerning it, adding: 'I
consider it my duty to make a special report on your admirable

And on January 18, 1845, he writes:--

"I am well, but anxiously waiting the action of Congress on the bill for
extension of Telegraph. Texas drives everything else into a corner. I
have not many fears if they will only get it up. I had to-day the
Russian, Spanish, and Belgian Ministers to see the operation of the
Telegraph; they were astonished and delighted. The Russian Minister
particularly takes the deepest interest in it, and will write to his
Government by next steamer. The French Minister also came day before
yesterday, and will write in its favor to his Government.... Senator
Woodbury gave a discourse before the Institute a few nights ago, in the
Hall of the House of Representatives, in which he lauded the Telegraph in
the highest terms, and thought I had gone a step beyond Franklin! The
popularity of the Telegraph increases rather than declines."

The mention of Texas in this letter refers to the fact that Polk was
elected to the Presidency on a platform which favored the annexation of
that republic to the United States, and this question was, naturally,
paramount in the halls of Congress. Texas was admitted to the Union in
December, 1845.

Writing to his daughter, Mrs. Lind, in Porto Rico on February 8, he

"The Telegraph operates to the perfect satisfaction of the public, as you
perhaps see by the laudatory notices of the papers in all parts of the
country. I am now in a state of unpleasant suspense waiting the passage
of the bill for the extension of the Telegraph to New York.

"I am in hopes they will take it up and pass it next week; if they should
not, I shall at once enter into arrangements with private companies to
take it and extend it.

"I do long for the time, if it shall be permitted, to have you with your
husband and little Charles around me. I feel my loneliness more and more
keenly every day. Fame and money are in themselves a poor substitute for
domestic happiness; as means to that end I value them. Yesterday was the
sad anniversary (the twentieth) of your dear mother's death, and I spent
the most of it in thinking of her...."

"_Thursday, February 12._ I dined at the Russian Ambassador's Tuesday. It
was the most gorgeous dinner-party I ever attended in any country.
Thirty-six sat down to table; there were eleven Senators, nearly half the
Senate.... The table, some twenty or twenty-five feet long, was decorated
with immense gilt vases of flowers on a splendid plateau of richly chased
gilt ornaments, and candelabra with about a hundred and fifty lights. We
were ushered into the house through eight liveried servants, who
afterward waited on us at table.

"I go to-morrow evening to Mr. Wickliffe's, Postmaster General, and,
probably, on Wednesday evening next to the President's. The new
President, Polk, arrived this evening amid the roar of cannon. He will be
inaugurated on the 4th of March, and I presume I shall be there.

"I am most anxiously waiting the action of Congress on the Telegraph. It
is exceedingly tantalizing to suffer so much loss of precious time that
cannot be recalled."

This time there was no eleventh-hour passage of the bill, for Congress
adjourned without reaching it, and while this, in the light of future
events, was undoubtedly a tactical error on the part of the Government,
it inured to the financial benefit of the inventor himself. The question
now arose of the best means of extending the business of the telegraph
through private companies, and Morse keenly felt the need of a better
business head than he possessed to guide the enterprise through the
shoals and quicksands of commerce. He was fortunate in choosing as his
business and legal adviser the Honorable Amos Kendall.

Mr. James D. Reid, one of the early telegraphers and a staunch and
faithful friend of Morse's, thus speaks of Mr. Kendall in his valuable
book "The Telegraph in America":--

"Mr. Kendall is too well known in American history to require
description. He was General Jackson's Postmaster General, incorruptible,
able, an educated lawyer, clear-headed, methodical, and ingenious. But he
was somewhat rigid in his manners and methods, and lacked the dash and
_bonhomie_ which would have carried him successfully into the business
centres of the seaboard cities, and brought capital largely and
cheerfully to his feet. Of personal magnetism, indeed, except in private
intercourse, where he was eminently delightful, he had, at this period of
his life, none. This made his work difficult, especially with railroad
men. Yet the Telegraph could not have been entrusted to more genuinely
honest and able hands. On the part of those he represented this
confidence was so complete that their interests were committed to him
without reserve."

Professor Gale and Alfred Vail joined with Morse in entrusting their
interests to Mr. Kendall's care, but F.O.J. Smith preferred to act for
himself. This caused much trouble in the future, for it was a foregone
conclusion that the honest, upright Kendall and the shifty Smith were
bound to come into conflict with each other. The latter, as one of the
original patentees, had to be consulted in every sale of patent rights,
and Kendall soon found it almost impossible to deal with him.

At first Kendall had great difficulty in inducing capitalists to
subscribe to what was still looked upon as a very risky venture. Mr.
Corcoran, of Washington, was the first man wise in his generation, and
others then followed his lead, so that a cash capital of $15,000 was
raised. Mr. Reid says: "It was provided, in this original subscription,
that the payment of $50 should entitle the subscriber to two shares of
$50 each. A payment of $15,000, therefore, required an issue of $30,000
stock. To the patentees were issued an additional $30,000 stock, or half
of the capital, as the consideration of the patent. The capital was thus
$60,000 for the first link. W.W. Corcoran and B.B. French were made
trustees to hold the patent rights and property until organization was
effected. Meanwhile an act of incorporation was granted by the
legislature of the State of Maryland, the first telegraphic charter
issued in the United States."

The company was called "The Magnetic Telegraph Company," and was the
first telegraph company in the United States.

Under the able, if conservative, management of Mr. Kendall the business
of the telegraph progressed slowly but surely. Many difficulties were
encountered, many obstacles had to be overcome, and the efforts of
unprincipled men to pirate the invention, or to infringe on the patent,
were the cause of numerous lawsuits. But it is not my purpose to write a
history of the telegraph. Mr. Reid has accomplished this task much better
than I possibly could, and, in following the personal history of Morse,
the now famous inventor, I shall but touch, incidentally on all these

On the 18th of July, 1845, the following letter of introduction was sent
to Morse from the Department of State:--

To the respective Diplomatic and Consular Agents of the United States in

SIR,--The bearer hereof, Professor Samuel F.B. Morse, of New York,
Superintendent of Electro Magnetic Telegraphs for the United States, is
about to visit Europe for the purpose of exhibiting to the various
governments his own system, and its superiority over others now in use.
From a personal knowledge of Professor Morse I can speak confidently of
his amiability of disposition and high respectability. The merits of his
discoveries and inventions in this particular branch of science are, I
believe, universally conceded in this country.

I take pleasure in introducing him to your acquaintance and in bespeaking
for him, during his stay in your neighborhood, such attentions and good
offices in aid of his object as you may find it convenient to extend to

I am, sir, with great respect,
Your obedient servant,
_Secretary of State._

[Illustration: S.F.B. Morse
From a portrait by Daniel Huntington]

With the assurance that he had left his business affairs in capable
hands, Morse sailed from New York on August 6, 1845, and arrived in
Liverpool on the 25th. For the fourth time he was crossing from America
to Europe, but under what totally different circumstances. On previous
occasions, practically unknown, he had voyaged forth to win his spurs in
the field of art, or to achieve higher honors in this same field, or as a
humble petitioner at the courts of Europe. Forced by circumstances to
practise the most rigid economy, he had yet looked confidently to the
future for his reward in material as well as spiritual gifts. Now, having
abandoned his art, he had won such fame in a totally different realm that
his name was becoming well-known in all the centres of civilization, and
he was assured of a respectful hearing wherever he might present himself.
Freed already from pecuniary embarrassment, he need no longer take heed
for the morrow, but could with a light heart give himself up to the
enjoyment of new scenes, and the business of proving to other nations the
superiority of his system, secure in the knowledge that, whatever might
betide him in Europe, he was assured of a competence at home.

His brother Sidney, with his family, had preceded him to Europe, and
writing to Vail from London on September 1, Morse says:--

"I have just taken lodgings with my brother and his family preparatory to
looking about for a week, when I shall continue my journey to Stockholm
and St. Petersburg, by the way of Hamburg, direct from London.

"On my way from Liverpool I saw at Rugby the telegraph wires of
Wheatstone, which extend, I understood, as far as Northampton. I went
into the office as the train stopped a moment, and had a glimpse of the
instrument as we have seen it in the 'Illustrated Times.' The place was
the ticket-office and the man very uncommunicative, but he told me it was
not in operation and that they did not use it much. This is easily
accounted for from the fact that the two termini are inconsiderable
places, and Wheatstone's system clumsy and complicated. The advantage of
recording is incalculable, and in this I have the undisputed superiority.
As soon as I can visit the telegraph-office here I will give you the
result of my observation. I shall probably do nothing until my return
from the north."

Nothing definite was accomplished during his short stay in London, and on
the 17th of September he left for the Continent with Mr. Henry Ellsworth
and his wife. Mr. Ellsworth, the son of his old friend, had been
appointed attaché to the American Legation at Stockholm. Morse's letters
to his daughter give a detailed account of his journey, but I shall give
only a few extracts from them:--

"_Hamburg, September 27, 1845._ Everything being ready on the morning of
the 17th instant, we left Brompton Square in very rainy and stormy
weather, and drove down to the Custom-house wharf and went on board our
destined steamer, the William Joliffe, a dirty, black-looking, tub-like
thing, about as large but not half so neat as a North River wood-sloop.
The wind was full from the Southwest, blowing a gale with rain, and I
confess I did not much fancy leaving land in so unpromising a craft and
in such weather; yet our vessel proved an excellent seaboat, and,
although all were sick on board but Mr. Ellsworth and myself, we had a
safe but rough passage across the boisterous North Sea."

Stopping but a short time in Rotterdam, the party proceeded through the
Hague and Haarlem to Amsterdam, and from the latter place they visited
the village of Broek:--

"The inn at Broek was another example of the same neatness. Here we took
a little refreshment before going into the village. We walked of course,
for no carriage, not even a wheelbarrow, appeared to be allowed any more
than in a gentleman's parlor. Everything about the exterior of the houses
and gardens was as carefully cared for as the furniture and
embellishments of the interior. The streets (or rather alleys, like those
of a garden) were narrow and paved with small variously colored bricks
forming every variety of ornamental figures. The houses, from the highest
to the lowest class, exhibited not merely comfort but luxury, yet it was
a selfish sort of luxury. The perpetually closed door and shut-up rooms
of ceremony, the largest and most conspicuous of all in the house, gave
an air of inhospitableness which, I should hope, was not indicative of
the real character of the inhabitants. Yet it seemed to be a deserted
village, a place of the dead rather than of the living, an ornamental
graveyard. The liveliness of social beings was absent and was even
inconsistent with the superlative neatness of all around us. It was a
best parlor out-of-doors, where the gayety of frolicking children would
derange the set order of the furniture, or an accidental touch of a
sacrilegious foot might scratch the polish of a fresh-varnished fence, or
flatten down the nap of the green carpet of grass, every blade of which
is trained to grow exactly so.

"The grounds and gardens of a Mr. Vander Beck were, indeed, a curiosity
from the strange mixture of the useful with the ridiculously ornamental.
Here were the beautiful banks of a lake and Nature's embellishment of
reeds and water plants, which, for a wonder, were left to grow in their
native luxuriance, and in the midst a huge pasteboard or wooden swan, and
a wooden mermaid of tasteless proportions blowing from a conchshell. In
another part was a cottage with puppets the size of life moving by
clock-work; a peasant smoking and turning a reel to wind off the thread
which his 'goed vrow' is spinning upon a wheel, while a most sheep-like
dog is made to open his mouth and to bark--a dog which is, doubtless, the
progenitor of all the barking, toy-shop dogs of the world. Directly in
the vicinity is a beautiful grapery, with the richest clusters of grapes
literally covering the top, sides and walls of the greenhouse, which
stands in the midst of a garden, gay with dahlias and amaranths and every
variety of flowers, with delicious fruits thickly studding the
well-trained trees. Everything, however, was cut up into miniature
landscapes; little bridges and little temples adorned little canals and
little mounds, miniature representations of streams and bills.

"We visited the residence of the burgomaster. He was away and his
servants permitted us to see the house. It was cleaning-day. Everything
in the house was in keeping with the character of the village. But the
kitchen! how shall I describe it? The polished marble floor, the dressers
with glass doors like a bookcase, to keep the least particle of dust from
the bright-polished utensils of brass and copper. The varnished mahogany
handle of the brass spigot, lest the moisture of the hand in turning it
should soil its polish, and, will you believe it, the very pothooks as
well as the cranes (for there were two), in the fireplace were as bright
as your scissors!

"Broek is certainly a curiosity. It is unique, but the impression left
upon me is not, on the whole, agreeable. I should not be contented to
live there. It is too ridiculously and uncomfortably nice. Fancy a lady
always dressed throughout the day in her best evening-party dress, and
say if she could move about with that ease which she would like. Such,
however, must be the feeling of the inhabitants of Broek; they must be in
perpetual fear, not only of soiling or deranging their clothes merely,
but their very streets every step they take. But good-bye to Broek. I
would not have missed seeing it but do not care to see it again."

Holland, which he had never visited before, interested him greatly, but
he could not help saying: "One feels in Holland like being in a ship,
constantly liable to spring a leak."

Hamburg he found more to his taste:--

"_September 26._ Hamburg, you may remember, was nearly destroyed by fire
in 1842. It is now almost rebuilt and in a most splendid style of
architecture. I am much prepossessed in its favor. We have taken up our
quarters at the Victoria Hotel, one of the splendid new hotels of the
city. I find the season so far advanced in these northern regions that I
am thinking of giving up my journey farther north. My matters in London
will demand all my spare time."

"_September 30._ The windows of my hotel look out upon the Alster Basin,
a beautiful sheet of water, three sides of which are surrounded with
splendid houses. Boats and swans are gliding over the glassy surface,
giving, with the well-dressed promenaders along the shores, an air of
gayety and liveliness to the scene."

It will not be necessary to follow the traveller step by step during this
visit to Europe. He did not go to Sweden and Russia, as he had at first
planned, for he learned that the Emperor of Russia was in the South, and
that nothing could be accomplished in his absence. He, therefore,
returned to London from Hamburg. He was respectfully received everywhere
and his invention was recognized as being one of great merit and
simplicity, but it takes time for anything new to make its way. This is,
perhaps, best summed up in the words of Charles T. Fleischmann, who at
that time was agent of the United States Patent Office, and was
travelling through Europe collecting information on agriculture,
education, and the arts. He was a good friend of Morse's and an
enthusiastic advocate of his invention. He carried with him a complete
telegraphic outfit and lost no opportunity to bring it to the notice of
the different governments visited by him, and his official position gave
him the entree everywhere. Writing from Vienna on October 7, he says:--

"There is no doubt Morse's telegraph is the best of that description I
have yet seen, but the difficulty of introducing it is in this
circumstance, that every scientific man invents a similar thing and,
without having the practical experience and practical arrangement which
make Morse's so preferable, they will experiment a few miles' distance
only, and no doubt it works; but, when they come to put it up at a great
distance, then they will find that their experience is not sufficient,
and must come back ultimately to Morse's plan. The Austrian Government is
much occupied selecting out of many plans (of telegraphs) one for her
railroads. I have offered Morse's and proposed experiments. I am
determined to stay for some time, to give them a chance of making up
their minds."

Two other young Americans, Charles Robinson and Charles L. Chapin, were
also travelling around Europe at this time for the purpose of introducing
Morse's invention, but, while all these efforts resulted in the ultimate
adoption by all the nations of Europe, and then of the world, of this
system, the superiority of which all were compelled, sometimes
reluctantly, to admit, no arrangement was made by which Morse and his
co-proprietors benefited financially. The gain in fame was great, in
money nil. It was, therefore, with mixed feelings that Morse wrote to his
brother from Paris on November 1:--

"I am still gratified in verifying the fact that my Telegraph is ahead of
all the other systems proposed. Wheatstone's is not adopted here. The
line from Paris to Rouen is not on his plan, but is an experimental line
of the Governmental Commission. I went to see it yesterday with my old
friend the Administrator-in-Chief of the Telegraphs of France, Mr. Poy,
who is one of the committee to decide on the best mode for France. The
system on this line is his modification.... I have had a long interview
with M. Arago. He is the same affable and polite man as in 1839. He is a
warm friend of mine and contends for priority in my favor, and is also
partial to my telegraphic system as the best. He is President of the
Commission and is going to write the History of Electric Telegraphs. I
shall give him the facts concerning mine. The day after to-morrow I
exhibit my telegraphic system again to the Academy of Sciences, and am in
the midst of preparations for a day important to me. I have strong hopes
that mine will be the system adopted, but there may be obstacles I do not
see. Wheatstone, at any rate, is not in favor here....

"I like the French. Every nation has its defects and I could wish many
changes here, but the French are a fine people. I receive a welcome here
to which I was a perfect stranger in England. How deep this welcome may
be I cannot say, but if one must be cheated I like to have it done in a
civil and polite way."

He sums up the result of his European trip in a letter to his daughter,
written from London on October 9, as he was on his way to Liverpool from
where he sailed on November 19, 1845:--

"I know not what to say of my telegraphic matters here yet. There is
nothing decided upon and I have many obstacles to contend against,
particularly the opposition of the proprietors of existing telegraphs;
but that mine is the best system I have now no doubt. All that I have
seen, while they are ingenious, are more complicated, more expensive,
less efficient and easier deranged. It may take some time to establish
the superiority of mine over the others, for there is the usual array of
prejudice and interest against a system which throws others out of use."


DECEMBER 20, 1845--APRIL 18, 1849

Return to America.--Telegraph affairs in bad shape.--Degree of LL.D. from
Yale.--Letter from Cambridge Livingston.--Henry O'Reilly.--Grief at
unfaithfulness of friends.--Estrangement from Professor Henry.--Morse's
"Defense."--His regret at feeling compelled to publish it.--Hopes to
resume his brush.--Capitol panel.--Again disappointed.--Another
accident.--First money earned from telegraph devoted to religious
purposes.--Letters to his brother Sidney.--Telegraph matters.--Mexican
War.--Faith in the future.--Desire to be lenient to opponents.--Dr.
Jackson.--Edward Warren.--Alfred Vail remains loyal.--Troubles in
Virginia.--Henry J. Rogers.--Letter to J.D. Reid about O'Reilly.--F.O.J.
Smith again.--Purchases a home at last.--"Locust Grove," on the Hudson,
near Poughkeepsie.--Enthusiastic description.--More troubles without, but
peace in his new home.

Having established to his satisfaction the fact that his system was
better than any of the European plans, which was the main object of his
trip abroad, Morse returned to his native land, but not to the rest and
quiet which he had so long desired. Telegraph lines were being pushed
forward in all directions, but the more the utility of this wonderful new
agent was realized, the greater became the efforts to break down the
lawful rights of the patentees, and competing lines were, hurriedly built
on the plea of fighting a baleful monopoly by the use of the inventions
of others, said to be superior. Internal dissensions also arose in the
ranks of the workers on the Morse lines, and some on whom he had relied
proved faithless, or caused trouble in other ways. But, while these
clouds arose to darken his sky, there was yet much sunshine to gladden
his heart. His health was good, his children and the families of his
brothers were well and prosperous. In the year 1846 his patent rights
were extended for another period of years, and he was gradually
accumulating a competence as the various lines in which he held stock
began to declare dividends. In addition to all this his fame had so
increased that he was often alluded to in the papers as "the idol of the
nation," and honorary degrees were conferred on him by various
institutions both at home and abroad. Of these the one that, perhaps,
pleased him the most was the degree of LL.D. bestowed by his _alma
mater_, Yale. He alludes to it with pride in many of his letters to his
brother Sidney, and once playfully suggests that it must mean "Lightning
Line Doctor."

One of the first letters which he received on his return to America was
from Cambridge Livingston, dated December 20, 1845, and reads as

"The Trustees of the New York and Boston Magnetic Telegraph Association
are getting up a certificate of stock, and are desirous of making it neat
and appropriate. It has seemed to me very desirable that one of its
decorations should be your coat of arms, and if you will do me the favor
to transmit a copy, or a wax impression of the same, I shall be much

To this Morse replied:--

"I send you a sketch of the Morse coat of arms, according to your
request, to do as you please with it. I am no advocate of heraldic
devices, but the _motto_ in this case sanctions it with me. I wish to
live and die in its spirit:--

"'_Deo non armis fido._'"

I have said that many on whom Morse relied proved faithless, and, while I
do not intend to go into the details of all these troubles, it is only
right that, in the interest of historical truth, some mention should be
made of some of these men. The one who, next to F.O.J. Smith, caused the
most trouble to Morse and his associates, was Henry O'Reilly. Mr. Reid,
in his "Telegraph in America," thus describes him:--

"Henry O'Reilly was in many respects a wonderful man. His tastes were
cultivated. His instincts were fine. He was intelligent and genial. His
energy was untiring, his hopefulness shining. His mental activity and
power of continuous labor were marvellous. He was liberal, generous,
profuse, full of the best instincts of his nation. But he lacked prudence
in money matters, was loose in the use of it, had little veneration for
contracts, was more anxious for personal fame than wealth. He formed and
broke friendships with equal rapidity, was bitter in his hates, was
impatient of restraint. My personal attachment to him was great and
sincere. We were friends for many years until he became the agent of
F.O.J. Smith, and my duties threw me in collision with him."

It was not until some years after his first connection with the
telegraph, in 1845, that O'Reilly turned against Morse and his
associates. This will be referred to at the proper time, but I have
introduced him now to give point to the following extract from a letter
of his to Morse, dated December 28, 1845:--

"Do you recollect a person who, while under your hands for a
daguerreotype in 1840-41, broke accidentally an eight-dollar lens? Tho'
many tho't you 'visionary' in your ideas of telegraphic communication,
that person, you may recollect, took a lively interest in the matter, and
made some suggestions about the propriety of pressing the matter
energetically upon Congress and upon public attention. You seemed then to
feel pleased to find a person who took so lively an interest in your
invention, and you will see by the enclosed circular that that person
(your humble servant) has not lost any of his early confidence in its
value. May you reap an adequate reward for the glorious thought!"

It was one of life's little ironies that the man who could thus call down
good fortune on the head of the inventor should soon after become one of
the chief instruments in the effort to rob him of his "adequate reward,"
and his good name as well. Morse had such bitter experiences with several
persons, who turned from friends to enemies, that it is no wonder he
wrote as follows to Vail some time after this date:--

"I am grieved to say that many things have lately come to my knowledge in
regard to ---- that show double-dealing. Be on your guard. I hope it is
but appearance, and that his course may be cleared up by subsequent

"I declare to you that I have seen so much duplicity in those in whom I
had confided as friends, that I feel in danger of entertaining suspicions
of everybody. I have hitherto thought you were too much inclined to be
suspicious of people, but I no longer think so.

"Keep this to yourself. It may be that appearances are deceptive, and I
would not wrong one whom I had esteemed as a real friend without the
clearest evidence of unfaithfulness. Yet when appearances are against, it
is right to be cautious."

The name of the person referred to is left blank in the copy of this
letter which I have, so I do not know who it was, but the sentiments
would apply to several of the early workers in the establishment of the

I have said that Morse, being only human, was sometimes guilty of errors
of judgment, but, in a careful study of the facts, the wonder is great
that he committed so few. It is an ungracious task for a son to call
attention to anything but the virtues of his father, especially when any
lapses were the result of great provocation, and were made under the firm
conviction that he was in the right. Yet in the interest of truth it is
best to state the facts fairly and dispassionately, and let posterity
judge whether the virtues do not far outweigh the faults. Such an error
was committed, in my judgment, by Morse in the bitter controversy which
arose between him and Professor Joseph Henry, and I shall briefly sketch
the origin and progress of this regrettable incident.

In 1845, Alfred Vail compiled and published a "History of the American
Electro-Magnetic Telegraph." In this work hardly any mention was made of
the important discoveries of Professor Henry, and this caused that
gentleman to take great offense, as he believed that Morse was the real
author of the work, or had, at least, given Vail all the materials. As a
matter of fact he had given Vail only his notes on European telegraphs
and had not seen the proofs of the work, which was published while he was
absent in Europe. As soon as Morse was made aware of Henry's feelings, he
wrote to him regretting the omission and explaining his innocence in the
matter, and he also draughted a letter, at Vail's request, which the
latter copied and sent to Henry, stating that he, Vail, had been unable
to obtain the particulars of Henry's discoveries, and that, if he had
offended, he had done so innocently.

Henry was an extremely sensitive man and he paid no attention to Vail's
letter, and sent only a curt acknowledgment of the receipt of Morse's.
However, at a meeting somewhat later, the misunderstanding seemed to be
smoothed over, on the assurance that, in a second edition of Vail's work,
due credit should be given to Henry, and that whenever Morse had the
opportunity he would gladly accord to that eminent man the discoveries
which were his. There never was a true second edition of Vail's book, but
in 1847 a few more copies were struck off from the old plates and the
date was, unfortunately, changed from 1845 to 1847. Henry, naturally,
looked upon this as a second edition and his resentment grew.

Morse's opportunity to do public honor to Henry came in 1848, when
Professor Sears C. Walker, of the Coast Survey, published a report
containing some remarks on the "Theory of Morse's Electro-Magnetic
Telegraph." When Professor Walker submitted this report to Morse the
latter said: "I have now the long-wished-for opportunity to do justice
publicly to Henry's discovery bearing upon the telegraph. I should like
to see him, however, previously, and learn definitely what he claims to
have discovered. I will then prepare a paper to be appended and published
as a note, if you see fit, to your Report."

This paper was written by Morse and sent to Professor Walker with the
request that it be submitted to Professor Henry for his revision, which
was done, but it was not included in Professor Walker's report, and this
naturally nettled Morse, who also had sensitive nerves, and so the breach
was widened. In this paper, after giving a brief history of electric
discoveries bearing on the telegraph, and of his own inventions, Morse
sums up:--

"While, therefore, I claim to be the first to propose the use of the
_electro-magnet for telegraphic purposes_, and the _first_ to _construct
a telegraph on the basis of the electro-magnet_, yet to Professor Henry
is unquestionably due the honor of the _discovery of a fact in science_
which proves the practicability of exciting magnetism through a long coil
or at a distance, either to _deflect a needle_ or _to magnetize soft

I wish he had never revised this opinion, although he was sincere in
thinking that a more careful study of the subject justified him in doing

A few years afterwards Morse and his associates became involved in a
series of bitterly contested litigations with parties interested in
breaking down the original patent rights, and Henry was called as a
witness for the opponents of Morse.

He gave his testimony with great reluctance, but it was tinged with the
bitterness caused by the failure of Vail to do him justice and his
apparent conviction that Morse was disingenuous. He denied to the latter
any scientific discoveries, and gave the impression (at least, to others)
that Henry, and not Morse, was the real inventor of the telegraph. His
testimony was used by the enemies of Morse, both at home and abroad, to
invalidate the claims of the latter, and, stung by these aspersions on
his character and attainments, and urged thereto by injudicious friends,
Morse published a lengthy pamphlet entitled: "A Defense against the
Injurious Deductions drawn from the Deposition of Professor Joseph
Henry." In this pamphlet he not only attempted to prove that he owed
nothing to the discoveries of Henry, but he called in question the
truthfulness of that distinguished man.

The breach between these two honorable, highly sensitive men was now
complete, and it was never healed.

The consensus of scientific opinion gives to Henry's discoveries great
value in the invention of the telegraph. While they did not constitute a
true telegraph in themselves; while they needed the inventions and
discoveries, and, I might add, the sublime faith and indomitable
perseverance of Morse to make the telegraph a commercial success; they
were, in my opinion, essential to it, and Morse, I think, erred in
denying this. But, from a thorough study of his character, we must give
him the credit of being sincere in his denial. Henry, too, erred in
ignoring the advances of Morse and Vail and in his proud sensitiveness.
Professor Leonard D. Gale, the friend of both men, makes the following
comment in a letter to Morse of February 9, 1852: "I fear Henry and I
shall never again be on good terms. He is as cold as a polar berg, and, I
am informed, very sensitive. It has been said by some busybody that his
testimony was incompatible with mine, and so a sort of feeling is
manifested as if it were so. I have said nothing about it yet." It would
have been more dignified on the part of Morse to have disregarded the
imputations contained in Henry's testimony, or to have replied much more
briefly and dispassionately. On the other hand, the provocation was great
and he was egged on by others, partly from motives of self-interest and
partly from a sincere desire on the part of his friends that he should
justify himself.

In a long letter to Vail, of January 15, 1851, in which he details the
whole unfortunate affair, he says: "If there was a man in the world, not
related to me, for whom I had conceived not merely admiration but
affection, it was for Professor Joseph Henry. I think you will remember,
and can bear me witness, that I often expressed the wish that I was able
to put several thousand dollars at his service for scientific
investigation.... The whole case has saddened me more than I can express.
I have to fight hard against misanthropy, friend Vail, and I have found
the best antidote to be, when the fit is coming on me, to seek out a case
of suffering and to relieve it, that the act in the one case may
neutralize the feeling in the other, and thus restore the balance in the

In taking leave for the present of this unfortunate controversy I shall
quote from the "Defense," to show that Morse sincerely believed it his
duty to act as he did, but that he acted with reluctance:--

"That I have been slow to complain of the injurious character of his
testimony; that I have so long allowed, almost entirely uncontradicted,
its distortions to have all their legal weight against me in four
separate trials, without public exposure and for a space of four years of
time, will at least show, I humbly contend, my reluctance to appear
opposed to him, even when self-defence is combined with the defence of
the interests of a large body of assignees.... Painful, therefore, as is
the task imposed upon me, I cannot shrink from it, but shall endeavor so
to perform it as rather to parry the blows that have been aimed at me
than to inflict any in return. If what I say shall wound, it shall be
from the severity of the simple truth itself rather than from the manner
of setting it forth."

In the year 1846 there still remained one panel in the rotunda of the
Capitol at Washington to be filled by an historical painting. It had been
assigned to Inman, but, that artist having recently died, Morse's
friends, artists and others, sent a petition to Congress urging the
appointment of Morse in his place. Referring to this in a letter to his
brother Sidney, dated March 28, he says:--

"In regard to the rotunda picture I learn that my friends are quite
zealous, and it is not improbable that it may be given me to execute. If
so, what should you say to seeing me in Paris?

"However, this is but castle-building. I am quite indifferent as to the
result except that, in case it is given me, I shall be restored to my
position as an artist by the same power that prostrated me, and then
shall I not more than ever have cause to exclaim: 'Surely Thou hast led
me in away which I knew not'? I have already, in looking back, seen
enough of the dealings of Providence with me to excite my wonder and
gratitude. How singularly has my way been hedged up in my profession at
the very moment when, to human appearance, everything seemed prosperously
tending to the accomplishment of my desire in painting a national
picture. The language of Providence in all his dealings with me has been
almost like that to Abraham: 'Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac whom
thou lovest, and offer him for a burnt offering,' etc.

"It has always seemed a mystery to me how I should have been led on to
the acquirement of the knowledge I possess of painting, with so much
sacrifice of time and money, and through so many anxieties and
perplexities, and then suddenly be stopped as if a wall were built across
my path, so that I could pursue my profession no longer. But, I believe,
I had grace to trust in God in the darkest hour of trial, persuaded that
He could and would clear up in his own time and manner all the mystery
that surrounded me.

"And now, if not greatly deceived, I have a glimpse of his wonderful,
truly wonderful, mercy towards me. He has chosen thus to order events
that my mind might be concentrated upon that invention which He has
permitted to be born for the blessing, I trust, of the world. And He has
chosen me as the instrument, and given me the honor, and at the moment
when all has been accomplished which is essential to its success, He so
orders events as again to turn my thoughts to my almost sacrificed

In this, however, he did not read the fates aright, for a letter from his
friend, Reverend E. Goodrich Smith, dated March 2, 1847, conveys the
following intelligence: "I have just learned to-day that, with their
usual discrimination and justice, Congress have voted $6000 to have the
panel filled by young Powell. He enlisted all Ohio, and they all
electioneered with all their might, and no one knew that the question
would come up. New York, I understand, went for you. I hope, however, you
may yet yourself resume the pencil, and furnish the public the most
striking commentary on their utter disregard of justice, by placing
somewhere 'The Germ of the Republic' in such colors that shall make them
blush and hang their heads to think themselves such men."

But, while he was to be blessed in the fulfilment, of a long cherished
dream, it was not the dream of painting a great historic picture. He
never seriously touched a brush again, for all his energies were needed
in the defence of himself and his invention from defamation and attack.

In the summer of 1846 he met with another accident giving him a slight
period of rest which he would not otherwise have taken. He writes of it
to his brother on July 30: "On Monday last I had the misfortune to fall,
into one of those mantraps on Broadway, set principally to break people's
legs and maim them, and _incidentally_ for the deposit of the coal of the

Vail refers jestingly to this mishap in a letter of August 21: "I trust
your unfortunate and unsuccessful attempt to get down cellar has not been
a serious affair."

And Morse replies in the same vein: "My _cellar experiment_ was not so
unsuccessful as you imagine. I succeeded to my entire satisfaction in
taking three inches of skin, a little of the flesh and a trifle of bone
from the front of my left leg, and, as the result, got one week's entire
leisure with my leg in a chair. The experiment was so satisfactory that I
deem it needless to try it again, having established beyond a doubt that
skin, flesh and bone are no match against wood, iron and stone. I am
entirely well of it and enjoyed my visit to the western lines very much."

It was characteristic of Morse that the first money which he received
from the actual sale of his patent rights ($45 for the right to use his
patent on a short line from the Post-Office to the National Observatory
in Washington) was devoted by him to a religious purpose. From a letter
of October 20, 1846, we learn that, adding $5 to this sum, he presented
$25 to a Sunday School, and $25 to the fund for repairs.

The attachment of the three Morse brothers to each other was intense, and
lasted to the end of their lives. The letters of Finley Morse to his
brother Sidney, in particular, would alone fill a volume and are of great
interest. Most of them have never before been published and I shall quote
from them freely in following Morse's career.

Sidney and his family were still in Europe, and the two following
extracts are from letters to him:--

"_October 29, 1846._ I don't know where this will find you, but, as the
steamer Caledonia goes in a day or two, and as I did not write you by the
last steamer, I thought I would occupy a few moments (not exactly of
leisure) to write you.... Charles has little to do, but does all he can.
He is desirous of a farm and I have made up my mind to indulge him.... I
shall go up the river in a day or two and look in the vicinity of

"Telegraph matters are every day assuming a more and more interesting
aspect. All physical and scientific difficulties are vanquished. If
conductors are well put up there is nothing more to wish for in the
facilities of intercourse. My operators can easily talk with each other
as fast as persons usually write, and faster than this would be faster
than is necessary. The Canadians are alive on the subject, and lines are
projected from Toronto to Montreal, from Montreal to Quebec and to
Halifax. Lines are also in contemplation from Toronto to Detroit, on the
Canada side, and from Buffalo to Chicago on this side, so that it may not
be visionary to say that our first news from England may reach New York
via Halifax, Detroit, Buffalo and Albany....

"The papers will inform you of the events of the war. Our people are
united on this point so far as to pursue it with vigor to a speedy
termination. However John Bull may sneer and endeavor to detract from the
valor of our troops, his own annals do not furnish proofs of greater
skill and more fearless daring and successful result. The Mexican race is
a worn-out race, and God in his Providence is taking this mode to
regenerate them. Whatever may be the opinions of some in relation to the
justness or unjustness of our quarrel, there ought to be but one opinion
among all good men, and that should be that the moment should be improved
to throw a light into that darkened nation, and to raise a standard there
which, whatever may become of the Stars and Stripes, or Eagle and Prickly
Pear, shall be never taken down till all nations have flocked to it. Our
Bible and Tract Societies and missionaries ought to be in the wake of our

"_January 28, 1847._ Telegraph matters are becoming more and more
interesting. The people of the country everywhere are desirous of
availing themselves of its facilities, and the lines are being extended
in all directions. As might be expected then, I have my plans interfered
with by mercenary speculators who threaten to put up rival telegraphs and
contest my patent. _I am ready for them._ We have had to apply for an
injunction on the Philadelphia and Pittsburg line. The case is an
aggravated one and will be decided on Monday or Tuesday at Philadelphia
in Circuit Court of United States. I have no uneasiness as to the result.
[It was decided against him, however, but this proved only a temporary

"There are more F.O.Js. than one, yet not one quite so bad. I think amid
all the scramble I shall probably have enough come to my share, and it
does not matter by what means our Heavenly Father chooses to curtail my
receipts, for I shall have just what he pleases, none can hinder it, and
more I do not want.... House and his associates are making most strenuous
efforts to interfere and embarrass me by playing on the ignorance of the
public and the natural timidity of capitalists. I shall probably have to
lay the law on him and make an example before my patent is confirmed in
the minds of the public. It is the course, I am told, of every
substantial patent. It has to undergo the ordeal of one trial in the

"Although I thus write, you need have no fears that my operations will be
seriously affected by any schemes of common letter printing telegraphs. I
have just filed a caveat for one which I have invented, which as far
transcends in simplicity and efficiency any previous plan for the
purpose, as my telegraph system is superior to the old visual telegraphs.
I will have it in operation by the time you return."

Apropos of the attacks made upon him by would-be infringers, the
following from a letter of his legal counsel, Daniel Lord, Esq., dated
January 12, 1847, may not come amiss: "It ought to be a source of great
satisfaction to you to have your invention stolen and counterfeited.
Think what an acknowledgment it is, and what a tribute to its merits."

Referring to this in a letter to Mr. Lord of a later date, Morse answers:
"The plot thickens all around me; I think a _dénouement_ not far off. I
remember your consoling me under these attacks with bidding me think that
I had invented something worth contending for. Alas! my dear sir, what
encouragement is there to an inventor if, after years of toil and
anxiety, he has only purchased for himself the pleasure of being a target
for every vile fellow to shoot at, and, in proportion as his invention is
of public utility, so much the greater effort is to be made to defame,
that the robbery may excite the less sympathy? I know, however, that
beyond all this is a clear sky, but the clouds may not break away until I
am no longer personally interested whether it be foul or fair. I wish not
to complain, but I have feelings and cannot play the stoic if I would."

It was a new experience for Morse to become involved in the intricacies
of the law, and, in a letter to a friend, Henry I. Williams, Esq., dated
February 22, 1847, he naively remarks: "A student all my life, mostly in
a profession which is adverse in its habits and tastes from those of the
business world, and never before engaged in a lawsuit, I confess to great
ignorance even of the ordinary, commonplace details of a court."

His desire to be both just and merciful is shown in a letter to Mr.
Kendall, written on February 16, just before the decision was rendered
against him: "I have been in court all day, and have been much pleased
with the clearness and, I think, conclusiveness of Mr. Miles's argument.
I think he has produced an evident change in the views of the judge. Yet
it is best to be prepared for the worst, and, even if we succeed in
getting the injunction, I wish as much leniency as possible to be shown
to the opposing parties. Indeed, in this I know my views are seconded by
you. However we may have 'spoken daggers,' let us use none, and let us
make every allowance for honest mistake, even where appearances are at
first against such a supposition. O'Reilly may have acted hastily, under
excitement, under bad advisement, and in that mood have taken wrong
steps. Yet I still believe he may be recovered, and, while I would use
every precaution to protect our just rights, I wish not to take a single
step that can be misconstrued into vindictiveness or triumph."

It was well that it was his invariable rule to be prepared for the worst,
for, writing to his brother Sidney on February 24, he says: "We have just
had a lawsuit in Philadelphia before Judge Kane. We applied for an
injunction to stay irregular and injurious proceedings on the part of
Western (Pittsburg and Cincinnati) Company, and our application has been
_refused_ on technical grounds. I know not what will be the issue. I am
trying to have matters compromised, but do not know if it can be done,
and we may have to contest it in _law_. Our application was in court of
equity. A movement of Smith was the cause of all."

Another sidelight is thrown on Morse's character by the following extract
from a letter to one of his lieutenants, T.S. Faxton, written on March
15: "We must raise the salaries of our operators or they will all be
taken from us, that is, all that are good for anything. You will
recollect that, at the first meeting of the Board of Directors, I took
the ground that 'it was our policy to make the office of operator
desirable, to pay operators well and make their situation so agreeable
that intelligent men and men of character will seek the place and dread
to lose it.' I still think so, and, depend upon it, it is the soundest
economy to act on this principle."

Just about this time, to add to Morse's other perplexities, Doctor
Charles T. Jackson began to renew his claims to the invention of the
telegraph, while also disputing with Morton the discovery of ether as an
anaesthetic, then called "Letheon," and claiming the invention of
gun-cotton and the discovery of the circulation of the blood. Morse found
a willing and able champion in Edward Warren, Esq., of Boston, and many
letters passed between them. As Jackson's wild claims were effectually
disposed of, I shall not dwell upon this source of annoyance, but shall
content myself with one extract from a letter to Mr. Warren of March 23:
"I wish not to attack Dr. Jackson nor even to defend myself in _public_
from his _private_ attacks. If in any of his publications he renews his
claim, which I consider as long since settled by default, then it will be
time and proper for me to notice him.... The most charitable construction
of the Dr's. conduct is to attribute it to a monomania induced by
excessive vanity."

While many of those upon whom he had looked as friends turned against him
in the mad scramble for power and wealth engendered by the extension of
the telegraph lines, it is gratifying to turn to those who remained true
to him through all, and among these none was more loyal than Alfred Vail.
Their correspondence, which was voluminous, is always characterized by
the deepest confidence and affection. In a long letter of March 24, Vail
shows his solicitude for Morse's peace of mind: "I think I would not be
bothered with a directorship in the New York and Buffalo line, nor in any
other. I should wish to keep clear of them. It will only tend to harass
and vex when you should be left quiet and undisturbed to pursue your
improvements and the enjoyment of what is most gratifying to you."

And Morse, writing to Vail somewhat later in this same year, exclaims:
"You say you hope I shall not forget that we have spent many hours
together. You might have added 'happy hours.' I have tried you, dear
Vail, as a friend, and think I know you as a zealous and honest one."

Still earlier, on March 18, 1845, in one of his reports to the
Postmaster-General, Cave Johnson, he adds: "In regard to the salary of
the 'one clerk at Washington--$1200,' Mr. Vail, who would from the
necessity of the case take that post, is my right-hand man in the whole
enterprise. He has been with me from the year 1837, and is as familiar
with all the mechanism and scientific arrangements of the Telegraph as I
am myself.... His time and talent are more essential to the success of
the Telegraph than [those of] any two persons that could be named."

Returning now to the letters to his brother Sidney, I shall give the
following extracts:--

"_March 29, 1847._ I am now in New York permanently; that is I have no
longer any official connection with Washington, and am thinking of
_fixing_ somewhere so soon as I can get my telegraphic matters into such
a state as to warrant it; but my patience is still much tried. Although
the enterprise looks well and is prospering, yet somehow I do not command
the cash as some business men would if they were in the same situation.
The property is doubtless good and is increasing, but I cannot use it as
I could the money, for, while everybody seems to think I have the wealth
of John Jacob, the only sum I have actually realized is my first dividend
on one line, about fourteen hundred dollars, and with this I cannot
purchase a house. But time will, perhaps, enable me to do so, if it is
well that I should have one.... I have had some pretty threatening
obstacles, but they as yet are summer clouds which seem to be dissipating
through the smiles of our Heavenly Father. House's affair I think is
dead. I believe it has been held up by speculators to drive a better
bargain with me, thinking to scare me; but they don't find me so easily
frightened. In Virginia I had to oppose a most bigoted, narrow, illiberal
clique in a railroad company, which had the address to get a bill through
the House of Delegates giving them actually the monopoly of telegraphs,
and ventured to halloo before they were out of the woods. Mr. Kendall
went post-haste to Richmond, met the bill and its supporters before the
Committee of the Senate, and, after a sharp contest, procured its
rejection in the Senate, and the adoption, by a vote of 13 to 7, of a
substitute granting me _right of way_ and _corporate powers_, which bill,
after violent opposition in the House, was finally passed, 44 to 27. So a
mean intrigue was defeated most signally, and I came off triumphant."

"_April 27._ This you will recognize by the date is my birthday; 36 years
old. Only think, I shall never be 26 again. Don't you wish you were as
young as I am? Well, if _feelings_ determined age I should be in reality
what I have above stated, but that leaf in the family Bible, those boys
and that daughter, those nieces and nephews of younger brothers, and
especially that _grandson_, they all concur in putting twenty years more
to those 36. I cannot get them off; there they are 56!...

"There is an underhand intrigue against my telegraph interests in
Virginia, fostered by a friend turned enemy in the hope to better his own
interests, a man whom I have ever treated as a friend while I had the
governmental patronage to bestow, and gave him office in Baltimore.
Having no more of patronage to give I have no more friendship from him.
Mr. R. has proved himself false, notwithstanding his naming his son after
me as a proof of friendship."

The Mr. R. referred to was Henry J. Rogers, and, writing of him to Vail
on April 26, Morse says: "I am truly grieved at Rogers's conduct. He must
be conscious of doing great injustice; for a man that has wronged another
is sure to invent some cause for his act if there has been none given. In
this case he endeavors to excuse his selfish and injurious acts by the
false assertion that 'I had cast him overboard.' Why, what does he mean?
Was I not overboard myself? Does he or anyone else suppose I have nothing
else to do than to find them places, and not only intercede for them,
which in Rogers's case and Zantziger's I have constantly and
perseveringly done to the present hour, but I am bound to force the
companies, over which I have no control, to take them at any rate, on the
penalty of being traduced and injured by them if they do not get the
office they seek? As to Rogers, you know my feelings towards him and his.
I had received him as a _friend_, not as a mere employee, and let no
opportunity pass without urging forward his interests. I recollected his
naming his son for me, and had determined, if the wealth actually came
which has been predicted to me, that that child should be remembered."

Always desirous of being just and merciful, Morse writes to Vail on May
1: "Rogers is here. I have had a good deal of conversation with him, and
the result is that I think that some circumstances which seemed to
inculpate him are explicable on other grounds than intention to injure

But he was finally forced to give him up, for on August 7 he writes: "You
cannot tell how pained I am at being compelled to change my opinion of R.
Your feelings correspond entirely with my own. I was hoping to do
something gratifying to him and his family, and soon should have done it
if he would permit it; but no! The mask of friendship covered a deep
selfishness that scrupled not to sacrifice a real friendship to a
shortsighted and overreaching ambition. Let him go. I wished to befriend
him and his, and would have done so from the heart, but as he cannot
trust me I have enough who can and do."

The case of Rogers was typical, and I have, therefore, given it in some
detail. It was always a source of grief to Morse when men, whom in his
large-hearted way he had admitted to his intimacy, turned against him;
and he was called upon to suffer many such blows. He has been accused of
having quarrelled with all his associates. This, of course, is not true,
for we have only to name Vail, and Gale, and Kendall, and Reid, and a
host of others to prove the contrary. But, like all men who have achieved
great things, he made bitter enemies, some of whom at first professed
sincere friendship for him and were implicitly trusted by him. However, a
dispassionate study of all the circumstances leading up to the rupture of
these friendly ties will prove that, in practically every case he was
sinned against, not sinning.

A letter to James D. Reid, written on December 21, will show that the
quality of his mercy was not strained: "You may recollect when I met you
in Philadelphia, on the unpleasant business of attending in a court to
witness the contest of two parties for their rights, you informed me of
the destitute condition of O'Reilly's family. At that moment I was led to
believe, from consultation with the counsel for the Patentees, that the
case would undoubtedly go in their (the Patentees') favor. Your statement
touched me, and I could not bear to think that an innocent wife and
inoffensive children should suffer, even from the wrong-doing of their
proper protector, should this prove to be the case. You remember I
authorized you to draw on me for twenty dollars to be remitted to Mr.
O'Reilly's family, and to keep the source from whence it was derived
secret. My object in writing is to ask if this was done, and, in case it
was, to request you to draw on me for that amount."

In an earlier letter to his brother he remarks philosophically: "Smith is
Smith yet and so likely to be, but I have become used to him and you
would be surprised to find how well oil and water appear to agree. There
must be crosses and the aim should be rather to bear them gracefully,
graciously, and patiently, than to have them removed."

While thus harassed on all sides by those who would filch from him his
good name as well as his purse, his reward was coming to him for the
patience and equanimity with which he was bearing his crosses. The
longing for a home of his own had been intense all through his life and
now, in the evening of his years, this dream was to be realized. He thus
announces to his brother the glorious news:--

July 30, 1847.

In my last I wrote you that I had been looking out for a farm in this
region, and gave you a diagram of a place which I fancied. Since then I
was informed of a place for sale south of this village 2 miles, on the
bank of the river, part of the old Livingston Manor, and far superior. _I
have this day concluded a bargain for it._ There are about one hundred
acres. I pay for it $17,500.

I am almost afraid to tell you of its beauties and advantages. It is just
such a place as in England could not be purchased for double the number
of pounds sterling. Its "capabilities," as the landscape gardeners would
say, are unequalled. There is every variety of surface, plain, hill,
dale, glens, running streams and fine forest, and every variety of
different prospect; the Fishkill Mountains towards the south and the
Catskills towards the north; the Hudson with its varieties of river
craft, steamboats of all kinds, sloops, etc., constantly showing a varied


I will not enlarge. I am congratulated by all in having made an excellent
purchase, and I find a most delightful neighborhood. Within a few miles
around, approached by excellent roads, are Mr. Lenox, General Talmadge,
Philip Van Rensselaer, etc., on one side; on the other, Harry Livingston,
Mrs. Smith Thomson (Judge Thomson's widow, and sister to the first Mrs.
Arthur Breese), Mr. Crosby, Mr. Boorman, etc., etc. The new railroad will
run at the foot of the grounds (probably) on the river, and bring New
York within two hours of us. There is every faculty for residence--good
markets, churches, schools. Take it all in all I think it just the place
_for us all_. If you should fancy a spot on it for building, I can
accommodate you, and Richard wants twenty acres reserved for him.
Singularly enough this was the very spot where Uncle Arthur found his
wife. The old trees are pointed out where he and she used to ramble
during their courtship.

On September 12, after again expatiating on the beauties and advantages
of his home, he adds: "I have some clouds and mutterings of thunder on
the horizon (the necessary attendants, I suppose, of a lightning project)
which I trust will give no more of storm than will suffice, under Him who
directs the elements, to clear the air and make a serener and calmer

On October 12, he announces the name which he has given to his country
place, and a singular coincidence:--

"_Locust Grove._ You see by the date where I am. Locust Grove, it seems,
was the original name given to this place by Judge Livingston, and,
without knowing this fact, I had given the same name to it, so that there
is a natural appropriateness in the designation of my home. The wind is
howling mournfully this evening, a second edition, I fear, of the late
destructive equinoctial, but, dreary as it is out-of-doors, I have
comfortable quarters within."

In the world of affairs the wind was howling, too, and the storm was
gathering which culminated in the series of lawsuits brought by Morse and
his associates against the infringers on his patents. The letters to his
brother are full of the details of these piratical attacks, but
throughout all the turmoil he maintained his poise and his faith in the
triumph of justice and truth. In the letter just quoted from he says:
"These matters do not annoy me as formerly. I have seen so many dark
storms which threatened, and particularly in relation to the Telegraph,
and I have seen them so often hushed at the 'Peace, be still' of our
covenant God, that now the fears and anxieties on any fresh gathering
soon subside into perfect calm."

And on November 27, he writes: "The most annoying part of the matter to
me is that, notwithstanding my matters are all in the hands of agents and
I have nothing to do with any of the arrangements, I am held up by name
to the odium of the public. Lawsuits are commenced against them at
Cincinnati and will be in Indiana and Illinois as well as here, and so,
notwithstanding all my efforts to get along peaceably, I find the fate of
Whitney before me. I think I may be able to secure my farm, and so have a
place to retire to for the evening of my days, but even this may be
denied me. A few months will decide.... You have before you the fate of
an inventor, and, take as much pains as you will to secure to yourself
your valuable invention, make up your mind from my experience now, in
addition to others, that you will be robbed of it and abused into the
bargain. This is the lot of a successful inventor or discoverer, and no
precaution, I believe, will save him from it. He will meet with a mixed
estimate; the enlightened, the liberal, the good, will applaud him and
respect him; the sordid, the unprincipled will hate him and detract from
his reputation to compass their own contemptible and selfish ends."

While events in the business world were rapidly converging towards the
great lawsuits which should either confirm the inventor's rights to the
offspring of his brain, or deprive him of all the benefits to which he
was justly and morally entitled, he continued to find solace from all his
cares and anxieties in his new home, with his children and friends around
him. He touches on the lights and shadows in a letter to his brother, who
was still in England, dated New York, April 19, 1848:--

"I snatch a moment by the Washington, which goes to-morrow, to redeem my
character in not having written of late so often as I could wish. I have
been so constantly under the necessity of watching the movements of the
most unprincipled set of pirates I have ever known, that all my time has
been occupied in defense, in putting evidence into something like legal
shape that I am the inventor of the Electro-Magnetic Telegraph!! Would
you have believed it ten years ago that a question could be raised on
that subject? Yet this very morning in the 'Journal of Commerce' is an
article from a New Orleans paper giving an account of a public meeting
convened by O'Reilly, at which he boldly stated that I had '_pirated my
invention from a German invention_' a great deal better than mine. And
the 'Journal of Commerce' has a sort of halfway defense of me which
implies there is some doubt on the subject. I have written a note which
may appear in to-morrow's 'Journal,' quite short, but which I think, will
stop that game here.

"A trial in court is the only event now which will put public opinion
right, so indefatigable have these unprincipled men been in manufacturing
a spurious public opinion.

"Although these events embarrass me, and I do not receive, and may not
receive, my rightful dues, yet I have been so favored by a kind
Providence as to have sufficient collected to free my farm from mortgage
on the 1st of May, and so find a home, a beautiful home, for me and mine,
unencumbered, and sufficient over to make some improvements....

"I do not wish to raise too many expectations, but every day I am more
and more charmed with my purchase. I can truly say I have never before so
completely realized my wishes in regard to situation, never before found
so many pleasant circumstances associated together to make a home
agreeable, and, so far as earth is concerned, I only wish now to have you
and the rest of the family participate in the advantages with which a
kind God has been pleased to indulge me.

"Strange, indeed, would it be if clouds were not in the sky, but the Sun
of Righteousness will dissipate as many and as much of them as shall be
right and good, and this is all that should be required. I look not for
freedom from trials; they must needs be; but the number, the kind, the
form, the degree of them, I can safely leave to Him who has ordered and
will still order all things well."


JANUARY 9, 1848--DECEMBER 19, 1849

Preparation for lawsuits.--Letter from Colonel Shaffner.--Morse's reply
deprecating bloodshed.--Shaffner allays his fears.--Morse attends his
son's wedding at Utica.--His own second marriage.--First of great
lawsuits.--Almost all suits in Morse's favor.--Decision of Supreme Court
of United States.--Extract from an earlier opinion.--Alfred Vail leaves
the telegraph business.--Remarks on this by James D. Reid.--Morse
receives decoration from Sultan of Turkey.--Letter to organizers of
Printers' Festival.--Letter concerning aviation.--Optimistic letter from
Mr. Kendall.--Humorous letter from George Wood.--Thomas R. Walker.--
Letter to Fenimore Cooper.--Dr. Jackson again.--Unfairness of the press.
--Letter from Charles C. Ingham on art matters.--Letter from George
Vail.--F.O.J. Smith continues to embarrass.--Letter from Morse to Smith.

The year 1848 was a momentous one to Morse in more ways than one. The
first of the historic lawsuits was to be begun at Frankfort, Kentucky,--
lawsuits which were not only to establish this inventor's claims, but
were to be used as a precedent in all future patent litigation. In his
peaceful retreat on the banks of the Hudson he carefully and
systematically prepared the evidence which should confound his enemies,
and calmly awaited the verdict, firm in his faith that, however lowering
the clouds, the sun would yet break through. Finding relaxation from his
cares and worries in the problems of his farm, he devoted every spare
moment to the life out-of-doors, and drank in new strength and
inspiration with every breath of the pure country air. Although soon to
pass the fifty-seventh milestone, his sane, temperate habits had kept him
young in heart and vigorous in body, and in this same year he was to be
rewarded for his long and lonely vigil during the dark decades of his
middle life, and to enter upon an Indian Summer of happy family life.

While spending as much time as possible at his beloved Locust Grove, he
was yet compelled, in the interests of his approaching legal contests, to
consult with his lawyers in New York and Washington, and it was while in
the latter city that he received a letter from Colonel Tal. P. Shaffner,
one of the most energetic of the telegraph pioneers, and a devoted, if
sometimes injudicious, friend. It was he who, more than any one else, was
responsible for the publication of Morse's "Defense" against Professor

The letter was written from Louisville on January 9, 1848, and contains
the following sentences: "We are going ahead with the line to New
Orleans. I have twenty-five hands on the road to Nashville, and will put
on more next week. I have ten on the road to Frankfort, and my associate
has gangs at other parts. O'Reilly has fifteen hands on the Nashville
route and I confidently expect a few fights. My men are well armed and I
think they can do their duty. I shall be with them when the parties get
together, and, if anything does occur, the use of Dupont's best will be
appreciated by me. This is to be lamented, but, if it comes, we shall not
back out."

Deeply exercised, Morse answers him post-haste: "It gives me real pain to
learn that there is any prospect of physical collision between the
O'Reilly party and ours, and I trust that this may arrive in time to
prevent any movement of those friendly to me which shall provoke so sad a
result. I emphatically say that, if _the law_ cannot protect me and my
rights in your region, I shall never sanction the appeal to force to
sustain myself, however conscious of being in the right. I infinitely
prefer to suffer still more from the gross injustice of unprincipled men
than to gain my rights by a single illegal step.... I hope you will do
all in your power to prevent collision. If the parties meet in putting up
posts or wires, let our opponents have their way unmolested. I have no
patent for putting up posts or wires. They as well as we have a right to
put them up. It is the use made of them afterwards which may require
legal adjustment. The men employed by each party are not to blame. Let no
ill-feeling be fomented between the two, no rivalry but that of doing
their work the best; let friendly feeling as between them be cherished,
and teach them to refer all disputes to the principals. I wish no one to
fight for me physically. He may 'speak daggers but use none.' However
much I might appreciate his friendship and his motive, it would give me
the deepest sorrow if I should learn that a single individual, friend or
foe, has been injured in life or limb by any professing friendship for

He was reassured by the following from Colonel Shaffner:--

_"January 27._ Your favor of the 21st was received yesterday. I was sorry
that you allowed your feelings to be so much aroused in the case of
contemplated difficulties between our hands and those of O'Reilly. They
held out the threats that we should not pass them, and we were determined
to do it. I had them notified that we were prepared to meet them under
any circumstances. We were prepared to have a real 'hug,' but, when our
hands overtook them, they only 'yelled' a little and mine followed, and
for fifteen miles they were side by side, and when a man finished his
hole, he ran with all his might to get ahead. But finally, on the 24th,
we passed them about eighty miles from here, and now we are about
twenty-five miles ahead of them without the loss of a drop of blood, and
we shall be able to beat them to Nashville, if we can get the wire in
time, which is doubtful."

There were many such stirring incidents in the early history of the
telegraph, and the half of them has not been told, thus leaving much
material for the future historian.

But, while so much that was exciting was taking place in the outside
world, the cause of it all was turning his thoughts towards matters more
domestic. On June 13, he writes to his brother: "Charles left me for
Utica last evening, and Finley and I go this evening to be present at his
marriage on Thursday the 15th."

It was at his son's wedding that he was again strongly attracted to his
young second cousin (or, to be more exact, his first cousin once
removed), the first cousin of his son's bride, and the result is
announced to his brother in a letter of August 7: "Before your return I
shall be again married. I leave to-morrow for Utica where cousin (second
cousin) Sarah Elizabeth Griswold now is. On Thursday morning the 10th we
shall (God willing) be married, and I shall immediately proceed to
Louisville and Frankfort in Kentucky to be present at my first suit
against O'Reilly, the pirate of my invention. It comes off on the 23d
inst. So far as the justice of the case is concerned I am confident of
final success, but there are so many crooks in the law that I ought to be
prepared for disappointment."

Continuing, he tells his brother that he has been secretly in love with
his future wife for some years: "But, reflecting on it, I found I was in
no situation to indulge in any plans of marrying. She had nothing, I had
nothing, and the more I loved her the more I was determined to stifle my
feelings without hinting to her anything of the matter, or letting her
know that I was at all interested in her."

But now, with increasing wealth, the conditions were changed, and so they
were married, and in their case it can with perfect truth be said, "They
lived happy ever after," and failed by but a year of being able to
celebrate their silver wedding. Soon a young family grew up around him,
to whom he was always a patient and loving father. We his children
undoubtedly gave him many an anxious moment, as children have a habit of
doing, but through all his trials, domestic as well as extraneous, he was
calm, wise, and judicious.

[Illustration: SARAH ELIZABETH GRISWOLD Second wife of S.F.B. Morse]

But now the first of the great lawsuits, which were to confirm Morse's
patent rights or to throw his invention open to the world, was begun,
and, with his young bride, he hastened to Frankfort to be present at the
trial. To follow these suits through all their legal intricacies would
make dry reading and consume reams of paper. Mr. Prime in a footnote
remarks: "Mr. Henry O'Reilly has deposited in the Library of the New York
Historical Society more than one hundred volumes containing a complete
history of telegraphic litigation in the United States. These records are
at all times accessible to any persons who wish to investigate the claims
and rights of individuals or companies. The _testimony_ alone in the
various suits fills several volumes, each as large as this."

It will, therefore, only be necessary to say that almost all of these
suits, including the final one before the Supreme Court of the United
States, were decided in Morse's favor. Every legal device was used
against him; his claims and those of others were sifted to the uttermost,
and then as now expert opinion was found to uphold both sides of the
case. To quote Mr. Prime:

"The decision of the Supreme Court was unanimous on all the points
involving the right of Professor Morse to the claim of being the original
inventor of the Electro-Magnetic Recording Telegraph. A minority of the
court went still further, and gave him the right to the motive power of
magnetism as a means of operating machinery to imprint signals or to
produce sounds for telegraphic purposes. The testimony of experts in
science and art is not introduced because it was thoroughly weighed and
sifted by intelligent and impartial men, whose judgment must be accepted
as final and sufficient. The justice of the decision has never been
impugned. Each succeeding year has confirmed it with accumulating

"One point was decided against the Morse patent, and it is worthy of
being noticed that this decision, which denied to Morse the exclusive use
of electromagnetism for recording telegraphs, has never been of injury to
his instrument, because no other inventor has devised an instrument to
supersede his.

"The court decided that the Electro-Magnetic Telegraph was the sole and
exclusive invention of Samuel F.B. Morse. If others could make better
instruments for the same purpose, they were at liberty to use
electromagnetism. Twenty years have elapsed since this decision was
rendered; the Morse patent has expired by limitation of time, but it is
still without a rival in any part of the world."

This was written in 1873, but I think that I am safe in saying that the
same is true now after the lapse of forty more years. While, of course,
there have been both elaboration and simplification, the basic principle
of the universal telegraph of to-day is embodied in the drawings of the
sketch-book of 1832, and it was the invention of Morse, and was entirely
different from any form of telegraph devised by others.

I shall make but one quotation from the long opinion handed down by the
Supreme Court and delivered by Chief Justice Taney:--

"Neither can the inquiries he made, nor the information or advice he
received from men of science, in the course of his researches, impair his
right to the character of an inventor. No invention can possibly be made,
consisting of a combination of different elements of power, without a
thorough knowledge of the properties of each of them, and the mode in
which they operate on each other. And it can make no difference in this
respect whether he derives his information from books, or from men
skilled in the science. If it were otherwise, no patent in which a
combination of different elements is used could ever be obtained. For no
man ever made such an invention without having first obtained this
information, unless it was discovered by some fortunate accident. And it
is evident that such an invention as the Electro-Magnetic Telegraph could
never have been brought into action without it. For a very high degree of
scientific knowledge, and the nicest skill in the mechanic arts, are
combined in it, and were both necessary to bring it into successful
operation. _And the fact that Morse sought and, obtained the necessary
information and counsel from the best sources, and acted upon it, neither
impairs his rights as an inventor, nor detracts from his merits._"

The italics are mine, for it has over and over been claimed for everybody
who had a part in the early history of the telegraph, either by hint,
help, or discovery, that more credit should be given to him than to Morse
himself--to Henry, to Gale, to Vail, to Doctor Page, and even to F.O.J.
Smith. In fact Morse used often to say that some people thought he had no
right to claim his invention because he had not discovered electricity,
nor the copper from which his wires were made, nor the brass of his
instruments, nor the glass of his insulators.

I shall make one other quotation from the opinion of Judge Kane and Judge
Grier at one of the earlier trials, in Philadelphia, in 1851:--

"That he, Mr. Morse, was the first to devise and practise the art of
recording language, at telegraphic distances, by the dynamic force of the
electro-magnet, or, indeed, by any agency whatever, is, to our minds,
plain upon all the evidence. It is unnecessary to review the testimony
for the purpose of showing this. His application for a patent, in April,
1838, was preceded by a series of experiments, results, illustrations and
proofs of final success, which leave no doubt whatever but that his great
invention was consummated before the early spring of 1837. There is no
one person, whose invention has been spoken of by any witness, or
referred to in any book as involving the principle of Mr. Morse's
discovery, but must yield precedence of date to this. Neither Steinheil,
nor Cooke and Wheatstone, nor Davy, nor Dyar, nor Henry, had at this time
made a recording telegraph of any sort. The devices then known were
merely _semaphores_, that spoke to the eye for a moment--bearing about
the same relation to the great discovery before us as the Abbé Sicard's
invention of a visual alphabet for the purposes of conversation bore to
the art of printing with movable types. Mr. Dyar's had no recording
apparatus, as he expressly tells us, and Professor Henry had contented
himself with the abundant honors of his laboratory and lecture-rooms."

One case was decided against him, but this decision was afterwards
overruled by the Supreme Court, so that it caused no lasting injury to
his claims.

As decision after decision was rendered in his favor he received the news
calmly, always attributing to Divine Providence every favor bestowed upon
him. Letters of congratulation poured in on him from his friends, and,
among others, the following from Alfred Vail must have aroused mingled
feelings of pleasure and regret. It is dated September 21, 1848:--

I congratulate you in your success at Frankfort in arresting thus far
that pirate O'Reilly. I have received many a hearty shake from our
friends, congratulating me upon the glorious issue of the application for
an injunction. The pirate dies hard, and well he may. It is his privilege
to kick awhile in this last death struggle. These pirates must be
followed up and each in his turn nailed to the wall.

The Wash. & N.O. Co. is at last organized, and for the last three weeks
we have received daily communications from N.O. Our prospects are
flattering. And what do you think they have done with me? Superintendent
of Washington & N.O. line all the way from Washington to Columbia at

This game will not be played long. I have made up my mind to leave the
Telegraph to take care of itself, since it cannot take care of me. I
shall, in a few months, leave Washington for New Jersey, family, kit and
all, and bid adieu to the subject of the Telegraph for some more
profitable business....

I have just finished a most beautiful register with a _pen lever key_ and
an expanding reel. Have orders for six of the same kind to be made at
once; three for the south and three for the west.

I regret you could not, on your return from the west, have made us at
least a flying visit with your charming lady. I am happy to learn that
your cup of happiness is so full in the society of one who, I learn from
Mr. K., is well calculated to cheer you and relieve the otherwise
solitude of your life.... My kindest wishes for yourself and Mrs. Morse,
and believe me to be, now as ever,

Yours, etc.,

Mr. James D. Reid in an article in the "Electrical World," October 12,
1895, after quoting from this letter; adds:--

"The truth is Mr. Vail had no natural aptitude for executive work, and he
had a temper somewhat variable and unhappy. He and I got along very well
together until I determined to order my own instruments, his being too
heavy and too difficult, as I thought, for an operator to handle while
receiving. We had our instruments made by the same maker--Clark & Co.,
Philadelphia. Yet even that did not greatly separate us, and we were
always friends. About some things his notions were very crude. It was
under his guidance that David Brooks, Henry C. Hepburn and I, in 1845,
undertook to insulate the line from Lancaster to Harrisburg,
Pennsylvania, by saturating bits of cotton cloth in beeswax and wrapping
them round projecting arms. The bees enjoyed it greatly, but it spoiled
our work.

"But I have no desire to criticize him. He seemed to me to have great
opportunities which he did not use. He might have had, I thought, the
register work of the country and secured a large business. But it went
from him to others, and so he left the field."

This eventful year of 1848 closed with the great telegraph suits in full
swing, but with the inventor calm under all his trials. In a letter, of
December 18, to his brother Sidney, who had now returned to America, he
says: "My affairs (Telegraphically) are only under a slight mist, hardly
a cloud; I see through the mist already."

And in another part of this letter he says: "I may see you at the end of
the week. If I can bring Sarah down with me, I will, to spend Christmas,
but the weather may change and prevent. What weather! I am working on the
lawn as if it were spring. You have no idea how lovely this spot is. Not
a day passes that I do not feel it. If I have trouble abroad, I have
peace, and love, and happiness at home. My sweet wife I find, indeed, a
rich treasure. Uniformly cheerful and most affectionate, she makes
sunshine all the day. God's gifts are worthy of the giver."

It was in the early days of 1849 that a gift of another kind was received
by him which could not fail to gratify him. This was a decoration, the
"Nichan Iftikar" or "Order of Glory," presented to him by the Sultan of
Turkey, the first and only decoration which the Sultan of the Ottoman
Empire had conferred upon a citizen of the United States. It was a
beautiful specimen of the jeweller's art, the monogram of the Sultan in
gold, surrounded by 130 diamonds in a graceful design. It was accompanied
by a diploma (or _berait_) in Turkish, which being translated reads:--

Son of Mahmoud Khan, son of Abdul Hamid Khan--may he ever be victorious!

The object of the present sovereign decoration of Noble Exalted Glory, of
Elevated Place, and of this Illustrious World Conquering Monogram is as

The bearer of this Imperial Monogram of exalted character, Mr. Morse, an
American, a man of science and of talents, and who is a model of the
Chiefs of the nation of the Messiah--may his grade be increased--having
invented an Electrical Telegraph, a specimen of which has been exhibited
in my Imperial presence; and it being proper to patronize knowledge and
to express my sense of the value of the attainments of the Inventor, as
well as to distinguish those persons who are the Inventors of such
objects as serve to extend and facilitate the relations of mankind, I
have conferred upon him, on my exalted part, an honorable decoration in
diamonds, and issued also this present diploma, as a token of my
benevolence for him.

Written in the middle of the moon Sefer, the fortunate, the year of the
Flight one thousand two hundred and sixty-four, in Constantinople the

The person who was instrumental in gaining for the inventor this mark of
recognition from the Sultan was Dr. James Lawrence Smith, a young
geologist at that time in the employ of the Sultan. He, aided by the
Reverend C. Hamlin, of the Armenian Seminary at Bebek, gave an exhibition
of the working of the telegraph before the Sultan and all the officers of
his Government, and when it was proposed to decorate him for his trouble
and lucid explanation, he modestly and generously disclaimed any honor,
and begged that any such recognition should be given to the inventor
himself. Other decorations and degrees were bestowed upon the inventor
from time to time, but these will be summarized in a future chapter. I
have enlarged upon this one as being the first to be received from a
foreign monarch.

As his fame increased, requests of all sorts poured in on him, and it is
amazing to find how courteously he answered even the most fantastic,
overwhelmed as he was by his duties in connection with the attacks on his
purse and his reputation. Two of his answers to correspondents are here
given as examples:--

January 17, 1849.

Gentlemen,--I have received your polite invitation to the Printers'
Festival in honor of Franklin, on his birthday the 17th of the present
month, and regret that my engagements in the city put it out of my power
to be present.

I thank you kindly for the flattering notice you are pleased to take of
me in connection with the telegraph, and made peculiarly grateful at the
present time as coming from a class of society with whom are my earliest
pleasurable associations. I may be allowed, perhaps, to say that in my
boyhood it was my delight, during my vacations, to seek my pastime in the
operations of the printing-office. I solicited of my father to take the
corrected proofs of his Geography to the printing-office, and there,
through the day for weeks, I made myself practically acquainted with all
the operations of the printer. At 9 years of age I compiled a small
volume of stories, called it the 'Youth's Friend,' and then set it up,
locked the matter in its form, prepared the paper and worked it off;
going through the entire process till it was ready for the binder. I
think I have some claim, therefore, to belong to the fraternity.

The other letter was in answer to one from a certain Solomon Andrews,
President of the Inventors' Institute of Perth Amboy, who was making
experiments in aviation, and I shall give but a few extracts:--

"I know by experience the language of the world in regard to an untried
invention. He who will accomplish anything useful and new must steel
himself against the sneers of the ignorant, and often against the
unimaginative sophistries of the learned....

"In regard to the subject on which you desire an opinion, I will say that
the idea of navigating the air has been a favorite one with the inventive
in all ages; it is naturally suggested by the flight of a bird. I have
watched for hours together in early life, in my walks across the bridge
from Boston to Charlestown, the motions of the sea-gulls.... Often have I
attempted to unravel the mystery of their motion so as to bring the
principle of it to bear upon this very subject, but I never experimented
upon it. Many ingenious men, however, have experimented on air
navigation, and have so far succeeded as to travel in the air many miles,
but always with the current of wind in their favor. By _navigating_ the
atmosphere is meant something more than dropping down with the tide in a
boat, without sails, or oars or other means of propulsion.... Birds not
only rise in the air, but they can also propel themselves against the
ordinary currents. A study, then, of the conditions that enable a bird
thus to defy the ordinary currents of the atmosphere seems to furnish the
most likely mode of solving the problem. Whilst a bird flies, whilst I
see a mass of matter overcoming, by its structure and a power within it,
the natural forces of gravitation and a current of air, I dare not say
that air navigation is absurd or impossible.

"I consider the difficulties to be overcome are the combining of strength
with lightness in the machine sufficient to allow of the exercise of a
force without the machine from a source of power within. A difficulty
will occur in the right adaptation of propellers, and, should this
difficulty be overcome, the risks of derangement of the machinery from
the necessary lightness of its parts would be great, and consequently the
risks to life would be greater than in any other mode of travelling. From
a wreck at sea or on shore a man may be rescued with his life, and so by
the running off the track by the railroad car, the majority of passengers
will be saved; but from a fall some thousands, or only hundreds, of feet
through the air, not one would escape death....

"I have no time to add more than my best wishes for the success of those
who are struggling with these difficulties."

These observations, made nearly sixty-five years ago, are most pertinent
to present-day conditions, when the conquest of the air has been
accomplished, and along the very lines suggested by Morse, but at what a
terrible cost in human life.

That the inventor, harassed on all sides by pirates, unscrupulous men,
and false friends, should, in spite of his Christian philosophy, have
suffered from occasional fits of despondency, is but natural, and he must
have given vent to his feelings in a letter to his true friend and able
business agent, Mr. Kendall, for the latter thus strives to hearten him
in a letter of April 20, 1849:--

"You say, 'Mrs. Morse and Elizabeth are both sitting by me.' How is it
possible, in the midst of so much that is charming and lovely, that you
_could_ sink into the gloomy spirit which your letter indicates? Can
there be a Paradise without Devils in it--Blue Devils, I mean? And how is
it that now, instead of addressing themselves first to the woman, they
march boldly up to the man?

"Faith in our Maker is a most important Christian virtue, but man has no
right to rely on Faith alone until he has exhausted his own power. When
we have done all we can with pure hands and honest hearts, then may we
rely with confidence on the aid of Him who governs worlds and atoms,
controls, when He chooses, the will of man, restrains his passions and
makes his bad designs subservient to the best of ends.

"Now for a short application of a short sermon. We must do our best to
have the Depositions and Affidavits prepared and forwarded in due time.
This done we may have _Faith_ that we will gain our cause. Or, if with
our utmost exertions, we fail in our preparations, we shall be warranted
in having Faith that no harm will come of it.

"But if, like the Jews in the Maccabees, we rely upon the Lord to fight
our battles, without lifting a weapon in our defence, or, like the
wagoner in the fable, we content ourselves with calling on Hercules, we
shall find in the end that 'Faith without Works is dead.' ... The world,
as you say, is '_the world_'--a quarrelling, vicious, fighting,
plundering world--yet it is a very good world for good men. Why should
man torment himself about that which he cannot help? If we but enjoy the
good things of earth and endure the evil things with a cheerful
resignation, bad spirits--blue devils and all--will fly from our bosoms
to their appropriate abode."

Another true and loyal friend was George Wood, associated with Mr.
Kendall in Washington, from whom are many affectionate and witty letters
which it would be a pleasure to reproduce, but for the present I shall
content myself with extracts from one dated May 4, 1849:--

"It does seem to me that Satan has, from the jump, been at war with this
invention of yours. At first he strove to cover you up with a F.O.G. of
Egyptian hue; then he ran your wires through leaden pipe, constructed by
his 'pipe-laying' agents, into the ground and 'all aground.' And when
these were hoisted up, like the Brazen Serpent, on poles for all to gaze
at and admire, then who so devout a worshipper as the Devil in the person
of one of his children of darkness, who came forward at once to contract
for a line reaching to St. Louis--_and round the world_--upon that
principle of the true construction of _constitutions_, and such like
_contracts_, first promulgated by that 'Old Roman' the 'Hero of two
Wars,' and approved by the 'whole hog' Democracy of the 'first republic
of the world,' and which, like the moral law is summarily comprehended in
a few words--'The constitution (or contract) is what I understand it to

"Now without stopping to show you that O'Reilly was a true disciple of
O'Hickory, I think you will not question his being a son of Satan, whose
brazen instruments (one of whom gave his first born the name of Morse)
instigated by the Gent in Black, not content with inflicting us with the
Irish Potato Rot, has recently brought over the Scotch Itch, if, perhaps,
by plagues Job was never called upon to suffer (for there were no Courts
of Equity and Chancery in those early days) the American inventor might
be tempted to curse God and die. But, Ah! you have such a sweet wife, and
Job's was such a vinegar cruet."

It is, perhaps, hardly necessary to explain that F.O.J. Smith was
nicknamed "Fog" Smith, and that the "Scotch Itch" referred to the
telegraph of Alexander Bain, which, for a time, was used by the enemies
of Morse in the effort to break down his patent rights. The other
allusions were to the politics of the day.

Another good friend and business associate was Thomas R. Walker, who in
1849 was mayor of Utica, New York. Mr. Walker's wife was the half-sister
of Mrs. Griswold, Morse's mother-in-law, so there were ties of
relationship as well as of friendship between the two men, and Morse
thought so highly of Mr. Walker that he made him one of the executors of
his will.

In a letter of July 11, 1849, Mr. Walker says: "The course pursued by the
press is simply mercenary. Were it otherwise you would receive justice at
their hands, and your fame and merits would be vindicated instead of
being tarnished by the editorials of selfish and ungenerous men. But--
_'magna est veritas et prevalebit_.' There is comfort in that at any

It would seem that not only was the inventor forced to uphold his rights
through a long series of lawsuits, but a great part of the press of the
country was hostile to him on the specious plea that they were attempting
to overthrow a baleful monopoly. In this connection the following extract
from a letter to J. Fenimore Cooper, written about this time, is
peculiarly apt:--

"It is not because I have not thought of you and your excellent family
that I have not long since written to you to know your personal welfare.
I hear of you often, it is true, through the papers. They praise you, as
usual, for it is praise to have the abuse of such as abuse you. In all
your libel suits against these degraded wretches I sympathize entirely
with you, and there are thousands who now thank you in their hearts for
the moral courage you display in bringing these licentious scamps to a
knowledge of their duty. Be assured the good sense, the intelligence, the
right feeling of the community at large are with you. The licentiousness
of the press needed the rebuke which you have given it, and it feels it
too despite its awkward attempts to brave it out.

"I will say nothing of your 'Home as Found.' I will use the frankness to
say that I wish you had not written it.... When in Paris last I several
times passed 59 Rue St. Dominique. The gate stood invitingly open and I
looked in, but did not see my old friends although everything else was
present. I felt as one might suppose another to feel on rising from his
grave after a lapse of a century."

An attack from another and an old quarter is referred to in a letter to
his brother Sidney of July 10, also another instance of the unfairness of
the press:--

"Dr. Jackson had the audacity to appear at Louisville by _affidavit_
against me. My _counter-affidavit_, with his original letters,
contradicting _in toto_ his statement, put him _hors de combat_. Mr.
Kendall says he was 'completely used up.' ... I have got a copy of
Jackson's affidavit which I should like to show you. There never was a
more finished specimen of wholesale lying than is contained in it. He is
certainly a monomaniac; no other conclusion could save him from an
indictment for perjury.

"By the Frankfort paper sent you last week, and the extract I now send
you, you can give a very effective shot to the 'Tribune.' It is, perhaps,
worthy of remark that, while all the papers in New York were so forward
in publishing a _false_ account of O'Reilly's success in the Frankfort
case, not one that I have seen has noticed the decision just given at
Louisville _against_ him in every particular. This shows the animus of
the press towards me. Nor have they taken any pains to correct the false
account given of the previous decision."

Although no longer President of the National Academy of Design, having
refused reëlection in 1845 in order to devote his whole time to the
telegraph, Morse still took a deep interest in its welfare, and his
counsel was sought by its active members. On October 13, 1849, Mr.
Charles C. Ingham sent him a long letter detailing the trials and
triumphs of the institution, from which I shall quote a few sentences:
"'Lang syne,' when you fought the good fight for the cause of Art, your
prospects in life were not brighter than they are now, and in bodily and
mental vigor you are just the same, therefore do not, at this most
critical moment, desert the cause. It is the same and our enemies are the
same old insolent quacks and impostors, who wish to make a footstool of
the profession on which to stand and show themselves to the public....
Now, with this prospect before you, rouse up a little of your old
enthusiasm, put your shoulder to the wheel, and place the only school of
Art on all this side of the world on a firm foundation."

Unfortunately the answer to this letter is not in my possession, but we
may be sure that it came from the heart, while it must have expressed the
writer's deep regret that the multiplicity of his other cares would
prevent him from undertaking what would have been to him a labor of love.

Although Alfred Vail had severed his active connection with the
telegraph, he and his brother George still owned stock in the various
lines, and Morse did all in his power to safeguard and further their
interests. They, on their part, were always zealous in championing the
rights of the inventor, as the following letter from George Vail, dated
December 19, 1849, will show:--

"Enclosed I hand you a paragraph cut from the 'Newark Daily' of 17th
inst. It was evidently drawn out by a letter which I addressed to the
editor some months ago, stating that I could not see what consistency
there was in his course; that, while he was assuming the championship of
American manufactures, ingenuity, enterprise, etc., etc., he was at the
same time holding up an English inventor to praise, while he held all the
better claims of Morse in the dark,--alluding to his bespattering Mr.
Bain and O'Reilly with compliments at our expense, etc.

"I would now suggest that, if you are willing, we give _Mr. Daily_ a
temperate article on the rise and progress of telegraphs, asserting
claims for yourself, and, as I must father the article, give the Vails
and New Jersey all the 'sodder' they are entitled to, and a little more,
if you can spare it.

"Will you write something adapted to the case and forward it to me as
early as possible, that it may go in on the heels of this paragraph

F.O.J. Smith continued to embarrass and thwart the other proprietors by
his various wild schemes for self-aggrandizement. As Mr. Kendall said in
a letter of August 4: "There is much _Fog_ in Smith's letter, but it is
nothing else."

And on December 4, he writes in a more serious vein: "Mr. Smith
peremptorily refuses an arbitration which shall embrace a separation of
all our interests, and I think it inexpedient to have any other. He is so
utterly unprincipled and selfish that we can expect nothing but renewed
impositions as long as we have any connection with him. He asks me to
make a proposition to buy or sell, which I have delayed doing, because I
know that nothing good can come of it; but I have informed him that I
will consider any proposition he may make, if not too absurd to deserve
it. I do not expect any that we can accede to without sacrifices to this
worse than patent pirate which I am not prepared to make."

Mr. Kendall then concludes that the only recourse will be to the law, but
Morse, always averse to war, and preferring to exhaust every effort to
bring about an amicable adjustment of difficulties, sent the following
courteous letter to Smith on December 8, which, however, failed of the
desired result:--

"I deeply regret to learn from my agent, Mr. Kendall, that an unpleasant
collision is likely to take place between your interest in the Telegraph
and the rest of your coproprietors in the patent. I had hoped that an
amicable arbitrament might arrange all our mutual interests to our mutual
advantage and satisfaction; but I learn that his proposition to that
effect has been rejected by you.

"You must be aware that the rest of your coproprietors have been great
sufferers in their property, for some time past, from the frequent
disagreements between their agent and yourself, and that, for the sake of
peace, they have endured much and long. It is impossible for me to say
where the fault lies, for, from the very fact that I put my affairs into
the hands of an agent to manage for me, it is evident I cannot have that
minute, full and clear view of the matters at issue between him and
yourself that he has, or, under other circumstances, that I might have.
But this I can see, that mutual disadvantage must be the consequence of
litigation between us, and this we both ought to be desirous to avoid.

"Between fair-minded men I cannot see why there should be a difference,
or at least such a difference as cannot be adjusted by uninterested
parties chosen to settle it by each of the disagreeing parties.

"I write this in the hope that, on second thought, you will meet my agent
Mr. Kendall in the mode of arbitration proposed. I have repeatedly
advised my agent to refrain from extreme measures until none others are
left us; and if such are now deemed by him necessary to secure a large
amount of our property, hazarded by perpetual delays, while I shall most
sincerely regret the necessity, there are interests which I am bound to
protect, connected with the secure possession of what is rightfully mine,
which will compel me to oppose no further obstacle to his proceeding to
obtain my due, in such manner as, in his judgment, he may deem best."


MARCH 5, 1850--NOVEMBER 10, 1854

Precarious financial condition.--Regret at not being able to make loan.--
False impression of great wealth.--Fears he may have to sell home.--
F.O.J. Smith continues to give trouble.--Morse system extending
throughout the world.--Death of Fenimore Cooper.--Subscriptions to
charities, etc.--First use of word "Telegram."--Mysterious fire in
Supreme Court clerk's room.--Letter of Commodore Perry.--Disinclination
to antagonize Henry.--Temporary triumph of F.O.J. Smith.--Order gradually
emerging.--Expenses of the law.--Triumph in Australia.--Gift to Yale
College.--Supreme Court decision and extension of patent.--Social
diversions in Washington.--Letters of George Wood and P.H. Watson on
extension of patent.--Loyalty to Mr. Kendall; also to Alfred Vail.--
Decides to publish "Defense."--Controversy with Bishop Spaulding.--Creed
on Slavery.--Political views.--Defeated for Congress.

While I have anticipated in giving the results of the various lawsuits,
it must be borne in mind that these dragged along for years, and that the
final decision of the Supreme Court was not handed down until January 30,
1854. During all this time the inventor was kept in suspense as to the
final outcome, and often the future looked very dark indeed, and he was
hard pressed to provide for the present.

On March 5, 1850, he writes to a friend who had requested a loan of a few
hundred dollars:--

"It truly pains me to be obliged to tell you of my inability to make you
a loan, however small in amount or amply secured. In the present
embarrassed state of my affairs, consequent upon these never-ending and
vexatious suits, I know not how soon all my property may be taken from
me. The newspapers, among their other innumerable falsehoods, circulate
one in regard to my 'enormous wealth.' The object is obvious. It is to
destroy any feeling of sympathy in the public mind from the gross
robberies committed upon me. 'He is rich enough; he can afford to give
something to the public from his extortionate monopoly,' etc., etc.

"Now no man likes to proclaim his poverty, for there is a sort of
satisfaction to some minds in being esteemed rich, even if they are not.
The evil of this is that from a rich man more is expected in the way of
pecuniary favors (and justly too), and consequently applications of all
kinds are daily, I might say for the last few months almost hourly, made
to me, and the fabled wealth attributed to me, or to Croesus, would not
suffice to satisfy the requests made."

And, after stating that, of the 11,607 miles of telegraph at that time in
operation, only one company of 509 miles was then paying a dividend, he
adds: "If this fails I have nothing. On this I solely depend, for I have
now no profession, and at my age, with impaired eyesight, I cannot resume

"I have indeed a farm out of which a farmer might obtain his living, but
to me it is a source of expense, and I have not actually, though you may
think it strange, the means to make my family comfortable."

In a letter to Mr. Kendall of January 4, 1851, he enlarges on this

"I have been taking in sail for some time past to prepare for the storm
which has so long continued and still threatens destruction, but with
every economy my family must suffer for the want of many comforts which
the low state of my means prevents me from procuring. I contrived to get
through the last month without incurring debt, but I see no prospect now
of being able to do so the present month.... I wish much to know, and,
indeed, it is indispensably necessary I should be informed of the precise
condition of things; for, if my property is but nominal in the stocks of
the companies, and is to be soon rendered valueless from the operations
of pirates, I desire to know it, that I may sell my home and seek another
of less pretension, one of humbler character and suited to my change of
circumstances. It will, indeed, be like cutting off a right hand to leave
my country home, but, if I cannot retain it without incurring debt, it
must go, and before debt is incurred and not after. I have made it a rule
from my childhood to live always within my means, to have no debts; for
if there is a terror which would unman me more than any other in this
world, it is the sight of a man to whom I owed money, however
inconsiderable in amount, without my being in a condition to pay him. On
this point I am nervously sensitive, to a degree which some might think
ridiculous. But so it is and I cannot help it....

"Please tell me how matters stand in relation to F.O.G. I wish nothing
short of entire separation from that unprincipled man if it can possibly
be accomplished....I can suffer his frauds upon myself with comparative
forbearance, but my indignation boils when I am made, _nolens volens_, a
_particeps criminis_ in his frauds on others. I will not endure it if I
must suffer the loss of all the property I hold in the world."

The beloved country place was not sacrificed, and a way out of all his
difficulties was found, but his faith and Christian forbearance were
severely tested before his path was smoothed. Among all his trials none
was so hard to bear as the conduct of F.O.J. Smith, whose strange
tergiversations were almost inconceivable. Like the old man of the sea,
he could not be shaken off, much as Morse and his partners desired to
part company with him forever. The propositions made by him were so
absurd that they could not for a moment be seriously considered, and the
reasonable terms submitted by Mr. Kendall were unconditionally rejected
by him. It will be necessary to refer to him and his strange conduct from
time to time, but to go into the matter in detail would consume too much
valuable space. It seems only right, however, to emphasize the fact that
his animosity and unscrupulous self-seeking constituted the greatest
cross which Morse was called upon to bear, even to the end of his life,
and that many of the aspersions which have been cast upon the inventor's
fame and good name, before and after his death, can be traced to the
fertile brain of this same F.O.J. Smith.

While the inventor was fighting for his rights in his own country, his
invention, by the sheer force of its superiority, was gradually
displacing all other systems abroad. Even in England it was superseding
the Cooke and Wheatstone needle telegraph, and on the Continent it had
been adopted by Prussia, Austria, Bavaria, Hanover, and Turkey. It is
worthy of note that that broad-minded scientist, Professor Steinheil, of
Bavaria, who had himself invented an ingenious plan of telegraph when he
was made acquainted with the Morse system, at once acknowledged its
superiority and urged its adoption by the Bavarian Government. In France,
too, it was making its way, and Morse, in answer to a letter of inquiry
as to terms, etc., by M. Brequet, thus characteristically avows his
motives, after finishing the business part of the letter, which is dated
April 21, 1851:--

"To be frank with you, my dear sir (and I feel that I can be frank with
you), while I am not indifferent to the pecuniary rewards of my invention
(which will be amply satisfactory if my own countrymen will but do me
justice), yet as these were not the stimulus to my efforts in perfecting
and establishing my invention, so they now hold but a subordinate
position when I attempt to comprehend the full results of the Telegraph
upon the welfare of my fellow men. I am more solicitous to see its
benefits extended world-wide during my lifetime than to turn the stream
of wealth, which it is generating to millions of persons, into my own
pocket. A few drops from the sea, which may not be missed, will suffice
for me."

In the early days of 1852 death took from him one of his dearest friends,
and the following letter, written in February, 1852, to Rufus Griswold,
Esq., expresses his sentiments:--

"I sincerely regret that circumstances over which I have no control
prevent my participation in the services commemorative of the character,
literary and moral, of my lamented friend the late James Fenimore Cooper,

"I can scarcely yet realize that he is no longer with us, for the
announcement of his death came upon me most unexpectedly. The pleasure of
years of close intimacy with Mr. Cooper was never for a moment clouded by
the slightest coolness. We were in daily, I can truly say, almost hourly,
intercourse in the year 1831 in Paris. I never met with a more sincere,
warm-hearted, constant friend. No man came nearer to the ideal I had
formed of a truly high-minded man. If he was at times severe or caustic
in his remarks on others, it was when excited by the exhibition of the
little arts of little minds. His own frank, open, generous nature
instinctively recoiled from contact with them. His liberalities, obedient
to his generous sympathies, were scarcely bounded by prudence; he was
always ready to help a friend, and many such there are who will learn of
his departure with the most poignant sorrow. Although unable to be with
you, I trust the Committee will not overlook me when they are collecting
the funds for the monument to his genius."

It might have been said of Morse, too, that "his liberalities were
scarcely bounded by prudence," for he gave away or lost through
investments, urged upon him by men whom he regarded as friends but who
were actuated by selfish motives, much more than he retained. He gave
largely to the various religious organizations and charities in which he
was interested, and it was characteristic of him that he could not wait
until he had the actual cash in hand, but, even while his own future was
uncertain, he made donations of large blocks of stocks, which, while of
problematical value while the litigation was proceeding, eventually rose
to much above par.

While he strove to keep his charities secret, they were bruited abroad,
much to his sorrow, for, although at the time he was hard pressed to make
both ends meet, they created a false impression of great wealth, and the
importunities increased in volume.

It is always interesting to note the genesis of familiar words, and the
following is written in pencil by Morse on a little slip of paper:--

"_Telegram_ was first proposed by the Albany 'Evening Journal,' April 6,
1852, and has been universally adopted as a legitimate word into the
English language."

On April 21, 1852, Mr. Kendall reports a mysterious occurrence:--

"Our case in the Supreme Court will very certainly be reached by the
middle of next week. A most singular incident has occurred. The papers
brought up from the court below, not entered in the records, were on a
table in the clerk's room. There was no fire in the room. One of the
clerks after dark lighted a lamp, looked up some papers, blew out the
lamp and locked the door. Some time afterwards, wishing to obtain a book,
he entered the room without a light and got the book in the dark. In. the
morning our papers were burnt up, and _nothing else_.

"The papers burnt are all the drawings, all the books filed, Dana's
lectures, Chester's pamphlet, your sketchbook (if the original was
there), your tag of type, etc., etc. But we shall replace them as far as
possible and go on with the case. _Was_ your original sketch-book there?
If so, has any copy been taken?"

The original sketch-book was in this collection of papers so mysteriously
destroyed, but most fortunately a certified copy had been made, and this
is now in the National Museum in Washington. Also, most fortunately, this
effort on the part of some enemy to undermine the foundations of the case
proved abortive, if, indeed, it was not a boomerang, for, as we have
seen, the decision of the Supreme Court was in Morse's favor. In the year
1852, Commodore Perry sailed on his memorable trip to Japan, which, as is
well known, opened that wonderful country to the outside world and
started it on its upward path towards its present powerful position among
the nations. The following letter from Commodore Perry, dated July 22,
1852, will, therefore, be found of unusual interest:--

I shall take with me, on my cruise to the East Indias, specimens of the
most remarkable inventions of the age, among which stands preëminent your
telegraph, and I write a line by Lieutenant Budd, United States Navy, not
only to introduce him to your acquaintance, but to ask as a particular
favour that you would give him some information and instruction as to the
most practicable means of exhibiting the Telegraph, as well as a
daguerreotype apparatus, which I am also authorized to purchase, also
other articles connected with drawing.

I have directed Lieutenant Budd to visit Poughkeepsie in order to confer
with you. He will have lists, furnished by Mr. Norton and a daguerreotype
artist, which I shall not act upon until I learn the result of his
consultation with you.

I hope you will pardon this intrusion upon your time. I feel almost
assured, however, that you will take a lively interest in having your
wonderful invention exhibited to a people so little known to the world,
and there is no one better qualified than yourself to instruct Lieutenant
Budd in the duties I have entrusted to his charge, and who will fully
explain to you the object I have in view.

I leave this evening for Washington and should be much obliged if you
would address me a line to that place.

Most truly and respectfully yours

It was about this time that the testimony of Professor Joseph Henry was
being increasingly used by Morse's opponents to discredit him in the
scientific world and to injure his cause in the courts. I shall,
therefore, revert for a moment to the matter for the purpose of
emphasizing Morse's reluctance to do or say anything against his
erstwhile friend.

In a letter to H.J. Raymond, editor of the New York "Times," he requests
space in that journal for a fair exposition of his side of the
controversy in reply to an article attacking him. To this Mr. Raymond
courteously replies on November 22, 1852: "The columns of the 'Times' are
entirely at your service for the purpose you mention, or, indeed, for
almost any other. The writer of the article you allude to was Dr.
Bettner, of Philadelphia."

Morse answers on November 30:--

"I regret finding you absent; I wished to have had a few moments'
conversation with you in relation to the allusion I made to Professor
Henry. If possible I wish to avoid any course which might weaken the
influence for good of such a man as Henry. I will forbear exposure to the
last moment, and, in view of my duty as a Christian at least, I will give
him an opportunity to explain to me in private. If he refuses, then I
shall feel it my duty to show how unfairly he has conducted himself in
allowing his testimony to be used to my detriment.

"I write in haste, and will merely add that, to consummate these views, I
shall for the present delay the article I had requested you to insert in
your columns, and allow the various misrepresentations to remain yet a
little longer unexposed, at the same time thanking you cordially for your
courteous accordance of my request."

A slight set-back was encountered by Morse and his associates at this
time by the denial of an injunction against F.O.J. Smith, and, in a
letter to Mr. Kendall of December 4, the long-suffering inventor

"F.O.J. crows at the top of his voice, and I learned that he and his man
Friday, Foss, had a regular spree in consequence, and that the latter was
noticed in Broadway drunk and boisterously huzzaing for F.O.J. and
cursing me and my telegraph.

"I read in my Bible: 'The triumph of the wicked is short.' This may have
a practical application, in this case at any rate. I have full confidence
in that Power that, for wise purposes, allows wickedness temporarily to
triumph that His own designs of bringing good out of evil may be the more

Another of Morse's fixed principles in life is referred to in a letter to
Judge E. Fitch Smith of February 4, 1858: "Yours of the 31st ulto. is
this moment received. Your request has given me some trouble of spirit on
this account, to wit: My father lost a large property, the earnings of
his whole life of literary labor, by simply endorsing. My mother was ever
after so affected by this fact that it was the constant theme of her
disapprobation, and on her deathbed I gave her my promise, in accordance
with her request, that _I never would endorse a note_. I have never done
such a thing, and, of course, have never requested the endorsement of
another. I cannot, therefore, in that mode accommodate you, but I can
probably aid you as effectually in another way."

It will not be necessary to dwell at length on further happenings in the
year 1853. Order was gradually emerging from chaos in the various lines
of telegraph, which, under the wise guidance of Amos Kendall, were
tending towards a consolidation into one great company. The decision of
the Supreme Court had not yet been given, causing temporary embarrassment
to the patentees by allowing the pirates to continue their depredations
unchecked. F.O.J. Smith continued to give trouble. To quote from a letter
of Morse's to Mr. Kendall of January 10, 1853: "The Good Book says that
'one sinner destroyeth much good,' and F.O.J. being (as will be admitted
by all, perhaps, except himself) a sinner of that class bent upon
destroying as much good as he can, I am desirous, even at much sacrifice
(a desire, of course, _inter nos_) to get rid of controversy with him."

Further on in this letter, referring to another cause for anxiety, he
says: "Law is expensive, and we must look it in the face and expect to
pay roundly for it.... It is a delicate task to dispute a professional
man's charges, and, though it may be an evil to find ourselves bled so
freely by lawyers, it is, perhaps, the least of evils to submit to it as
gracefully as we can."

But, while he could not escape the common lot of man in having to bear
many and severe trials, there were compensatory blessings which he
appreciated to the full. His home life was happy and, in the main,
serene; his farm was a source of never-ending pleasure to him; he was
honored at home and abroad by those whose opinion he most valued; and he
was almost daily in receipt of the news of the extension of the "Morse
system" throughout the world. Even from far-off Australia came the news
of his triumph. A letter was sent to him, written from Melbourne on
December 3, 1853, by a Mr. Samuel McGowan to a friend in New York, which
contains the following gratifying intelligence:--

"Since the date of my last to you matters with me have undergone a
material change. I have come off conqueror in my hard fought battle. The
contract has been awarded to me in the faces of the representatives of
Messrs. Wheatstone and Cooke, Brett and other telegraphic luminaries,
much to their chagrin, as I afterwards ascertained; several of them, it
appears, having been leagued together in order, as they stated, to thwart
a speculating Yankee. However, matters were not so ordained, and I am as
well satisfied. I hope they will all live to be the same."

In spite of his financial difficulties, caused by bad management of some
of the lines in which he was interested, he could not resist the
temptation to give liberally where his heart inclined him, and in a
letter of January 9, 1854, to President Woolsey of Yale, he says:--

"Enclosed, therefore, you have my check for one thousand dollars, which
please hand to the Treasurer of the College as my subscription towards
the fund which is being raised for the benefit of my dearly loved _Alma

"I wish I could make it a larger sum, and, without promising what I may
do at some future time, yet I will say that the prosperity of Yale
College is so near my heart that, should my affairs (now embarrassed by
litigations in self-defence yet undecided) assume a more prosperous
aspect, I have it in mind to add something more to the sum now sent."

The year 1854 was memorable in the history of the telegraph because of
two important events--the decision of the Supreme Court in Morse's favor,
already referred to, and the extension of his patent for another period
of seven years. The first established for all time his legal right to be
called the "Inventor of the Telegraph," and the second enabled him to
reap some adequate reward for his years of privation, of struggle, and of
heroic faith. It was for a long time doubtful whether his application for
an extension of his patent would be granted, and much of his time in the
early part of 1854 was consumed in putting in proper form all the data
necessary to substantiate his claim, and in visiting Washington to urge
the justice of an extension. From that city he wrote often to his wife in
Poughkeepsie, and I shall quote from some of these letters.

"_February 17._ I am at the National Hotel, which is now quite crowded,
but I have an endurable room with furniture hardly endurable, for it is
hard to find, in this hotel at least, a table or a bureau that can stand
on its four proper legs, rocking and tetering like a gold-digger's
washing-pan, unless the lame leg is propped up with an old shoe, or a
stray newspaper fifty times folded, or a magazine of due thickness (I am
using 'Harper's Magazine' at this moment, which is somewhat a
desecration, as it is too good to be trampled under foot, even the foot
of a table), or a coal cinder, or a towel. Well, it is but for a moment
and so let it pass.

"Where do you think I was last evening? Read the invitation on the
enclosed card, which, although forbidden to be _transferable_, may
without breach of honor be transferred to my other and better half. I
felt no inclination to go, but, as no refusal would be accepted, I put on
my best and at nine o'clock, in company with Mr. and Mrs. Shaffner (the
latter of whom, by the by, is quite a pleasant and pretty woman, with a
boy one year older than Arthur and about as mischievous) and Mr. and Mrs.
John Kendall.

"I went to the ladies' parlor and was presented to the ladies, six in
number, who did the honors (if that is the expression) of the evening.
There was a great crowd, I think not less than three hundred people, and
from all parts of the country--Senators and their wives, members of the
House and their wives and daughters, and there was a great number of fine
looking men and women. I was constantly introduced to a great many, who
uniformly showered their compliments on your _modest_ husband."

The card of invitation has been lost, but it was, perhaps, to a
President's Reception, and the "great" crowd of three hundred would not
tax the energies of the President's aides at the present day.

The next letter is written in a more serious vein:--

"_February 26._ I am very busily engaged in the preparation of my papers
for an extension of my patents. This object is of vital importance to me;
it is, in fact, the moment to reap the harvest of so many years of labor,
and expense, and toil, and neglected would lose me the fruits of all....
F.O.J. Smith is here, the same ugly, fiendlike, dog-in-the-manger being
he has ever been, the 'thorn in the flesh' which I pray to be able to
support by the sufficient grace promised. It is difficult to know how to
feel and act towards such a man, so unprincipled, so vengeful, so bent on
injury, yet the command to bless those that curse, to pray for those who
despitefully use us and persecute us, to love our enemies, to forgive our
enemies, is in full force, and I feel more anxious to comply with this
injunction of our blessed Saviour than to have the thorn removed, however
strongly this latter must be desired."

"_March 4._ You have little idea of the trouble and expense to which I am
put in this 'extension' matter.... I shall have to pay hundreds of
dollars more before I get through here, besides being harassed in all
sorts of ways from now till the 20th of June next. If I get my extension
then I may expect some respite, or, at least, opposition in another
shape. I hope eventually to derive some benefit from the late decision,
but the reckless and desperate character of my opponents may defeat all
the good I expect from it. Such is the reward I have purchased for myself
by my invention....

"Mr. Wood is here also. He is the same firm, consistent and indefatigable
friend as ever. I know not what I should do in the present crisis without
him. I could not possibly put my accounts into proper shape without his
aid, and he exerts himself for me as strongly as if I were his
brother.... Mr. Kendall has been ill almost all the time that I have been
here, which has caused me much delay and consumption of time."

It was not until the latter part of June that the extension of his
patents was granted, and his good friend, alluded to in the preceding
letter, Mr. George Wood, tells, in a letter of June 21st, something of
the narrow escape it had:--

"Your Patent Extension is another instance of God's wonder working
Providence towards you as expressed in the history of this great
discovery. Of that history, of all the various shapes and incidents you
may never know, not having been on the spot to watch all its moments of
peril, and the way in which, like many a good Christian, it was 'scarcely

"In this you must see God's hand in giving you a man of remarkable skill,
energy, talent, and power as your agent. I refer to P.H. Watson, to whom
mainly and mostly, I think, this extension is due. God works by means,
and, though he designed to do this for you, he selected the proper person
and gave him the skill, perseverance and power to accomplish this result.
I hope now you have got it you will make it do for you all it can
accomplish pecuniarily. But as for the money, I don't think so much as I
do the effect of this upon your reputation. This is the apex of the

And Mr. Watson, in a letter of June 20, says: "We had many difficulties
to contend with, even to-day, for at one time the Commissioner intended
to withhold his decision for reasons which I shall explain at length when
we meet. It seemed to give the Commissioner much pleasure to think that,
in extending the patent, he was doing an act of justice to you as a great
public benefactor, and a somewhat unfortunate man of genius. Dr. Gale and
myself had to assure him that the extension would legally inure to your
benefit, and not to that of your agents and associates before he could
reconcile it with his duty to the public to grant the extension."

Morse himself, in a letter to Mr. Kendall, also of June 20, thus
characteristically expresses himself:--

"A memorable day. I never had my anxieties so tried as in this case of
extension, and after weeks of suspense, this suspense was prolonged to
the last moment of endurance. I have just returned with the intelligence
from the telegraph office from Mr. Watson--'Patent extended. All right.'

"Well, what is now to be done? I am for taking time by the forelock and
placing ourselves above the contingencies of the next expiration of the
patent. While keeping our vantage ground with the pirates I wish to meet
them in a spirit of compromise and of magnanimity. I hope we may now be
able to consolidate on advantageous terms."

It appears that at this time he was advised by many of his friends,
including Dr. Gale, to sever his business connection with Mr. Kendall,
both on account of the increasing feebleness of that gentleman, and
because, while admittedly the soul of honor, Mr. Kendall had kept their
joint accounts in a very careless and slipshod manner, thereby causing
considerable financial loss to the inventor. But, true to his friends, as
he always was, he replies to Dr. Gale on June 30:--

"Let me thank you specially personally for your solicitude for my
interests. This I may say without disparagement to Mr. Kendall, that,
were the contract with an agent to be made anew, I might desire to have a
younger and more healthy man, and better acquainted with regular
book-keeping, but I could not desire a more upright and more honorable
man. If he has committed errors, (as who has not?) they have been of the
head and not of the heart. I have had many years experience of his
conduct, think I have seen him under strong temptation to do injustice
with prospects of personal benefit, and with little chance of detection,
and yet firmly resisting."

Among the calumnies which were spread broadcast, both during the life of
the inventor and after his death, even down to the present day, was the
accusation of great ingratitude towards those who had helped him in his
early struggles, and especially towards Alfred Vail. The more the true
history of his connection with his associates is studied, the more
baseless do these accusations appear, and in this connection the
following extracts from letters to Alfred Vail and to his brother George
are most illuminating. The first letter is dated July 15, 1854:--

"The legal title to my Patent for the American Electro-Magnetic Telegraph
of June 20th, 1840, is, by the late extension of said patent for seven
years from the said date, now vested in me alone; but I have intended
that the pecuniary interest which was guaranteed to you in my invention
as it existed in 1838, and in my patent of 1840, should still inure to
your benefit (yet in a different shape) under the second patent and the
late extension of the first.

"For the simplification of my business transactions I prefer to let the
Articles of Agreement, which expired on the 20th June, 1854, remain
cancelled and not to renew them, retaining in my sole possession the
_legal title;_ but I hereby guarantee to you two sixteenths of such sums
as may be paid over to me in the sale of patent rights, after the
proportionate deductions of such necessary expenses as may be required in
the business of the agency for conducting the sales of said patent
rights, subject also to the terms of your agreement with Mr. Kendall.

"Mr. Kendall informs me that no assignment of an interest in my second
patent (the patent of 1846) was ever made to you. This was news to me. I
presumed it was done and that the assignment was duly recorded at the
Patent Office. The examination of the records in the progress of
obtaining my extension has, doubtless, led to the discovery of the

After going over much the same ground in the letter to George Vail, also
of July 15th, he gives as one of the reasons why the new arrangement is
better: "The annoyances of Smith are at an end, so far as the necessity
of consulting him is concerned."

And then he adds:--

"I presume it can be no matter of regret with Alfred that, by the
position he now takes, strengthening our defensive position against the
annoyances of Smith, he can receive _more pecuniarily_ than he could
before. Please consult with Mr. Kendall on the form of any agreement by
which you and Alfred may be properly secured in the pecuniary benefits
which you would have were he to stand in the same legal relation to the
patent that he did before the expiration of its original term, so as to
give me the position in regard to Smith that I must take in self-defense,
and I shall cheerfully accede to it.

"Poor Alfred, I regret to know, torments himself needlessly. I had hoped
that I was sufficiently known to him to have his confidence. I have never
had other than kind feelings towards him, and, while planning for his
benefit and guarding his interests at great and almost ruinous expense to
myself, I have had to contend with difficulties which his imprudence,
arising from morbid suspicions, has often created. My wish has ever been
to act towards him not merely justly but generously."

In a letter to Mr. Kendall of July 17, 1854, Morse declares his intention
of publishing that "Defense" which he had held in reserve for several
years, hoping that the necessity for its publication might be avoided by
a personal understanding with Professor Henry, which, however, that
gentleman refused:--

"You will perceive what injury I have suffered from the machinations of
the sordid pirates against whom I have had to contend, and it will also
be noticed how history has been falsified in order to detract from me,
and how the conduct of Henry, on his deposition, has tended to strengthen
the ready prejudice of the English against the American claim to
priority. An increasing necessity, on this account, arises for my
'Defense,' and so soon as I can get it into proper shape by revision, I
intend to publish it.

"This I consider a duty I owe the country more than myself, for, so far
as I am personally concerned, I am conscious of a position that History
will give me when the facts now suppressed by interested pirates and
their abettors shall be known, which the verdict of posterity, no less
than that of the judicial tribunals already given, is sure to award."

While involved in apparently endless litigation which necessitated much
correspondence, and while the compilation and revision of his "Defense"
must have consumed not only days but weeks and months, he yet found time
to write a prodigious number of letters and newspaper articles on other
subjects, especially on those relating to religion and politics. Although
more tolerant as he grew older, he was still bitterly opposed to the
methods of the Roman Catholic Church, and to the Jesuits in particular.
He, in common with many other prominent men of his day, was fearful lest
the Church of Rome, through her emissaries the Jesuits, should gain
political ascendancy in this country and overthrow the liberty of the
people. He took part in a long and heated newspaper controversy with
Bishop Spaulding of Kentucky concerning the authenticity of a saying
attributed to Lafayette--"If ever the liberty of the United States is
destroyed it will be by Romish priests."

It was claimed by the Roman Catholics that this statement of Lafayette's
was ingeniously extracted from a sentence in a letter of his to a friend
in which he assures this friend that such a fear is groundless. Morse
followed the matter up with the patience and keenness of a detective, and
proved that no such letter had ever been written by Lafayette, that it
was a clumsy forgery, but that he really had made use of the sentiment
quoted above, not only to Morse himself, but to others of the greatest
credibility who were still living.

In the field of politics he came near playing a more active part than
that of a mere looker-on and humble voter, for in the fall of 1854 he was
nominated for Congress on the Democratic ticket. It would be difficult
and, perhaps, invidious to attempt to state exactly his political faith
in those heated years which preceded the Civil War. In the light of
future events he and his brothers and many other prominent men of the day
were on the wrong side. He deprecated the war and did his best to prevent

"Sectional division" was abhorrent to him, but on the question of slavery
his sympathies were rather with the South, for I find among his papers
the following:--

"My creed on the subject of slavery is short. Slavery _per se_ is not
sin. It is a social condition ordained from the beginning of the world
for the wisest purposes, benevolent and disciplinary, by Divine Wisdom.
The mere holding of slaves, therefore, is a condition having _per se_
nothing of moral character in it, any more than the being a parent, or
employer, or ruler, but is moral or unmoral as the duties of the relation
of master, parent, employer or ruler are rightly used or abused. The
subject in a national view belongs not, therefore, to the department of
Morals, and is transferred to that of Politics to be politically

"The accidents of the relation of master and slave, like the accidents of
other social relations, are to be praised or condemned as such
individually and in accordance with the circumstances of every case, and,
whether adjudged good or bad, do not affect the character of the relation

On the subject of foreign immigration he was most outspoken, and replying
to an enquiry of one of his political friends concerning his attitude
towards the so-called "Know Nothings," he says:--

"So far as I can gather from the public papers, the object of this
society would seem to be to resist the aggression of foreign influence
and its insidious and dangerous assaults upon all that Americans hold
dear, politically and religiously. It appears to be to prevent injury to
the Republic from the ill-timed and, I may say, unbecoming tamperings
with the laws, and habits, and deeply sacred sentiments of Americans by
those whose position, alike dictated by modesty and safety, to them as
well as to us, is that of minors in training for American, not European,

"I have not, at this late day, to make up an opinion on this subject. My
sentiments 'On the dangers to the free institutions of the United States
from foreign immigration' are the same now that I have ever entertained,
and these same have been promulgated from Maine to Louisiana for more
than twenty years.

"This subject involves questions which, in my estimation, make all others
insignificant in the comparison, for they affect all others. To the
disturbing influence of foreign action in our midst upon the political
and religious questions of the day may be attributed in a great degree
the present disorganization in all parts of the land.

"So far as the Society you speak of is acting against this great evil it,
of course, meets with my hearty concurrence. I am content to stand on the
platform, in this regard, occupied by Washington in his warnings against
foreign influence, by Lafayette, in his personal conversation and
instructions to me, and by Jefferson in his condemnation of the
encouragement given, even in his day, to foreign immigration. If this
Society has ulterior objects of which I know nothing, of these I can be
expected to speak only when I know something."

As his opinions on important matters, political and religious, appear in
the course of his correspondence, I shall make note of them. It is more
than probable that, as he differed radically from his father and the
other Federalists on the question of men and measures during the War of
1812, so I should have taken other ground than his had I been born and
old enough to have opinions in the stirring _ante-bellum_ days of the
fifties. And yet, as hindsight makes our vision clearer than foresight,
it is impossible to say definitely what our opinions would have been
under other conditions, and there can, at any rate, be no question of the
absolute sincerity of the man who, from his youth up, had placed the
welfare of his beloved country above every other consideration except his
duty to his God.

It would take a keen student of the political history of this country to
determine how far the opinions and activities of those who were in
opposition on questions of such prime importance as slavery, secession,
and unrestricted immigration, served as a wholesome check on the radical
views of those who finally gained the ascendancy. The aftermath of two of
these questions is still with us, for the negro question is by no means a
problem solved, and the subject of proper restrictions on foreign
immigration is just now occupying the attention of our Solons.

That Morse should make enemies on account of the outspoken stand he took
on all these questions was to be expected, but I shall not attempt to sit
in judgment, but shall simply give his views as they appear in his
correspondence. At any rate he was not called upon to state and maintain
his opinions in the halls of Congress, for, in a letter of November 10,
1854, to a friend, he says at the end: "I came near being in Congress at
the late election, but had _not quite votes enough_, which is the usual
cause of failure on such occasions."


JANUARY 8, 1856--AUGUST 14, 1856

Payment of dividends delayed.--Concern for welfare of his country.--
Indignation at corrupt proposal from California.--Kendall hampered by the
Vails.--Proposition by capitalists to purchase patent rights.--Cyrus W.
Field.--Newfoundland Electric Telegraph Company.--Suggestion of Atlantic
Cable.--Hopes thereby to eliminate war.--Trip to Newfoundland.--Temporary
failure.--F.O.J. Smith continues to give trouble.--Financial conditions
improve.--Morse and his wife sail for Europe.--Fêted in London.--
Experiments with Dr. Whitehouse.--Mr. Brett.--Dr. O'Shaughnessy and the
telegraph in India.--Mr. Cooke.--Charles H. Leslie.--Paris.--Hamburg.--
Copenhagen.--Presentation to king.--Thorwaldsen Museum.--Oersted's
daughter.--St. Petersburg.--Presentation to Czar at Peterhoff.

I have said in the preceding chapter that order was gradually emerging
from chaos in telegraphic matters, but the progress towards that goal was
indeed gradual, and a perusal of the voluminous correspondence between
Morse and Kendall, and others connected with the different lines, leaves
the reader in a state of confused bewilderment and wonder that all the
conflicting interests, and plots and counterplots, could ever have been
brought into even seeming harmony. Too much praise cannot be given to Mr.
Kendall for the patience and skill with which he disentangled this
apparently hopeless snarl, while at the same time battling against
physical ills which would have caused most men to give up in despair.
That Morse fully appreciated the sterling qualities of this faithful
friend is evidenced by the letter to Dr. Gale in the preceding chapter,
and by many others. He always refused to consider for a moment the
substitution of a younger man on the plea of Mr. Kendall's failing
health, and his carelessness in the keeping of their personal accounts.
It is true that, because of this laxity on Mr. Kendall's part, Morse was
for a long time deprived of the full income to which he was entitled, but
he never held this up against his friend, always making excuses for him.

Affairs seem to have been going from bad to worse in the matter of
dividends, for, while in 1850 he had said that only 509 miles out of 1150
were paying him personally anything, he says in a letter to Mr. Kendall
of January 8, 1855:--

"I perceive the Magnetic Telegraph Company meet in Washington on Thursday
the 11th. Please inform me by telegraph the amount of dividend they
declare and the time payable. This is the only source on which I can
calculate for the means of subsistence from day to day with any degree of

"It is a singular reflection that occurs frequently to my mind that out
of 40,000 miles of telegraph, all of which should pay me something, only
225 miles is all that I can depend upon with certainty; and the case is a
little aggravated when I think that throughout all Europe, which is now
meshed with telegraph wires from the southern point of Corsica to St.
Petersburg, on which my telegraph is universally used, not a mile
contributes to my support or has paid me a farthing.

"Well, it is all well. I am not in absolute want, for I have some credit,
and painful as is the state of debt to me from the apprehension that
creditors may suffer from my delay in paying them, yet I hope on."

Mr. Kendall was not so sensitive on the subject of debt as was Morse, and
he was also much more optimistic and often rebuked his friend for his
gloomy anticipations, assuring him that the clouds were not nearly so
dark as they appeared.

Always imbued with a spirit of lofty patriotism, Morse never failed, even
in the midst of overwhelming cares, to give voice to warnings which he
considered necessary. Replying to an invitation to be present at a public
dinner he writes:--

GENTLEMEN,--I have received your polite invitation to join with you in
the celebration of the birthday of Washington. Although unable to be
present in person, I shall still be with you in heart.

Every year, indeed every day, is demonstrating the necessity of our being
wide awake to the insidious sapping of our institutions by foreign
emissaries in the guise of friends, who, taking advantage of the very
liberality and unparalleled national generosity which we have extended to
them, are undermining the foundations of our political fabric,
substituting (as far as they are able to effect their purpose) on the one
hand a dark, cold and heartless atheism, or, on the other, a disgusting,
puerile, degrading superstition in place of the God of our fathers and
the glorious elevating religion of love preached by his Son.

The American mind, I trust, is now in earnest waking up, and no one more
rejoices at the signs of the times than myself. Twenty years ago I hoped
to have seen it awake, but, alas! it proved to be but a spasmodic yawn
preparatory to another nap. If it shall now have waked in earnest, and
with renewed strength shall gird itself to the battle which is assuredly
before it, I shall feel not a little in the spirit of good old Simeon--
"Now let thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy

Go forward, my friends, in your patriotic work, and may God bless you in
your labors with eminent success.

It has been shown, I think, in the course of this work, that Morse, while
long-suffering and patient under trials and afflictions, was by no means
poor-spirited, but could fight and use forceful language when roused by
acts of injustice towards himself, his country, or his sense of right.
Nothing made him more righteously angry than dishonesty in whatever form
it was manifested, and the following incident is characteristic.

On June 26, 1855, Mr. Kendall forwarded a letter which he had received
from a certain Milton S. Latham, member of Congress from California,
making a proposition to purchase the Morse patent rights for lines in
California. In this letter occur the following sentences: "For the use of
Professor Morse's patent for the State of California in perpetuity, with
the reservations named in yours of the 3d March, 1855, addressed to me,
they are willing to give you $30,000 in their stock. This is all they
will do. It is proper I should state that the capital stock of the
California State Telegraph in cash was $75,000, which they raised to
$150,000, and subsequently to $300,000. The surplus stock over the cash
stock was used among members of the Legislature to procure the passage of
the act incorporating the company, and securing for it certain

Mr. Kendall in his letter enclosing this naïve business proposition,
remarks: "It is an impressive commentary on the principles which govern
business in California that this company doubled their stock to bribe
members of the State Legislature, and are now willing to add but ten per
cent to be relieved from the position of patent pirates and placed
henceforth on an honest footing."

Morse more impulsively exclaims in his reply:--

"Is it possible that there are men who hold up their heads in civilized
society who can unblushingly take the position which the so-called
California State Telegraph Company has deliberately taken?

"Accept the proposition? Yes, I will accept it when I can consent to the
housebreaker who has entered my house, packed up my silver and plated
ware, and then coolly says to me--'Allow me to take what I have packed up
and I will select out that which is worthless and give it to you, after I
have used it for a few years, provided any of it remain!'

"A more unprincipled set of swindlers never existed. Who is this Mr.
Latham that he could recommend our accepting such terms?"

In addition to the opposition of open enemies and unprincipled pirates,
Morse and Kendall were sometimes hampered by the unjust suspicions of
some of those whose interests they were striving to safeguard. Referring
to one such case in a letter of June 15, 1855, Mr. Kendall says:--

"If there should be opposition I count on the Vails against me. Alfred
has for some time been hostile because I could not if I would, and would
not if I could, find him a snug sinecure in some of the companies. I fear
George has in some degree given way to the same spirit. I have heard of
his complaining of me, and when, before my departure for the West, I
tendered my services to negotiate a connection of himself and brother
with the lessees of the N.O. & O. line, he declined my offer, protesting
against the entire arrangements touching that line.

"Having done all I could and much more than I was bound to do for the
benefit of those gentlemen, I shall not permit their jealousy to disturb
me, but I am anxious to have them understand the exact position I am to
occupy in relation to them. I understood your purpose to be that they
should share in the benefits of the extension, whether legally entitled
to them or not, yet nothing has been paid over to them for sales since
made. All the receipts, except a portion of my commissions, have been
paid out on account of expenses, and to secure an interest for you in the
N.O. & O. line."

It is easy to understand that the Vails should have been somewhat
suspicious when little or nothing in the way of cash was coming in to
them, but they seem not to have realized that Morse and Kendall were in
the same boat, and living more on hope than cash. Mr. Kendall enlarges
somewhat on this point in a letter of June 22, 1855:--

"Most heartily will I concur in a sale of all my interests in the
Telegraph at any reasonable rate to such a company as you describe. I
fully appreciate your reasons for desiring such a consummation, and, in
addition to them, have others peculiar to my own position. Any one who
has a valuable patent can profit by it only by a constant fight with some
of the most profligate and, at the same time, most shrewd members of
society. I have found myself not only the agent of yourself and the
Messrs. Vail to sell your patent rights, but the soldier to fight your
battles, as well in the country as in the courts of justice. Almost
single-handed, with the deadly enmity of one of the patentees, and the
annoying jealousies of another, I have encountered surrounding hosts,
and, I trust, been instrumental in saving something for the Proprietors
of this great invention, and done something to maintain the rights and
vindicate the fame of its true author. Nothing but your generous
confidence has rendered my position tolerable, and enabled me to meet the
countless difficulties with which my path has been beset with any degree
of success. And now, at the end of a ten years' war, I am prepared to
retire from the field and leave the future to other hands, if I can but
see your interests, secured beyond contingency, and a moderate competency
provided for my family and myself."

The company referred to in this letter was one proposed by Cyrus W. Field
and other capitalists of New York. The plan was to purchase the patent
rights of Morse, Kendall, Vail, and F.O.J. Smith, and, by means of the
large capital which would be at their command, fight the pirates who had
infringed on the patent, and gradually unite the different warring
companies into one harmonious concern. A monopoly, if you will, but a
monopoly which had for its object better, cheaper, and quicker service to
the people. This object was achieved in time, but, unfortunately for the
peace of mind of Morse and Kendall, not just then.

The name of Cyrus Field naturally suggests the Atlantic Cable, and it was
just at this time that steps were being seriously taken to realize the
prophecy made by Morse in 1843 in his letter to the Secretary of the
Treasury: "The practical inference from this law is that a telegraphic
communication on the electro-magnetic plan may with certainty be
established across the Atlantic Ocean! Startling as this may now seem I
am confident the time will come when this project will be realized."

In 1852 a company had been formed and incorporated by the Legislature of
Newfoundland, called the "Newfoundland Electric Telegraph Company." The
object of this company was to connect the island by means of a cable with
the mainland, but this was not accomplished at that time, and no
suggestion was made of the possibility of crossing the ocean. One of the
officers of that company, however, Mr. F.N. Gisborne, came to New York in
1854 and tried to revive the interest of capitalists and engineers in the
scheme. Among others he consulted Matthew D. Field, and through him met
his brother Cyrus W. Field, and the question of a through line from
Newfoundland to New York was seriously discussed. Cyrus Field, a man of
great energy and already interested financially and otherwise in the
terrestrial telegraph, was fascinated by the idea of stretching long
lines under the waters also. He examined a globe, which was in his study
at home and, suddenly realizing that Newfoundland and Ireland were
comparatively near neighbors, he said to himself: "Why not cross the
ocean and connect the New World with the Old?" He had heard that Morse
long ago had prophesied that this link would some day be welded, and he
became possessed with the idea that he was the person to accomplish this
marvel, just as Morse had received the inspiration of the telegraph in

A letter to Morse, who was just then in Washington, received an
enthusiastic and encouraging reply, coupled with the information that
Lieutenant Maury of the Navy had, by a series of careful soundings,
established the existence of a plateau between Ireland and Newfoundland,
at no very great depth, which seemed expressly designed by nature to
receive and carefully guard a telegraphic cable. Mr. Field lost no time
in organizing a company composed originally of himself, his brother the
Honorable David Dudley Field, Peter Cooper, Moses Taylor, Marshall O.
Roberts, and Chandler White. After a liberal charter had been secured
from the legislature of Newfoundland the following names were added to
the list of incorporators: S.F.B. Morse, Robert W. Lowber, Wilson G.
Hunt, and John W. Brett. Mr. Field then went to England and with
characteristic energy soon enlisted the interest and capital of
influential men, and the Atlantic Telegraph Company was organized to
cooperate with the American company, and liberal pledges of assistance
from the British Government were secured. Similar pledges were obtained
from the Congress of the United States, but, quite in line with former
precedents, by a majority of only _one_ in the Senate. Morse was
appointed electrician of the American company and Faraday of the English
company, and much technical correspondence followed between these two
eminent scientists.

In the spring of 1855, Morse, in a letter to his friend and relative by
marriage, Thomas R. Walker, of Utica, writes enthusiastically of the
future: "Our _Atlantic line_ is in a fair way. We have the governments
and capitalists of Europe zealously and warmly engaged to carry it
through. _Three years_ will not pass before a _submarine telegraph
communication will be had with Europe_, and I do not despair of sitting
in my office and, by a touch of the telegraph-key, asking a question
simultaneously to persons in London, Paris, Cairo, Calcutta, and Canton,
and getting the answer from all of them in _five minutes_ after the
question is asked. Does this seem strange? I presume if I had even
suggested the thought some twenty years ago, I might have had a quiet
residence in a big building in your vicinity."

The first part of this prophecy was actually realized, for in 1858, just
three years after the date of this letter, communication was established
between the two continents and was maintained for twenty days. Then it
suddenly and mysteriously ceased, and not till 1866 was the indomitable
perseverance of Cyrus Field crowned with permanent success.

More of the details of this stupendous undertaking will be told in the
proper chronological order, but before leaving the letter to Mr. Walker,
just quoted from, I wish to note that when Morse speaks of sitting in his
office and communicating by a touch of the key with the outside world, he
refers to the fact that the telegraph companies with which he was
connected had obligingly run a short line from the main line (which at
that time was erected along the highway from New York to Albany) into his
office at Locust Grove, Poughkeepsie, so that he was literally in touch
with every place of any importance in the United States.

Always solicitous for the welfare of mankind in general, he says in a
letter to Norvin Green, in July, 1855, after discussing the proposed
cable: "The effects of the Telegraph on the interests of the world,
political, social and commercial have, as yet, scarcely begun to be
apprehended, even by the most speculative minds. I trust that one of its
effects will be to bind man to his fellow-man in such bonds of amity as
to put an end to war. I think I can predict this effect as in a not
distant future."

Alas! in this he did not prove himself a true prophet, although it must
be conceded that many wars have been averted or shortened by means of the
telegraph, and there are some who hope that a warless age is even now
being conceived in the womb of time.

On July 18, 1855, he writes to his good friend Dr. Gale: "I have no time
to add, as every moment is needed to prepare for my Newfoundland
expedition, to be present at laying down the first submarine cable _of
any considerable length_ on this side the water, although the first for
telegraph purposes, you well remember, we laid between Castle Garden and
Governor's Island in 1842."

On the 7th of August, Morse, with his wife and their eldest son, a lad of
six, joined a large company of friends on board the steamer James Adger
which sailed for Newfoundland. There they were to meet the Sarah L.
Bryant, from England, with the cable which was to be laid across the Gulf
of St. Lawrence. The main object of the trip was a failure, like so many
of the first attempts in telegraphic communication, for a terrific storm
compelled them to cut the cable and postpone the attempt, which, however,
was successfully accomplished the next year.

The party seems to have had a delightful time otherwise, for they were
fêted wherever they stopped, notably at Halifax, Nova Scotia, and St.
Johns, Newfoundland. At the latter place a return banquet was given on
board the James Adger, and the toastmaster, in calling on Morse for a
speech, recited the following lines:--

"The steed called Lightning (say the Fates)
Was tamed in the United States.
'T was Franklin's hand that caught the horse,
'T was harnessed by Professor Morse."

To turn again for a moment to the darker side of the picture of those
days, it must be kept in mind that annoying litigation was almost
constant, and in the latter part of 1855 a decision had been rendered in
favor of F.O.J. Smith, who insisted on sharing in the benefits of the
extension of the patent, although, instead of doing anything to deserve
it, he had done all in his power to thwart the other patentees.
Commenting on this in a letter to Mr. Kendall of November 22, 1855,
Morse, pathetically and yet philosophically, says:--

"Is there any mode of arrangement with Smith by which matters in
partnership can be conducted with any degree of harmony? I wish him to
have his legal rights in full, however unjustly awarded to him. I must
suffer for my ignorance of legal technicalities. Mortifying as this is it
is better, perhaps, to suffer it with a good grace and even with
cheerfulness, if possible, rather than endure the wear and tear of the
spirits which a brooding over the gross fraud occasions. An opportunity
of setting ourselves right in regard to him may be not far off in the
future. Till then let us stifle at least all outward expressions of
disgust or indignation at the legal swindle."

And, with the keen sense of justice which always actuated him, he adds in
a postscript: "By the by, if Judge Curtis's decision holds good in regard
to Smith's _inchoate_ right, does it not equally hold good in regard to
Vail, and is he not entitled to a proportionate right in the extension?"

During the early months of 1856 the financial affairs of the inventor had
so far been straightened out that he felt at liberty to leave the country
for a few months' visit to Europe. The objects of this trip were
threefold. He wished, as electrician of the Cable Company, to try some
experiments over long lines with certain English scientists, with a view
to determining beyond peradventure the practicability of an ocean
telegraph. He also wished to visit the different countries on the
continent where his telegraph was being used, to see whether their
governments could not be induced to make him some pecuniary return for
the use of his invention. Last, but not least, he felt that he had earned
a short vacation from the hard work and the many trials to which he had
been subjected for so many years, and a trip abroad with his wife, who
had never been out of her own country, offered the best means of
relaxation and enjoyment. On the 7th of June, 1856, he sailed from New
York on the Baltic, accompanied by his wife and his niece Louisa,
daughter of his brother Richard.

The trip proved a delightful one in every way; he was acclaimed as one of
the most noted men of his day wherever he went, and emperors, kings, and
scientists vied with each other in showering attentions upon him. His
letters contain minute descriptions of many of his experiences and I
shall quote liberally from them.

To Cyrus Field he writes, on July 6, of the results of some of his
experiments with Dr. Whitehouse:--

"I intended to have written you long before this and have you receive my
letter previous to your departure from home, but every moment of my time
has been occupied, as you can well conceive, since my arrival. I have
especially been occupied in experiments with Dr. Whitehouse of the utmost
importance. Their results, except in a general way, I am not at present
at liberty to divulge; besides they are not, as yet, by any means
completed so as to assure commercial men that they may enter upon the
great project of uniting Europe to America with a certainty of success."

And then, after dwelling upon the importance of Dr. Whitehouse's
services, and expressing the wish that he should be liberally rewarded
for his labors, he continues:--

"I can say on this subject generally that the experiments Dr. Whitehouse
has made favorably affect the project so far as its _practicability_ is
concerned, but to certainly assure its _practicality_ further experiments
are essential. To enable Dr. Whitehouse to make these, and that he may
derive the benefit of them, I conceive it to be a wise outlay to furnish
him with adequate means for his purpose.

"I wish I had time to give you in detail the kind receptions I have
everywhere met with. To Mr. Statham and his family in a special manner
are we indebted for the most indefatigable and constant attentions. Were
we relatives they could not have been more assiduous in doing everything
to make our stay in London agreeable. To Mr. Brett also I am under great
obligations. He has manifested (as have, indeed, all the gentlemen
connected with the Telegraph here) the utmost liberality and the most
ample concession to the excellence of my telegraphic system. I have been
assured now from the _highest sources_ that my system is not only the
most practical for general use, but that it is fast becoming the _world's

His brother Sidney was at this time also in Europe with his wife and some
other members of his family, and the brothers occasionally met in their
wanderings to and fro. Finley writes to Sidney from Fenton's Hotel,
London, on July 1:--

"Yours from Edinburgh of the 28th ulto. is just received. I regret we did
not see you when you called the evening before you left London. We all
wished to see you and all yours before we separated so widely apart, but
you know in what a whirl one is kept on a first arrival in London and can
make allowances for any seeming neglect. From morning till night we have
been overwhelmed with calls and the kindest and most flattering

"On the day before you called I dined at Greenwich with a party invited
by Mr. Brett, representing the great telegraph interests of Europe and
India. I was most flatteringly received, and Mr. Brett, in the only toast
given, gave my name as the Inventor of the Telegraph and of the system
which has spread over the whole world and is superseding all others. Dr.
O'Shaughnessy, who sat opposite to me, made some remarks warmly seconding
Mr. Brett, and stating that he had come from India where he had
constructed more than four thousand miles of telegraph; that he had tried
many systems upon his lines, and that a few days before I arrived he had
reported, in his official capacity as the Director of the East India
lines, to the East India Company that my system was the best, and
recommended to them its adoption, which I am told will undoubtedly be the

"This was an unexpected triumph to me, since I had heard from one of our
passengers in the Baltic that in the East Indies they were reluctant to
give any credit to America for the Telegraph, claiming it exclusively for
Wheatstone. It was, therefore, a surprise to me to hear from the
gentleman who controls all the Eastern lines so warm, and even
enthusiastic, acknowledgment of the superiority of mine.

"But I have an additional cause for gratitude for an acknowledgment from
a quarter whence I least expected any favor to my system. Mr. Cooke,
formerly associated with Wheatstone, told one of the gentlemen, who
informed me of it, that he had just recommended to the British Government
the substitution of my system for their present system, and had no doubt
his recommendation would be entertained. He also said that he had heard I
was about to visit Europe, and that he should take the earliest
opportunity to pay his respects to me. Under these circumstances I called
and left my card on Mr. Cooke, and I have now a note from him stating he
shall call on me on Thursday. Thus the way seems to be made for the
adoption of my Telegraph throughout _the whole world_.

"I visited one of the offices with Dr. Whitehouse and Mr. Brett where (in
the city) I found my instruments in full activity, sending and receiving
messages from and to Paris and Vienna and other places on the Continent.
I asked if all the lines on the Continent were now using my system, that
I had understood that some of the lines in France were still worked by
another system. The answer was--'No, _all the lines on the Continent_ are
now _Morse lines_.' You will undoubtedly be pleased to learn these

While he was thus being wined, and dined, and praised by those who were
interested in his scientific achievements, he harked back for a few hours
to memories of his student days in London, for his old friend and
room-mate, Charles R. Leslie, now a prosperous and successful painter,
gave him a cordial invitation to visit him at Petworth, near London.
Morse joyfully accepted, and several happy hours were spent by the two
old friends as they wandered through the beautiful grounds of the Earl of
Egremont, where Leslie was then making studies for the background of a

The next letter to his brother Sidney is dated Copenhagen, July 19:--

"Here we are in Copenhagen where we arrived yesterday morning, having
travelled from Hamburg to Kiel, and thence by steamboat to Corsoer all
night, and thence by railroad here, much fatigued owing to the miserable
_dis_commodations on board the boat. I have delivered my letters here and
am awaiting their effect, expecting calls, and I therefore improve a few
moments to apprise you of our whereabouts.... In Paris I was most
courteously received by the Count de Vouchy, now at the head of the
Telegraphs of France, who, with many compliments, told me that my system
was the one in universal use, the simplest and the best, and desired me
to visit the rooms in the great building where I should find my
instruments at work. Sure enough, I went into the Telegraph rooms where
some twenty of my own children (beautifully made) were chatting and
chattering as in American offices. I could not but think of the contrast
in that same building, even as late as 1845, when the clumsy semaphore
was still in use, and but a single line of electric wire, an experimental
one to Rouen, was in existence in France.... When we left Paris we took a
courier, William Carter, an Englishman, whom thus far we find to be
everything we could wish, active, vigilant, intelligent, honest and
obliging. As soon as he learned who I was he made diligent use of his
information, and wherever I travelled it was along the lines of the
Telegraph. The telegraph posts seemed to be posted to present arms (shall
I say?) as I passed, and the lines of conductors were constantly stooping
and curtsying to me. At all the stations the officials received me with
marked respect; everywhere the same remark met me--'Your system, Sir, is
the only one recognized here. It is the best; we have tried others but
have settled down upon yours as the best.' But yesterday, in travelling
from Corsoer to Copenhagen, the Chief Director of the Railroads told me,
upon my asking if the Telegraph was yet in operation in Denmark, that it
was and was in process of construction along this road. 'At first,' said
he, 'in using the needle system we found it so difficult to have
employees skilled in its operation that we were about to abandon the
idea, but now, having adopted yours, we find no difficulty and are
constructing telegraphs on all our roads.'

"At all the custom-houses and in all the railroad depots I found my name
a passport. My luggage was passed with only the form of an examination,
and although I had taken second-class tickets for my party of four, yet
the inspectors put us into first-class carriages and gave orders to the
conductors to put no one in with us without our permission. I cannot
enumerate all the attentions we have received.

"At Hamburg we were delighted, not only with its splendor and
cleanliness, but having made known to Mrs. Lind (widow of Edward's
brother Henry) that we were in Hamburg, we received the most hearty
welcome, passed the day at her house and rode out in the environs. At
dinner a few friends were invited to meet us. Mr. Overman, a distant
connection of the Linds, was very anxious for me to stay a few days,
hinting that, if I would consent, the authorities and dignitaries of
Hamburg would show me some mark of respect, for my name was well known to
them. I was obliged to decline as I am anxious to be in St. Petersburg
before the Emperor is engaged in his coronation preparations."

While in Denmark Morse was granted a private interview with the king at
his castle of Frederiksborg, whither he was accompanied by Captain

"After a few minutes the captain was called into the presence of the
king, and in a few minutes more I was requested to go into the
audience-chamber and was introduced by the captain to Frederick VII, King
of Denmark. The king received me standing and very courteously. He is a
man of middle stature, thick-set, and resembles more in the features of
his face the busts and pictures of Christian IV than those of any of his
predecessors, judging as I did from the numerous busts and portraits of
the Kings of Denmark which adorn the city palace and the Castle of
Frederiksborg. The king expressed his pleasure at seeing the inventor of
the Telegraph, and regretted he could not speak English as he wished to
ask me many questions. He thanked me, he said, for the beautiful
instrument I had sent him; told me that a telegraph line was now in
progress from the castle to his royal residence in Copenhagen; that when
it was completed he had decided on using my instrument, which I had given
him, in his own private apartments. He then spoke of the invention as a
most wonderful achievement, and wished me to inform him how I came to
invent it. I accordingly in a few words gave him the early history of it,
to which he listened most attentively and thanked me, expressing himself
highly gratified. After a few minutes more of conversation of the same
character, the king shook me warmly by the hand and we took our leave....

"We arrived in the afternoon at Copenhagen. Mrs. F. called in her
carriage. We drove to the Thorwaldsen Museum or Depository where are all
the works of this great man. This collection of the greatest sculptor
since the best period of Greek art is attractive enough in itself to call
travellers of taste to Copenhagen. After spending some hours in
Thorwaldsen's Museum I went to see the study of Oersted, where his most
important discovery of the _deflection of the needle_ by a galvanic
current was made, which laid the foundation of the science of
electro-magnetism, and without which my invention could not have been
made. It is now a drawing school. I sat at the table where he made his

"We went to the Porcelain Manufactory, and, singularly enough, met there
the daughter of Oersted, to whom I had the pleasure of an introduction.
Oersted was a most amiable man and universally beloved. The daughter is
said to resemble her father in her features, and I traced a resemblance
to him in the small porcelain bust which I came to the manufactory to

"_St. Petersburg, August 8, 1856._ Up to this date we have been in one
constant round of visits to the truly wonderful objects of curiosity in
this magnificent city. I have seen, as you know, most of the great and
marvellous cities of Europe, but I can truly say none of them can at all
compare in splendor and beauty to St. Petersburg. It is a city of
palaces, and palaces of the most gorgeous character. The display of
wealth in the palaces and churches is so great that the simple truth told
about them would incur to the narrator the suspicion of romancing.
England boasts of her regalia in the Tower, her crown jewels, her
Kohinoor diamond, etc. I can assure you that they fade into
insignificance, as a rush-light before the sun, when brought before the
wealth in jewels and gold seen here in such profusion. What think you of
nosegays, as large as those our young ladies take to parties, composed
entirely of diamonds, rubies, emeralds, sapphires and other precious
stones, chosen to represent accurately the colors of various flowers?--
The imperial crown, globular in shape, composed of diamonds, and
containing in the centre of the Greek cross which surmounts it an
unwrought ruby at least two inches in diameter? The sceptre has a diamond
very nearly as large as the Kohinoor. At the Arsenal at Tsarskoye Selo we
saw the trappings of a horse, bridle, saddle and all the harness, with an
immense saddle-cloth, set with tens of thousands of diamonds. On those
parts of the harness where we have rosettes, or knobs, or buckles, were
rosettes of diamonds an inch and a half to two inches in diameter, with a
diamond in the centre as large as the first joint of your thumb, or say
three quarters of an inch in diameter. Other trappings were as rich.
Indeed there seemed to be no end to the diamonds. All the churches are
decorated in the most costly manner with diamonds and pearls and precious

The following account of his reception by the czar is written in pencil:
"On the paper found in my room in Peterhoff." It differs somewhat from
the letter written to his children and introduced by Mr. Prime in his
book, but is, to my mind, rather more interesting.

"_August 14, 1856._ This day is one to be remembered by me. Yesterday I
received notice from the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, through our
Minister Mr. Seymour, that his Imperial Majesty, the Emperor Alexander
II, had appointed the hour of 1.30 this day to see me at his palace at
Peterhoff. I accordingly waited upon our minister to know the etiquette
to be observed on such an occasion. It was necessary, he said, to be at
the boat by eight o'clock in the morning, which would arrive at Peterhoff
about 9.30. I must dress in black coat, vest and pantaloons and white
cravat, and appear with my Turkish nishan [or decoration]. So this
morning I was up early and, upon taking the boat, found our Minister Mr.
Seymour, Colonel Colt and Mr. Jarvis, attachés to the Legation, with Mrs.
Colt and Miss Jarvis coming on board. I learned also that there were to
be many presentations of various nations' attachés to the various special
deputations sent to represent their different courts at the approaching
coronation at Moscow.

"The day is most beautiful, rendered doubly so by its contrast with so
many previous disagreeable ones. On our arrival at the quay at Peterhoff
we found, somewhat to my surprise, the imperial carriages in waiting for
us, with coachmen and footmen in the imperial livery, which, as in
England and France, is scarlet, and splendid black horses, ready to take
us to our quarters in the portion of the palace buildings assigned to the
Americans. We were attended by four or five servants in livery loaded
with gold lace, and shown to our apartments upon the doors of which we
found our names already written.

"After throwing off our coats the servants inquired if we would have
breakfast, to which, of course, we had no objection, and an excellent
breakfast of coffee and sandwiches was set upon the table, served up in
silver with the imperial arms upon the silver waiter and tea set.
Everything about our rooms, which consisted of parlor and bedroom, was
plain but exceedingly clean and neat. After seeing us well housed our
attendant chamberlain left us to prepare ourselves for the presentation,
saying he would call for us at the proper time. As there were two or
three hours to spare I took occasion to improve the time by commencing
this brief notice of the events of the day.

"About two o'clock our attendant, an officer named Thörner, under the
principal chamberlain who is, I believe, Count Borsch, called to say our
carriages were ready. We found three carriages in waiting with three
servants each, the coachman and two footmen, in splendid liveries; some
in the imperial red and gold lace, and others in blue and broad gold lace
emblazoned throughout with the double headed eagle. We seated ourselves
in the carriages which were then driven at a rapid rate to the great
palace, the entrance to which directly overlooked the numerous and
celebrated grand fountains. Hundreds of well-dressed people thronged on
each side of the carriageway as we drove up to the door. After alighting
we were ushered through a long hall and through a double row of servants
of various grades, loaded with gold lace and with _chapeaux bras_.
Ascending the broad staircase, on each side of which we found more
liveried servants, we entered an anteroom between two Africans dressed in
the costume of Turkey, and servants of a higher grade, and then onward
into a large and magnificent room where were assembled those who were to
be presented. Here we found ourselves among princes and nobles and
distinguished persons of all nations. Among the English ladies were Lady
Granville and Lady Emily Peel, the wife of Sir Robert Peel, the latter a
beautiful woman and dressed with great taste, having on her head a Diana
coronet of diamonds.... Among the gentlemen were officers attached to the
various deputations from England, Austria, France and Sardinia. Several
princes were among them, and conspicuous for splendor of dress was Prince
Esterhazy; parts of his dress and the handle and scabbard of his sword
blazed with diamonds.

"Here we remained for some time. From the windows of the hall we looked
out upon the magnificent fountains and the terrace crowned with gorgeous
vases of blue and gold and gilded statues. At length the master of
ceremonies appeared and led the way to the southern veranda that
overlooked the garden, ranging us in line and reading our names from a
list, to see if we were truly mustered, after which a side door opened
and the Emperor Alexander entered. His majesty was dressed in military
costume, a blue sash was across his breast passing over the right
shoulder; on his left breast were stars and orders. He commenced at the
head of the column, which consisted of some fourteen or fifteen persons,
and, on the mention of the name by the master of ceremonies, he addressed
a few words to each. To Mr. Colt he said: 'Ah! I have seen you before.
When did you arrive? I am glad to see you.' When he came to me the master
of ceremonies miscalled my name as Mr. More. I instantly corrected him
and said, 'No, Mr. Morse.' The emperor at once said: 'Ah! that name is
well known here; your system of Telegraph is in use in Russia. How long
have you been in St. Petersburg? I hope you have enjoyed yourself.' To
which I appropriately replied. After a few more unimportant questions and
answers the emperor addressed himself to the other gentlemen and retired.

"After remaining a few moments, the master of ceremonies, who, by the by,
apologized to me for miscalling my name, opened the door from the veranda
into the empress' drawing-room, where we were again put in line to await
the appearance of the empress. The doors of an adjoining room were
suddenly thrown open and the empress, gorgeously but appropriately
attired, advanced towards us. She was dressed in a beautiful blue silk
terminating in a long flowing train of many flounces of the richest lace;
upon her head a crown of diamonds, upon her neck a superb necklace of
diamonds, some twenty of which were as large as the first joint of the
finger. The upper part of her dress was embroidered with diamonds in a
broad band, and the dress in front buttoned to the floor with rosettes of
diamonds, the central diamond of each button being at least a half inch
in diameter. A splendid bouquet of diamonds and precious stones of every
variety of color, arranged to imitate flowers, was upon her bosom. She
addressed a few words gracefully to each, necessarily commonplace, for
what could she say to strangers but the common words of enquiry--when we
came and whether we had been pleased with St. Petersburg.

"Gratifying as it was to us to see her, I could not but think it was
hardly possible for her to have any other gratification in seeing us than
that which I have no doubt she felt, that she was giving pleasure to
others. To me she appeared to be amiable and truly feminine. Her manner
was timid yet dignified without the least particle of hauteur. The
impression left on my mind by both the emperor and empress is that they
are most truly amiable and kind.

"After speaking to each of us she gracefully bowed to us, we, of course,
returning the salutation, and she retired followed by her maids of honor,
her long train sweeping the floor for a distance of several yards behind
her. We were then accompanied by the master of ceremonies back to the
large reception-room, and soon after we left the palace, descending the
staircase through the same lines of liveried servants to the royal
carriages drawn up at the door, and returned to our rooms. On descending
to our parlor we found a beautiful collation with tropical fruits and
confectionery provided for us. Our polite attendant, who partook with us,
said that the carriages were at our service and waiting for us to take a
drive in the gardens previous to dinner, which was to be served at five
o'clock in the English Palace and to which we were invited.

"Two carriages called charabancs, somewhat like the Irish vehicle of the
same name, with four servants in the imperial livery to each, we found at
the door, and we drove for several miles through the splendid gardens and
grounds laid out with all the taste of the most beautiful English
grounds, with lakes, and islands, and villas, and statues, and fountains,
and the most perfect neatness marked every step of our way.

"The most attractive object in our ride was the Italian villa, a favorite
resort of the emperor, a perfect gem of its kind. We alighted here and
visited all the apartments and the grounds around it. No description
could do it justice; a series of pictures alone could give an idea of its
beauties. While here several other royal carriages with the various
deputations to the coronation ceremonies, soon to occur at Moscow,
arrived, and the cortège of carriages with the gorgeous costumes of the
visitors alone furnished an exciting scene, heightened by the proud
bearing of the richly caparisoned horses, chiefly black, and the showy
trappings of the liveried attendants.

"On our return to our rooms we dressed for dinner and proceeded in the
same manner to the palace in the gardens called the English Palace. Here
we found assembled in the great reception hall the distinguished company,
in number forty-seven, of many nations, who were to sit down to the table
together. When dinner was announced we entered the grand dining-hall and
found a table most gorgeously prepared with gold and silver service and
flowers. At table I found myself opposite three princes, an Austrian, a
Hungarian, and one from some other German state, and near me on my left
Lord Ward, one of the most wealthy nobles of England, with whom I had a
good deal of conversation. Opposite and farther to my right was Prince
Esterhazy, seated between Lady Granville and the beautiful Lady Emily
Peel. On the other side of Lady Peel was Lord Granville and near him Sir
Robert Peel. Among the guests, a list of whom I regret I did not obtain,
was the young Earl of Lincoln and several other noblemen in the suite of
Lord Granville.... Some twenty servants in the imperial livery served the
table which was furnished with truly royal profusion and costliness. The
rarest dishes and the costliest wines in every variety were put before
us. I need not say that in such a party everything was conducted with the
highest decorum. No noise, no boisterous mirth, no loud talking, but a
quiet cheerfulness and perfect ease characterized the whole

"After dinner all arose, both ladies and gentlemen, and left the room
together, not after the English fashion of the gentlemen allowing the
ladies to retire and then seating themselves again by themselves to
drink, etc. We retired for a moment to the great reception-hall for
coffee, but, being fearful that we should be too late for the last
steamer from Peterhoff to St. Petersburg, we were hurrying to get through
and to leave, but the moment our fears had come to the knowledge of Lord
Granville, he most kindly came to us and told us to feel at ease as his
steam-yacht was lying off the quay to take them up to the city, and he
was but too proud to have the opportunity of offering us a place on
board; an offer which we, of course, accepted with thanks.

"Having thus been entertained with truly imperial hospitality for the
entire day, ending with this sumptuous entertainment, we descended once
more to the carriages and drove to the quay, where a large barge
belonging to the Jean d'Acre, English man-of-war (which is the ship put
in commission for the service of Lord Granville), manned by stalwart
man-of-war's-men, was waiting to take the English party of nobles, etc.,
on board the steam-yacht. When all were collected we left Peterhoff and
were soon on board. The weather was fine and the moon soon rose over the
palace of Peterhoff, looking for a moment like one of the splendid gilded
domes of the palace.

"On board the yacht I had much conversation with Lord Granville, who
brought the various members of his suite and introduced them to me,--Sir
Robert Peel; the young Earl of Lincoln, the son of the Duke of Newcastle,
who, when himself the Earl of Lincoln in 1839, showed me such courtesy
and kindness in London; Mr. Acton, a nephew of Lord Granville, with whom
I had some conversation in which, while I was speaking of the Greek
religion as compared with the Romish, he informed me he was a Roman
Catholic. I wished much to have had more conversation with him, but the
time was not suitable, and the steamer was now near the end of the

"We landed at the quay in St. Petersburg about eleven o'clock, and I
reached my lodgings in the Hotel de Russie about twelve, thus ending a
day of incidents which I shall long remember with great gratification,
having only one unpleasant reflection connected with it, to wit that my
dear wife, my niece and our friend Miss L. were not with me to
participate in the pleasure and novelty of the scenes."


AUGUST 28, 1856--SEPTEMBER 16, 1858

Berlin.--Baron von Humboldt.--London, successful cable experiments with
Whitehouse and Bright.--Banquet at Albion Tavern.--Flattering speech of
W.F. Cooke.--Returns to America.--Troubles multiply.--Letter to the
Honorable John Y. Mason on political matters.--Kendall urges severing of
connection with cable company.--Morse, nevertheless, decides to
continue.--Appointed electrician of company.--Sails on U.S.S. Niagara.--
Letter from Paris on the crinoline.--Expedition sails from Liverpool.--
Queenstown harbor.--Accident to his leg.--Valencia.--Laying of cable
begun.--Anxieties.--Three successful days.--Cable breaks.--Failure.--
Returns to America.--Retires from cable enterprise.--Predicts in 1858
failure of apparently successful laying of cable.--Sidney E. Morse.--The
Hare and the Tortoise.--European testimonial: considered niggardly by
Kendall.--Decorations, medals, etc., from European nations.--Letter of
thanks to Count Walewski.

His good democratic eyes a trifle dazzled by all this imperial
magnificence, Morse left St. Petersburg and, with his party, journeyed to
Berlin. What was to him the most interesting incident of his visit to
that city is thus described:--

"_August 23._ To-day I went to Potsdam to see Baron Humboldt, and had a
delightful interview with this wonderful man. Although I had met with him
at the soirées of Baron Gerard, the distinguished painter, in Paris in
1822, and afterward at the Academy of Sciences, when my Telegraph was
exhibited to the assembled academicians in 1838, I took letters of
introduction to him from Baron Gerolt, the Prussian Minister. But they
were unnecessary, for the moment I entered his room, which is in the
Royal Palace, he called me by name and greeted me most kindly, saying, as
I presented my letters: 'Oh! sir, you need no letters, your name is a
sufficient introduction'; and so, seating myself, he rapidly touched upon
various topics relating to America."

On the margin of a photograph of himself, presented to Morse by the
baron, is an inscription in French of which the following is a

To Mr. S.F.B. Morse, whose philosophic and useful labors have rendered
his name illustrious in two worlds, the homage of the high and
affectionate esteem of Alexander Humboldt.

POTSDAM, August 1856.

The next thirty days were spent in showing the beauties of Cologne,
Aix-la-Chapelle, Brussels and Paris to his wife and niece, and in the
latter part of September the little party returned to London. Here Morse
resumed his experiments with Dr. Whitehouse and Mr. Bright, and on
October 3, he reports to Mr. Field:--

"As the electrician of the New York, Newfoundland and London Telegraph
Company, it is with the highest gratification that I have to apprise you
of the result of our experiments of this morning upon a single continuous
conductor of more than two thousand miles in extent, a distance, you will
perceive, sufficient to cross the Atlantic Ocean from Newfoundland to

"The admirable arrangements made at the Magnetic Telegraph office in Old
Broad Street for connecting ten subterranean gutta-percha insulated
conductors of over two hundred miles each, so as to give one continuous
length of more than two thousand miles, during the hours of the night
when the Telegraph is not commercially employed, furnished us the means
of conclusively settling by actual experiment the question of the
practicability as well as the practicality of telegraphing through our
proposed Atlantic cable.... I am most happy to inform you that, as a
crowning result of a long series of experimental investigation and
inductive reasoning upon this subject, the experiments under the
direction of Dr. Whitehouse and Mr. Bright which I witnessed this
morning--in which the induction-coils and receiving-magnets, as modified
by these gentlemen, were made to actuate one of my recording instruments
--have most satisfactorily resolved all doubts of the practicability as
well as practicality of operating the Telegraph from Newfoundland to

In 1838, Morse had been curtly and almost insultingly refused a patent
for his invention in England, a humiliation for which he never quite
forgave the English. Now, eighteen years after this mortifying
experience, the most eminent scientists of this same England vied with
each other in doing him honor. Thus was his scientific fame vindicated,
but, let it be remarked parenthetically, this kind of honor was all that
he ever received from the land of his ancestors. While other nations of
Europe united, two years later, in granting him a pecuniary gratuity, and
while some of their sovereigns bestowed upon him decorations or medals,
England did neither. However, it was always a source of the keenest
gratification that two of those who had invented rival telegraphs proved
themselves broad-minded and liberal enough to acknowledge the superiority
of his system, and to urge its adoption by their respective Governments.
The first of these was Dr. Steinheil, of Munich, to whom I have already
referred, and to whom is due the valuable discovery that the earth can be
used as a return circuit. The second was the Englishman, W.F. Cooke, who,
with Wheatstone, devised the needle telegraph.

On October 9, a banquet was tendered to Morse by the telegraph companies
of England. It was given at the Albion Tavern. Mr. Cooke presided and
introduced the guest of the evening in the following charming speech:--

"I was consulted only a few months ago on the subject of a telegraph for
a country in which no telegraph at present exists. I recommended the
system of Professor Morse. I believe that system to be one of the
simplest in the world, and in that lies its permanency and certainty.
[Cheers.] There are others which may be as good in other circumstances,
but for a wide country I hesitate not to say Professor Morse's is the
best adapted. It is a great thing to say, and I do so after twenty years'
experience, that Professor Morse's system is one of the simplest that
ever has been and, I think, ever will be conceived. [Cheers.]

"It was a great thing for me, after having been so long connected with
the electric telegraph, to be invited to preside at this interesting
meeting, and I have travelled upward of one hundred miles in order to be
present to-day, having, when asked to preside, replied by electric
telegraph 'I will.' [Cheers.] But I may lower your idea of the sacrifice
I made in so doing when I tell you that I knew the talents of Professor
Morse, and was only too glad to accept an invitation to do honor to a man
I really honored in my heart. [Cheers.]

"I have been thinking during the last few days on what Professor Morse
has done. He stands alone in America as the originator and carrier out of
a grand conception. We know that America is an enormous country, and we
know the value of the telegraph, but I think we have a right to quarrel
with Professor Morse for not being content with giving the benefit of it
to his own country, but that he extended it to Canada and Newfoundland,
and, even beyond that, his system has been adopted all over Europe
[cheers]--and the nuisance is that we in England are obliged to
communicate by means of his system. [Cheers and laughter.]

"I as a director of an electric telegraph company, however, should be
ashamed of myself if I did not acknowledge what we owe him. But he
threatens to go further still, and promises that, if we do not, he will
carry out a communication between England and Newfoundland across the
Atlantic. I am nearly pledged to pay him a visit on the other side of the
Atlantic to see what he is about, and, if he perseveres in his obstinate
attempt to reach England, I believe I must join him in his endeavors.

"To think that he has united all the stripes and stars of America, which
are increasing day by day--and I hope they will increase until they are
too numerous to mention--that he has extended his system to Canada and is
about to unite those portions of the world to Europe, is a glorious thing
for any man; and, although I have done something in the same cause
myself, I confess I almost envy Professor Morse for having forced from an
unwilling rival a willing acknowledgment of his services. [Cheers.]

"I am proud to see Professor Morse this side of the water. I beg to give
you 'The health of Professor Morse,' and may he long live to enjoy the
high reputation he has attained throughout the world!"

Soon after this, with these flattering words still ringing in his ears,
he and his party sailed for New York and, once arrived at home, the truth
of the trite saying that "A prophet is not without honor save in his own
country" was soon to be brought to his attention. While he had been fêted
and honored abroad, while he had every reason to believe that his
petition to the European governments for some pecuniary compensation
would, in time, be granted, he returned to be plunged anew into vexatious
litigation, intrigues and attacks upon his purse, his fame, and his good
name. On November 27, 1856, he refers to his greatest cross in a letter
to Mr. Kendall:--

"I have just returned from Boston, having accomplished the important duty
for which I alone went there, to wit, to say 'yes' before a gentleman
having U.S. Commissioner after his name, instead of 'yes' before one who
had only S. Commissioner after his name; and this at a cost of exactly
twenty dollars, or, if the one dollar thrown away in New York upon the S.
Commissioner be added, twenty-one dollars and three days of time, to say
nothing of sundry risks of accidents by land and water travel.

"Well, if it will lead to a thorough separation of all interests and all
intercourse with F.O.J., I shall not consider the time and money lost,
yet, in conversation with Mr. Curtis, I have little hope of a change in
Judge Curtis's views of the point in which he decides that Smith has an
inchoate right, and our only chance of success is in the reversal of that
decision by the Supreme Bench, and that after another year's suspense....

"I wish there was some way of stopping this harassing, paralyzing
litigation. I find my mind wholly unfit for the studies which the present
state of the Telegraph requires from me, being distracted and irritated
by the constant necessity for standing on the defensive. Smith will be
Smith I know, and, therefore, as he is the appointed thorn to keep a
proper ballast of humility in S.F.B.M. with his load of honors, why, be
it so, if I can only have the proper strength and disposition to use the
trial aright.... Write me some encouraging news if you can. How will the
present calm in political affairs affect our California matters?"

The calm to which he referred was the apparent one which had settled down
on the country after the election of Buchanan, and which, as everybody
knows, was but the calm before the storm of our Civil War. He has this to
say about the election in a letter to the Honorable John Y. Mason, our
Minister to France:--

"I may congratulate you, my dear Sir, on the issue of the late election.
My predictions have been verified. The country is quiet, and, as usual
after the excitement of an election, has settled down into orderly
acquiescence to the will of the majority, and into general good feeling.
Europeans can hardly understand this truly anomalous phase of our
American institutions; they do not understand that it is characteristic
that 'we speak daggers but use none'; that we fight with ballots and not
with bullets; that we have abundance of inkshed and little bloodshed, and
that all that is explosive is blown off through newspaper safety-valves."

The events of the next few years were destined to shatter the peaceful
visions of this lover of his country, for many daggers were drawn, the
bullets flew thick and fast, and the bloodshed was appalling.

It is difficult to follow the history of the telegraph, in its relation
to its inventor, through all the intricacies involved in the conflicting
interests of various companies and men in this its formative period.

Morse himself was often at a loss to determine on the course which he
should pursue, a course which would at the same time inure to his
financial benefit and be in accordance with his high sense of right.
Absolutely straightforward and honest himself, it was difficult for him
to believe that others who spoke him fair were not equally sincere, and
he was often imposed upon, and was frequently forced, in the exigencies
of Business, to be intimately associated with those whose ideas of right
and wrong were far different from his own. The one person in whose
absolute integrity he had faith was Amos Kendall, and yet he must
sometimes have thought that his friend was too severe in his judgment of
others, for I find in a letter of Mr. Kendall's of January 4, 1857, the
following warning:--

"I earnestly beseech you to give up all idea of going out again on the
cable-laying expedition. Your true friends do not comprehend how it is
that you give your time, your labor, and your fame to build up an
interest deliberately and unscrupulously hostile to all their interests
and your own.... I believe that Peter Cooper is the only man among them
who is sincerely your friend. As to Field, I have as little faith in him
as I have in F.O.J. Smith. If you could get Cooper to take a stand in
favor of the faithful observance of the contract for connection with the
N.E. Union Line at Boston, he can put an end to all trouble, if, at the
same time, he will refuse to concur in a further extension of their lines

In spite of this warning, or, perhaps, because Peter Cooper succeeded in
overcoming Mr. Kendall's objections, Morse did go out on the next
cable-laying expedition, and yet he found in the end that Mr. Kendall's
suspicions were by no means unjustified. But of this in its proper place.

The United States Government had placed the steam frigate Niagara at the
disposal of the cable company, and on her Morse, as the electrician of
the American Company, sailed from New York on April 21, 1857. Arriving in
London, he was again honored by many attentions and entertainments,
including a dinner at the Lord Mayor's. The loading of the cable on board
the ships designated for that purpose consumed, necessarily, some time,
and Morse took advantage of this delay to visit Paris, at the suggestion
of our Minister, Mr. Mason, in order to confer with the Premier, Count
Walewski, with regard to the pecuniary indemnity which all agreed was due
to him from the nations using his invention. This conference bore fruit,
as we shall see later on.

In a letter to his wife from Paris he makes this amusing comment on the
fashions of the day, after remarking on the dearth of female beauty in

"You must consider me now as speaking of features only, for as to form,
alas, that is under such a total crinoline eclipse that this season of
total darkness in fashion's firmament forbids any speculation on that
subject. The reign of crinoline amplitude is not only not removed, but is
more dominant than ever. Who could have predicted that, because an heir
to the French throne was in expectancy, all womankind, old and young,
would so far sympathize with the amiable consort of Napoleon III as to
be, in appearance at least, likely to flood the earth with heirs; that
grave parliaments would be in solemn debate upon the pressing necessity
of enlarging the entrances of royal palaces in order to meet the
exigencies of enlarged crinolines; that the new carriages were all of
increased dimensions to accommodate the crinoline? But so it is; it is
the age of crinoline.... Talk no longer of chairs, they are no longer
visible. Talk no longer of tête-à-têtes; two crinolines might get in
sight of each other, at least by the use of the lorgnette, but as for
conversation, that is out of the question except by speaking trumpets, by
signs, and who knows but in this age of telegraphs crinoline may not
follow the world's fashion and be a patroness of the Morse system."

All the preparations for the great enterprise of the laying of the cable
proceeded slowly, and it was not until the latter part of July that the
little fleet sailed from Liverpool on its way to the Cove of Cork and
then to Valencia, on the west coast of Ireland, which was chosen as the
European terminus of the cable. Morse wrote many pages of minute details
to his wife, and from them I shall select the most important and

"_July 28._ Here we are steaming our way towards Cork harbor, with most
beautiful weather, along the Irish coast, which is in full view, and
expecting to be in the Cove of Cork in the morning of to-morrow.... We
left Liverpool yesterday morning, as I wrote you we should, and as we
passed the ships of war in the harbor We were cheered from the rigging by
the tars of the various vessels, and the flags of others were dipped as a
salute, all of which were returned by us in kind. The landing stage and
quays of Liverpool were densely crowded with people who waved their
handkerchiefs as we slowly sailed by them.

"Two steamers accompanied us down to the bar filled with people, and
then, after mutual cheering and firing of cannon from one of the
steamers, they returned to port.... We shall be in Cork the remainder of
the week, possibly sailing on Saturday, go round to Valencia and be ready
to commence on Monday. Then, if all things are prosperous, we hope to
reach Newfoundland in twenty days, and dear home again the first week in
September. And yet there may be delays in this great work, for it is a
vast and new one, so don't be impatient if I do not return quite so soon.
The work must be thoroughly and well done before we leave it....

"_Evening, ten o'clock._ We have had a beautiful day and have been going
slowly along and expect to be in the Cove of Cork by daylight in the
morning. The deck of our ship presents a curious appearance just now;
Between the main and mizzen masts is an immense coil of one hundred and
thirty miles of the cable, the rest is in larger coils below decks. Abaft
the mizzen mast is a ponderous mass of machinery for regulating the
paying out of the cable, a steam-engine and boiler complete, and they
have just been testing it to see if all is right, and it is found right.
We have the prospect of a fine moon for our expedition.

"I send you the copy of a prayer that has been read in the churches. I am
rejoiced at the manner in which the Christian community views our
enterprise. It is calculated to inspire my confidence of success. What
the first message will be I cannot say, but if I send it it shall be,
'Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace and good will to men.' 'Not
unto us, not unto us, but to Thy name be all the glory.'"

"_July 29, four o'clock afternoon._ On awaking this morning at five
o'clock with the noise of coming to anchor, I found myself safely
ensconced in one of the most beautiful harbors in the world, with
Queenstown picturesquely rising upon the green hills from the foot of the

"_August 1._ When I wrote the finishing sentence of my last letter I was
suffering a little from a slight accident to my leg. We were laying out
the cable from the two ships, the Agamemnon and Niagara, to connect the
two halves of the cable together to experiment through the whole length
of twenty-five hundred miles for the first time. In going down the side
of the Agamemnon I had to cross over several small boats to reach the
outer one, which was to take me on board the tug which had the connecting
cable on board. In stepping from one to the other of the small boats, the
water being very rough and the boats having a good deal of motion, I made
a misstep, my right leg being on board the outer boat, and my left leg
went down between the two boats scraping the skin from the upper part of
the leg near the knee for some two or three inches. It pained me a
little, but not much, still I knew from experience that, however slight
and comparatively painless at the time, I should be laid up the next day
and possibly for several days.

"My warm-hearted, generous friend, Sir William O'Shaughnessy, was on
board, and, being a surgeon, he at once took it in hand and dressed it,
tell Susan, in good hydropathic style with cold water. I felt so little
inconvenience from it at the time that I assisted throughout the day in
laying the cable, and operating through it after it was joined, and had
the satisfaction of witnessing the successful result of passing the
electricity through twenty-five hundred miles at the rate of one signal
in one and a quarter second. Since then Dr. Whitehouse has succeeded in
telegraphing a message through it at the rate of a single signal in three
quarters of a second. If the cable, therefore, is successfully laid so as
to preserve continuity throughout, there is no doubt of our being able to
telegraph through, and at a good commercial speed.

"I have been on my back for two days and am still confined to the ship.
To-morrow I hope to be well enough to hobble on board the Agamemnon and
assist in some experiments."

The accident to his leg was more serious than he at first imagined, and
conditions were not improved by his using his leg more than was prudent.

"_August 3, eleven o'clock A.M._ I am still confined, most of the time on
my back in my berth, quite to my annoyance in one respect, to wit, that I
am unable to be on board the Agamemnon with Dr. Whitehouse to assist at
the experiments. Yet I have so much to be thankful for that gratitude is
the prevailing feeling.

"_Seven o'clock._ All the ships are under way from the Cove of Cork. The
Leopard left first, then the Agamemnon, then the Susquehanna and the
Niagara last; and at this moment we are off the Head of Kinsale in the
following order: Niagara, Leopard, Agamemnon, Susquehanna. The Cyclops
and another vessel, the Advice, left for Valencia on Saturday evening,
and, with a beautiful night before us, we hope to be there also by noon

"This day three hundred and sixty-five years ago Columbus sailed on his
first voyage of discovery and discovered America."

"_August 4._ Off the Skelligs light, of which I send you a sketch. A
beautiful morning with head wind and heavy sea, making many seasick. We
are about fifteen miles from our point of destination. Our companion
ships are out of sight astern, except the Susquehanna, which is behind us
only about a mile. In a few hours we hope to reach our expectant friends
in Valencia and to commence the great work in earnest.

"Our ship is crowded with engineers, and operators, and delegates from
the Governments of Russia and France, and the deck is a bewildering mass
of machinery, steam-engines, cog-wheels, breaks, boilers, ropes of hemp
and ropes of wire, buoys and boys, pulleys and sheaves of wood and iron,
cylinders of wood and cylinders of iron, meters of all kinds,--
anemometers, thermometers, barometers, electrometers,--steam-gauges,
ships' logs--from the common log to Massey's log and Friend's log, to our
friend Whitehouse's electro-magnetic log, which I think will prove to be
the best of all, with a modification I have suggested. Thus freighted we
expect to disgorge most of our solid cargo before reaching mid-ocean.

"I am keeping ready to close this at a moment's warning, so give all
manner of love to all friends, kisses to whom kisses are due. I am
getting almost impatient at the delays we necessarily encounter, but our
great work must not be neglected. I have seen enough to know now that the
Atlantic Telegraph is sure to be established, _for it is practicable_."

Was it a foreboding of what was to happen that caused him to add:--

"_We may not succeed in our first attempt_; some little neglect or
accident may foil our present efforts, but the present enterprise will
result in gathering stores of experience which will make the next effort
certain. Not that I do not expect success now, but accidental failure now
will not be the evidence of its impracticability.

"Our principal electrical difficulty is the slowness with which we must
manipulate in order to be intelligible; twenty words in sixteen minutes
is now the rate. I am confident we can get more after awhile, but the
Atlantic Telegraph has its own rate of talking and cannot be urged to
speak faster, any more than any other orator, without danger of becoming

"_Three o'clock P.M._ We are in Valencia Harbor. We shall soon come to
anchor. A pilot who has just come to show us our anchorage ground says:
'There are a power of people ashore.'"

"_August 8._ Yesterday, at half past six P.M., all being right, we
commenced again paying out the heavy shore-end, of which we had about
eight miles to be left on the rocky bottom of the coast, to bear the
attrition of the waves and to prevent injury to the delicate nerve which
it incloses in its iron mail, and which is the living principle of the
whole work. A critical time was approaching, it was when the end of the
massive cable should pass overboard at the point where it joins the main
and smaller cable. I was in my berth, by order of the surgeon, lest my
injured limb, which was somewhat inflamed by the excitement of the day
and too much walking about, should become worse.

"Above my head the heavy rumbling of the great wheels, over which the
cable was passing and was being regulated, every now and then giving a
tremendous thump like the discharge of artillery, kept me from sleep, and
I knew they were approaching the critical point. Presently it came. The
machinery stopped, and soon amid the voices I heard the unwelcome
intelligence--'The cable is broke.' Sure enough the smaller cable at this
point had parted, but, owing to the prudent precautions of those
superintending, the end of the great cable had been buoyed and the
hawsers which had been attached secured it. The sea was moderate, the
moonlight gave a clear sight of all, and in half an hour the joyous sound
of 'All right' was heard, the machinery commenced a low and regular
rumbling, like the purring of a great cat, which has continued from that
moment (midnight) till the present moment uninterrupted.

"The coil on deck is most beautifully uncoiling at the rate of three
nautical miles an hour. The day is magnificent, the land has almost
disappeared and our companion ships are leisurely sailing with us at
equal pace, and we are all, of course, in fine spirits. I sent you a
telegraph dispatch this morning, thirty miles out, which you will duly
receive with others that I shall send if all continues to go on without
interruption. If you do receive any, preserve them with the greatest
care, for they will be great curiosities."

"_August 10._ Thus far we have had most delightful weather, and
everything goes on regularly and satisfactorily. You are aware we cannot
stop night nor day in paying out. On Saturday we made our calculations
that the first great coil, which is upon the main deck, would be
completely paid out, and one of our critical movements, to wit, the
change from this coil to the next, which is far forward, would be made by
seven or eight o'clock yesterday morning (Sunday). So we were up and
watching the last flake of the first coil gradually diminishing.
Everything had been well prepared; the men were at their posts; it was an
anxious moment lest a kink might occur. But, as the last round came up,
the motion of the ship was slightly slackened, the men handled the slack
cable handsomely, and in two minutes the change was made with perfect
order, and the paying out from the second coil was as regularly commenced
and at this moment continues, and at an increased rate to-day of five
miles per hour.

"Last night, however, was another critical moment. On examining our chart
of soundings we found the depth of the ocean gradually increasing up to
about four hundred fathoms, and then the chart showed a sudden and great
increase to seventeen hundred fathoms, and then a further increase to two
thousand and fifty, nearly the greatest depth with which we should meet
in the whole distance. We had, therefore, to watch the effect of this
additional depth upon the straining of the cable. At two in the morning
the effect showed itself in a greater strain and a more rapid tendency to
run fast. We could check its speed, but it is a dangerous process. _Too
sudden a check would inevitably snap the cable_. Too slack a rein would
allow of its egress at such a wasting rate and at such a violent speed
that we should lose too great a portion of the cable, and its future
stopping within controllable limits be almost impossible. Hence our
anxiety. All were on the alert; our expert engineers applied the brakes
most judiciously, and at the moment I write--latitude 52° 28'--the cable
is being laid at the depth of two miles in its ocean bed as regularly and
with as much facility as it was in the depth of a few fathoms....

"_Six P.M._ We have just had a fearful alarm. 'Stop her! Stop her!' was
reiterated from many voices on deck. On going up I perceived the cable
had got out of its sheaves and was running out at great speed. All was
confusion for a few moments. Mr. Canning, our friend, who was the
engineer of the Newfoundland cable, showed great presence of mind, and to
his coolness and skill, I think, is due the remedying of the evil. By
rope stoppers the cable was at length brought to a standstill, and it
strained most ominously, perspiring at every part great tar drops. But it
held together long enough to put the cable on the sheaves again."

"_Tuesday, August 11._ Abruptly indeed am I stopped in my letter. This
morning at 3.45 the cable parted, and we shall soon be on our way back to

Thus ended the first attempt to unite the Old World with the New by means
of an electric nerve. Authorities differ as to who was responsible for
the disaster, but the cause was proved to be what Morse had foreseen when
he wrote: "Too sudden a check would inevitably snap the cable."

While, of course, disappointed, he was not discouraged, for under date of
August 13, he writes:--

"Our accident will delay the enterprise but will not defeat it. I
consider it a settled fact, from all I have seen, that it is perfectly
practicable. It will surely be accomplished. There is no insurmountable
difficulty that has for a moment appeared, none that has shaken my faith
in it in the slightest degree. My report to the company as co-electrician
will show everything right in that department. We got an electric current
through till the moment of parting, so that electric connection was
perfect, and yet the farther we paid out the feebler were the currents,
indicating a difficulty which, however, I do not consider serious, while
it is of a nature to require attentive investigation."

"_Plymouth, August 17._ Here I am still held by the leg and lying in my
berth from which I have not moved for six days. I suffer but little pain
unless I attempt to sit up, and the healing process is going on most
favorably but slowly.... I have been here three days and have not yet had
a glimpse of the beautiful country that surrounds us, and if we should be
ordered to another port before I can be out I shall have as good an idea
of Plymouth as I should have at home looking at a map."

While the wounded leg healed slowly, the plans of the company moved more
deliberately still. A movement was on foot for the East India Company to
purchase what remained of the cable for use in the Red Sea or the Persian
Gulf, so that the Atlantic Company could start afresh with an entirely
new cable, and Morse hoped that this plan might be consummated at an
early date so that he could return to America in the Niagara; but the
negotiations halted from day to day and week to week. The burden of his
letters to his wife is always that a decision is promised by "to-morrow,"
and finally he says in desperation: "To-day was to-morrow yesterday, but
to-day has to-day another to-morrow, on which day, as usual, we are to
know something. But as to-day has not yet gone, I wait with some anxiety
to learn what it is to bring forth."

His letters are filled with affectionate longing to be at home again and
with loving messages to all his dear ones, and at last he is able to say
that his wound has completely healed, and that he has decided to leave
the Niagara and sail from Liverpool on the Arabia, on September 19, and
in due time he arrived at his beloved home on the Hudson.

While still intensely interested in the great cable enterprise, he begins
to question the advisability of continuing his connection with the men
against whom Mr. Kendall had warned him, for in a letter to his brother
Richard, of October 15, 1857, he says: "I intend to withdraw altogether
from the Atlantic Telegraph enterprise, as they who are prominent on this
side of the water in its interests are using it with all then: efforts
and influence against my invention, and my interests, and those of my
assignees, to whom I feel bound in honor to attach myself, even if some
of them have been deceived into coalition with the hostile party."

It was, however, a great disappointment to him that he was not connected
with future attempts to lay the cable. His withdrawal was not altogether
voluntary in spite of what he said in the letter from which I have just
quoted. While he had been made an Honorary Director of the company in
1857, although not a stockholder, a law was subsequently passed declaring
that only stockholders could be directors, even honorary directors. He
had not felt financially able to purchase stock, but it was a source of
astonishment to him and to others that a few shares, at least, had not
been allotted to him for his valuable services in connection with the
enterprise. He had, nevertheless, cheerfully given of his time and
talents in the first attempt, although cautioned by Mr. Kendall.

He goes fully into the whole matter in a very long letter to Mr. John W.
Brett, of December 27, 1858, in which he details his connection with the
cable company, his regret and surprise at being excluded on the ground of
his not being a stockholder, especially as, on a subsequent visit to
Europe, he found that two other men had been made honorary directors,
although they were not stockholders. He says that he learned also that
"Mr. Field had represented to the Directors that I was hostile to the
company, and was using my exertions to defeat the measures for aid from
the United States Government to the enterprise, and that it was in
consequence of these misrepresentations that I was not elected."

He says farther on: "I sincerely rejoiced in the consummation of the
great enterprise, although prevented in the way I have shown from being
present. I ought to have been with the cable squadron last summer. It was
no fault of mine, that I was not there. I hope Mr. Field can exculpate
himself in the eyes of the Board, before the world, and before his own
conscience, in the course he has taken."

On the margin of the letter-press copy of a letter Written to Mr. Kendall
on December 22, 1859, is a note in pencil written, evidently, at a later
date: "Mr. Field has since manifested by his conduct a different temper.
I have long since forgiven what, after all, may have been error of
ignorance on his part."

The fact remains, however, that his connection with the cable company was
severed, and that his relations with Messrs. Field, Cooper, etc., were
decidedly strained. It is more than possible that, had he continued as
electrician of the company, the second attempt might have been
successful, for he foresaw the difficulty which resulted in failure, and,
had he been the guiding mind, it would, naturally, have been avoided. The
proof of this is in the following incident, which was related by a friend
of his, Mr. Jacob S. Jewett, to Mr. Prime:--

"I thought it might interest you to know when and how Professor Morse
received the first tidings of the success of the Atlantic Cable. I
accompanied him to Europe on the steamer Fulton, which sailed from New
York July 24, 1858. We were nearing Southampton when a sail boat was
noticed approaching, and soon our vessel was boarded by a young man who
sought an interview with Professor Morse, and announced to him that a
message from America had just been received, the first that had passed
along the wire lying upon the bed of the ocean.

"Professor Morse was, of course, greatly delighted, but, turning to me,
said: '_This is very gratifying, but it is doubtful whether many more
messages will be received_'; and gave as his reason that--'the cable had
been so long stored in an improper place that much of the coating had
been destroyed, and the cable was in other respects injured.' His
prediction proved to be true."

And Mr. Prime adds: "Had he been in the board of direction, had his
judgment and experience as electrician been employed, that great
calamity, which cost millions of money and eight years of delay in the
use of the ocean telegraph, would, in all human probability, have been

But it is idle to speculate on what might have been. His letters show
that the action of the directors amazed and hurt him, and that it was
with deep regret that he ceased to take an active part in the great
enterprise the success of which he had been the first to prophesy.

Many other matters claimed his attention at this time, for, as usual upon
returning from a prolonged absence, he found his affairs in more or less
confusion, and his time for some months after his return was spent mainly
in straightening them out. The winter was spent in New York with his
family, but business calling him to Washington, he gives utterance, in a
letter to his wife of December 16, to sentiments which will appeal to all
who have had to do with the powers that be in the Government service:--

"As yet I have not had the least success in getting a proper position for
Charles. A more thankless, repulsive business than asking for a situation
under Government I cannot conceive. I would myself starve rather than ask
such a favor if I were alone concerned. The modes of obtaining even a
hearing are such as to drive a man of any sensitiveness to wish himself
in the depths of the forest away from the vicinity of men, rather than
encounter the airs of those on their temporary thrones of power. I cannot
say what I feel. I shall do all I can, but anticipate no success.... I
called to see Secretary Toucey for the purpose of asking him to put me in
the way of finding some place for Charles, but, after sending in my card
and waiting in the anteroom for half to three fourths of an hour, he took
no notice of my card, just left his room, passed by deliberately the open
door of the anteroom without speaking to me, and left the building. This
may be all explained and I will charitably hope there was no intention of
rudeness to me, but, unexplained, a ruder slight could not well be

The affection of the three Morse brothers for each other was unusually
strong, and it is from the unreserved correspondence between Finley and
Sidney that some of the most interesting material for this work has been
gathered. Both of these brothers possessed a keen sense of humor and
delighted in playful banter. The following is written in pencil on an odd
scrap of paper and has no date:--

"When my brother and I were children my father one day took us each on
his knee and said: 'Now I am going to tell you the character of each of
you.' He then told us the fable of the Hare and the Tortoise. 'Now,' said
he, 'Finley' (that is me), 'you are the Hare and Sidney, your brother, is
the Tortoise. See if I am not correct in prophesying your future
careers.' So ever since it has been a topic of banter between Sidney and
me. Sometimes Sidney seemed to be more prosperous than I; then he would
say, 'The old tortoise is ahead.' Then I would take a vigorous run and
cry out to him,' The hare is ahead.' For I am naturally quick and
impulsive, and he sluggish and phlegmatic. So I am now going to give him
the Hare riding the Tortoise as a piece of fun. Sidney will say: 'Ah! you
see the Hare is obliged to ride on the Tortoise in order to get to the
goal!' But I shall say: 'Yes, but the Tortoise could not get there unless
the Hare spurred him up and guided him.'"

Both of these brothers achieved success, but, unfortunately for the moral
of the old fable, the hare quite outdistanced the tortoise, without,
however, kindling any spark of jealousy in that faithful heart.

While Sidney was still in Europe his brother writes to him on December
29, 1857:--

"I don't know what you must think of me for not having written to you
since my return. It has not been for want of will but truly from the
impossibility of withdrawing myself from an unprecedented pressure of
more important duties, on which to _write_ so that you could form any
clear idea of them would be impossible. These duties arise from the state
of my affairs thrown into confusion by the conduct of parties intent on
controlling all my property. But, I am happy to state, my affairs are in
a way of adjustment through the active exertions of my faithful agent and
friend, Mr. Kendall, so far as his declining strength permits.... I wish
you were near me so that we could exchange views on many subjects,
particularly on the one which so largely occupies public attention
everywhere. I have been collecting works pro and con on the Slavery
question with a view of writing upon it. We are in perfect accord, I
think, on that subject. I believe that you and I would be considered in
New England as rank heretics, for, I confess, the more I study the
subject the more I feel compelled to declare myself on the Southern side
of the question.

"I care not for the judgment of men, however; I feel on sure ground while
standing on Bible doctrine, and I have arrived at the conclusion that a
fearful hallucination, not less absurd than that which beclouded some of
the most pious and otherwise intelligent minds of the days of Salem
witchcraft, has for a time darkened the moral atmosphere of the North."

The event has seemed to prove that it was the Southern sympathizers at
the North, those "most pious and otherwise intelligent minds," whose
moral atmosphere was darkened by a "fearful hallucination," for no one
now claims that slavery is a divine institution because the Bible says,
"Slaves, obey your masters."

I have stated that one of the purposes of Morse's visit to Europe in 1856
was to seek to persuade the various Governments which were using his
telegraph to grant him some pecuniary remuneration. The idea was received
favorably at the different courts, and resulted in a concerted movement
initiated by the Count Walewski, representing France, and participated in
by ten of the European nations. The sittings of this convention, or
congress, were held in Paris from April, 1868, to the latter part of
August, and the result is announced in a letter of Count Walewski to
Morse of September 1:--

SIR,--It is with lively satisfaction that I have the honor to announce to
you that a sum of four hundred thousand francs will be remitted to you,
in four annuities, in the name of France, of Austria, of Belgium, of the
Netherlands, of Piedmont, of Russia, of the Holy See, of Sweden, of
Tuscany and of Turkey, as an honorary gratuity, and as a reward,
altogether personal, of your useful labors. Nothing can better mark than
this collective act of reward the sentiment of public gratitude which
your invention has so justly excited.

The Emperor has already given you a testimonial of his high esteem when
he conferred upon you, more than a year ago, the decoration of a
Chevalier of his order of the Legion of Honor. You will find a new mark
of it in the initiative which his Majesty wished that his government
should take in this conjuncture; and the decision that I charge myself to
bring to your knowledge is a brilliant proof of the eager and sympathetic
adhesion that his proposition has met with from the States I have just

I pray you to accept on this occasion, sir, my personal congratulations,
as well as the assurance of my sentiments of the most distinguished

While this letter is dated September 1, the amount of the gratuity agreed
upon seems to have been made known soon after the first meeting of the
convention, for on April 29, the following letter was written to Morse by
M. van den Broek, his agent in all the preliminaries leading up to the
convention, and who, by the way, was to receive as his commission one
third of the amount of the award, whatever it might be: "I have this
morning seen the secretary of the Minister, and from him learned that the
sum definitely fixed is 400,000 francs, payable in four years. This does
not by any means answer our expectations, and I am afraid you will be
much disappointed, yet I used every exertion in my power, but without
avail, to procure a grant of a larger sum."

It certainly was a pitiful return for the millions of dollars which
Morse's invention had saved or earned for those nations which used it as
a government monopoly, and while I find no note of complaint in his own
letters, his friends were more outspoken. Mr. Kendall, in a letter of May
18, exclaims: "I know not how to express my contempt of the meanness of
the European Governments in the award they propose to make you as _the_
inventor of the Telegraph. I had set the sum at half a million dollars as
the least that they could feel to be at all compatible with their
dignity. I hope you will acknowledge it more as a tribute to the merits
of your invention than as an adequate reward for it."

And in a letter of June 5, answering one of Morse's which must have
contained some expressions of gratitude, Mr. Kendall says further: "In
reference to the second subject of your letter, I have to say that it is
only as a tribute to the superiority of your invention that the European
grant can, in my opinion, be considered either 'generous' or
'magnanimous.' As an indemnity it is niggardly and mean."

It will be in place to record here the testimonials of the different
nations of Europe to the Inventor of the Telegraph, manifested in various

_France._ A contributor to the honorary gratuity, and the decoration of
the Legion of Honor.

_Prussia._ The Scientific Gold Medal of Prussia set in the lid of a gold

_Austria._ A contributor to the honorary gratuity, and the Scientific
Gold Medal of Austria.

_Russia._ A contributor to the honorary gratuity.

_Spain._ The cross of Knight Commander de Numero of the order of Isabella
the Catholic.

_Portugal._ The cross of a Knight of the Tower and Sword.

_Italy._ A contributor to the honorary gratuity, and the cross of a
Knight of Saints Lazaro and Mauritio.

_Württemberg._ The Scientific Gold Medal of Württemberg.

_Turkey._ A contributor to the honorary gratuity, and the decoration in
diamonds of the Nishan Iftichar, or Order of Glory.

_Denmark._ The cross of Knight Commander of the Dannebrog.

_Holy See._ A contributor to the honorary gratuity.

_Belgium._ A contributor to the honorary gratuity.

_Holland._ A contributor to the honorary gratuity.

_Sweden._ A contributor to the honorary gratuity.

_Great Britain._ Nationally nothing.

_Switzerland._ Nationally nothing.

_Saxony._ Nationally nothing.

The decorations and medals enumerated above, with the exception of the
Danish cross, which had to be returned at the death of the recipient, and
one of the medals, which mysteriously disappeared many years ago, are now
in the Morse case at the National Museum in Washington, having been
presented to that institution by the children and grandchildren of the
inventor. It should be added that, in addition to the honors bestowed on
him by foreign governments, he was made a member of the Royal Academy of
Sciences of Sweden, a member of the Institute of France and of the
principal scientific societies of the United States. It has been already
noted in these pages that his _alma mater_, Yale, conferred on him the
degree of LL.D.

I have said that I find no note of complaint in Morse's letters. Whatever
his feelings of disappointment may have been, he felt it his duty to send
the following letter to Count Walewski on September 15, 1858. Perhaps a
slight note of irony may be read into the sentence accepting the
gratuity, but, if intended, I fear it was too feeble to have reached its
mark, and the letter is, as a whole and under the circumstances, almost
too fulsome, conforming, however, to the stilted style of the time:--

On my return to Paris from Switzerland I have this day received, from the
Minister of the United States, the most gratifying information which Your
Excellency did me the honor to send to me through him, respecting the
decision of the congress of the distinguished diplomatic representatives
of ten of the August governments of Europe, held in special reference to

You have had the considerate kindness to communicate to me a proceeding
which reflects the highest honor upon the Imperial Government and its
noble associates, and I am at a loss for language adequately to express
to them my feelings of profound gratitude.

But especially, Your Excellency, do I want words to express towards the
august head of the Imperial Government, and to Your Excellency, the
thankful sentiments of my heart for the part so prominently taken by His
Imperial Majesty, and by Your Excellency, in so generously initiating
this measure for my honor in inviting the governments of Europe to a
conference on the subject, and for so zealously and warmly advocating and
perseveringly conducting to a successful termination, the measure in
which the Imperial Government so magnanimously took the initiative.

I accept the gratuity thus tendered, on the basis of an honorary
testimonial and a personal reward, with tenfold more gratification than
could have been produced by a sum of money, however large, offered on the
basis of a commercial negotiation.

I beg Your Excellency to receive my thanks, however inadequately
expressed, and to believe that I appreciate Your Excellency's kind and
generous services performed in the midst of your high official duties,
consummating a proceeding so unique, and in a manner so graceful, that
personal kindness has been beautifully blended with official dignity.

I will address respectively to the honorable ministers who were Your
Excellency's colleagues a letter of thanks for their participation in
this act of high honor to me.

I beg Your Excellency to accept the assurances of my lasting gratitude
and highest consideration in subscribing myself

Your Excellency's most obedient humble servant,


SEPTEMBER 3, 1858--SEPTEMBER 21, 1863

Visits Europe again with a large family party.--Regrets this.--Sails for
Porto Rico with wife and two children.--First impressions of the
tropics.--Hospitalities.--His son-in-law's plantation.--Death of Alfred
Vail.--Smithsonian exonerates Henry.--European honors to Morse.--First
line of telegraph in Porto Rico.--Banquet.--Returns home.--Reception at
Poughkeepsie.--Refuses to become candidate for the Presidency.--Purchases
New York house.--F.O.J. Smith claims part of European gratuity.--Succeeds
through legal technicality.--Visit of Prince of Wales.--Duke of
Newcastle.--War clouds.--Letters on slavery, etc.--Matthew Vassar.--
Efforts as peacemaker.--Foresees Northern victory.--Gloomy forebodings.--
Monument to his father.--Divides part of European gratuity with widow of
Vail.--Continued efforts in behalf of peace.--Bible arguments in favor of

Many letters of this period, including a whole letterpress copy-book, are
missing, many of the letters in other copy-books are quite illegible
through the fading of the ink, and others have been torn out (by whom I
do not know) and have entirely disappeared. It will, therefore, be
necessary to summarize the events of the remainder of the year 1858, and
of some of the following years.

We find that, on July 24, 1858, Morse sailed with his family, including
his three young boys, his mother-in-law and other relatives, a party of
fifteen all told, for Havre on the steamer Fulton; that he was tendered a
banquet by his fellow-countrymen in Paris, and that he was received with
honor wherever he went. Travelling with a large family was a different
proposition from the independence which he had enjoyed on his previous
visits to Europe, when he was either alone or accompanied only by his
wife and niece, and he pathetically remarks to his brother Sidney, in a
letter of September 3, written from Interlaken: "It was a great mistake I
committed in bringing my family. I have scarcely had one moment's
pleasure, and am almost worn out with anxieties and cares. If I get back
safe with them to Paris I hope, after arranging my affairs there, to go
as direct as possible to Southampton, and settle them there till I sail
in November. I am tired of travelling and long for the repose of Locust
Grove, if it shall please our Heavenly Father to permit us to meet there


Before returning to the quiet of his home on the Hudson, however, he paid
a visit which he had long had in contemplation. On November 17, 1858, he
and his wife and their two younger sons sailed from Southampton for Porto
Rico, where his elder daughter, Mrs. Edward land, had for many years
lived, and where his younger daughter had been visiting while he was in
Europe. He describes his first impressions of a tropical country in a
letter to his mother-in-law, Mrs. Griswold, who had decided to spend the
winter in Geneva to superintend the education of his son Arthur, a lad of

"In St. Thomas we received every possible attention. The Governor called
on us and invited Edward and myself to breakfast (at 10.30 o'clock) the
day we left. He lives in a fine mansion on one of the lesser hills that
enclose the harbor, having directly beneath him on the slope, and only
separated by a wall, the residence of Santa Anna. He was invited to be
present, but he was ill (so he said) and excused himself. I presume his
illness was occasioned by the thought of meeting an American from the
States, for he holds the citizens of the States in perfect hatred, so
much so as to refuse to receive United States money in change from his
servants on their return from market.

"A few days in change of latitude make wonderful changes in feelings and
clothing. When we left England the air was wintry, and thick woolen
clothing and fires were necessary. The first night at sea blankets were
in great demand. With two extra and my great-coat over all I was
comfortably warm. In twenty-four hours the great-coat was dispensed with,
then one blanket, then another, until a sheet alone began to be enough,
and the last two or three nights on board this slight covering was too
much. When we got into the harbor of St. Thomas the temperature was
oppressive; our slightest summer clothing was in demand. Surrounded by
pomegranate trees, magnificent oleanders, cocoa-nut trees with their
large fruit some thirty feet from the ground, the aloe and innumerable,
and to me strange, tropical plants, I could scarcely believe it was

"We arrived on Thursday morning and remained until Monday morning, Edward
having engaged a Long Island schooner, which happened to be in port, to
take us to Arroyo. At four o'clock the Governor sent his official barge,
under the charge of the captain of the port, a most excellent,
intelligent, scientific gentleman, who had breakfasted with us at the
Governor's in the morning, and in a few minutes we were rowed alongside
of the schooner Estelle, and before dark were under way and out of the
harbor. Our quarters were very small and close, but not so uncomfortable.

"At daylight in the morning of Tuesday we were sailing along the shores
of Porto Rico, and at sunrise we found we were in sight of Guyama and
Arroyo, and with our glasses we saw at a distance the buildings on
Edward's estate. Susan had been advised of our coming and a flag was
flying on the house in answer to the signal we made from the vessel. In
two or three hours we got to the shore, as near as was safe for the
vessel, and then in the doctor's boat, which had paid us an official
visit to see that we did not bring yellow fever or other infectious
disease, the kind doctor, an Irishman educated in America, took us ashore
at a little temporary landing-place to avoid the surf. On the shore there
were some handkerchiefs shaking, and in a crowd we saw Susan and Leila,
and Charlie [his grandson] who were waiting for us in carriages, and in a
few moments we embraced them all. The sun was hot upon us, but, after a
ride of two or three miles, we came to the Henrietta, my dear Edward and
Susan's residence, and were soon under the roof of a spacious, elegant
and most commodious mansion. And here we are with midsummer temperature
and vegetation, but a tropical vegetation, all around us.

"Well, we always knew that Edward was a prince of a man, but we did not
know, or rather appreciate, that he has a princely estate and in as fine
order as any in the island. When I say 'fine order,' I do not mean that
it is laid out like the Bois de Boulogne, nor is there quite as much
picturesqueness in a level plain of sugar canes as in the trees and
shrubbery of the gardens of Versailles; but it is a rich and
well-cultivated estate of some fourteen hundred acres, gradually rising
for two or three miles from the sea-shore to the mountains, including
some of them, and stretching into the valleys between them."

His visit to Porto Rico was a most delightful one to him in many ways,
and I shall have more to say of it further on, but I digress for a moment
to speak of two events which occurred just at this time, and which showed
him that, even in this land of _dolce far niente_, he could not escape
the griefs and cares which are common to all mankind.

Mr. Kendall, in a letter of February 20, announces the death of one of
his early associates: "I presume you will have heard before this reaches
you of the death of Alfred Vail. He had sold most of his telegraph stocks
and told me when I last saw him that it was with difficulty he could
procure the means of comfort for his family."

Morse had heard of this melancholy event, for, in a letter to Mr.
Shaffner of February 22, he says: "Poor Vail! alas, he is gone. I only
heard of the event on Saturday last. This death, and the death of many
friends besides, has made me feel sad. Vail ought to have a proper
notice. He was an upright man, and, although some ways of his made him
unpopular with those with whom he came in contact, yet I believe his
intentions were good, and his faults were the result more of ill-health,
a dyspeptic habit, than of his heart."

He refers to this also in a letter to his brother Sidney of February 23:
"Poor Vail is gone. He was the innocent cause of the original difficulty
with the sensitive Henry, he all the time earnestly desirous of doing him

And on March 30, he answers Mr. Kendall's letter: "I regret to learn that
poor Vail was so straitened in his circumstances at his death. I intend
paying a visit to his father and family on my return. I may be able to
relieve them in some degree."

This intention he fulfilled, as we shall see later on, and I wish to call
special attention to the tone of these letters because, as I have said
before, Morse has been accused of gross ingratitude and injustice towards
Alfred Vail, whereas a careful and impartial study of all the
circumstances of their connection proves quite the contrary. Vail's
advocates, in loudly claiming for him much more than the evidence shows
he was entitled to, have not hesitated to employ gross personal abuse of
Morse in their newspaper articles, letters, etc., even down to the
present day. This has made my task rather difficult, for, while earnestly
desirous of giving every possible credit to Vail, I have been compelled
to introduce much evidence, which I should have preferred to omit, to
show the essential weakness of his character; he seems to have been
foredoomed to failure. He undoubtedly was of great assistance in the
early stages of the invention, and for this Morse always cheerfully gave
him full credit, but I have proved that he did not invent the
dot-and-dash alphabet, which has been so insistently claimed for him,
and that his services as a mechanician were soon dispensed with in favor
of more skilful men. I have also shown that he practically left Morse to
his fate in the darkest years of the struggle to bring the telegraph into
public use, and that, by his morbid suspicions, he hampered the efforts
of Mr. Kendall to harmonize conflicting interests. For all this Morse
never bore him any ill-will, but endeavored in every way to foster and
safeguard his interests. That he did not succeed was no fault of his.

Another reminder that he was but human, and that he could not expect to
sail serenely along on the calm, seas of popular favor without an
occasional squall, was given to him just at this time. Professor Joseph
Henry had requested the Regents of the Smithsonian Institute to enquire
into the rights and wrongs of the controversy between himself and Morse,
which had its origin in Henry's testimony in the telegraph suits, tinged
as this testimony was with bitterness on account of the omissions in
Vail's book, and which was fanned into a flame by Morse's "Defense." The
latter resented the fact that all these proceedings had taken place while
he was out of the country, and without giving him an opportunity to
present his side of the case. However, he shows his willingness to do
what is right in the letter to Colonel Shaffner of February 22, from
which I have already quoted:--

"Well, it has taken him four years to fire off his gun, and perhaps I am
killed. When I return I shall examine my wounds and see if they are
mortal, and, if so, shall endeavor to die becomingly. Seriously, however,
if there are any new facts which go to exculpate Henry for his attack
upon me before the courts at a moment when I was struggling against those
who, from whatever motive, wished to deprive me of my rights, and even of
my character, I shall be most happy to learn them, and, if I have
unwittingly done him injustice, shall also be most happy to make proper
amends. But as all this is for the future, as I know of no facts which
alter the case, and as I am wholly unconscious of having done any
injustice, I must wait to see what he has put forth."

In a letter to his brother Sidney, of February 23, he philosophizes as

"I cannot avoid noticing a singular coincidence of events in my
experience of life, especially in that part of it devoted to the
invention of the Telegraph, to wit, that, when any special and marked
honor has been conferred upon me, there has immediately succeeded some
event of the envious or sordid character seemingly as a set-off, the
tendency of which has been invariably to prevent any excess of exultation
on my part. Can this be accident? Is it not rather the wise ordering of
events by infinite wisdom and goodness to draw me away from repose in
earthly honor to the more substantial and enduring honor that comes only
from God? ... I pray for wisdom to direct in such trials, and in any
answer I may find it necessary to give to Henry or others, I desire most
of all to be mindful of that charity which 'suffereth long, which
vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, hopeth all things, thinketh no

This check to self-laudation came at an appropriate moment, as he said,
for just at this time honors were being plentifully showered upon him. It
was then that he was first notified of the bestowal of the Spanish
decoration, and of the probability of Portugal's following suit. Perhaps
even more gratifying still was his election as a member of the Royal
Academy of Sciences of Sweden, for this was a recognition of his merits
as a scientist, and not as a mere promoter, as he had been contemptuously
called. On the Island of Porto Rico too he was being honored and fêted.
On March 2, he writes:--

"I have just completed with success the construction and organization of
the short telegraph line, the first on this island, initiating the great
enterprise of the Southern Telegraph route to Europe from our shores, so
far as to interest the Porto Ricans in the value of the invention.

"Yesterday was a day of great excitement here for this small place. The
principal inhabitants of this place and Guayama determined to celebrate
the completion of this little line, in which they take a great pride as
being the first in the island, and so they complimented me with a public
breakfast which was presided over by the lieutenant-colonel commandant of

"The commandant and alcalde, the collector and captain of the port, with
all the officials of the place, and the clergy of Guayama and Arroyo, and
gentlemen planters and merchants of the two towns, numbering in all about
forty, were present. We sat down at one o'clock to a very handsome
breakfast, and the greatest enthusiasm and kind and generous feeling were
manifested. My portrait was behind me upon the wall draped with the
Spanish and American flags. I gave them a short address of thanks, and
took the opportunity to interest them in the great Telegraph line which
will give them communication with the whole world. I presume accounts
will be published in the United States from the Porto Rico papers. Thus
step by step (shall I not rather say _stride by stride_?) the Telegraph
is compassing the world.

"My accounts from Madrid assure me that the government will soon have all
the papers prepared for granting the concession to Mr. Perry, our former
secretary of legation at Madrid, in connection with Sir James Carmichael,
Mr. John W. Brett, the New York, Newfoundland and London Telegraph
Company, and others. The recent consolidation plan in the United States
has removed the only hesitation I had in sustaining this new enterprise,
for I feared that I might unwittingly injure, by a counter plan, those it
was my duty to support. Being now in harmony with the American Company
and the Newfoundland Company, I presume all my other companies will
derive benefit rather than injury from the success of this new and grand
enterprise. At any rate I feel impelled to support all plans that
manifestly tend to the complete circumvention of the globe, and the
bringing into telegraphic connection all the nations of the earth, and
this when I am not fully assured that present personal interests may not
temporarily suffer. I am glad to know that harmonious arrangements are
made between the various companies in the United States, although I have
been so ill-used. I will have no litigation if I can avoid it. Even Henry
may have the field in quiet, unless he has presented a case too
flagrantly unjust to leave unanswered."

The short line of telegraph was from his son-in-law's house to his place
of business on the bay, about two miles, and the building of it gave rise
to the legend on the island that Morse conducted some of his first
electrical experiments in Porto Rico, which, of course, is not true.

There is much correspondence concerning the proposed cable from Spain or
Portugal by various routes to the West Indies and thence to the United
States, but nothing came of it.

The rest of their stay in Porto Rico was greatly enjoyed by all in spite
of certain drawbacks incidental to the tropics, to one of which he
alludes in a letter to his sister-in-law, Mrs. Goodrich, who was then in
Europe. Speaking of his wife he says: "She is dreadfully troubled with a
plague which, if you have been in Italy, I am sure you are no stranger
to. '_Pulci, pulci._' If you have not had a colony of them settled upon
you, and quartered, and giving you no quarter, you have been an exception
to travellers in Italy. Well, I will pit any two _pulci_ of Porto Rico
against any ten you can bring from Italy, and I should be sure to see
them bite the dust before the bites of our Porto Rico breed."

His letters are filled with apothegms and reflections on life in general
and his own in particular, and they alone would almost fill a book. In a
letter to Mr. Kendall, of March 30, we find the following:--

"I had hoped to return from honors abroad to enjoy a little rest from
litigation at home, but, if I must take up arms, I hope to be able to use
them efficiently in self-defense, and in a chivalrous manner as becometh
a '_Knight_.' I have no reason to complain of my position abroad, but I
suppose, as I am not yet under the ground, honors to a living inventor
must have their offset in the attacks of envy and avarice.

"'Wrath is cruel, but who can stand before envy?' says the wise man. The
contest with the envious is indeed an annoyance, but, if one's spirit is
under the right guidance and revenge does not actuate the strife, victory
is very certain. My position is now such before the world that I shall
use it rather to correct my own temper than to make it a means of
arrogant exultation."

He and his family left the island in the middle of April, 1859, and in
due time reached their Poughkeepsie home. The "Daily Press" of that city
gave the following account of the homecoming:--

"For some time previous to the hour at which the train was to arrive
hundreds of people were seen flocking from all directions to the railroad
depot, both in carriages and on foot, and when the train did arrive, and
the familiar and loved form of Professor Morse was recognized on the
platform of the car, the air was rent with the cheers of the assembled
multitude. As soon as the cheers subsided Professor Morse was approached
by the committee of reception and welcomed to the country of his birth
and to the home of his adoption.

"A great procession was then formed composed of the carriages of
citizens. The sidewalks were crowded with people on foot, the children of
the public schools, which had been dismissed for the occasion, being
quite conspicuous among them. Amid the ringing of bells, the waving of
flags, and the gratulations of the people, the procession proceeded
through a few of the principal streets, and then drove to the beautiful
residence of Professor Morse, the band playing, as they entered the
grounds, 'Sweet Home' and then 'Auld Lang Syne.'

"The gateways at the entrance had been arched with evergreens and
wreathed with flowers. As the carriage containing their loved proprietor
drove along the gravelled roads we noticed that several of the domestics,
unable to restrain their welcomes, ran to his carriage and gave and
received salutations. After a free interchange of salutations and a
general 'shake-hands,' the people withdrew and left their honored guest
to the retirement of his own beautiful home.

"So the world reverences its great men, and so it ought. In Professor
Morse we find those simple elements of greatness which elevate him
infinitely above the hero of any of the world's sanguinary conflicts, or
any of the most successful aspirants after political power. He has
benefited not only America and the world, but has dignified and benefited
the whole race."

His friends and neighbors desired to honor him still further by a public
reception, but this he felt obliged to decline, and in his letter of
regret he expresses the following sentiments: "If, during my late absence
abroad, I have received unprecedented honors from European nations,
convened in special congress for the purpose, and have also received
marks of honor from individual Sovereigns and from Scientific bodies, all
which have gratified me quite as much for the honor reflected by them
upon my country as upon myself, there are none of these testimonials, be
assured, which have so strongly touched my heart as this your beautiful
tribute of kindly feeling from esteemed neighbors and fellow-citizens."

Among the letters which had accumulated during his absence, Morse found
one, written some time previously, from a Mr. Reibart, who had published
his name as a candidate for the Presidency of the United States. In
courteously declining this honor Morse drily adds: "There are hundreds,
nay thousands, more able (not to say millions more willing) to take any
office they can obtain, and perform its functions more faithfully and
with more benefit to the country. While this is the case I do not feel
that the country will suffer should one like myself, wearied with the
struggles and litigations of half a century, desire to be excused from
encountering the annoyances and misapprehensions inseparable from
political life."

Thanks to the successful efforts of his good friend, Mr. Kendall, he was
now financially independent, so much so that he felt justified in
purchasing, in the fall of the year 1859, the property at 5 West
Twenty-second Street, New York, where the winters of the remaining years
of his life were passed, except when he was abroad. This house has now
been replaced by a commercial structure, but a bronze tablet marks the
spot where once stood the old-fashioned brown stone mansion.

While his mind was comparatively at rest regarding money matters, he was
not yet free from vexatious litigation, and his opinion of lawyers is
tersely expressed in a letter to Mr. Kendall of December 27, 1859: "I
have not lost my respect for law but I have for its administrators; not
so much for any premeditated dishonesty as for their stupidity and want
of just insight into a case."

It was not long before he had a practical proof of the truth of this
aphorism, for his "thorn in the flesh" never ceased from rankling, and
now gave a new instance of the depths to which an unscrupulous man could
descend. On June 9, 1860, Morse writes to his legal adviser, Mr. George
Ticknor Curtis, of Boston: "You may remember that Smith, just before I
sailed for Europe in 1858, intimated that he should demand of me a
portion of the Honorary Gratuity voted to me by the congress of ten
powers at Paris. I procured your opinion, as you know, and I had hoped
that he would not insist on so preposterous a claim. I am, however,
disappointed; he has recently renewed it. I have had some correspondence
with him on the subject utterly denying any claim on his part. He
proposes a reference, but I have not yet encouraged him to think I would
assent. I wish your advice before I answer him."

It is difficult to conceive of a meaner case of extortion than this. As
Morse says in a letter to Mr. Kendall, of August 3, 1860, after he had
consented to a reference of the matter to three persons: "I have no
apprehensions of the result except that I may be entrapped by some legal
technicalities. Look at the case in an equitable point of view and, it
appears to me, no intelligent, just men could give a judgment against me
or in his favor. Smith's purchase into the telegraph, the consideration
he gave, was his efforts to obtain a property in the invention abroad by
letters patent or otherwise. In _such_ property he was to share. No such
property was created there. What can he then claim? The monies that he
hazarded (taking his own estimate) were to the amount of some seven
thousand dollars; and this was an advance, virtually a loan, to be paid
back to him if he had created the property abroad. But his efforts being
fruitless for that purpose, and of no value whatever to me, yet procured
him one fourth patent interest in the United States, for which we know he
has obtained at least $300,000. Is he not paid amply without claiming a
portion of honorary gifts to me? Well, we shall see how legal men look at
the matter."


One legal man of great brilliance gave his opinion without hesitation, as
we learn from a letter of Morse's to Mr. Curtis, of July 14: "I had, a
day or two since, my cousin Judge Breese, late Senator of the United
States from Illinois, on a visit to me. I made him acquainted with the
points, after which he scouted the idea that any court of legal character
could for a moment sustain Smith's claim. He thought my argument
unanswerable, and playfully said: 'I will insure you against any claim
from Smith for a bottle of champagne.'"

It is a pity that Morse did not close with the offer of the learned
judge, for, in spite of his opinion, in spite of the opinion of most men
of intelligence, in defiance of the perfectly obvious and proven fact
that Smith had utterly failed in fulfilling his part of the contract, and
that the award had been made to Morse "as a reward altogether personal"
(_toute personelle_), the referees decided in Smith's favor. And on what
did they base this remarkable decision? On the ground that in the
contract of 1838 with Smith the word "otherwise" occurs. Property in
Europe was to be obtained by "letters patent" or "otherwise." Of course
no actual property had been obtained, and Smith had had no hand in
securing the honorary gratuity, and it is difficult to follow the
reasoning of these sapient referees. They were, on Smith's part, Judge
Upham of New Hampshire; on Morse's, Mr. Hilliard, of Boston; and Judge
Sprague, of the Circuit Court, Boston, chairman.

However, the decision was made, and Morse, with characteristic
large-heartedness, submitted gracefully. On October 15, he writes to Mr.
Curtis: "I ought, perhaps, with my experience to learn for the first time
that _Law_ and _Justice_ are not synonyms, but, with all deference to the
opinion of the excellent referees, for each of whom I have the highest
personal respect, I still think that they have not given a decision in
strict conformity with Law.... I submit, however, to law with kindly
feelings to all, and now bend my attention to repair my losses as best I

As remarked before, earlier in this volume, Morse, in his correspondence
with Smith, always wrote in that courteous manner which becomes a
gentleman, and he expresses his dissent from the verdict in this manner
in a letter of November 20, in answer to one of Smith's, quibbling over
the allowance to Morse by the referees of certain expenses: "Throwing
aside as of no avail any discussion in regard to the equity of the
decision of the referees, especially in the view of a conscientious and
high-minded man, I now deal with the decision as it has been made, since,
according to the technicalities of the law, it has been pronounced by
honorable and honest men in accordance with their construction of the
language of the deed in your favor. But 'He that's convinced against his
will is of the same opinion still,' and in regard to the intrinsic
injustice of being compelled, by the strict construction of a general
word, to pay over to you any portion of that which was expressly given to
me as a personal and honorary _gratuity_ by the European governments, my
opinion is always as it has been, an opinion sustained by the sympathy of
every intelligent and honorable man who has studied the merits of the

He was hard hit for a time by this unjust decision, and his
correspondence shows that he regretted it most because it prevented him
from bestowing as much in good works as he desired. He was obliged to
refuse many requests which strongly appealed to him. His daily mail
contained numerous requests for assistance in sums "from twenty thousand
dollars to fifty cents," and it was always with great reluctance that he
refused anybody anything.

However, as is usual in this life, the gay was mingled with the grave,
and we find that he was one of the committee of prominent men to arrange
for the entertainment of the Prince of Wales, afterward Edward VII, on
his visit to this country. I have already referred to one incident of
this visit when Morse, in an address to the Prince at the University of
the City of New York, referred to the kindness shown him in London by the
Earl of Lincoln, who was now the Duke of Newcastle and was in the suite
of the Prince. Morse had hoped that he might have the privilege of
entertaining H.R.H. at his country place on the Hudson, but the Duke of
Newcastle, in a letter of October 8, 1860, regrets that this cannot be

I assure you I have not forgotten the circumstances which gave me the
pleasure of your acquaintance in 1839, and I am very desirous of seeing
you again during my short visit to this continent. I fear however that a
visit by the Prince of Wales to your home, however I might wish it, is
quite impracticable, although on our journey up the Hudson we shall pass
so near you. Every hour of our time is fully engaged.

Is there any chance of seeing you in New York, or, if not, is there any
better hope in Boston? If you should be in either during our stay, I hope
you will be kind enough to call upon me. Pray let me have a line on
Thursday at New York. I have lately been much interested in some
electro-telegraphic inventions of yours which are new to me.

I am
Yours very truly,

Referring to another function in honor of the Prince, Morse says, in a
letter to Mr. Kendall: "I did not see you after the so-styled Ball in New
York, which was not a _ball_ but a _levee_ and a great jam. I hope you
and yours suffered no inconvenience from it."

The war clouds in his beloved country were now lowering most ominously,
and, true to his convictions, he exclaims in a letter to a friend of
January 12, 1861:--

"Our politicians are playing with edged tools. It is easy to raise a
storm by those who cannot control it. If I trusted at all in them I
should despair of the country, but an Almighty arm makes the wrath of man
to praise him, and he will restrain the rest. There is something so
unnatural and abhorrent in this outcry of _arms_ in one great family that
I cannot believe it will come to a decision by the sword. Such counsels
of force are in the court of passion, not of reason. Imagine such a
conflict, imagine a victory, no matter by which side. Can the victors
rejoice in the blood of brethren shed in a family brawl? Whose heart will
thrill with pride at such success? No, no. I should as soon think of
rejoicing that one of my sons had killed the other in a brawl.

"But I have not time to add. I hope for the best, and even can see beyond
the clouds of the hour a brighter day. God bless the whole family, North,
South, East and West. I will never divide them in my heart however they
may be politically or geographically divided."

His hopes of a peaceful solution of the questions at issue between the
North and the South were, of course, destined to be cruelly dashed, and
he suffered much during the next few years, both in his feelings and in
his purse, on account of the war. I have already shown that he, with many
other pious men, believed that slavery was a divine institution and that,
therefore, the abolitionists were entirely in the wrong; but that, at the
same time, he was unalterably opposed to secession. Holding these views,
he was misjudged in both sections of the country. Those at the North
accused him of being a secessionist because he was not an abolitionist,
and many at the South held that he must be an abolitionist because he
lived at the North and did not believe in the doctrine of secession. Many
pages of his letter-books are filled with vehement arguments upholding
his point of view, and he, together with many other eminent men at the
North, strove without success to avert the war. His former pastor at
Poughkeepsie, the Reverend H.G. Ludlow, in long letters, with many Bible
quotations, called upon him to repent him of his sins and join the cause
of righteousness. He, in still longer letters, indignantly repelled the
accusation of error, and quoted chapter and verse in support of his
views. He was made the president of The American Society for promoting
National Unity, and in one of his letters to Mr. Ludlow he uses forceful

"The tone of your letter calls for extraordinary drafts on Christian
charity. Your criticism upon and denunciation of a society planned in the
interests of peace and good will to all, inaugurated by such men as
Bishops McIlvaine and Hopkins, Drs. Krebs and Hutton, and Winslow, and
Bliss, and Van Dyke, and Hawks, and Seabury, and Lord and Adams of
Boston, and Wilson the missionary, and Styles and Boorman, and Professor
Owen, and President Woods, and Dr. Parker, and my brothers, and many
others as warm-hearted, praying, conscientious Christians as ever
assembled to devise means for promoting peace--denunciations of these and
such as these cannot but be painful in the highest degree.... I lay no
stress upon these names other than to show that conscience in this matter
has moved some Christians quite as strongly to view _Abolitionism_ as a
sin of the deepest dye, as it has other Christian minds to view Slavery
as a sin, and so to condemn slaveholders to excommunication, and simply
for being slaveholders.

"Who is to decide in a conflict of consciences? If the Bible be the
umpire, as I hold it to be, then it is the Abolitionist that is denounced
as worthy of excommunication; it is the Abolitionist from whom we are
commanded to withdraw ourselves, while not a syllable of reproof do I
find in the sacred volume administered to those who maintain, in the
spirit of the gospel, the relation of _Masters and Slaves_. If you have
been more successful, please point out chapter and verse.... I have no
justification to offer for Southern _secession_; I have always considered
it a remedy for nothing. It is, indeed, an expression of a sense of
wrong, but, in turn, is itself a wrong, and two wrongs do not make a

I have quoted thus at some length from one of his many polemics to show
the absolute and fearless sincerity of the man, mistaken though he may
have been in his major premise.

I shall quote from other letters on this subject as they appear in
chronological order, but as no person of any mental caliber thinks and
acts continuously along one line of endeavor, so will it be necessary in
a truthful biography to change from one subject of activity to another,
and then back again, in order to portray in their proper sequence the
thoughts and actions of a man which go to make up his personality. For
instance, while the outspoken views which Morse held on the subjects of
slavery and secession made him many enemies, he was still held in high
esteem, for it was in the year 1861 that the members of the National
Academy of Design urged him so strongly to become their president again
that he yielded, but on condition that it should be for one year only.
And the following letter to Matthew Vassar, of Poughkeepsie, dated
February 1, 1861, shows that he was actively interested in the foundation
of the first college for women in this country: "Your favor of the 24th
ulto. is received, and so far as I can further your magnificent and most
generous enterprise, I will do so. I will endeavor to attend the meeting
at the Gregory House on the 26th of the present month. May you long live
to see your noble design in successful operation."

In spite of his deep anxiety for the welfare of his country, and in spite
of the other cares which weighed him down, he could not resist the
temptation to indulge in humor when the occasion offered. This humor is
tinged with sarcasm in a letter of July 13, 1861, to Mr. A.B. Griswold,
his wife's brother, a prominent citizen of New Orleans. After assuring
him of his undiminished affection, he adds:--

"And now see what a risk I have run by saying thus much, for, according
to modern application of the definition of _treason_, it would not be
difficult to prove me a traitor, and therefore amenable to the halter.

"For instance--treason is giving aid and comfort to the enemy; everybody
south of a certain geographical line is an enemy; you live south of that
line, ergo you are an enemy; I send you my love, you being an enemy; this
gives you _comfort_; ergo, I have given comfort to the enemy; ergo, I am
a traitor; ergo, I must be hanged."

As the war progressed he continued to express himself in forcible
language against what he called the "twin heresies"--abolitionism and
secession. He had done his best to avert the war. He describes his
efforts in a letter of April 2, 1862, to Mr. George L. Douglas, of
Louisville, Kentucky, who at that time was prominently connected with the
Southern lines of the telegraph, and who had loyally done all in his
power to safeguard Morse's interests in those lines:--

"You are correct in saying, in your answer as garnishee, that I have been
an active and decided friend of Peace. In the early stages of the
troubles, when the Southern Commissioners were in Washington, I devoted
my time and influence and property, subscribing and paying in the outset
five hundred dollars, to set on foot measures for preserving peace
honorable to all parties. The attack on Fort Sumter struck down all these
efforts (so far as my associates were concerned), but I was not
personally discouraged, and I again addressed myself to the work of the
Peacemaker, determining to visit _personally_ both sections of the
country, the Government at Washington, and the Government of the
Confederates at Richmond, to ascertain if there were, by possibility, any
means of averting war. And when, from physical inability and age, I was
unable to undertake the duty personally, I defrayed from my own pocket
the expenses of a friend in his performance of the same duties for me,
who actually visited both Washington and Richmond and conferred with the
Presidents and chiefs of each section on the subject. True his efforts
were unsuccessful, and so nothing remained for me but to retire to the
quiet of my own study and watch the vicissitudes of the awful storm which
I was powerless to avert, and descry the first signs of any clearing up,
ready to take advantage of the earliest glimmerings of light through the

He had no doubts as to the ultimate issue of the conflict, for, in a
letter to his wife's sister, Mrs. Goodrich, of May 2, 1862, he reduces it
to mathematics:--

"Sober men could calculate, and did calculate, the _military_ issue, for
it was a problem of mathematics and not at all of individual or
comparative courage. A force of equal quality is to be divided and the
two parts to be set in opposition to each other. If equally divided, they
will be at rest; if one part equals 3 and the other 9, it does not
require much knowledge of mathematics to decide which part will overcome
the force of the other.

"Now this is the case here just now. Two thirds of the physical and
material force of the country are at the North, and on this account
_military_ success, other things being equal, must be on the side of the
North. Courage, justness of the cause, right, have nothing to do with it.
War in our days is a game of chess. Two players being equal, if one
begins the game with dispensing with a third of his best pieces, the
other wins as a matter of course."

He was firmly of the opinion that England and other European nations had
fomented, if they had not originated, the bad feeling between the North
and the South, and at times he gave way to the most gloomy forebodings,
as in a letter of July 23, 1862, to Mr. Kendall, who shared his views on
the main questions at issue:--

"I am much depressed. There is no light in the political skies. Rabid
abolitionism, with its intense, infernal hate, intensified by the same
hate from secession quarters, is fast gaining the ascendancy. Our country
is dead. God only can resuscitate it from its tomb. I see no hope of
union. We are two countries, and, what is most deplorable, two hostile
countries. Oh! how the nations, with England at their head, crow over us.
It is the hour of her triumph; she has conquered by her arts that which
she failed to do by her arms. If there was a corner of the world where I
could hide myself, and I could consult the welfare of my family, I would
sacrifice all my interests here and go at once. May God save us with his
salvation. I have no heart to write or to do anything. Without a country!
Without a country!"

He went even further, in one respect, in a letter to Mr. Walker, of
Utica, of October 27, but his ordinarily keen prophetic vision was at
fault: "Have you made up your mind to be under a future monarch, English
or French, or some scion of a European stock of kings? I shall not live
to see it, I hope, but you may and your children will. I leave you this
prophecy in black and white."

In spite of his occasional fits of pessimism he still strove with all his
might, by letters and published pamphlets, to rescue his beloved country
from what he believed were the machinations of foreign enemies. At the
same time he did not neglect his more immediate concerns, and his
letter-books are filled with loving admonitions to his children,
instructions to his farmer, answers to inventors seeking his advice, or
to those asking for money for various causes, etc.

He and his two brothers had united in causing a monument to be erected to
the memory of their father and mother in the cemetery at New Haven, and
he insisted on bearing the lion's share of the expense, as we learn from
a letter written to his nephew, Sidney E. Morse, Jr., on October 10,

"Above you have my check on Broadway Bank, New York, for five hundred
dollars towards Mr. Ritter's bill.

"Tell your dear father and Uncle Sidney that this is the portion of the
bill for the monument which I choose to assume. Tell them I have still a
good memory of past years, when I was poor and received from them the
kind attentions of affectionate brothers. I am now, through the loving
kindness and bounty of our Heavenly Father, in such circumstances that I
can afford this small testimonial to their former fraternal kindness, and
I know no better occasion to manifest the long pent-up feelings of my
heart towards them than by lightening, under the embarrassments of the
times, the pecuniary burden of our united testimonial to the best of
fathers and mothers."

This monument, a tall column surmounted by a terrestrial globe,
symbolical of the fact that the elder Morse was the first American
geographer, is still to be seen in the New Haven cemetery.

Another instance of the inventor's desire to show his gratitude towards
those who had befriended him in his days of poverty and struggle is shown
in a letter of November 17, 1862, to the widow of Alfred Vail:--

"You are aware that a sum of money was voted me by a special Congress,
convened at Paris for the purpose, as a personal, honorary gratuity as
the Inventor of the Telegraph.... Notwithstanding, however, that the
Congress had put the sum voted me on the ground of a personal, honorary
gratuity, I made up my mind in the very outset that I would divide to
your good husband just that proportion of what I might receive (after due
allowance and deduction of my heavy expenses in carrying through the
transaction) as would have been his if the money so voted by the Congress
had been the purchase money of patent rights. This design I early
intimated to Mr. Vail, and I am happy in having already fulfilled in part
my promise to him, when I had received the gratuity only in part. It was
only the last spring that the whole sum, promised in four annual
instalments (after the various deductions in Europe) has been remitted to
me.... I wrote to Mr. Cobb [one of Alfred Vail's executors] some months
ago, while he was in Washington, requesting an early interview to pay
over the balance for you, but have never received an answer.... Could you
not come to town this week, either with or without Mr. Cobb, as is most
agreeable to you, prepared to settle this matter in full? If so, please
drop me a line stating the day and hour you will come, and I will make it
a point to be at home at the time."

In this connection I shall quote from a letter to Mr. George Vail,
written much earlier in the year, on May 19:--

"It will give me much pleasure to aid you in your project of disposing of
the _'original wire'_ of the Telegraph, and if my certificate to its
genuineness will be of service, you shall cheerfully have it. I am not at
this moment aware that there is any quantity of this wire anywhere else,
except it may be in the helices of the big magnets which I have at
Poughkeepsie. These shall not interfere with your design.

"I make only one modification of your proposal, and that is, if any
profits are realized, please substitute for my name the name of your
brother Alfred's amiable widow."

Although the malign animosity of F.O.J. Smith followed him to his grave,
and even afterwards, he was, in this year of 1862, relieved from one
source of annoyance from him, as we learn from a letter of May 19 to Mr.
Kendall: "I have had a settlement with Smith in full on the award of the
Referees in regard to the 'Honorary Gratuity,' and with less difficulty
than I expected."

Morse had now passed the Scriptural age allotted to man; he was
seventy-one years old, and, in a letter of August 22, he remarks rather
sorrowfully: "I feel that I am no longer young, that my career, whether
for good or evil, is near its end, but I wish to give the energy and
influence that remain to me to my country, to save it, if possible, to
those who come after me."

All through the year 1863 he labored to this end, with alternations of
hope and despair. On February 9, 1863, he writes to his cousin, Judge
Sidney Breese: "A movement is commenced in the formation of a society
here which promises good. It is for the purpose of Diffusing Useful
Political Knowledge. It is backed up by millionaires, so far as funds go,
who have assured us that funds shall not be wanting for this object. They
have made me its president."

Through the agency of this society he worked to bring about "Peace with
Honor," but, as one of their cardinal principles was the abandonment of
abolitionism, he worked in vain. He bitterly denounced the Emancipation
Proclamation, and President Lincoln came in for many hard words from his
pen, being considered by him weak and vacillating. Mistaken though I
think his attitude was in this, his opinions were shared by many
prominent men of the day, and we must admit that for those who believed
in a literal interpretation of the Bible there was much excuse. For
instance, in a letter of September 21, 1863, to Martin Hauser, Esq., of
Newbern, Indiana, he goes rather deeply into the subject:--

"Your letter of the 23d of last month I have just received, and I was
gratified to see the evidences of an upright, honest dependence upon the
only standard of right to which man can appeal pervading your whole
letter. There is no other standard than the Bible, but our translation,
though so excellent, is defective sometimes in giving the true meaning of
the original languages in which the two Testaments are written; the Old
Testament in Hebrew, the New Testament in Greek. Therefore it is that in
words in the English translation about which there is a variety of
opinion, it is necessary to examine the original Hebrew or Greek to know
what was the meaning attached to these words by the writers of the
original Bible.... I make these observations to introduce a remark of
yours that the Bible does not contain anything like slavery in it because
the words 'slave' and 'slavery' are not used in it (except the former
twice) but that the word 'servant' is used.

"Now the words translated 'servant' in hundreds of instances are, in the
original, 'slave,' and the very passage you quote, Noah's words--'Cursed
be Canaan, a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren'--in the
original Hebrew means exactly this--'Cursed be Canaan, a _slave_ of
_slaves_ shall he be.' The Hebrew, word is _'ebed'_ which means a bond
slave, and the words _'ebed ebadim'_ translated 'slave of slaves,' means
strictly _the most abject of slaves_.

"In the New Testament too the word translated 'servant' from the Greek is
_'doulas,'_ which is the same as _'ebed'_ in the Hebrew, and always means
a bond slave. Our word 'servant' formerly meant the same, but time and
custom have changed its meaning with us, but the Bible word _'doulos'_
remains the same, 'a slave.'"

It seems strange that a man of such a gentle, kindly disposition should
have upheld the outworn institution of slavery, but he honestly believed,
not only that it was ordained of God, but that it was calculated to
benefit the enslaved race. To Professor Christy, of Cincinnati, he gives,
on September 12, his reasons for this belief:--

"You have exposed in a masterly manner the fallacies of Abolitionism.
There is a complete coincidence of views between us. My 'Argument,' which
is nearly ready for the press, supports the same view of the necessity of
slavery to the christianization and civilization of a barbarous race. My
argument for the benevolence of the relation of master and slave, drawn
from the four relations ordained of God for the organization of the
social system (the fourth being the servile relation, or the relation of
master and slave) leads conclusively to the recognition of some great
benevolent design in its establishment.

"But you have demonstrated in an unanswerable manner by your statistics
this benevolent design, bringing out clearly, from the workings of his
Providence, the absolute necessity of this relation in accomplishing his
gracious designs towards even the lowest type of humanity."


FEBRUARY 26, 1864--NOVEMBER 8, 1867

Sanitary Commission.--Letter to Dr. Bellows.--Letter on "loyalty."--His
brother Richard upholds Lincoln.--Letters of brotherly reproof.--
Introduces McClellan at preëlection parade.--Lincoln reëlected.--Anxiety
as to future of country.--Unsuccessful effort to take up art again.--
Letter to his sons.--Gratification at rapid progress of telegraph.--
Letter to George Wood on two great mysteries of life.--Presents portrait
of Allston to the National Academy of Design.--Endows lectureship in
Union Theological Seminary.--Refuses to attend fifty-fifth reunion of his
class.--Statue to him proposed.--Ezra Cornell's benefaction.--American
Asiatic Society.--Amalgamation of telegraph companies.--Protest against
stock manipulations.--Approves of President Andrew Johnson.--Sails with
family for Europe.--Paris Exposition of 1867.--Descriptions of
festivities.--Cyrus W. Field.--Incident in early life of Napoleon III--
Made Honorary Commissioner to Exposition.--Attempt on life of Czar.--Ball
at Hôtel de Ville.--Isle of Wight.--England and Scotland.--The
"Sounder."--Returns to Paris.

All the differences of those terrible years of fratricidal strife, all
the heart-burnings, the bitter animosities, the family divisions, have
been smoothed over by the soothing hand of time. I have neither the wish
nor the ability to enter into a discussion of the rights and the wrongs
of the causes underlying that now historic conflict, nor is it germane to
such a work as this. While Morse took a prominent part in the political
movements of the time, while he was fearless and outspoken in his views,
his name is not now associated historically with those epoch-making
events. It has seemed necessary, however, to make some mention of his
convictions in order to make the portrait a true one. He continued to
oppose the measures of the Administration; he did all in his power to
hasten the coming of peace; he worked and voted for the election of
McClellan to the Presidency, and when he and the other eminent men who
believed as he did were outvoted, he bowed to the will of the majority
with many misgivings as to the future. Although he was opposed to the war
his heart bled for the wounded on both sides, and he took a prominent
part in the National Sanitary Commission. He expresses himself warmly in
a letter of February 26, 1864, to its president, Rev. Dr. Bellows:--

"There are some who are sufferers, great sufferers, whom we can reach and
relieve without endangering political or military plans, and in the
spirit of Him who ignored the petty political distinctions of Jew and
Samaritan, and regarded both as entitled to His sympathy and relief, I
cannot but think it is within the scope and interest of the great
Sanitary Commission to extend a portion of their Christian regard to the
unfortunate sufferers from this dreadful war, the prisoners in our
fortresses, and to those who dwell upon the borders of the contending

In a letter of March 23, to William L. Ransom, Esq., of Litchfield,
Connecticut, he, perhaps unconsciously, enunciates one of the fundamental
beliefs of that great president whom he so bitterly opposed:--

"I hardly know how to comply with your request to have a 'short, pithy,
Democratic sentiment.' In glancing at the thousand mystifications which
have befogged so many in our presumed intelligent community, I note one
in relation to the new-fangled application of a common foreign word
imported from the monarchies of Europe. I mean the word '_loyalty_,' upon
which the changes are daily and hourly sung _ad nauseam_.

"I have no objection, however, to the word if it be rightly applied. It
signifies 'fidelity to a prince or sovereign.' Now if _loyalty_ is
required of us, it should be to the _Sovereign_. Where is this Sovereign?
He is not the President, nor his Cabinet, nor Congress, nor the
Judiciary, nor any nor all of the Administration together. Our Sovereign
is on a throne above all these. He is the _People_, or _Peoples_ of the
States. He has issued his decree, not to private individuals only, but to
President and to all his subordinate servants, and this sovereign decree
his servant the is the Constitution. He who adheres faithfully to this
written will of the Sovereign is _loyal_. He who violates the
embodiment of the will of the Sovereign, is _disloyal_, whether he be a
Constitution, this President, a Secretary, a member of Congress or of the
Judiciary, or a simple citizen."

As a firm believer in the Democratic doctrine of States' Rights Morse,
with many others, held that Lincoln had overridden the Constitution in
his Emancipation Proclamation.

It was a source of grief to him just at this time that his brother
Richard had changed his political faith, and had announced his intention
of voting for the reelection of President Lincoln. In a long letter of
September 24, 1864, gently chiding him for thus going over to the
Abolitionists, the elder brother again states his reasons for remaining
firm in his faith:--

"I supposed, dear brother, that on that subject you were on the same
platform with Sidney and myself. Have there been any new lights, any new
aspects of it, which have rendered it less odious, less the 'child of
Satan' than when you and Sidney edited the New York Observer before
Lincoln was President? I have seen no reason to change my views
respecting abolition. You well know I have ever considered it the logical
progeny of Unitarianism and Infidelity. It is characterized by subtlety,
hypocrisy and pharisaism, and one of the most melancholy marks of its
speciousness is its influence in benumbing the gracious sensibilities of
many Christian hearts, and blinding their eyes to their sad defection
from the truths of the Bible.

"I know, indeed, the influences by which you are surrounded, but they are
neither stronger nor more artful than those which our brave father
manfully withstood in combating the monster in the cradle. I hope there
is enough of father's firmness and courage in battling with error,
however specious, to keep you, through God's grace, from falling into the
embrace of the body-and-soul-destroying heresy of Abolitionism."

In another long letter to his brother Richard, of November 5, he firmly
but gently upholds his view that the Constitution has been violated by
Lincoln's action, and that the manner of amending the Constitution was
provided for in that instrument itself, and that: "If that change is made
in accordance with its provisions, no one will complain"; and then he

"But it is too late to give you the reasons of the political faith that I
hold. When the excitement of the election is over, let it result as it
may, I may be able to show you that my opinions are formed from deep
study and observation. Now I can only announce them comparatively
unsustained by the reasons for forming them.

"I am interrupted by a call from the committee requesting me to conduct
General McClellan to the balcony of the Fifth Avenue Hotel this evening,
to review the McClellan Legion and the procession. After my return I will
continue my letter.

"_12 o'clock, midnight._ I have just returned, and never have I witnessed
in any gathering of the people, either in Europe or in this country, such
a magnificent and enthusiastic display. I conducted the General to the
front of the balcony and presented him to the assemblage (a dense mass of
heads as far as the eye could reach in every direction), and such a
shout, which continued for many minutes, I never heard before, except it
may have been at the reception in London of Blücher and Platoff after the
battle of Waterloo. I leave the papers to give you the details. The
procession was passing from nine o'clock to a quarter to twelve midnight,
and such was the denseness of the crowd within the hotel, every entry and
passageway jammed with people, that we were near being crushed. Three
policemen before me could scarcely open a way for the General, who held
my arm, to pass only a few yards to our room.

"After taking my leave I succeeded with difficulty in pressing my way
through the crowd within and without the hotel, and have just got into my
quiet library and must now retire, for I am too fatigued to do anything
but sleep. Good-night."

A short time after this the election was held, and this enthusiastic
advocate of what he considered the right learned the bitter lesson that
crowds, and shouting, and surface enthusiasm do not carry an election.
The voice of that Sovereign to whom he had sworn loyalty spoke in no
uncertain tones, and Lincoln was overwhelmingly chosen by the votes of
the People.

Morse was outvoted but not convinced, and I shall make but one quotation
from a letter of November 9, to his brother Richard, who had also
remained firm in spite of his brother's pleading: "My consolation is in
looking up, and I pray you may be so enlightened that you may be
delivered from the delusions which have ensnared you, and from the
judgments which I cannot but feel are in store for this section of the
country. When I can believe that my Bible reads 'cursed' instead of
'blessed' are the 'peacemakers,' I also shall cease to be a peace man.
But while they remain, as they do, in the category of those that are
blessed, I cannot be frightened at the names of 'copperhead' and
'traitor' so lavishly bestowed, with threats of hanging etc., by those
whom you have assisted into power."

In a letter of Mr. George Wood's, of June 26, 1865, I find the following
sentences: "I have to acknowledge your very carefully written letter on
the divine origin of Slavery.... I hope you have kept a copy of this
letter, for the time will come when you will have a biography written,
and the defense you have made of your position, taken in your pamphlet,
is unquestionably far better than he (your biographer) will make for

The letter to which Mr. Wood refers was begun on March 5, 1865, but
finished some time afterwards. It is very long, too long to be included
here, but in justice to myself, that future biographer, I wish to state
that I have already given the main arguments brought forward in that
letter, in quotations from previous letters, and that I have attempted no
defense further than to emphasize the fact that, right or wrong, Morse
was intensely sincere, and that he had the courage of his opinions.

Returning to an earlier date, and turning from matters political to the
gentler arts of peace, we find that the one-time artist had always hoped
that some day he could resume his brush, which the labors incident to the
invention of the telegraph had compelled him to drop. But it seems that
his hand, through long disuse, had lost its cunning. He bewails the fact
in a letter of January 20, 1864, to N. Jocelyn, Esq.:--

"I have many yearnings towards painting and sculpture, but that rigid
faculty called reason, so opposed often to imagination, reads me a
lecture to which I am compelled to bow. To explain: I made the attempt to
draw a short time ago; everything in the drawing seemed properly
proportioned, but, upon putting it in another light, I perceived that
every perpendicular line was awry. In other words I found that I could
place no confidence in my eyes.

"No, I have made the sacrifice of my profession to establish an invention
which is doing mankind a great service. I pursued it long enough to found
an institution which, I trust, is to flourish long after I am gone, and
be the means of educating a noble class of men in Art, to be an honor and
praise to our beloved country when peace shall once more bless us
throughout all our borders in one grand brotherhood of States."

The many letters to his children are models of patient exhortation and
cheerful optimism, when sometimes the temptation to indulge in pessimism
was strong. I shall give, as an example, one written on May 9, 1864, to
two of his sons who had returned to school at Newport:--

"Now we hope to have good reports of your progress in your studies. In
spring, you know, the farmers sow their seed which is to give them their
harvest at the close of the summer. If they were not careful to put the
seed in the ground, thinking it would do just as well about August or
September, or if they put in very little seed, you can see that they
cannot expect to reap a good or abundant crop.

"Now it is just so in regard to your life. You are in the springtime of
life. It is seed time. You must sow now or you will reap nothing
by-and-by, or, if anything, only weeds. Your teachers are giving you the
seed in your various studies. You cannot at present understand the use of
them, but you must take them on trust; you must believe that your parents
and teachers have had experience, and they know what will be for your
good hereafter, what studies will be most useful to you in after life.
Therefore buckle down to your studies diligently and very soon you will
get to love your studies, and then it will be a pleasure and not a task
to learn your lessons.

"We miss your _noise_, but, although agreeable quiet has come in place of
it, we should be willing to have the noise if we could have our dear boys
near us. You are, indeed, troublesome pleasures, but, after all, pleasant
troubles. When you are settled in life and have a family around you, you
will better understand what I mean."

In spite of the disorganization of business caused by the war, the value
of telegraphic property was rapidly increasing, and new lines were being
constantly built or proposed. Morse refers to this in a letter of June
25, 1864, to his old friend George Wood:--

"To you, as well as to myself, the rapid progress of the Telegraph
throughout the world must seem wonderful, and with me you will,
doubtless, often recur to our friend Annie's inspired message--'What hath
God wrought.' It is, indeed, his marvellous work, and to Him be the

"Early in the history of the invention, in forecasting its future, I was
accustomed to predict with confidence, 'It is destined to go round the
world,' but I confess I did not expect to live to see the prediction
fulfilled. It is quite as wonderful to me also that, with the thousand
attempts to improve my system, with the mechanical skill of the world
concentrated upon improving the mechanism, the result has been beautiful
complications and great ingenuity, but no improvement. I have the
gratification of knowing that my system, everywhere known as the 'Morse
system,' is universally adopted throughout the world, because of its
simplicity and its adaptedness to universality."

This remains true to the present day, and is one of the remarkable
features of this great invention. The germ of the "Morse system," as
jotted down in the 1832 sketch-book, is the basic principle of the
universal telegraph of to-day.

In another letter to Mr. Wood, of September 11, 1864, referring to the
sad death of the son of a mutual friend, he touches on two of the great
enigmas of life which have puzzled many other minds:--

"It is one of those mysteries of Providence, one of those deep things of
God to be unfolded in eternity, with the perfect vindication of God's
wisdom and justice, that children of pious parents, children of daily
anxiety and prayer, dedicated to God from their birth and trained to all
human appearance 'in the way they should go,' should yet seem to falsify
the promise that 'they should not depart from it.' It is a subject too
deep to fathom.

"... It is my daily, I may say hourly, thought, certainly my constant
wakeful thought at night, how to resolve the question: 'Why has God seen
fit so abundantly to shower his earthly blessings upon me in my latter
days, to bless me with every desirable comfort, while so many so much
more deserving (in human eyes at least) are deprived of all comfort and
have heaped upon them sufferings and troubles in every shape?'"

The memory of his student days in London was always dear to him, and on
January 4, 1865, he writes to William Cullen Bryant:--

"I have this moment received a printed circular respecting the proposed
purchase of the portrait of Allston by Leslie to be presented to the
National Academy of Design.

"There are associations in my mind with those two eminent and beloved
names which appeal too strongly to me to be resisted. Now I have a favor
to ask which I hope will not be denied. It is that I may be allowed to
present to the Academy that portrait in my own name. You can appreciate
the arguments which have influenced my wishes in this respect. Allston
was more than any other person my master in art. Leslie was my life-long
cherished friend and fellow pupil, whom I loved as a brother. We all
lived together for years in the closest intimacy and in the same house.
Is there not then a fitness that the portrait of the master by one
distinguished pupil should be presented by the surviving pupil to the
Academy over which he presided in its infancy, as well as assisted in its
birth, and, although divorced from Art, cannot so easily be divorced from
the memories of an intercourse with these distinguished friends, an
intercourse which never for one moment suffered interruption, even from a
shadow of estrangement?"

It is needless to say that this generous offer was accepted, and Morse at
the same time presented to the Academy the brush which Allston was using
when stricken with his fatal illness.

As his means permitted he made generous donations to charities and to
educational institutions, and on May 20, 1865, he endowed by the gift of
$10,000 a lectureship in the Union Theological Seminary, making the
following request in the letter which accompanied it:--

"If it be thought advisable that the name of the lectureship, as was
suggested, should be the Morse Lectureship, I wish it to be distinctly
understood that it is so named in honor of my venerated and distinguished
father, whose zealous labors in the cause of theological education, and
in various benevolent enterprises, as well as of geographical science,
entitle his memory to preservation in connection with the efforts to
diffuse the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, and his
gospel throughout the world."

Curiously enough I find no reference in the letters of the year 1865 to
the assassination of President Lincoln, but I well remember being taken,
a boy of eight, to our stable on the corner of Fifth Avenue and
Twenty-first Street, from the second-floor windows of which we watched
the imposing funeral cortège pass up the avenue.

The fifty-fifth reunion of his class of 1810 took place in this year, and
Morse reluctantly decided to absent himself. The reasons why he felt that
he could not go are given in a long letter of August 11 to his cousin,
Professor E.S. Salisbury, and it is such a clear statement of his
convictions that I am tempted to give it almost in its entirety:--

"I should have been most happy on many personal accounts to have been at
the periodical meeting of my surviving classmates of 1810, and also to
have renewed my social intercourse with many esteemed friends and
relations in New Haven. But as I could not conscientiously take part in
the proposed martial sectional glorification of those of the family who
fell in the late lamentable family strife, and could not in any brief way
or time explain the discriminations that were necessary between that
which I approve and that which I most unqualifiedly condemn, without the
risk of misapprehension, I preferred the only alternative left me, to
absent myself altogether.

"You well know I never approved of the late war. I have ever believed,
and still believe, if the warnings of far-seeing statesmen (Washington,
Clay, and Webster among them) had been heeded, if, during the last thirty
years of persistent stirring up of strife by angry words, the calm and
Christian counsels of intelligent patriots had been followed at the
North, and a strict observance of the letter and spirit of the
Constitution had been sustained as the supreme law, instead of the
insidious violations of its provisions, especially by New England, we
should have had no war.

"As I contributed nothing to the war, so now I see no reason specially to
exult in the display of brave qualities in an isolated portion of the
family, qualities which no true American ever doubted were possessed by
both sections of our country in an equal degree. Why then discriminate
between alumni from the North and alumni from the South at a gathering in
which alumni from both sections are expected to meet?... No, my dear
cousin, the whole era of the war is one I wish not to remember. I would
have no other memorial than a black cross, like those over the graves of
murdered travellers, to cause a shudder whenever it is seen. It would be
well if History could blot from its pages all record of the past four
years. There is no glory in them for victors or vanquished. The only
event in which I rejoice is the restoration of Peace, which never should
have been interrupted....

"I have no doubt that they who originated the recent demonstration
honestly believed it to be _patriotic_, for every movement nowadays must
take that shape to satisfy the morbid appetite of the popular mind. I
cannot think it either in good taste or in conformity with sound policy
for our collegiate institutions to foster this depraved appetite. Surely
there is enough of this in the political harangues of the day for those
who require such aids to patriotism without its being administered to by
our colleges. That patriotism is of rather a suspicious character which
needs such props. I love to see my children well clad and taking a proper
pride in their attire, but I should not think them well instructed if I
found them everywhere boasting of their fine clothes. A true nobleman is
not forever boasting of his nobility for fear that his rank may not be
recognized. The loudest boasts of patriotism do not come from the true
possessors of the genuine spirit. Patriotism is not sectional nor local,
it comprehends in its grasp the whole country....

"I have said the demonstration at Commencement was in bad taste. Why? you
will say. Because Commencement day brings together the alumni of the
college from all parts of the Union, from the South as well as the North.
They are to meet on some common ground, and that common ground is the
love that all are supposed to bear to the old Alma Mater, cherished by
memories of past friendships in their college associations. The late
Commencement was one of peculiar note. It was the first after the return
of peace. The country had been sundered; the ties of friendship and of
kindred had been broken; the bonds of college affection were weakened if
not destroyed. What an opportunity for inaugurating the healing process!
What an occasion for the display of magnanimity, of mollifying the pain
of humiliation, of throwing a veil of oblivion over the past, of watering
the perishing roots of fraternal affection and fostering the spirit of
genuine union! But no. The Southern alumnus may come, but he comes to be
humiliated still further. Can he join in the plaudits of those by whom he
has been humbled? You may applaud, but do not ask him to join in your
acclamations. He may be mourning the death of father, brother, yes, of
mother and sister, by the very hands of those you are glorifying. Do not
aggravate his sorrow by requiring him to join you in such a

"No, my dear cousin, it was in _bad taste_ to say the least of it, and it
was equally _impolitic_ to intercalate such a demonstration into the
usual and appropriate exercises of the week. You expect, I presume, to
have pupils from the South as heretofore; will such a sectional display
be likely to attract them or to repel them? If they can go elsewhere they
will not come to you. They will not be attracted by a perpetual memento
before their eyes of your triumph over them. It was not politic. It is no
improvement for Christian America to show less humanity than heathen
Rome. The Romans never made demonstrations of triumph over the defeat of
their countrymen in a civil war. It is no proof of superior civilization
that we refuse to follow Roman example in such cases.

"My dear cousin, I have written you very frankly, but I trust you will
not misunderstand me as having any personal reproaches to make for the
part you have taken in the matter. We undoubtedly view the field from
different standpoints. I concede to you conscientious motives in what you
do. You are sustained by those around you, men of intellect, men of
character. I respect them while I differ from them. I appeal, however, to
a higher law, and that, I think, sustains me."

His strong and outspoken stand for what he believed to be the right made
him many enemies, and he was called hard names by the majority of those
by whom he was surrounded at the North; and yet the very fearlessness
with which he advocated an unpopular point of view undoubtedly compelled
increased respect for him. A proof of this is given in a letter to his
daughter, Mrs. Lind, of December 28, 1865:--

"I also send you some clippings from the papers giving you an account of
some of the doings respecting a statue proposed to me by the Common
Council. The Mayor, who is a personal friend of mine, you see has vetoed
the resolutions, not from a disapproval of their character, but because
he did not like the locality proposed. He proposes the Central Park, and
in this opinion all my friends concur.

"I doubt if they will carry the project through while I am alive, and it
would really seem most proper to wait until I was gone before they put up
my monument. I have nothing, however, to say on the subject. I am
gratified, of course, to see the manifestation of kindly feeling, but, as
the tinder of vainglory is in every human heart, I rather shrink from
such a proposed demonstration lest a spark of flattery should kindle that
tinder to an unseemly and destructive flame. I am not blind to the
popularity, world-wide, of the Telegraph, and a sober forecast of the
future foreshadows such a statue in some place. If ever erected I hope
the prominent mottoes upon the pedestal will be: '_Not unto us, not unto
us, but to God be the glory_,' and the first message or telegram: '_What
hath GOD wrought._'"

He says very much the same thing in a letter to his friend George Wood,
of January 15, 1866, and he also says in this letter, referring to some
instance of benevolent generosity by Mr. Kendall:--

"Is it not a noticeable fact that the wealth acquired by the Telegraph
has in so many conspicuous instances been devoted to benevolent purposes?
Mr. Kendall is prominent in his expenditures for great Christian
enterprises, and think of Cornell, always esteemed by me as an ingenious
and shrewd man, when employed by me to set the posts and put up the wire
for the first line of Telegraphs between Washington and Baltimore, yet
thought to be rather close and narrow-minded by those around him. But
see, when his wealth had increased by his acquisition of Telegraph stock
to millions (it is said), what enlarged and noble plans of public benefit
were conceived and brought forth by him. I have viewed his course with
great gratification as the evidence of God's blessing on _what He hath

It has been made plain, I think, that Morse was essentially a leader in
every movement in which he took an interest, whether it was artistic,
scientific, religious, or political. This is emphasized by the number of
requests made to him to assume the presidency of all sorts of
organizations, and these requests multiplied as he advanced in years.
Most of them he felt compelled to decline, for, as he says in a letter of
March 13, 1866, declining the presidency of the Geographical and
Statistical Society: "I am at an age when I find it necessary rather to
be relieved from the cares and responsibilities already resting upon me,
than to take upon me additional ones."

In many other cases he allowed his name to be used as vice-president or
member, when he considered the object of the organization a worthy one,
and his benefactions were only limited by his means.

He did, however, accept the presidency of one association just at this
time, the American Asiatic Society, in which were interested such men as
Gorham Abbott, Dr. Forsyth, E.H. Champlin, Thomas Harrison, and Morse's
brother-in-law, William M. Goodrich. The aims of this society were rather
vast, including an International Congress to be called by the Emperor
Napoleon III, for the purpose of opening up and controlling the great
highways from the East to the West through the Isthmus of Suez and that
of Panama; also the colonization of Palestine by the Jews, and other
commercial and philanthropic schemes. I cannot find that anything of
lasting importance was accomplished by this society, so I shall make no
further mention of it, although there is much correspondence about it.

The following, from a letter to Mr. Kendall of March 19, 1866, explains
itself: "If I understand the position of our Telegraph interests, they
are now very much as you and I wished them to be in the outset, not cut
up in O'Reilly fashion into irresponsible parts, but making one grand
whole like the Post-Office system. It is becoming, doubtless, a
_monopoly_, but no more so than the Post-Office system, and its unity is
in reality a public advantage if properly and uprightly managed, and
this, of course, will depend on the character of the managers. Confidence
must be reposed somewhere, and why not in upright and responsible men who
are impelled as well by their own interest to have their matters
conducted with fairness and with liberality."

As a curious commentary on his misplaced faith in the integrity of
others, I shall quote from a letter of January 4, 1867, to E.S. Sanford,
Esq., which also shows his abhorrence of anything like crooked dealing in
financial matters:--

"I wish when you again write me you would give me, _in confidence_, the
names of those in the Board of the Western Union who are acting in so
dishonorable and tricky a manner. I think I ought to know them in order
to avoid them, and resist them in the public interest. It is a shame that
an enterprise which, honestly conducted, is more than usually profitable,
should be conducted on the principles of sharpers and tricksters.


"So far as the Russian Extension is concerned, I should judge from your
representation that, as a stockholder in that enterprise to the amount of
$30,000, the plan would conduce to my immediate pecuniary benefit. But so
would the _robbery of the safe of a bank_. If wealth can be obtained only
by such swindles, I prefer poverty. You have my proxy and I have the
utmost confidence in your management. Do by me as you would do for
yourself, and I shall be satisfied.... In regard to any honorable
propositions made in the Board be conciliatory and compromising, but any
scheme to oppress the smaller stockholders for the benefit of the larger
resist to the death. I prefer to sacrifice all my stock rather than have
such a stigma on my character as such mean, and I will add villainous,
conduct would be sure to bring upon all who engaged in it."

In this connection I shall also quote from another letter to Mr. Sanford,
of February 15, 1867: "If Government thinks seriously of purchasing the
Telegraph, and at this late day adopting my early suggestion that it
ought to belong to the Post-Office Department, be it so if they will now
pay for it. They must now pay millions for that which I offered to them
for one hundred thousand dollars, and gave them a year for consideration
ere they adopted it."

There are but few references to politics in the letters of this period,
but I find the following in a letter of March 20, 1866, to a cousin: "You
ask my opinion of our President. I did not vote for him, but I am
agreeably surprised at his masterly statesmanship, and hope, by his
firmness in resisting the extreme radicals, he will preserve the Union
against now the greatest enemies we have to contend against. I mean those
who call themselves Abolitionists.... President Johnson deserves the
support of all true patriots, and he will have it against all the
'traitors' in the country, by whatever soft names of loyalty they
endeavor to shield themselves."

Appeals of all kinds kept pouring in on him, and, in courteously refusing
one, on April 17, he uses the following language: "I am unable to aid
you. I cannot, indeed, answer a fiftieth part of the hundreds of
applications made to me from every section of the country _daily_--I
might say _hourly_--for yours is the third this morning and it is not yet
12 o'clock."

After settling his affairs at home in his usual methodical manner, Morse
sailed with his wife and his four young children, and Colonel John R.
Leslie their tutor, for Europe on the 23d of June, 1866, prepared for an
extended stay. He wished to give his children the advantages of travel
and study in Europe, and he was very desirous of being in Paris during
the Universal Exposition of 1867.

There is a gap in the letter-books until October, 1866, but from the few
letters to members of the family which have been preserved, and from my
own recollections, we know that the summer of 1866 was most delightfully
spent in journeying through France, Germany, and Switzerland. The
children were now old enough not to be the nuisances they seem to have
been in 1858, for we find no note of complaint on that account.

In September he returned with his wife, his daughter, and his youngest
son to Paris, leaving his two older sons with their tutor in Geneva. As
he wished to make Paris his headquarters for nearly a year, he sought and
found a furnished apartment at No. 10 Avenue du Roi de Rome (now the
Avenue du Trocadero), and he writes to his mother-in-law on September 22:
"We are fortunate in having apartments in a new building, or rather one
newly and completely repaired throughout. All the apartments are newly
furnished with elegant furniture, we having the first use of it. We have
ample rooms, not large, but promising more comfort for winter residence
than if they were larger. The situation is on a wide avenue and central
for many purposes; close to the Champs Elysées, near also to the Bois de
Boulogne, and within a few minutes walk of the Champ de Mars, so that we
shall be most eligibly situated to visit the great Exposition when it
opens in April."

His wife's sister, Mrs. Goodrich, with her husband and daughters,
occupied an apartment in the same building; his grandson Charles Lind was
also in Paris studying painting, and before the summer of the next year
other members of his family came to Paris, so that at one time eighteen
of those related to him by blood or marriage were around him. To a man of
Morse's affectionate nature and loyalty to family this was a source of
peculiar joy, and those Parisian days were some of the happiest of his
life. The rest of the autumn and early winter were spent in sight-seeing
and in settling his children in their various studies.

The brilliance of the court of Napoleon III just before the _débâcle_ of
1870 is a matter of history, and it reached its high-water mark during
the Exposition year of 1867, when emperors, kings, and princes journeyed
to Paris to do homage to the man of the hour. Court balls, receptions,
gala performances at opera and theatre, and military reviews followed
each other in bewildering but well-ordered confusion, and Morse, as a man
of worldwide celebrity, took part in all of them. He and his wife and his
young daughter, a girl of sixteen, were presented at court, and were
fêted everywhere. In a letter to his mother-in-law he gives a description
of his court costume on the occasion of his first presentation, when he
was accompanied only by his brother-in-law, Mr. Goodrich:--

"We received our cards inviting us to the soirée and to pass the evening
with their majesties on the 16th of January (Wednesday evening). '_En
uniforme_' was stamped upon the card, so we had to procure court dresses.
Mr. Goodrich, as is the custom in most cases, hired his; I had a full
suit made for me. A _chapeau bras_, with gold lace loop, a blue coat,
with standing collar, single breasted, richly embroidered with gold lace,
the American eagle button, white silk lining, vest light cashmere with
gilt buttons, pantaloons with a broad stripe of gold lace on the outside
seams, a small sword, and patent-leather shoes or boots completed the
dress of ordinary mortals like Brother Goodrich, but for _extra_ordinary
mortals, like my humble republican self, I was bedizened with all my
orders, seven decorations, covering my left breast. If thus accoutred I
should be seen on Broadway, I should undoubtedly have a numerous escort
of a character not the most agreeable, but, as it was, I found myself in
very good and numerous company, none of whom could consistently laugh at
his neighbors."

After describing the ceremony of presentation he continues:--

"Occasionally both the emperor and empress said a few words to particular
individuals. When my name was mentioned the emperor said to me, 'Your
name, sir, is well known here,' for which I thanked him; and the empress
afterwards said to me, when my name was mentioned, 'We are greatly
indebted to you, sir, for the Telegraph,' or to that effect. Afterwards
Mr. Bennett, the winner of the yacht race, engaged for a moment their
particular regards.... [I wonder if the modest inventor appreciated the
irony of this juxtaposition.] After the dancers were fully engaged, the
refreshment-room, the Salon of Diana, was opened, and, as in our less
aristocratic country, the tables attracted a great crowd, so that the
doors were guarded so as to admit the company by instalments. I had in
vain for some time endeavored to gain admittance, and was waiting
patiently quite at a distance from the door, which was thronged with
ladies and high dignitaries, when a gentleman who guarded the door, and
who had his breast covered with orders, addressed me by name, asking me
if I was not Professor Morse. Upon replying in the affirmative, quite to
my surprise, he made way for me to the door and, opening it, admitted me
before all the rest. I cannot yet divine why this special favor was shown
to me.

"The tables were richly furnished. I looked for bonbons to carry home to
the children, but when I saw some tempting looking almonds and candies
and mottoes, to my surprise I found they were all composed of fish put up
in this form, and the mottoes were of salad."

It is good to know that Morse, ever willing to forgive and forget, was
again on terms of friendly intercourse with Cyrus W. Field, who was then
in London, as the following letter to him, dated March 1, 1867, will

"Singular as it may seem, I was in the midst of your speech before the
Chamber of Commerce reception to you in New York, perusing it with deep
interest, when my valet handed me your letter of the 27th ulto.

"I regret exceedingly that I shall not have the great pleasure I had
anticipated, with other friends here, who were prepared to receive you in
Paris with the welcome you so richly deserve. You invite me to London. I
have the matter under consideration. March winds and that boisterous
channel have some weight in my decision, but I so long to take you by the
hand and to get posted upon Telegraph matters at home, that I feel
disposed to make the attempt. But without positively saying 'yes,' I will
see if in a few days I can so arrange my affairs as to have a few hours
with you before you sail on the 20th.

[Illustration: MORSE IN OLD AGE]

"I send you by book post the proceedings of the banquet given to our late
Minister, Bigelow, in which you will see my remarks on the great
enterprise with which your name will forever be so honorably associated
and justly immortalized."

It will be remembered, that the Atlantic cable was finally successfully
laid on July 27, 1866, and that to Cyrus Field, more than to any other
man, was this wonderful achievement due.

In a letter of March 4, 1867, to John S.C. Abbott, Esq., Morse gives the
following interesting incident in the life of Napoleon III:--

"In 1837, I was one of a club of gentlemen in New York who were
associated for social and informal intellectual converse, which held
weekly meetings at each other's houses in rotation. Most of these
distinguished men are now deceased. The club consisted of such men as
Chancellor Kent, Albert Gallatin, Peter Augustus Jay, Reporter Johnson,
Dr. (afterwards Bishop) Wainwright, the President and Professors of
Columbia College, the Chancellor and Professors of the New York City
University, Dr. Augustus Smith, Messrs. Goodhue and De Rham of the
mercantile class, and John C. Hamilton, Esq. and ex-Governor W.B.
Lawrence from the literary ranks.

"Among the rules of the club was one permitting any member to introduce
to the meetings distinguished strangers visiting the city. At one of the
reunions of the club the place of meeting was at Chancellor Kent's. On
assembling the chancellor introduced to us Louis Napoleon, a son of the
ex-King of Holland, a young man pale and contemplative, somewhat
reserved. This reserve we generally attributed to a supposed imperfect
acquaintance with our language. At supper he sat on the right of the
Chancellor at the head of the table. Mr. Gallatin was opposite the
Chancellor at the foot of the table, and I was on his right.

"In the course of the evening, while the conversation was general, I drew
the attention of Mr. Gallatin to the stranger, observing that I did not
trace any resemblance in his features to his world-renowned uncle, yet
that his forehead indicated great intellect. 'Yes,' replied Mr. Gallatin,
'there is a great deal in that head of his, but he has a strange fancy.
Can you believe it, he has the impression that he will one day be the
Emperor of the French; can you conceive of anything more ridiculous?'

"Certainly at that period, even to the sagacious eye of Mr. Gallatin,
such an idea would naturally seem too improbable to be entertained for a
moment, but, in the light of later events, and the actual state of things
at present, does not the fact show that, even in his darkest hours, there
was in this extraordinary man that unabated faith in his future which was
a harbinger of success; a faith which pierced the dark clouds which
surrounded him, and realized to him in marvellous prophetic vision that
which we see at this day and hour fully accomplished?"

Morse must have penned these words with peculiar satisfaction, for they
epitomized his own sublime faith in his future. In 1837 he also was
passing through some of his darkest hours, but he too had had faith, and
now, thirty years afterwards, his dreams of glory had been triumphantly
realized, he was an honored guest of that other man of destiny, and his
name was forever immortalized.

The spring and early summer of 1867 were enjoyed to the full by the now
venerable inventor and his family. The Exposition was a source of
never-ending joy to him, and he says of it in a letter to his son-in-law,
Edward Lind:--

"You will hear all sorts of stories about the Exposition. The English
papers (some of them), in John Bull style, call it a humbug. Let me tell
you that, imperfect as it is in its present condition, going on rapidly
to completion, it may without exaggeration be pronounced the eighth
wonder of the world. It is the world in epitome. I came over with my
children to give them the advantage of thus studying the world in
anticipation of what I now see, and I can say that the two days only in
which I have been able to glance through parts of its vast extent, have
amply repaid me for my voyage here. I believe my children will learn more
of the condition of the arts, agriculture, customs, manufactures and
mineral and vegetable products of the world in five weeks than they could
by books at home in five years, and as many years' travel."

He was made an Honorary Commissioner of the United States to the
Exposition, and he prepared an elaborate and careful report on the
electrical department, for which he received a bronze medal from the
French Government. Writing of this report to his brother Sidney, he
says: "This keeps me so busy that I have no time to write, and I have so
many irons in the fire that I fear some must burn. But father's motto
was--'Better wear out than rust out,'--so I keep at work."

In a letter to his friend, the Honorable John Thompson, of Poughkeepsie,
he describes one of his dissipations:--

"Paris now is the great centre of the World. Such an assemblage of
sovereigns was never before gathered, and I and mine are in the midst of
the great scenes and fêtes. We were honored, a few evenings ago, with
cards to a very select fête given by the emperor and empress at the
Tuilleries to the King and Queen of the Belgians, the Prince of Wales and
Prince Alfred, to the Queen of Portugal, the Grand Duchess Marie of
Russia, sister of the late Emperor Nicholas, a noble looking woman, the
Princess Metternich of Austria, and many others.

"The display was gorgeous, and as the number of guests was limited (only
one thousand!) there was more space for locomotion than at the former
gatherings at the Palace, where we were wedged in with some four
thousand. There was dancing and my daughter was solicited by one of the
gentlemen for a set in which Prince Alfred and the Turkish Ambassador
danced, the latter with an American belle, one of the Miss Beckwiths. I
allowed her to dance in this set once. The Empress is truly a beautiful
woman and of unaffected manners."

In a long letter to his brother Sidney, of June 8, he describes some of
their doings. At the Grand Review of sixty thousand troops he and his
wife and eldest son were given seats in the Imperial Tribune, a little
way behind the emperor and the King of Prussia, who were so soon to wage
a deadly war with each other. On the way back from the review the
following incident occurred:--

"After the review was over we took our carriage to return home. The
carriages and cortège of the imperial personages took the right of the
Cascade (which you know is in full view from the hippodrome of
Longchamps). We took the left side and were attracted by the report of
firearms on our left, which proceeded from persons shooting at pigeons
from a trap. Soon after we heard a loud report on our right from a
pistol, which attracted no further attention from us than the remark
which I made that I did not know that persons were allowed to use
firearms in the Bois. We passed on to our home, and in the evening were
informed of the atrocious attempt upon the Emperor of Russia's life. The
pistol report which I heard was that of the pistol of the assassin."

Farther on in this letter he describes the grand fête given by the City
of Paris to the visiting sovereigns at the Hotel de Ville. There were
thirty-five thousand applications for tickets, but only eight thousand
could be granted. Of these Morse was gratified to receive three:--

"Well, the great fête of Saturday the 8th is over. I despair of any
attempt properly to describe its magnificence. I send you the papers....
Such a blaze of splendor cannot be conceived or described but in the
descriptions of the Arabian Nights. We did not see half the display, for
the immense series of gorgeous halls, lighted by seventy thousand
candles, with fountains and flowers at every turn, made one giddy to see
even for a moment. We had a good opportunity to scan the features of the
emperors, the King of Prussia and the renowned Bismarck, with those of
the beautiful empress and the princesses and princes and other
distinguished persons of their suite.

"I must tell you (for family use only) that the Emperor Napoleon made to
me a marked recognition as he passed along. Sarah and I were standing
upon two chairs overlooking the front rank of those ranged on each side.
The emperor gave his usual bow on each side, but, as he came near us, he
gave an unusual and special bow to me, which I returned, and he then,
with a smile, gave me a second bow so marked as to draw the attention of
those around, who at once turned to see to whom this courtesy was shown.
I should not mention this but that Sarah and others observed it as an
unusual mark of courtesy."

Feeling the need of rest after all the gayety and excitement of Paris,
Morse and part of his family retired to Shanklin, on the Isle of Wight,
where in a neat little furnished cottage--Florence Villa--they spent part
of two happy months. Then with his wife and daughter and youngest son he
journeyed in leisurely fashion through England and Scotland, returning to
Paris in October. Here he spent some time in working on his report to
the. United States Government as Commissioner to the Exposition.

Among his notes I find the following, which seems to me worthy of

"_The Sounder._ Mr. Prescott, I perceive, is quoted as an authority. He
is not reliable on many points and his work should be used with caution.
His work was originally written in the interest of those opposing my
patents, and his statements are, many of them, grossly unjust and
strongly colored with prejudice. Were he now to reprint his work I am
convinced he would find it necessary, for the sake of his reputation, to
expunge a great deal, and to correct much that he has misstated and

"He manifests the most unpardonable ignorance or wilful prejudice in
regard to the _Sounder_, now so-called. The possibility of reading by
sound was among the earliest modes noticed in the first instrument of
1835, and it was in consequence of observing this fact that, in my first
patent specifications drawn up in 1837-1838, I distinctly specify these
_sounds_ of the signs, and they were secured in my letters patent. Yet
Mr. Prescott makes it an accidental discovery, and in 1860 (the date of
his publication) he wholly ignores my agency in this mode. The sounder is
but the pen-lever deprived of the pen. In everything else it is the same.
The sound of the letter is given with and without the pen."

On November 8, 1867, he writes from Paris to his friend, the Honorable
John Thompson:--

"I am still held in Paris for the completion of my labors, but hope in a
few days to be relieved so that we may leave for Dresden, where my boys
are pursuing their studies in the German language.... I am yet doubtful
how long a sojourn we may make in Dresden, and whether I shall winter
there or in Paris, but I am inclined to the latter. We wish to visit
Italy, but I am not satisfied that it will be pleasant or even safe to be
there just now. The Garibaldian inroad upon the Pontifical States is,
indeed, for the moment suppressed, but the end is not yet.

"Alas for poor Italy! How hard to rid herself of evils that have become
chronic. Why cannot statesmen of the Old World learn the great truth that
most of their perplexities in settling the questions of international
peace arise from the unnatural union of Church and State? He who said 'My
kingdom is not of this world' uttered a truth pregnant with consequences.
The attempt to rule the State by the Church or the Church by the State is
equally at war with his teachings, and until these are made the rule of
conduct, whether for political bodies or religious bodies, there will be
the sword and not peace.

"I see by the papers that the reaction I have long expected and hoped for
has commenced in our country. It is hailed here by intelligent and
cool-headed citizens as a good omen for the future. The Radicals have had
their way, and the people, disgusted, have at length given their command
--'Thus far and no farther.'"


NOVEMBER 28, 1867--JUNE 10, 1871

Goes to Dresden.--Trials financial and personal.--Humorous letter to E.S.
Sanford.--Berlin.--The telegraph in the war of 1866.--Paris.--Returns to
America.--Death of his brother Richard.--Banquet in New York.--Addresses
of Chief Justice Chase, Morse, and Daniel Huntington,--Report as
Commissioner finished.--Professor W.P. Blake's letter urging recognition
of Professor Henry.--Morse complies.--Henry refuses to be reconciled.--
Reading by sound.--Morse breaks his leg.--Deaths of Amos Kendall and
George Wood.--Statue in Central Park.--Addresses Of Governor Hoffman and
William Cullen Bryant.--Ceremonies at Academy of Music.--Morse bids
farewell to his children of the telegraph.

It will not be necessary to record in detail the happenings of the
remainder of this last visit to Europe. Three months were spent in
Dresden, with his children and his sister-in-law's family around him. The
same honors were paid to him here as elsewhere on the continent. He was
received in special audience by the King and Queen of Saxony, and men of
note in the scientific world eagerly sought his counsel and advice. But,
apart from so much that was gratifying to him, he was just then called
upon to bear many trials and afflictions of various kinds and degrees,
and it is marvellous, in reading his letters, to note with what great
serenity and Christian fortitude, yet withal, with what solicitude, he
endeavored to bear his cross and solve his problems. As he advanced in
years an increasing number of those near and dear to him were taken from
him by death, and his letters of Christian sympathy fill many pages of
the letter books. There were trials of a domestic nature, too intimate to
be revealed, which caused him deep sorrow, but which he bravely and
optimistically strove to meet. Clouds, too, obscured his financial
horizon; investments in certain mining ventures, entered into with high
hopes, turned out a dead loss; the repayment of loans, cheerfully made to
friends and relatives, was either delayed or entirely defaulted; and, to
cap the climax, the Western Union Telegraph Company, in which most of his
fortune was invested, passed one dividend and threatened to pass another.
He had provided for this contingency by a deposit of surplus funds before
his departure for Europe, but he was fearful of the future.

In spite of all this he could not refrain from treating the matter
lightly and humorously in a letter to Mr. E.S. Sanford of November 28,
1867, written from Dresden: "Your letter gave me both pleasure and pain.
I was glad to hear some particulars of the condition of my '_basket_,'
but was pained to learn that the _hens'_ eggs instead of swelling to
_goose_ eggs, and even to _ostrich_ eggs (as some that laid them so
enthusiastically anticipated when they were so closely packed), have
shrunk to _pigeons'_ eggs, if not to the diminutive _sparrows'_. To keep
up the figure, I am thankful there are any left not addled."

He was all the time absorbed in the preparation of his report as
Commissioner to the Paris Exposition, and it was, of course, a source of
great gratification to him to learn from the answers to his questions
sent to the telegraph officers of the whole world, that the Morse system
was practically the only one in general use. As one of his correspondents
put it--"The cry is, 'Give us the Morse.'"

The necessity for the completion of this work, and his desire to give his
children every advantage of study, kept him longer in Europe than he had
expected, and he writes to his brother Sidney on December 1, 1867: "I
long to return, for age creeps on apace, and I wish to put my house in
order for a longer and better journey to a better home."

In the early part of February, 1868, he and his wife and daughter and
youngest son left Dresden for Paris, stopping, however, a few days in
Berlin. Mr. George Bancroft was our minister at the Prussian court, and
he did all that courtesy could suggest to make the stay of his
distinguished countryman a pleasant one. He urged him to stay longer, so
that he might have the pleasure of presenting him at court, but this
honor Morse felt obliged to decline. The inventor did, however, find time
to visit the government telegraph office, of which Colonel (afterwards
General) von Chauvin was the head, and here he received an ovation from
all the operators, several hundred in number, who were seated at their
instruments in what was then the largest operating-room in the world.

Another incident of his visit to Berlin I shall give in the words of Mr.

"Not to recount the many tributes of esteem and respect paid him by Dr.
Siemens, and other gentlemen eminent in the specialty of telegraphy, one
other unexpected compliment may be mentioned. The Professor was presented
to the accomplished General Director of the Posts of the North German
Bund, Privy Councillor von Phillipsborn, in whose department the
telegraph had been comprised before Prussia became so great and the
centre of a powerful confederation.

"At the time of their visit the Director was so engaged, and that, too,
in another part of the Post-Amt, that the porter said it was useless to
trouble him with the cards. The names had not been long sent up, however,
before the Director himself came hurriedly down the corridor into the
antechamber, and, scarcely waiting for the hastiest of introductions,
enthusiastically grasped both the Professor's hands in his own, asking
whether he had 'the honor of speaking to Dr. Morse,' or, as he pronounced
it 'Morzey.'

"When, after a brief conversation, Mr. Morse rose to go, the Director
said that he had just left a conference over a new post and telegraph
treaty in negotiation between Belgium and the Bund, and that it would
afford him great pleasure to be permitted to present his guest to the
assembled gentlemen, including the Belgian Envoy and the Belgian
Postmaster-General. There followed, accordingly, a formal presentation
with an introductory address by the Director, who, in excellent English,
thanked Mr. Morse in the name of Prussia and of all Germany for his great
services, and speeches by the principal persons present--the Belgian
envoy, Baron de Nothomb, very felicitously complimenting the Professor in

"Succeeding the hand-shaking the Director spoke again, and, in reply, Mr.
Morse gratefully acknowledged the courtesy shown to him, adding: 'It is
very gratifying to me to hear you say that the Telegraph has been and is
a means of promoting peace among men. Believe me, gentlemen, my remaining
days shall be devoted to this great object.'...

"The Director then led his visitors into a small, cosily furnished room,
saying as they entered: 'Here I have so often thought of you, Mr. Morse,
but I never thought I should have the honor of receiving you in my own
private room.'

"After they were seated the host, tapping upon a small table, continued:
'Over this passed the important telegrams of the war of 1866.' Then,
approaching a large telegraph map on the wall, he added: 'Upon this you
can see how invaluable was the telegraph in the war. Here,'--pointing
with the forefinger of his right hand,--'here the Crown Prince came down
through Silesia. This,' indicating with the other forefinger a passage
through Bohemia, 'was the line of march of Prince Friedrich Carl. From
this station the Crown Prince telegraphed Prince Friedrich Carl, always
over Berlin, "Where are you?" The answer from this station reached him,
also over Berlin. The Austrians were here,' placing the thumb on the map
below and between the two fingers. 'The next day Prince Friedrich Carl
comes here,'--the left forefinger joined the thumb,--' and telegraphs the
fact, always over Berlin, to the Crown Prince, who hurries forward here.'
The forefinger of the right hand slipped quickly under the thumb as if to
pinch something, and the narrator looked up significantly.

"Perhaps the patriotic Director thought of the July afternoon when,
eagerly listening at the little mahogany-topped table, over which passed
so many momentous messages, he learned that the royal cousins had
effected a junction at Königgrätz, a junction that decided the fate of
Germany and secured Prussia its present proud position, a junction which
but for his modest visitor's invention, the telegraph, 'always over
Berlin,' would have been impossible."

Returning to Paris with his family, he spent some months at the Hôtel de
la Place du Palais Royal, principally in collecting all the data
necessary to the completion of his report, which had been much delayed
owing to the dilatoriness of those to whom he had applied for facts and
statistics. On April 14, 1868, he says in a letter to the Honorable John
Thompson: "Pleasant as has been our European visit, with its advantages
in certain branches of education, our hearts yearn for our American home.
We can appreciate, I hope, the good in European countries, be grateful
for European hospitality, and yet be thorough Americans, as we all
profess to be notwithstanding the display of so many defects which tend
to disgrace us in the eyes of the world."

On May 18 he writes to Senator Michel Chevalier: "And now, my dear sir,
farewell. I leave beautiful Paris the day after to-morrow for my home on
the other side of the Atlantic, more deeply impressed than ever with the
grandeur of France, and the liberality and hospitality of her courteous
people, so kindly manifested to me and mine. I leave Paris with many
regrets, for my age admonishes me that, in all probability, I shall never
again visit Europe."

Sailing from Havre on the St. Laurent, on May 22, he and his family
reached, without untoward incident, the home on the Hudson, and on June
21 he writes to his son Arthur, who had remained abroad with his tutor:--

"You see by the date where we all are. Once more I am seated at my table
in the half octagon study under the south verandah. Never did the Grove
look more charming. Its general features the same, but the growth of the
trees and shrubbery greatly increased. Faithful Thomas Devoy has proved
himself to be a truly honest and efficient overseer. The whole farm is in
fine condition....

"On Thursday last I was much gratified with Mr. Leslie's letter from
Copenhagen, with his account of your reception by the King of Denmark.
How gratifying to me that the portrait of Thorwaldsen has given such
pleasure to the king, and that he regards it as the best likeness of the
great sculptor."

The story of Morse's presentation to the King of Denmark of the portrait,
painted in Rome in 1831, has already been told in the first volume of
this work. The King, as we learn from the above quotation, was greatly
pleased with it, and in token of his gratification raised Morse to the
rank of Knight Commander of the Dannebrog, the rank of Knight having been
already conferred on the inventor by the King's predecessor on the

In another letter to Colonel Leslie, of November 2, 1868, brief reference
is made to matters political:--

"To-morrow is the important day for deciding our next four years' rulers.
I am glad our Continental brethren cannot read our newspapers of the
present day, otherwise they must infer that our choice of rulers is made
from a class more fitted for the state's prison than the state thrones,
and elevation to a scaffold were more suited to the characters of the
individual candidates than elevation to office. But in a few days matters
will calm down, and the business of the nation will assume its wonted

"I have not engaged in this warfare. As a citizen I have my own views,
and give my vote on general principles, but am prepared to learn that my
vote is on the defeated side. I presume that Grant will be the president,
and I shall defer to the decision like a peaceable citizen. The day after
to-morrow you will know as well as we shall the probable result. The
Telegraph is telling upon the world, and its effect upon human affairs is
yet but faintly appreciated."

In this letter he also speaks of the death of his youngest brother,
Richard C. Morse, who died at Kissingen on September 22, 1868, and in a
letter to his son Arthur, of October 11, he again refers to it, and adds:
"It is a sad blow to all of us but particularly to the large circle of
his children. Your two uncles and your father were a three-fold cord,
strongly united in affection. It is now sundered. The youngest is taken
first, and we that remain must soon follow him in the natural course of

Farther on in this letter he says: "I attended the funeral of Mr. L---- a
few weeks ago. I am told that he died of a broken heart from the conduct
of his graceless son Frank, and I can easily understand that the course
he has pursued, and his drunken habits, may have killed his father with
as much certainty as if he had shot him. Children have little conception
of the effect of their conduct upon their parents. They never know fully
these anxieties until they are parents themselves."

But his skies were not all grey, for in addition to his satisfaction in
being once more at home in his own beloved country, and in his quiet
retreat on the Hudson, he was soon to be the recipient of a signal mark
of respect and esteem by his own countrymen, which proved that this
prophet was not without honor even in his own country.

NEW YORK, November 30th, 1868.

Sir,--Many of your countrymen and numerous personal friends desire to
give definite expression to the fact that this country is in full accord
with European nations in acknowledging your title to the position of
father of Modern Telegraphy, and at the same time in a fitting manner to
welcome you to your home.

They, therefore, request that you will name a day on which you will favor
them with your company at a public banquet.

With great respect we remain,
Very truly your friends.

Here follow the names of practically every man of prominence in New York
at that time.

Morse replied on December 4:--

To the Hon. Hamilton Fish, Hon. John T. Hoffman, Hon. Wm. Dennison, Hon.
A.G. Curtin, Hon. Wm. E. Dodge, Peter Cooper, Esq., Daniel Huntington,
Esq., Wm. Orton, Esq., A.A. Low, Esq., James Brown, Esq., Cyrus W. Field,
Esq., John J. Cisco, Esq., and others.

Gentlemen,--I have received your flattering request of the 30th November,
proposing the compliment of a public banquet to me, and asking me to
appoint a day on which it would be convenient for me to meet you.

Did your proposal intend simply a personal compliment I should feel no
hesitation in thanking you cordially for this evidence of your personal
regard, while I declined your proffered honor; but I cannot fail to
perceive that there is a paramount patriotic duty connected with your
proposal which forbids me to decline your invitation.

In accepting it, therefore, I would name (in view of some personal
arrangements) Wednesday the 30th inst. as the day which would be most
agreeable to me.

Accept, Gentlemen, the assurance of the respect of Your obedient servant,
Samuel F.B. Morse.

The banquet was given at Delmonico's, which was then on the corner of
Fifth Avenue and Fourteenth Street, and was presided over by Chief
Justice Salmon P. Chase, who had been the leading counsel _against_ Morse
in his first great lawsuit, but who now cheerfully acknowledged that to
Morse and America the great invention of the telegraph was due. About two
hundred men sat down at the tables, among them some of the most eminent
in the country. Morse sat at the right of Chief Justice Chase, and Sir
Edward Thornton, British Ambassador, on his left. When the time for
speechmaking came, Cyrus Field read letters from President Andrew
Johnson; from General Grant, President-elect; from Speaker Colfax,
Admiral Farragut, and many others. He also read a telegram from Governor
Alexander H. Bullock of Massachusetts: "Massachusetts honors her two
sons--Franklin and Morse. The one conducted the lightning safely from the
sky; the other conducts it beneath the ocean from continent to continent.
The one tamed the lightning; the other makes it minister to human wants
and human progress."

From London came another message:--

"CYRUS W. FIELD, New York. The members of the joint committee of the
Anglo-American and Atlantic Telegraph Companies hear with pleasure of the
banquet to be given this evening to Professor Morse, and desire to greet
that distinguished telegraphist, and wish him all the compliments of the

Mr. Field added: "This telegram was sent from London at four o'clock this
afternoon, and was delivered into the hands of your committee at 12.50."
This, naturally, elicited much applause and laughter.

Speeches then followed by other men prominent in various walks of life.
Sir Edward Thornton said that he "had great satisfaction in being able to
contribute his mite of that admiration and esteem for Professor Morse
which must be felt by all for so great a benefactor of his fellow
creatures and of posterity."

Chief Justice Chase introduced the guest of the evening in the following
graceful words:--

"Many shining names will at once occur to any one at all familiar with
the history of the Telegraph. Among them I can pause to mention only
those of Volta, the Italian, to whose discoveries the battery is due;
Oersted, the Dane, who first discovered the magnetic properties of the
electric current; Ampere and Arago, the Frenchmen, who prosecuted still
further and most successfully similar researches; then Sturgeon, the
Englishman, who may be said to have made the first electro-magnet; next,
and not least illustrious among these illustrious men, our countryman
Henry, who first showed the practicability of producing electro-magnetic
effects by means of the galvanic current at distances infinitely great;
and finally Steinheil, the German, who, after the invention of the
Telegraph in all its material parts was complete, taught, in 1837, the
use of the ground as part of the circuit. These are some of those
searchers for truth whose names will be long held in grateful memory, and
not among the least of their titles to gratitude and remembrance will be
the discoveries which contributed to the possibility of the modern

"But these discoveries only made the Telegraph possible. They offered the
brilliant opportunity. There was needed a man to bring into being the new
art and the new interest to which they pointed, and it is the
providential distinction and splendid honor of the eminent American, who
is our guest to-night, that, happily prepared by previous acquirements
and pursuits, he was quick to seize the opportunity and give to the world
the first recording Telegraph.

"Fortunate man! thus to link his name forever with the greatest wonder
and the greatest benefit of the age! [great applause]... I give you 'Our
guest, Professor S.F.B. Morse, the man of science who explored the laws
of nature, wrested electricity from her embrace, and made it a missionary
in the cause of human progress.'"

As the venerable inventor rose from his chair, overcome with profound
emotion which was almost too great to be controlled, the whole assembly
rose with him, and cheer after cheer resounded through the hall for many
minutes. When at last quiet was restored, he addressed the company at
length, giving a resumé of his struggles and paying tribute to those who
had befriended and assisted him in his time of need--to Amos Kendall, who
sat at the board with him and whose name called forth more cheers, to
Alfred Vail, to Leonard Gale, and, in the largeness of his heart, to
F.O.J. Smith. It will not be necessary to give his remarks in full, as
the history of the invention has already been given in detail in the
course of this work, but his concluding remarks are worthy of record:--

"In casting my eyes around I am most agreeably greeted by faces that
carry me back in memory to the days of my art struggles in this city, the
early days of the National Academy of Design.

"Brothers (for you are yet brothers), if I left your ranks you well know
it cost me a pang. I did not leave you until I saw you well established
and entering on that career of prosperity due to your own just
appreciation of the important duties belonging to your profession. You
have an institution which now holds and, if true to yourselves, will
continue to hold a high position in the estimation of this appreciative
community. If I have stepped aside from Art to tread what seems another
path, there is a good precedent for it in the lives of artists. Science
and Art are not opposed. Leonardo da Vinci could find congenial
relaxation in scientific researches and invention, and our own Fulton was
a painter whose scientific studies resulted in steam navigation. It may
not be generally known that the important invention of the _percussion
cap_ is due to the scientific recreations of the English painter Shaw.

"But I must not detain you from more instructive speech. One word only in
closing. I have claimed for America the origination of the modern
Telegraph System of the world. Impartial history, I think, will support
that claim. Do not misunderstand me as disparaging or disregarding the
labors and ingenious modifications of others in various countries
employed in the same field of invention. Gladly, did time permit, would I
descant upon their great and varied merits. Yet in tracing the birth and
pedigree of the modern Telegraph, 'American' is not the highest term of
the series that connects the past with the present; there is at least one
higher term, the highest of all, which cannot and must not be ignored. If
not a sparrow falls to the ground without a definite purpose in the plans
of infinite wisdom, can the creation of an instrumentality so vitally
affecting the interests of the whole human race have an origin less
humble than the Father of every good and perfect gift?

"I am sure I have the sympathy of such an assembly as is here gathered
if, in all humility and in the sincerity of a grateful heart, I use the
words of inspiration in ascribing honor and praise to Him to whom first
of all and most of all it is preëminently due. 'Not unto us, not unto us,
but to God be all the glory.' Not what hath man, but 'What hath God

More applause followed as Morse took his seat, and other speeches were
made by such men as Professor Goldwin Smith, the Honorable William M.
Evarts, A.A. Low, William Cullen Bryant, William Orton, David Dudley
Field, the Honorable William E. Dodge, Sir Hugh Allan, Daniel Huntington,
and Governor Curtin of Pennsylvania.

While many of these speeches were most eloquent and appropriate, I shall
quote from only one, giving as an excuse the words of James D. Reid in
his excellent work "The Telegraph in America": "As Mr. Huntington's
address contains some special thoughts showing the relationship of the
painter to invention, and is, besides, a most affectionate and
interesting tribute to his beloved master, Mr. Morse, it is deemed no
discourtesy to the other distinguished speakers to give it nearly

I shall, however, omit some portions which Mr. Reid included.

"In fact, however, every studio is more or less a laboratory. The painter
is a chemist delving into the secrets of pigments, varnishes, mixtures of
tints and mysterious preparations of grounds and overlaying of colors;
occult arts by which the inward light is made to gleam from the canvas,
and the warm flesh to glow and palpitate.

"The studio of my beloved master, in whose honor we have met to-night,
was indeed a laboratory. Vigorous, life-like portraits, poetic and
historic groups, occasionally grew upon his easel; but there were many
hours--yes, days--when absorbed in study among galvanic batteries and
mysterious lines of wires, he seemed to us like an alchemist of the
middle ages in search of the philosopher's stone.

"I can never forget the occasion when he called his pupils together to
witness one of the first, if not the first, successful experiment with
the electric telegraph. It was in the winter of 1835-36. I can see now
that rude instrument, constructed with an old stretching-frame, a wooden
clock, a home-made battery and the wire stretched many times around the
walls of the studio. With eager interest we gathered about it as our
master explained its operation while, with a click, click, the pencil, by
a succession of dots and lines, recorded the message in cypher. The idea
was born. The words circled that upper chamber as they do now the globe.

"But we had little faith. To us it seemed the dream of enthusiasm. We
grieved to see the sketch upon the canvas untouched. We longed to see him
again calling into life events in our country's history. But it was not
to be; God's purposes were being accomplished, and now the world is
witness to his triumph. Yet the love of art still lives in some inner
corner of his heart, and I know he can never enter the studio of a
painter and see the artist silently bringing from the canvas forms of
life and beauty, but he feels a tender twinge, as one who catches a
glimpse of the beautiful girl he loved in his youth whom another has
snatched away.

"Finally, my dear master and father in art, allow me in this moment of
your triumph in the field of discovery, to greet you in the name of your
brother artists with 'All hail.' As an artist you might have spent life
worthily in turning God's blessed daylight into sweet hues of rainbow
colors, and into breathing forms for the delight and consolation of men,
but it has been His will that you should train the lightnings, the sharp
arrows of his anger, into the swift yet gentle messengers of Peace and

Morse's wife and his daughter and other ladies had been present during
the speeches, but they began to take their leave after Mr. Huntington's
address, although the toastmaster arose to announce the last toast, which
was "The Ladies." So he said: "This is the most inspiring theme of all,
but the theme itself seems to be vanishing from us. Indeed [after a
pause], has already vanished. [After another pause and a glance around
the room.] And the gentleman who was to have responded seems also to have
vanished with his theme. I may assume, therefore, that the duties of the
evening are performed, and its enjoyments are at an end."

The unsought honor of this public banquet, in his own country, organized
by the most eminent men of the day, calling forth eulogies of him in the
public press of the whole world, was justly esteemed by Morse as one of
the crowning events of his long career; but an even greater honor was
still in store for him, which will be described in due season.

The early months of 1869 were almost entirely devoted to his report as
Commissioner, which was finally completed and sent to the Department of
State in the latter part of March. In this work he received great
assistance from Professor W.P. Blake, who was "In charge of publication,"
and who writes to him on March 29: "I have had only a short time to
glance at it as it was delivered towards the close of the day, but I am
most impressed by the amount of labor and care you have so evidently
bestowed upon it."

Professor Blake wrote another letter on August 21, which I am tempted to
give almost in its entirety:--

"I feel it to be my duty to write to you upon another point regarding
your report, upon which I know that you are sensitive, but, as I think
you will see that my motives are good, and that I sincerely express them,
I believe you will not be offended with me although my views and opinions
may not coincide exactly with yours. I allude to the mention which you
make of some of the eminent physicists who have contributed by their
discoveries and experiments to our knowledge of the phenomena of

"On page 9 of the manuscript you observe: 'The application of the
electro-magnet, the invention of Arago and Sturgeon (first combined and
employed by Morse in the construction of the generic telegraph) to the
purposes also of the semaphore, etc.'

"Frankly, I am pained not to see the name of Henry there associated with
those of Arago and Sturgeon, for it is known and generally conceded among
men of science that his researches and experiments and the results which
he reached were of radical importance and value, and that they deservedly
rank with those of Ampere, Arago and Sturgeon.

"I am aware that, by some unfortunate combination of circumstances, the
personal relations of yourself and Professor Henry are not pleasant. I
deplore this, and it would be an intense satisfaction to me if I could be
the humble means of bringing about a harmonious and honorable adjustment
of the differences which separate you. I write this without conference
with Professor Henry or his friends. I do it impartially, first, in the
line of my duty as editor (but not now officially); second, as a lover of
science; third, with a patriotic desire to secure as much as justly can
be for the scientific reputation of the country; and fourth, with a
desire to promote harmony between all who are concerned in increasing and
disseminating knowledge, and particularly between such sincere lovers of
truth and justice as I believe both yourself and Professor Henry to be.

"I do not find that Professor Henry anywhere makes a claim which trenches
upon your claim of first using the electro-magnet for writing or printing
at a distance--the telegraph as distinguished from the semaphore. This he
cannot claim, for he acknowledges it to be yours. You, on the other hand,
do not claim the semaphoric use of electricity. I therefore do not see
any obstacle to an honorable adjustment of the differences which separate
you, and which, perhaps, make you disinclined to freely associate
Professor Henry's name with those of other promoters of electrical

"Your report presents a fitting opportunity to effect this result. A
magnanimous recognition by you of Professor Henry's important
contributions to the science of electro-magnetism appears to me to be all
that is necessary. They can be most appropriately and gracefully
acknowledged in your report, and you will gain rather than lose by so
doing. Such action on your part would do more than anything else could to
secure for you the good will of all men of science, and to hasten a
universal and generous accord of all the credit for your great gift to
civilization that you can properly desire.

"Now, my dear sir, with this frank statement of my views on this point, I
accept your invitation, and will go to see you at your house to talk with
you upon this point and others, perhaps more agreeable, but if, after
this expression of my inclinations, you will not deem me a welcome guest,
telegraph me not to come--I will not take it unkindly."

To this Morse replied on August 23: "Your most acceptable letter, with
the tone and spirit of which I am most gratified, is just received, for
which accept my thanks. I shall be most happy to see you and freely to
communicate with you on the subject mentioned, and with the sincere
desire of a satisfactory result."

The visit was paid, but the details of the conversation have not been
preserved. However, we find in Morse's report, on page 10, the following:
"In 1825, Mr. Sturgeon, of England, made the first electro-magnet in the
horseshoe form by loosely winding a piece of iron wire with a spiral of
copper wire. In the United States, as early as 1831, the experimental
researches of Professor Joseph Henry were of great importance in
advancing the science of electro-magnetism. He may be said to have
carried the electro-magnet, in its lifting powers, to its greatest
perfection. Reflecting upon the principle of Professor Schweigger's
galvanometer, he constructed magnets in which great power could be
developed by a very small galvanic element. His published paper in 1831
shows that he experimented with wires of different lengths, and he noted
the amount of magnetism which could be induced through them at various
lengths by means of batteries composed of a single element, and also of
many elements. He states that the magnetic action of 'a current from a
trough composed of many pairs is at least not sensibly diminished by
passing through a long wire,' and he incidentally noted the bearing of
this fact upon the project of an electro-magnetic telegraph [semaphore?].

"In more recent papers, first published in 1857, it appears that
Professor Henry demonstrated before his pupils the practicability of
ringing a bell, by means of electro-magnetism, at a distance."

Whether Professor Blake was satisfied with this change from the original
manuscript is not recorded. Morse evidently thought that he had made the
_amende honorable_, but Henry, coldly proud man that he was, still held
aloof from a reconciliation, for I have been informed that he even
refused to be present at the memorial services held in Washington after
the death of Morse.

In a letter of May 10, 1869, to Dr. Leonard Gale, some interesting facts
concerning the reading by sound are given:--

"The fact that the lever action of the earliest instrument of 1835 by its
click gave the sound of the numerals, as embodied in the original type,
is well known, nor is there anything so remarkable in that result....
When you first saw the instrument in 1836 this was so obvious that it
scarcely excited more than a passing remark, but, after the adaptation of
the dot and space, with the addition of the line or dash, in forming the
alphabetic signs (which, as well as I can remember, was about the same
date, late in 1835 or early in 1836) then I noticed that the different
letters had each their own individual sounds, and could also be
distinguished from each other by the sound. The fact did not then appear
to me to be of any great importance, seeming to be more curious than
useful, yet, in reflecting upon it, it seemed desirable to secure this
result by specifying it in my letters patent, lest it might be used as an
_evasion_ in indicating my novel alphabet without recording it. Hence the
_sounds_ as well as the imprinted signs were specified in my letters

"As to the time when these sounds were _practically_ used, I am unable to
give a precise date. I have a distinct recollection of one case, and
proximately the date of it. The time of the incident was soon after the
line was extended from Philadelphia to Washington, having a way station
at Wilmington, Delaware. The Washington office was in the old
post-office, in the room above it. I was in the operating room. The
instruments were for a moment silent. I was standing at some distance
near the fireplace conversing with Mr. Washington, the operator, who was
by my side. Presently one of the instruments commenced writing and Mr.
Washington listened and smiled. I asked him why he smiled. 'Oh!' said he,
'that is Zantzinger of the Philadelphia office, but he is operating from
Wilmington.' 'How do you know that?' 'Oh! I know his touch, but I must
ask him why he is in Wilmington.' He then went to the instrument and
telegraphed to Zantzinger at Wilmington, and the reply was that he had
been sent from Philadelphia to regulate the relay magnet for the
Wilmington operator, who was inexperienced in operating....

"I give this instance, not because it was the _first_, but because it is
one which I had specially treasured in my memory and frequently related
as illustrative of the practicality of reading by _sound_ as well as by
the written record. This must have occurred about the year 1846."

A serious accident befell the aged inventor, now seventy-nine years old,
in July, 1869. He slipped on the stairs of his country house and fell
with all his weight on his left leg, which was broken in two places. This
mishap confined him to his bed for three months, and many feared that,
owing to his advanced age, it would be fatal. But, thanks to his vigorous
constitution and his temperate life, he recovered completely. He bore
this affliction with Christian fortitude. In a letter to his brother
Sidney, of August 14, he says: "The healing process in my leg is very
slow. The doctor, who has just left me, condemns me to a fortnight more
of close confinement. I have other troubles, for they come not singly,
but all is for the best."

Troubles, indeed, came not singly, for, in addition to sorrows of a
domestic nature, his friends one by one were taken from him by death, and
on November 12, 1869, he writes to William Stickney, Esq., son-in-law of
Amos Kendall:--

"Although prepared by recent notices in the papers to expect the sad
news, which a telegram this moment received announces to me, of the death
of my excellent, long-tried friend Mr. Kendall, I confess that the
intelligence has come with a shock which has quite unnerved me. I feel
the loss as of a _father_ rather than of a brother in age, for he was one
in whom I confided as a father, so sure was I of affectionate and sound

"I need not tell you how deeply I feel this sad bereavement. I am truly
and severely bereaved in the loss of such a friend, a friend, indeed,
upon whose faithfulness and unswerving integrity I have ever reposed with
perfect confidence, a confidence which has never been betrayed, and a
friend to whose energy and skill, in the conduct of the agency which I
had confided to him, I owe (under God) the comparative comfort which a
kind Providence has permitted me to enjoy in my advanced age."

In the following year he was called upon to mourn the death of still
another of his good friends, for, on August 24, 1870, George Wood died
very suddenly at Saratoga.

While much of sadness and sorrow clouded the evening of the life of this
truly great man, the sun, ere it sank to rest, tinged the clouds with a
glory seldom vouchsafed to a mortal, for he was to see a statue erected
to him while he was yet living. Of many men it has been said that--
"Wanting bread they receive only a stone, and not even that until long
after they have been starved to death." It was Morse's good fortune not
only to see the child of his brain grow to a sturdy manhood, but to be
honored during his lifetime to a truly remarkable degree.

The project of a memorial of some sort to the Inventor of the Telegraph
was first broached by Robert B. Hoover, manager of the Western Union
Telegraph office, Allegheny City, Pennsylvania. The idea once started
spread with the rapidity of the electric fluid itself, and, under the
able management of James D. Reid, a fund was raised, partly by dollar
subscriptions largely made by telegraph operators all over the country,
including Canada, and it was decided that the testimonial should take the
form of a bronze statue to be erected in Central Park, New York. Byron M.
Pickett was chosen as the sculptor, and the Park Commission readily
granted permission to place the statue in the park.

It was at first hoped that the unveiling might take place on the 27th of
April, 1871, Morse's eightieth birthday; but unavoidable delays arose,
and it was not until the 10th of June that everything was in readiness.
It was a perfect June day and the hundreds of telegraphers from all parts
of the country, with their families, spent the forenoon in a steamboat
excursion around the city. In the afternoon crowds flocked to the park
where, near what is now called the "Inventor's Gate," the statue stood in
the angle between two platforms for the invited guests. Morse himself
refused to attend the ceremonies of the unveiling of his counterfeit
presentment, as being too great a strain on his innate modesty. Some
persons and some papers said that he was present, but, as Mr. James D.
Reid says in his "Telegraph in America," "Mr. Morse was incapable of such
an indelicacy.... Men of refinement and modesty would justly have
marvelled had they seen him in such a place."

At about four o'clock the Governor of New York, John T. Hoffman,
delivered the opening address, saying, in the course of his speech: "In
our day a new era has dawned. Again, for the second time in the history
of the world, the power of language is increased by human agency. Thanks
to Samuel F.B. Morse men speak to one another now, though separated by
the width of the earth, with the lightning's speed and as if standing
face to face. If the inventor of the alphabet be deserving of the highest
honors, so is he whose great achievement marks this epoch in the history
of language--the inventor of the Electric Telegraph. We intend, so far as
in us lies, that the men who come after us shall be at no loss to
discover his name for want of recorded testimony."

Governor Claflin, of Massachusetts, and William Orton, president of the
Western Union Telegraph Company, then drew aside the drapery amidst the
cheers and applause of the multitude, while the Governor's Island band
played the "Star-Spangled Banner."

William Cullen Bryant, who was an early friend of the inventor, then
presented the statue to the city in an eloquent address, from which I
shall quote the following words:--

"It may be said, I know, that the civilized world is already full of
memorials which speak the merit of our friend and the grandeur and
utility of his invention. Every telegraphic station is such a memorial.
Every message sent from one of these stations to another may be counted
among the honors paid to his name. Every telegraphic wire strung from
post to post, as it hums in the wind, murmurs his eulogy. Every sheaf of
wires laid down in the deep sea, occupying the bottom of soundless
abysses to which human sight has never penetrated, and carrying the
electric pulse, charged with the burden of human thought, from continent
to continent, from the Old World to the New, is a testimonial to his
greatness.... The Latin inscription in the church of St. Paul's in
London, referring to Sir Christopher Wren, its architect,--'If you would
behold his monument, look around you,'--may be applied in a far more
comprehensive sense to our friend, since the great globe itself has
become his monument."

The Mayor of New York, A. Oakey Hall, accepted the statue in a short
speech, and, after a prayer by the Reverend Stephen H. Tyng, D.D., the
assembled multitude joined in singing the doxology, and the ceremonies at
the park were ended.

But other honors still awaited the venerable inventor, for, on the
evening of that day, the old Academy of Music on Fourteenth Street was
packed with a dense throng gathered together to listen to eulogies on
this benefactor of his race, and to hear him bid farewell to his children
of the Telegraph. A table was placed in the centre of the stage on which
was the original instrument used on the first line from Washington to
Baltimore. This was connected with all the lines of telegraph extending
to all parts of the world. The Honorable William Orton presided, and,
after the Reverend Howard Crosby had opened the ceremonies with prayer,
speeches were delivered by Mr. Orton, Dr. George B. Loring, of Salem, and
the Reverend Dr. George W. Samson.

At nine o'clock Mr. Orton announced that all lines were clear for the
farewell message of the inventor to his children; that this message would
be flashed to thousands of waiting operators all over the world, and that
answers would be received during the course of the evening. The pleasant
task of sending the message had been delegated to Miss Sadie E. Cornwell,
a skilful young operator of attractive personality, and Morse himself was
to manipulate the key which sent his name, in the dots and dashes of his
own alphabet, over the wires.

The vast audience was hushed into absolute silence as Miss Cornwell
clicked off the message which Morse had composed for the occasion:
"Greeting and thanks to the Telegraph fraternity throughout the world.
Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, good will to men."

As Mr. Orton escorted Morse to the table a tremendous burst of applause
broke out, but was silenced by a gesture from the presiding officer, and
again the great audience was still. Slowly the inventor spelled out the
letters of his name, the click of the instrument being clearly heard in
every part of the house, and as clearly understood by the hundreds of
telegraphers present, so that without waiting for the final dot, which
typified the letter e, the whole vast assembly rose amid deafening cheers
and the waving of handkerchiefs.

It was an inspiring moment, and the venerable man was almost overcome by
his emotions, and sat for some time with his head buried in his hands,
striving to regain his self-control.

When the excitement had somewhat subsided, Mr. Orton said: "Thus the
Father of the Telegraph bids farewell to his children."

The current was then switched to an instrument behind the scenes, and
answers came pouring in, first from near-by towns and cities, and then
from New Orleans, Quebec, San Francisco, Halifax, Havana, and finally
from Hongkong, Bombay, and Singapore.

Mr. Reid has given a detailed account of these messages in his "Telegraph
in America," but I shall not pause to reproduce them here; neither shall
I quote from the eloquent speeches which followed, delivered by General
N.P. Banks, the Reverend H.M. Gallagher, G.K. Walcott, and James D. Reid.
After Miss Antoinette Sterling had sung "Auld Lang Syne," to the great
delight of the audience, who recalled her several times, Chief Justice
Charles P. Daly introduced Professor Morse in an appropriate address.

As the white-haired inventor, in whose honor this great demonstration had
been organized, stepped forward to deliver his, valedictory, he was
greeted with another round of cheering and applause. At first almost
overcome by emotion, he soon recovered his self-control, and he read his
address in a clear, resonant voice which carried to every part of the
house. The address was a long one, and as most of it is but a
recapitulation of what has been already given, I shall only quote from it
in part:--

"Friends and children of the telegraph,--When I was solicited to be
present this evening, in compliance with the wishes of those who, with
such zeal and success, responded to the suggestion of one of your number
that a commemorative statue should be erected in our unrivaled Park, and
which has this day been placed in position and unveiled, I hesitated to
comply. Not that I did not feel a wish in person to return to you my
heartfelt thanks for this unique proof of your personal regard, but truly
from a fear that I could use no terms which would adequately express my
appreciation of your kindness. Whatever I say must fall short of
expressing the grateful feelings or conflicting emotions which agitate me
on an occasion so unexampled in the history of invention. Gladly would I
have shrunk from this public demonstration were it not that my absence
to-night, under the circumstances, might be construed into an apathy
which I do not feel, and which your overpowering kindness would justly

"You have chosen to impersonate in my humble effigy an invention which,
cradled upon the ocean, had its birth in an American ship. It was nursed
and cherished not so much from personal as from patriotic motives.
Forecasting its future, even at its birth, my most powerful stimulus to
perseverance through all the perils and trials of its early days--and
they were neither few nor insignificant--was the thought that it must
inevitably be world-wide in its application, and, moreover, that it would
everywhere be hailed as a grateful American gift to the nations. It is in
this aspect of the present occasion that I look upon your proceedings as
intended, not so much as homage to an individual, as to the invention,
'whose lines [from America] have gone out through all the earth, and
their words to the end of the world.'

"In the carrying-out of any plan of improvement, however grand or
feasible, no single individual could possibly accomplish it without the
aid of others. We are none of us so powerful that we can dispense with
the assistance, in various departments of the work, of those whose
experience and knowledge must supply the needed aid of their expertness.
It is not sufficient that a brilliant project be proposed, that its modes
of accomplishment are foreseen and properly devised; there are, in every
part of the enterprise, other minds and other agencies to be consulted
for information and counsel to perfect the whole plan. The Chief Justice,
in delivering the decision of the Supreme Court, says: 'It can make no
difference whether he [the inventor] derives his information from books
or from conversation with men skilled in the science.' And: 'The fact
that Morse sought and obtained the necessary information and counsel from
the best sources, and acted upon it, neither impairs his rights as an
inventor nor detracts from his merits.'

"The inventor must seek and employ the skilled mechanician in his
workshop to put the invention into practical form, and for this purpose
some pecuniary means are required as well as mechanical skill. Both these
were at hand. Alfred Vail, of Morristown, New Jersey, with his father and
brother, came to the help of the unclothed infant, and with their funds
and mechanical skill put it into a condition to appear before the
Congress of the nation. To these New Jersey friends is due the first
important aid in the progress of the invention. Aided also by the talent
and scientific skill of Professor Gale, my esteemed colleague in the
University, the Telegraph appeared in Washington in 1838, a suppliant for
the means to demonstrate its power. To the Honorable F.O.J. Smith, then
chairman of the House Committee of Commerce, belongs the credit of a just
appreciation of the new invention, and of a zealous advocacy of an
experimental essay, and the inditing of an admirably written report in
its favor, signed by every member of the committee.... To Ezra Cornell,
whose noble benefactions to his state and the country have placed his
name by the side of Cooper and Peabody high on the roll of public
benefactors, is due the credit of early and effective aid in the
superintendence and erection of the first public line of telegraph ever

After paying tribute to the names of Amos Kendall, Cyrus Field, Volta,
Oersted, Arago, Schweigger, Gauss and Weber, Steinheil, Daniell, Grove,
Cooke, Dana, Henry, and others, he continued:--

"There is not a name I have mentioned, and many whom I have not
mentioned, whose career in science or experience in mechanical and
engineering and nautical tactics, or in financial practice, might not be
the theme of volumes rather than of brief mention in an ephemeral

"To-night you have before you a sublime proof of the grand progress of
the Telegraph in its march round the globe. It is but a few days since
that our veritable antipodes became telegraphically united to us. We can
speak to and receive an answer in a few seconds of time from Hongkong in
China, where ten o'clock to-night here is ten o'clock in the day there,
and it is, perhaps, a debatable question whether their ten o'clock is ten
to-day or ten to-morrow. China and New York are in interlocutory
communication. We know the fact, but can imagination realize the fact?

"But I must not further trespass on your patience at this late hour. I
cannot close without the expression of my cordial thanks to my
long-known, long-tried and honored friend Reid, whose unwearied labors
early contributed so effectively to the establishment of telegraph lines,
and who, in a special manner as chairman of your Memorial Fund, has so
faithfully, and successfully, and admirably carried to completion your
flattering design. To the eminent Governors of this state and the state
of Massachusetts, who have given to this demonstration their honored
presence; to my excellent friend the distinguished orator of the day; to
the Mayor and city authorities of New York; to the Park Commissioners; to
the officers and managers of the various, and even rival, telegraph
companies, who have so cordially united on this occasion; to the numerous
citizens, ladies and gentlemen; and, though last not least, to every one
of my large and increasing family of telegraph children who have honored
me with the proud title of Father, I tender my cordial thanks."


JUNE 14, 1871--APRIL 16, 1872

Nearing the end.--Estimate of the Reverend F.B. Wheeler.--Early poem.--
Leaves "Locust Grove" for last time.--Death of his brother Sidney.--
Letter to Cyrus Field on neutrality of telegraph.--Letter of F.O.J. Smith
to H.J. Rogers.--Reply by Professor Gale.--Vicious attack by F.O.J.
Smith.--Death prevents reply by Morse.--Unveils statue of Franklin in
last public appearance.--Last hours.--Death.--Tributes of James D. Reid,
New York "Evening Post," New York "Herald," and Louisville
"Courier-Journal."--Funeral.--Monument in Greenwood Cemetery.--Memorial
services in House of Representatives, Washington.--Address of James G.
Blaine.--Other memorial services.--Mr. Prime's review of Morse's

The excitement caused by all these enthusiastic demonstrations in his
honor told upon the inventor both physically and mentally, as we learn
from a letter of June 14, 1871, to his daughter Mrs. Lind and her

"So fatigued that I can scarcely keep my eyes open, I nevertheless,
before retiring to my bed, must drop you a line of enquiry to know what
is your condition. We have only heard of your arrival and of your first
unfavorable impressions. I hope these latter are removed, and that you
are both benefiting by change of air and the waters of the Clifton

"You know how, in the last few days, we have all been overwhelmed with
unusual cares. The grand ceremonies of the Park and the Academy of Music
are over, but have left me in a good-for-nothing condition. Everything
went off splendidly, indeed, as you will learn from the papers.... I find
it more difficult to bear up with the overwhelming praise that is poured
out without measure, than with the trials of my former life. There is
something so remarkable in this universal laudation that the effect on
me, strange as it may seem, is rather depressing than exhilarating.

"When I review my past life and see the way in which I have been led, I
am so convinced of the faithfulness of God in answer to the prayers of
faith, which I have been enabled in times of trial to offer to Him, that
I find the temper of my mind is to constant praise: 'Bless the Lord, Oh
my soul, and forget not all his benefits!' is ever recurring to me. It is
doubtless this continued referring all to Him that prevents this
universal demonstration of kindly feeling from puffing me up with the
false notion that I am anything but the feeblest of instruments. I cannot
give you any idea of the peculiar feelings which gratify and yet oppress

He had planned to cross the ocean once more, partly as a delegate to
Russia from the Evangelical Alliance, and partly to see whether it would
not be possible to induce Prussia and Switzerland and other European
nations, from whom he had as yet received no pecuniary remuneration, to
do him simple justice. But, for various reasons, this trip was abandoned,
and from those nations he never received anything but medals and praise.

So the last summer of the aged inventor's life was spent at his beloved
Locust Grove, not free from care and anxiety, as he so well deserved, but
nevertheless, thanks to his Christian philosophy, in comparative serenity
and happiness. His pastor in Poughkeepsie, the Reverend F.B. Wheeler,
says of him in a letter to Mr. Prune: "In his whole character and in all
his relations he was one of the most remarkable men of his age. He was
one who drew all who came in contact with him to his heart, disarming all
prejudices, silencing all cavil. In his family he was light, life, and
love; with those in his employ he was ever considerate and kind, never
exacting and harsh, but honorable and just, seeking the good of every
dependent; in the community he was a pillar of strength and beauty,
commanding the homage of universal respect; in the Church he walked with
God and men."

That he was a man of great versatility has been shown, in the recital of
his activities as artist, inventor, and writer; that he had no mean
ability as a poet is also on record. On January 6, 1872, he says in a
letter to his cousin, Mrs. Thomas R. Walker: "Some years ago, when both
of us were younger, I remember addressing to you a trifle entitled 'The
Serenade,' which, on being shown to Mr. Verplanck, was requested for
publication in the 'Talisman,' edited and conducted by him and Mr. Sands.
I have not seen a copy of that work for many years, and have preserved no
copy of 'The Serenade.' If you have a copy I should be pleased to have

He was delicately discreet in saying "some years ago," for this poem was
written in 1827 as the result of a wager between Morse and his young
cousin, he having asserted that he could write poetry as well as paint
pictures, and requesting her to give him a theme. It seems that the young
lady had been paid the compliment of a serenade a few nights previously,
but she had, most unromantically, slept through it all, so she gave as
her theme "The Serenade," and the next day Morse produced the following


Haste! 't is the stillest hour of night,
The Moon sheds down her palest light,
And sleep has chained the lake and hill,
The wood, the plain, the babbling rill;
And where yon ivied lattice shows
My fair one slumbers in repose.
Come, ye that know the lovely maid,
And help prepare the serenade.
Hither, before the night is flown,
Bring instruments of every tone.
But lest with noise ye wake, not lull,
Her dreaming fancy, ye must cull
Such only as shall soothe the mind
And leave the harshest all behind.
Bring not the thundering drum, nor yet
The harshly-shrieking clarionet,
Nor screaming hautboy, trumpet shrill,
Nor clanging cymbals; but, with skill,
Exclude each one that would disturb
The fairy architects, or curb
The wild creations of their mirth,
All that would wake the soul to earth.
Choose ye the softly-breathing-flute,
The mellow horn, the loving lute;
The viol you must not forget,
And take the sprightly flageolet
And grave bassoon; choose too the fife,
Whose warblings in the tuneful strife,
Mingling in mystery with the words,
May seem like notes of blithest birds.

Are ye prepared? Now lightly tread
As if by elfin minstrels led,
And fling no sound upon the air
Shall rudely wake my slumbering fair.
Softly! Now breathe the symphony,
So gently breathe the tones may vie
In softness with the magic notes
In visions heard; music that floats
So buoyant that it well may seem,
With strains ethereal in her dream,
One song of such mysterious birth
She doubts it comes from heaven or earth.
Play on! My loved one slumbers still.
Play on! She wakes not with the thrill
Of joy produced by strains so mild,
But fancy moulds them gay and wild.
Now, as the music low declines,
'T is sighing of the forest pines;
Or 't is the fitful, varied war
Of distant falls or troubled shore.
Now, as the tone grows full or sharp,
'T is whispering of the Æolian harp.
The viol swells, now low, now loud,
'T is spirits chanting on a cloud
That passes by. It dies away;
So gently dies she scarce can say
'T is gone; listens; 't is lost she fears;
Listens, and thinks again she hears.
As dew drops mingling in a stream
To her 't is all one blissful dream,
A song of angels throned in light.
Softly! Away! Fair one, good-night.

In the autumn of 1871 Morse returned with his family to New York, and it
is recorded that, with an apparent premonition that he should never see
his beloved Locust Grove again, he ordered the carriage to stop as he
drove out of the gate, and, standing up, looked long and lovingly at the
familiar scene before telling the coachman to drive on. And as he passed
the rural cemetery on the way to the station he exclaimed: "Beautiful!
beautiful! but I shall not lie there. I have prepared a place elsewhere."

Not long after his return to the city death once more laid its heavy hand
upon him in the loss of his sole surviving brother, Sidney. While this
was a crushing blow, for these two brothers had been peculiarly attached
to each other, he bore it with Christian resignation, confident that the
separation would be for a short time only--"We must soon follow, I also
am over eighty years, and am waiting till my change comes."

But his mind was active to the very end, and he never ceased to do all in
his power for the welfare of mankind. One of the last letters written by
him on a subject of public importance was sent on December 4, 1871, to
Cyrus Field, who was then attending an important telegraphic convention
in Rome:--

"Excuse my delay in writing you. The excitement occasioned by the visit
of the Grand Duke Alexis has but just ceased, and I have been wholly
engrossed by the various duties connected with his presence. I have
wished for a few calm moments to put on paper some thoughts respecting
the doings of the great Telegraphic Convention to which you are a

"The Telegraph has now assumed such a marvellous position in human
affairs throughout the world, its influences are so great and important
in all the varied concerns of nations, that its efficient protection from
injury has become a necessity. It is a powerful advocate for universal
peace. Not that of itself it can command a 'Peace, be still!' to the
angry waves of human passions, but that, by its rapid interchange of
thought and opinion, it gives the opportunity of explanations to acts and
to laws which, in their ordinary wording, often create doubt and
suspicion. Were there no means of quick explanation it is readily seen
that doubt and suspicion, working on the susceptibilities of the public
mind, would engender misconception, hatred and strife. How important then
that, in the intercourse of nations, there should be the ready means at
hand for prompt correction and explanation.

"Could there not be passed in the great International Convention some
resolution to the effect that, in whatever condition, whether of Peace or
War between the nations, the Telegraph should be deemed a sacred thing,
to be by common consent effectually protected both on the land and
beneath the waters?

"In the interest of human happiness, of that 'Peace on Earth' which, in
announcing the advent of the Saviour, the angels proclaimed with 'good
will to men,' I hope that the convention will not adjourn without
adopting a resolution asking of the nations their united, effective
protection to this great agent of civilization."

Richly as he deserved that his sun should set in an unclouded sky, this
was not to be. Sorrows of a most intimate nature crowded upon him. He was
also made the victim of a conscienceless swindler who fleeced him of many
thousand dollars, and, to crown all, his old and indefatigable enemy,
F.O.J. Smith, administered a cowardly thrust in the back when his
weakening powers prevented him from defending himself with his oldtime
vigor. From a very long letter written by Smith on December 11, 1871, to
Henry J. Rogers in Washington, I shall quote only the first sentences:--

Dear Sir,--In my absence your letter of the 11th ult. was received here,
with the printed circular of the National Monumental Society, in reply to
which I feel constrained to say if that highly laudable association
resolves "to erect at the national capital of the United States a
memorial monument" to symbolize in statuary of colossal proportions the
"history of the electromagnetic telegraph," before that history has been
authentically written, it is my conviction: that the statue most worthy
to stand upon the pedestal of such monument would be that of the man of
true science, who explored the laws of nature ahead of all other men, and
was "the first to wrest electron-magnetism from Nature's embrace and make
it a missionary to, the cause of human progress," and that man is
Professor Joseph Henry, of the Smithsonian Institution.

Professor Morse and his early coadjutors would more appropriately occupy,
in groups of high relief, the sides of that pedestal, symbolizing, by
their established merits and cooperative works, the grandeur of the
researches and resulting discoveries of their leader and chief, who was
the first to announce and to demonstrate to a despairing world, by actual
mechanical agencies, the practicability of; an electro-magnetic telegraph
through any distances.

Much more of the same flatulent bombast follows which it will not be
necessary to introduce here. While Morse himself naturally felt some
delicacy in noticing such an attack as this, he found a willing, and
efficient champion in his old friend (and the friend of Henry as well)
Professor Leonard D. Gale, who writes to him on January 22, 1872:--

"I have lately seen a mean, unfair, and villainous letter of F.O.J.
Smith, addressed to H.J. Rogers (officer of the Morse Monumental
Association), alleging that the place on the monument designed to be
occupied by the statue of Morse, should be awarded to Henry; that Morse
was not a scientific man, etc., etc. It was written in his own peculiar
style. The allegations were so outrageous that I felt it my duty to reply
to it without delay. As Smith's letter was to Rogers, as an officer of
the Association, I sent my reply to the same person. I enclose a copy

"Mrs. Gale suggests an additional figure to the group on the monument--a
serpent with the face of F.O.J.S., biting the heel of Morse, but with the
fangs extracted."

Professor Gale's letter to Henry J. Rogers is worthy of being quoted in

"I have just read a letter from F.O.J. Smith, dated December 11, 1871,
addressed to you, and designed to throw discredit on Morse's invention of
the Telegraph, the burden of which seems to be rebuke to the designer of
the monument, for elevating Morse to the apex of the monument and
claiming for Professor J. Henry, of the Smithsonian Institution, that
high distinction.

"The first question of an impartial inquirer is: 'To which of these
gentlemen is the honor due?' To ascertain this we will ask a second
question: 'Was the subject of the invention a _machine_, or was it _a new
fact in science_?' The answer is: 'It was a _machine_.' The first was
Morse's, the latter was Henry's. Henry stated that electric currents
might be sent through long distances applicable to telegraphic purposes.
Morse took the facts as they then existed, invented a machine, harnessed
the steed therein, and set the creature to work. There is honor due to
Henry for his great discovery of the scientific principle; there is honor
also due to Morse for his invention of the ingenious machine which
accomplishes the work.

"Men of science regard the discovery of a new fact in science as a higher
attainment than the application of it to useful purposes, while the world
at large regards the _application_ of the principle or fact in science to
the useful arts as of paramount importance. All honor to the discoverer
of a new fact in science; equal honor to him who utilizes that fact for
the benefit of mankind.

"Has the world forgotten what Robert Fulton did for the navigation of the
waters by steamboats? It was he who first applied steam to propel a
vessel and navigated the Hudson for the first time with steam and
paddle-wheels and vessel in 1807. Do not we honor him as the Father of
steamboats? Yet Fulton did not invent steam, nor the steam-engine, nor
paddle-wheels, nor the vessel. He merely adapted a steam-engine to a
vessel armed with paddle-wheels. The combination was his invention.

"There is another example on record. Cyrus H. McCormick, the Father of
the Reaping and Mowing Machine, took out the first successful patent in
1837, and is justly acknowledged the world over as the inventor of this
great machine. Although one hundred and forty-six patents were granted in
England previous to McCormick's time, they are but so many unsuccessful
efforts to perfect a practical machine. The cutting apparatus, the device
to raise and lower the cutters, the levers, the platform, the wheels, the
framework, had all been used before McCormick's time. But McCormick was
the first genius able to put these separate devices together in a
practical, harmonious operation. The combination was his invention.

"Morse did more. He invented the form of the various parts of his machine
as well as their combination; he was the first to put such a machine into
practical operation; and for such a purpose who can question his title as
the Inventor of the Electric Telegraph?"

To the letter of Professor Gale, Morse replied on January 25:--

"Thank you sincerely for your effective interference in my favor in the
recent, but not unexpected, attack of F.O.J.S. I will, so soon as I can
free myself from some very pressing matters, write you more fully on the
subject. Yet I can add nothing to your perfectly clear exposition of the
difference between a discovery of a principle in science and its
application to a useful purpose. As for Smith's suggestion of putting
Henry on the top of the proposed monument, I can hardly suppose Professor
H. would feel much gratification on learning the character of his zealous
advocate. It is simply a matter of spite; carrying out his intense and
smothered antipathy to me, and not for any particular regard for
Professor H.

"As I have had nothing to do with the proposed monument, I have no
feeling on the subject. If they who have the direction of that monument
think the putting of Professor H. on the apex will meet the applause of
the public, including the expressed opinion of the entire world, by all
means put him there. I certainly shall make no complaint."

The monument was never erected, and this effort of Smith's to humiliate
Morse proved abortive. But his spite did not end there, as we learn from
the following letter written by Morse on February 26, 1872, to the
Reverend Aspinwall Hodge, of Hartford, Connecticut, the husband of one of
his nieces:--

"Some unknown person has sent me the advance sheets of a work (the pages
between 1233 and 1249) publishing in Hartford, the title of which is not
given, but I think is something like 'The Great Industries of the United
States.' The pages sent me are entitled 'The American Magnetic
Telegraph.' They contain the most atrocious and vile attack upon me which
has ever appeared in print. I shall be glad to learn who are the
publishers of this work, what are the characters of the publishers, and
whether they will give me the name or names of the author or authors of
this diatribe, and whether they vouch for the character of those who
furnished the article for their work.

"I know well enough, indeed, who the libellers are and their motives,
which arise from pure spite and revenge for having been legally defeated
parties in cases relating to the Telegraph before the courts. To you I
can say the concocters of this tirade are F.O.J. Smith, of bad notoriety,
and Henry O'Reilly.

"Are the publishers responsible men, and are they aware of the character
of those who have given them that article, particularly the moral
character of Smith, notorious for his debaucheries and condemned in court
for subornation of perjury, and one of the most revengeful men, who has
artfully got up this tirade because my agent, the late Honorable Amos
Kendall, was compelled to resist his unrighteous claim upon me for some
$25,000 which, after repeated trials lasting some twelve years, was at
length, by a decision of the Supreme Court of the United States, decided
against him, and he was adjudged to owe me some $14,000?

"Mr. Kendall, previous to his decease, managed the case which has thus
resulted. The necessity of seizing some property of his in the city of
Williamsburg, through the course of the legal proceedings, has aroused
his revengeful feelings, and he has openly threatened that he would be
revenged upon me for it, and he has for two or three years past with
O'Reilly been concocting this mode of revenge.

"If the publishers are respectable men, I think they will regret that
they have been the dupes of these arch conspirators. If not too late to
suppress that article I should be glad of an interview with them, in
which I will satisfy them that they have been most egregiously imposed

This was the last flash of that old fire which, when he was sufficiently
aroused by righteous indignation at unjust attacks, had enabled him to
strike out vigorously in self-defense, and had won him many a victory. He
was now nearing the end of his physical resources. He had fought the good
fight and he had no misgivings as to the verdict of posterity on his
achievements. He could fight no more, willing and mentally able though he
was to confound his enemies again. He must leave it to others to defend
his fame and good name in the future. The last letter which was copied
into his letter-press book was written on March 14, not three weeks
before the last summons came to him, and it refers to his old enemy who
thus pursued him even to the brink of the grave. It is addressed to F.J.
Mead, Esq.:--

"Although forbidden to read or write by my physician, who finds me
prostrate with a severe attack of neuralgia in the head, I yet must thank
you for your kind letter of the 12th inst.

"I should be much gratified to know what part Professor Henry has taken,
if any, in this atrocious and absurd attack of F.O.J.S. I have no fears
of the result, but no desire either to suspect any agency on the part of
Professor Henry. It is difficult for me to conceive that a man in his
position should not see the true position of the matter."

This vicious attack had no effect upon his fame. Dying as soon as it was
born, choked by its own venom, it was overwhelmed by the wave of sorrow
and sympathy which swept over the earth at the announcement of the death
of the great inventor.

His last public appearance was on January 17, 1872, when he, in company
with Horace Greeley, unveiled the statue of Benjamin Franklin in Printing
House Square, New York. It was a very cold day, but, against the advice
of his physician and his family, he insisted on being present. As he
drove up in his carriage and, escorted by the committee, ascended to the
platform, he was loudly cheered by the multitude which had assembled.
Standing uncovered in the biting air, he delivered the following short

"MR. DE GROOT AND FELLOW-CITIZENS,--I esteem it one of my highest honors
that I should have been designated to perform the office of unveiling
this day the fine statue of our illustrious and immortal Franklin. When
requested to accept this duty I was confined to my bed, but I could not
refuse, and I said: 'Yes, if I have to be lifted to the spot!'

"Franklin needs no eulogy from me. No one has more reason to venerate his
name than myself. May his illustrious example of devotion to the interest
of universal humanity be the seed of further fruit for the good of the

Morse was to have been an honored guest at the banquet in the evening,
where in the speeches his name was coupled with that of Franklin as one
of the great benefactors of mankind; but, yielding to the wishes of his
family, he remained at home. He had all his life been a sufferer from
severe headaches, and now these neuralgic pains increased in severity, no
doubt aggravated by his exposure at the unveiling. When the paroxysms
were upon him he walked the floor in agony, pressing his hands to his
temples; but these seizures were, mercifully, not continuous, and he
still wrote voluminous letters, and tried to solve the problems which
were thrust upon him, even to the end.

One of the last acts of his life was to go down town with his youngest
son, whose birthday was the 29th of March, to purchase for him his first
gold watch, and that watch the son still carries, a precious memento of
his father.

Gradually the pains in the head grew less severe, but great weakness
followed, and he was compelled to keep to his bed, sinking into a
peaceful, painless unconsciousness relieved by an occasional flash of his
old vigor. To his pastor, Reverend Dr. William Adams, he expressed his
gratitude for the goodness of God to him, but added: "The best is yet to
come." He roused himself on the 29th of March, the birthday of his son,
kissing him and gazing with pleasure on a drawing sent to the boy by his
cousin, Mary Goodrich, pronouncing it excellent.

Shortly before the end pneumonia set in, and one of the attending
physicians, tapping on his chest, said "This is the way we doctors
telegraph"; and the dying man, with a momentary gleam of the old humor
lighting up his fading eyes, whispered, "Very good." These were the last
words spoken by him.

From a letter written by one who was present at his bedside to another
member of the family I shall quote a few words: "He is fast passing away.
It is touching to see him so still, so unconscious of all that is
passing, waiting for death. He has suffered much with neuralgia of the
head, increased of late by a miserable pamphlet by F.O.J.S. Poor dear
man! Strange that they could not leave him in peace in his old age. But
now all sorrow is forgotten. He lies quiet infant. Heaven is opening to
him with its peace and perfect rest. The doctor calls his sickness
'exhaustion of the brain.' He looks very handsome; the light of Heaven
seems shining on his beautiful eyes."

On April 1, consciousness returned for a few moments and he recognized
his wife and those around him with a smile, but without being able to
speak. Then he gradually sank to sleep and on the next day he gently
breathed his last.

His faithful and loving friend, James D. Reid, in the Journal of the
Telegraph, of which he was editor, paid tribute to his memory in the
following touching words:--

"In the ripeness and mellow sunshine of the end of an honored and
protracted life Professor Morse, the father of the American Telegraph
system, our own beloved friend and father, has gone to his rest. The
telegraph, the child of his own brain, has long since whispered to every
home in all the civilized world that the great inventor has passed away.
Men, as they pass each other on the street, say, with the subdued voice
of personal sorrow, 'Morse is dead.' Yet to us he lives. If he is dead it
is only to those who did not know him.

"It is not the habit of ardent affection to be garrulous in the
excitement of such an occasion as this. It would fain gaze on the dead
face in silence. The pen, conscious of its weakness, hesitates in its
work of endeavoring to reveal that which the heart can alone interpret in
a language sacred to itself, and by tears no eye may ever see. For such
reason we, who have so much enjoyed the sweetness of the presence of this
venerable man, now so calm in his last sacred sleep, to whom he often
came, with his cheerful and gentle ways, as to a son, so confiding of his
heart's tenderest thoughts, so free in the expression of his hopes of the
life beyond, find difficulty in making the necessary record of his
decease. We can only tell what the world has already known by the
everywhere present wires, that, on the evening of Tuesday, April 2,
Professor Morse, in the beautiful serenity of Christian hope, after a
life extended beyond fourscore years, folded his hands upon his breast
and bade the earth, and generation, and nation he had honored, farewell."

In the "Evening Post," probably from the pen of his old friend William
Cullen Bryant, was the following:--

"The name of Morse will always stand in the foremost rank of the great
inventors, each of whom has changed the face of society and given a new
direction to the growth of civilization by the application to the arts of
one great thought. It will always be read side by side with those of
Gutenberg and Schoeffer, or Watt and Fulton. This eminence he fairly
earned by one splendid invention. But none who knew the man will be
satisfied to let this world-wide and forever growing monument be the sole
record of his greatness.

"Had he never thought of the telegraph he would still receive, in death,
the highest honors friendship and admiration can offer to distinguished
and varied abilities, associated with a noble character. In early life he
showed the genius of a truly great artist. In after years he exercised
all the powers of a masterly scientific investigator. Throughout his
career he was eminent for the loftiness of his aims, for his resolute
faith in the strength of truth, for his capacity to endure and to wait;
and for his fidelity alike to his convictions and to his friends.

"His intellectual eminence was limited to no one branch of human effort,
but, in the judgment of men who knew him best, he had endowments which
might have made him, had he not been the chief of inventors, the most
powerful of advocates, the boldest and most effective of artists, the
most discerning of scientific physicians, or an administrative officer
worthy of the highest place and of the best days in American history."

The New York "Herald" said:--

"Morse was, perhaps, the most illustrious American of his age. Looking
over the expanse of the ages, we think more earnestly and lovingly of
Cadmus, who gave us the alphabet; of Archimedes, who invented the lever;
of Euclid, with his demonstrations in geometry; of Faust, who taught us
how to print; of Watt, with his development of steam, than of the
resonant orators who inflamed the passions of mankind, and the gallant
chieftains who led mankind to war. We decorate history with our Napoleons
and Wellingtons, but it was better for the world that steam was
demonstrated to be an active, manageable force, than that a French
Emperor and his army should win the battle of Austerlitz. And when a
Napoleon of peace, like the dead Morse, has passed away, and we come to
sum up his life, we gladly see that the world is better, society more
generous and enlarged, and mankind nearer the ultimate fulfillment of its
earthly mission because he lived; and did the work that was in him."

The Louisville "Courier-Journal" went even higher in its praise:--

"If it is legitimate to measure a man by the magnitude of his
achievements, the greatest man of the nineteenth century is dead. Some
days ago the electric current brought us the intelligence that S.F.B.
Morse was smitten with, paralysis. Since then it has brought us the
bulletins of his condition as promptly as if we had been living in the
same square, entertaining us with hopes which the mournful sequel has
proven to be delusive, for the magic wires have just thrilled with the
tidings to all nations that the father of telegraphy has passed to the
eternal world. Almost as quietly as the all-seeing eye saw the soul
depart from that venerable form, mortal men, thousands of miles distant,
are apprised of the same fact by the swift messenger which he won from
the unknown--speaking, as it goes around its world-wide circuit, in all
the languages of earth.

"Professor Morse took no royal road to this discovery. Indeed it is never
a characteristic of genius to seek such roads. He was dependent,
necessarily, upon facts and principles brought to light by similar
diligent, patient minds which had gone before him. Volta, Galvani,
Morcel, Grove, Faraday, Franklin, and a host of others had laid a basis
of laws and theories upon which he humbly and reverently mounted and
arranged his great problem for the hoped-for solution. But to him was
reserved the sole, undivided glory of discovering the priceless gem,
'richer than all its tribe,' which lay just beneath the surface, and
around which so many _savans_ had blindly groped.

"He is dead, but his mission was fully completed. It has been no man's
fortune to leave behind him a more magnificent legacy to earth, or a more
absolute title to a glorious immortality. To the honor of being one of
the most distinguished benefactors of the human race, he added the
personal and social graces and virtues of a true gentleman and a
Christian philosopher; The memory of his private worth will be kept green
amid the immortals of sorrowing friendship for a lifetime only, but his
life monument will endure among men as long as the human race exists upon

The funeral services were held on Friday, April 5, at the Madison Square
Presbyterian Church. At eleven o'clock the long procession entered the
church in the following order:--

Rev. Wm. Adams, D.D., Rev. F.B. Wheeler, D.D.



William Orton,         Cyrus W. Field,
Daniel Huntington,     Charles Butler,
Peter Cooper,          John A. Dix,
Cambridge Livingston,  Ezra Cornell.

The Family.

Governor Hoffman and Staff.
Members of the Legislature.
Directors of the New York, Newfoundland and London Telegraph Company.
Directors of the Western Union Telegraph Company and officers and
Members of the National Academy of Design.
Members of the Evangelical Alliance.
Members of the Chamber of Commerce.
Members of the Association for the Advancement of Science and Art.
Members of the New York Stock Exchange.
Delegations from the Common Councils of New York, Brooklyn and
  Poughkeepsie and many of the Yale Alumni.
The Legislative Committee: Messrs. James W. Husted, L. Bradford Prince,
  Samuel J. Tilden, Severn D. Moulton and John Simpson.

The funeral address, delivered by Dr. Adams, was long and eloquent, and
near the conclusion he said:--

"To-day we part forever with all that is mortal of that man who has done
so much in the cause of Christian civilization. Less than one year ago
his fellow-citizens, chiefly telegraphic operators, who loved him as
children love a father, raised his statue in Central Park. To-day all we
can give him is a grave. That venerable form, that face so saintly in its
purity and refinement, we shall see no more. How much we shall miss him
in our homes, our churches, in public gatherings, in the streets and in
society which he adorned and blessed. But his life has been so useful, so
happy and so complete that, for him, nothing remains to be wished.
Congratulate the man who, leaving to his family, friends and country a
name spotless, untarnished, beloved of nations, to be repeated in foreign
tongues and by sparkling seas, has died in the bright and blessed hope of
everlasting life.

"Farewell, beloved friend, honored citizen, public benefactor, good and
faithful servant!"

The three Morse brothers were united in death as they had been in life.
In Greenwood Cemetery a little hill had been purchased by the brothers
and divided into three equal portions. On the summit of the hill there
now stands a beautiful three-sided monument, and at its base reposes all
that is mortal of these three upright men, each surrounded by those whom
they had loved on earth, and who have now joined them in their last
resting place.

Resolutions of sympathy came to the family from all over the world, and
from bodies political, scientific, artistic, and mercantile, and letters
of condolence from friends and from strangers.

In the House of Representatives, in Washington, the Honorable S.S. Cox
offered a concurrent resolution, declaring that Congress has heard--"with
profound regret of the death of Professor Morse, whose distinguished and
varied abilities have contributed more than those of any other person to
the development and progress of the practical arts, and that his purity
of private life, his loftiness of scientific aims, and his resolute faith
in truth, render it highly proper that the Representatives and Senators
should solemnly testify to his worth and greatness."

This was unanimously agreed to. The Honorable Fernando Wood, after a
brief history of the legislation which resulted in the grant of $30,000
to enable Morse to test his invention, added that he was proud to say
that his name had been recorded in the affirmative on that historic
occasion, and that he was then the only living member of either house who
had so voted.

Similar resolutions were passed in the Senate, and a committee was
appointed by both houses to arrange for a suitable memorial service, and,
on April 9, the following letter was sent to Mrs. Morse by A.S. Solomons,
Chairman of the Committee of Arrangements:--

DEAR MADAM,--Congress and the citizens of Washington purpose holding
memorial services in honor of your late respected husband in the Hall of
the House of Representatives, on Tuesday evening next, the 16th of April,
and have directed me to request that yourself and family become the
guests of the nation on that truly solemn occasion. If agreeable, be good
enough to inform me when you will likely be here.

The widow was not able to accept this graceful invitation, but members of
the family were present.

The Hall was crowded with a representative audience. James G. Blaine,
Speaker of the House, presided, assisted by Vice-President Colfax.
President Grant and his Cabinet, Judges of the Supreme Court, Governors
of States, and other dignitaries were present in person or by proxy. In
front of the main gallery an oil portrait of Morse had been placed, and
around the frame was inscribed the historic first message: "What hath God

After the opening prayer by Dr. William Adams, Speaker Blaine said:--

"Less than thirty years ago a man of genius and learning was an earnest
petitioner before Congress for a small pecuniary aid that enabled him to
test certain occult theories of science which he had laboriously evolved.
To-night the representatives of forty million people assemble in their
legislative hall to do homage and honor to the name of 'Morse.' Great
discoverers and inventors rarely live to witness the full development and
perfection of their mighty conceptions, but to him whose death we now
mourn, and whose fame we celebrate, it was, in God's good providence,
vouchsafed otherwise. The little thread of wire, placed as a timid
experiment between the national capital and a neighboring city, grew and
lengthened and multiplied with almost the rapidity of the electric
current that darted along its iron nerves, until, within his own
lifetime, continent was bound unto continent, hemisphere answered through
ocean's depths unto hemisphere, and an encircled globe flashed forth his
eulogy in the unmatched elements of a grand achievement.

"Charged by the House of Representatives with the agreeable and honorable
duty of presiding here, and of announcing the various participants in the
exercises of the evening, I welcome to this hall those who join with us
in this expressive tribute to the memory and to the merit of a great

After Mr. Blaine had concluded his remarks the exercises were conducted
as follows:--

Resolutions by the Honorable C.C. Cox, M.D., of Washington, D.C.

Address by the Honorable J.W. Patterson, of New Hampshire.

Address by the Honorable Fernando Wood, of New York.

Vocal music by the Choral Society of Washington.

Address by the Honorable J.A. Garfield, of Ohio.

Address by the Honorable S.S. Cox, of New York.

Address by the Honorable N.P. Banks, of Massachusetts.

Vocal music by the Choral Society of Washington.

Benediction by the Reverend Dr. Wheeler of Poughkeepsie.

Once again the invention which made him famous paid marvellous tribute to
the man of science. While less than a year before, joyous messages of
congratulation had flashed over the wires from the four quarters of the
globe, to greet the living inventor, now came words of sorrow and
condolence from Europe, Asia, Africa, and America mourning that inventor
dead, and again were they read to a wondering audience by that other man
of indomitable perseverance, Cyrus W. Field.

On the same evening memorial services were held in Faneuil Hall, Boston,
at which the mayor of the city presided, and addresses were made by
Josiah Quincy, Professor E.N. Horsford, the Honorable Richard H. Dana,
and others.

Other cities all over the country, and in foreign lands, held
commemorative services, and every telegraph office in the country was
draped in mourning, in sad remembrance of him whom all delighted to call

Mr. Prime, in his closing review of Morse's character, uses the following

"It is not given to mortals to leave a perfect example for the admiration
and imitation of posterity, but it is safe to say that the life and
character of few men, whose history is left on record, afford less
opportunity for criticism than is found in the conspicuous career of the
Inventor of the Telegraph.

"Having followed him step by step from the birth to the grave, in public,
social and private relations; in struggles with poverty, enemies and
wrongs; in courts of law, the press and halls of science; having seen him
tempted, assailed, defeated, and again in victory, honor and renown;
having read thousands of his private letters, his essays and pamphlets,
and volumes in which his claims are canvassed, his merits discussed and
his character reviewed; having had access to his most private papers and
confidential correspondence, in which all that is most secret and sacred
in the life of man is hid--it is right to say that, in this mass of
testimony by friends and foes, there is not a line that requires to be
erased or changed to preserve the lustre of his name....

"It was the device and purpose of those who sought to rob him of his
honors and his rights to depreciate his intellectual ability and his
scientific attainments. But among all the men of science and of learning
in the law, there was not one who was a match for him when he gave his
mind to a subject which required his perfect mastery....

"He drew up the brief with his own hand for one of the distinguished
counsel in a great lawsuit involving his patent rights, and his lawyer
said it was the argument that carried conviction to every unprejudiced

"Such was the versatility and variety of his mental endowments that he
would have been great in any department of human pursuits. His wonderful
rapidity of thought was associated with patient, plodding perseverance, a
combination rare but mightily effective. He leaped to a possible
conclusion, and then slowly developed the successive steps by which the
end was gained and the result made secure. He covered thousands of pages
with his pencil notes, annotated large and numerous volumes, filled huge
folios with valuable excerpts from newspapers, illustrated processes of
thought with diagrams, and was thus fortified and enriched with stores of
knowledge and masses of facts, so digested, combined and arranged, that
he had them at his easy command to defend the past or to help him onward
to fresh conquests in the fields of truth. Yet such was his modesty and
reticence in regard to himself that none outside of his household were
aware of his resources, and his attainments were only known when
displayed in self-defense. Then they never failed to be ample for the
occasion, as every opponent had reason to remember.

"Yet he was gentle as he was great. Many thought him weak because he was
simple, childlike and unworldly. Often he suffered wrong rather than
resist, and this disposition to yield was frequently his loss. The
firmness, tenacity and perseverance with which he fought his foes were
the fruits of his integrity, principle and profound convictions of right
and duty.... His nature was a rare combination of solid intellect and
delicate sensibility. Thoughtful, sober and quiet, he readily entered
into the enjoyments of domestic and social life, indulging in sallies of
humor, and readily appreciating and greatly enjoying the wit of others.
Dignified in his intercourse with men, courteous and affable with the
gentler sex, he was a good husband, a judicious father, a generous and
faithful friend.

"He had the misfortune to incur the hostility of men who would deprive
him of his merit and the reward of his labors. But this is the common
fate of great inventors. He lived until his rights were vindicated by
every tribunal to which they could be referred, and acknowledged by all
civilized nations, and he died leaving to his children a spotless and
illustrious name, and to his country the honor of having given birth to
the only Electro-Magnetic Recording Telegraph whose line is gone out
through all the earth, and its words to the end of the world."

And now my pleasant task is ended. After the lapse of so many years it
has been possible for me to introduce much more evidence of a personal
nature, to reveal the character of those with whom Morse had to contend,
than would have been discreet or judicious during the lifetime of some of
the actors in the drama. Many attempts have been made since the death of
the inventor to minimize his fame, and to exalt others at his expense,
but, while these attempts have seemed to triumph for a time, while they
may have influenced a few minds and caused erroneous attributions to be
made in some publications, their effect is ephemeral, for "Truth is
mighty and will prevail," and the more carefully and exhaustively this
complicated subject is studied, the more apparent will it be that Morse
never claimed more than was his due; that his upright, truthloving
character, as revealed in his intimate correspondence and in the
testimony of his contemporaries, forbade his ever stooping to deceit or
wilful appropriation of the ideas of others.

A summary, in as few words as possible, of what Morse actually invented
or discovered may be, at this point, appropriate.

In 1832, he conceived the idea of a true electric telegraph--a writing at
a distance by means of the electromagnet. The use of the electro-magnet
for this purpose was original with him; it was entirely different from
any form of telegraph devised by others, and he was not aware, at the
time, that any other person had even combined the words "electric" and

The mechanism to produce the desired result, roughly drawn in the 1832
sketch-book, was elaborated and made by Morse alone, and produced actual
results in 1835, 1836, and 1837. Still further perfected by him, with the
legitimate assistance of others, it became the universal telegraph of
to-day, holding its own and successfully contending with all other plans
of telegraphs devised by others.

He devised and perfected the dot-and-dash alphabet.

In 1836, he discovered the principle of the relay.

In 1838, he received a French patent for a system of railway telegraph,
which also embodies the principle of the police and fire-alarm telegraph.
At the same time he suggested a practical form of military telegraph.

In 1842, he laid the first subaqueous cable.

In 1842, he discovered, with Dr. Fisher, the principle of duplex
telegraphy, and he was also the first to experiment with wireless

In addition to his electrical inventions and discoveries he was the first
to experiment with the Daguerreotype in America, and, with Professor
Draper, was the first in the world to take portraits by this means,
Daguerre himself not thinking it possible.

The verdict of the world, as pronounced at the time of his death, has
been strengthened with the lapse of years. He was one of the first to be
immortalized in the Hall of Fame. His name, like those of Volta, Galvani,
Ampere, and others, has been incorporated into everyday speech, and is
now used to symbolize the language of that simple but marvellous
invention which brings the whole world into intimate touch.



Abbott, Gorham, American Asiatic Society, ~2~, 443
Abbott, J.S.C., from M. (1867) on Louis Napoleon in New York. ~2~, 451
Abdul Mejid, decorates M., ~2~, 297
Abernethy, John, personality, ~1~, 98, 99
Abolitionism, M.'s antagonism, ~2~, 390, 415, 416, 418, 420, 430, 446
Accidents to M.,  runaway (1828), ~1~, 293-295
  in 1844, ~2~, 232
  fall (1846), 268
  during laying of Atlantic cable (1857), 376, 377, 383
  breaks leg (1869), 480
Acton, ----. and M. at Peterhoff (1856), ~2~, 363
Adams, J.Q., and election to Presidency, Jackson's congratulations, ~1~,
  and M.'s failure to get commission for painting for Capitol, ~2~, 28-30
Adams, John, portrait by M., ~1~, 196
Adams, Nehemiah, and Civil War, ~2~, 416
Adams, William, and M.'s last illness, ~2~, 506
  at M.'s funeral, address, 511, 512
  at memorial services, 514
_Agamemnon_, and laying of first Atlantic cable, ~2~, 378
Agate. F.S., pupil of M., ~1~, 257, 275
  and origin of Academy of Design, 280
Albany, M. as portrait painter at (1823), ~1~, 245-249
Alexander I of Russia, in London (1814), appearance, anecdotes, ~1~,
Alexander II of Russia. M. on presentation to (1856), ~2~, 356-364
  attempt on life at Paris (1867), 455
Allan, Sir Hugh, at banquet to M., ~2~, 473
Allegorical painting, M. on, ~1~, 318
Allegri, Gregorio, M. on _Miserere_, ~2~, 345
Allston, Washington, M. desires to study under, ~1~, 21
  M. accompanies to England (1811), 31, 83
  journey to London, 86, 38
  on M. as artist, 46, 55, 56, 131
  and Leslie, 59, 156
  and death of wife, Coleridge's prescription, 59, 168
  and M., Interest, influence and criticism, 74, 76, 83, 86, 104, 162,
    197-199, 436
  and War of 1812, 89
  at premier of Coleridge's _Remorse_, 96
  illness, 96
  and Dr. Abernethy, 98, 99
  M. on, as artist, 102, 105
  M. on character. 105, 108
  Dead Man restored to Life, 105, 122, 124, 148, 197, 199
  poems, 110
  on French school of art, 114
  at Bristol (1814), 142, 153, 156, 171
  painting for steamer, 289
  Uriel in the Sun, 307
  compliment to, 308
  M. and death, ~2~, 207, 208
  brush of, 207
  M. presents portrait and brush to Academy of Design, 436, 437
  _Letters:_ to M. (1814) on Dead Man, Blücher, ~1~, 147
    with M. (1816) on sale of Dead Man, personal relations, 197, 198
    from M. (1819) on work at Charleston, Albton as R.A., 221
    to M. (1837) on rejection for government painting, ~2~, 32
    from M. (1839) on daguerreotype and art, 143
    with M. (1843) on telegraph act, illness, painting, 202
Allston, Mrs. Washington, Journey to England, ~1~, 33, 35
  in England, health, 38
  death, 168
Alphabet. _See_ Dot-and-dash.
Alston, J.A., and M., ~1~, 208, 214, 215, 233
 to M. (1818-19) on portraits, 214, 224, 225
Amalfi, M. at (1830), ~1~, 364-367
American Academy of Art, condition (1825), ~1~, 276, 277
  and union with Academy of Design, ~2~, 23
American Asiatic Society, ~2~, 443
American Society for promoting National Unity, ~2~, 415
Americans, M. on Cooper's patriotism (1832), ~1~, 426-428
  on European criticism, 428, 429
Amyot, ----, and M.'s telegraph, ~2~, 122, 147
Anderson, Alexander, and origin of Academy of Design, ~1~, 280
Andrews, Solomon, from M. (1849) on aviation, ~2~, 299
Angoulême, Duchesse d', in London (1814), ~1~, 138
Annunciation, M. on feast at Rome (1830), ~1~, 341
_Arabia_, transatlantic steamer (1857), ~2~, 384
Arago, D.F., and M.'s telegraph, ~2~, 104, 107, 108, 255
Art, conditions in America (1813), ~1~, 100, 101
  Boston and (1816), 197
  _See also_ Painting.
Atlantic cable, M. prophesies (1843), ~2~, 208, 209
  organisation of company, 341-843
  M. as electrician, 343, 347
  M.'s enthusiasm, 344
  attempt to lay cable across Gulf of St. Lawrence (1855), 345
  experiments of M. and Whitehouse, 348, 366
  Kendall's caution to M. on company, 372
  M.'s account of laying of first, 374-382
  parting of first, 382
  delay, offer to purchase remainder of first, 383
  M.'s forced resignation from company, 384
  M. on first message over completed (1858), his prediction of cessation,
    386, 387
  proposed, between Spain and West Indies, 404-406
  M. on final success, 451
  greeting of company to M. (1868), 469
"Attention the Universe" message, ~2~, 75
Australia, M.'s telegraph in, ~2~, 321
Austria, testimonials to M., ~2~, 392
Austro-Prussian War, influence of telegraph, ~2~, 463
Aviation, M. on (1849), ~2~, 300, 301
Avignon, M. at (1830), ~1~, 324, 325
Aycrigg, J.B., and telegraph, ~2~, 187, 189
  from M. (1844) on ground circuit, 221
Aylmer, Lord, and M.'s telegraph, ~2~, 124

Bain, Alexander, and telegraph, ~2~, 242, 3O4
  and ground circuit, 243
Ball, Mrs.----, M.'s portrait and trouble with, letters from M. (1820),
    ~1~, 231-234
Balloon ascension at London (1811), ~1~, 49
_Baltic_, transatlantic steamer (1856), ~2~, 347
Baltimore, construction of first telegraph line, ~2~, 204-228
Bancroft, ----, transatlantic voyage (1815), ~1~, 188
Bancroft, George, and M. at Berlin, ~2~, 461
Banks, N.P., at M.'s farewell message to telegraph, ~2~, 486
  at memorial services, 315
Banquets to M., at London (1856), ~2~, 368, 369
  at Paris (1858), 396
  at New York (1869), 467-475
Barberini, Cardinal, ~1~, 342
Barrell, Samuel, at Yale, ~1~, 9. 10
Battery, Gale's improvement of telegraph, ~2~, 55
  M.'s improvement, 182
  _See also_ Relay.
Beecher, Lyman, and M., ~1~, 238
Beechy, Sir William, M. on, ~1~, 63
Beggars, M. on Italian, ~1~, 330, 332, 341, 355, 363, 369
Belgium, interest in M.'s telegraph, ~2~, 244
  and gratuity to M., 393
Belknap, Jeremy, on birth of M., ~1~, 2
Bellingham, John, assassinates Perceval, ~1~, 71
  execution, 72
Bellows, H.W. from M. (1864) on Sanitary Commission, ~2~, 428
Benedict, Aaron, and wire for experimental line, ~2~, 208
Benevolence, as female virtue, ~1~, 323
Bennett, J.G., at French court (1867), ~2~, 449
Berkshire, Mass., M.'s trip (1821), ~1~, 238, 239
Berlin, M. at (1866), ~2~, 365
  (1868), 461
Bernard, Simon, and M., ~2~, 104
  and telegraph, 132
Bern, Duchesse de, appearance (1830), ~1~, 316
Bertassoli, Cardinal, death, ~1~, 347
Bettner, Dr. ----, and Henry-Morse controversy, ~2~, 318
Biddle, James, return to America (1832), ~1~, 430
Biddulph, T.T., as minister, ~1~, 121
Bigelow, John, farewell banquet to (1867), ~2~, 451
Blaine. J.G., address at memorial services to M., ~2~, 514, 515
Blake, W.P., to M. (1869) on M.'s report, ~2~, 475
  on Henry controversy, 475
  from M. on same, 478
Blanchard, Thomas, machine for carving marble, ~1~, 245
Blenheim estates, reduced condition (1829), ~1~, 307
Bliss, Seth, and Civil War, ~2~, 416
Blücher, G.L. von, at London (1814), appearance, ~1~, 146, 147
Boardman, W.W., and telegraph, letters with M. (1842), ~2~, 173-177, 187,
Bodisco, Alexander de, from M. (1844) on telegraph, ~2~, 240
  state dinner, 245
Bologna, M. on, ~1~, 391
Boorman, James, and Civil War, ~2~, 416
Borland, Catherine, ~1~, 111
Boston, and art (1816), ~1~, 197
Boston _Recorder_, founding, ~1~, 208
Boudy, Comte, and M.'s telegraph, ~2~, 112, 123
Breese, Arthur, and marriage of daughter, ~1~, 228
Breese, Catherine, marriage, ~1~, 229
  _See also_ Griswold.
Breese, Elisabeth A. (Mrs. Jedediah Morse), ~1~, 2
Breese, Samuel, in navy, ~1~, 88
  under Perry, 140
Breese, Sidney, and M., ~2~, 411
Breguet, Louis, from M. (1851) on rewards for invention, ~2~, 313
Brett, J.W., and Atlantic cable, ~2~ 343
  and M. in England (1856), 348, 349, 351
  from M. (1858) on withdrawal from cable company, 385
  and proposed Spanish cable, 406
Bristol, England, M. at (1813, 1814), ~1~, 119. 121, 153, 163, 169-171
Broek, M. van der, and gratuity to M., ~2~, 391
Broek, Holland, M. on unnatural neatness, ~2~, 261-283
Bromfield, Henry, and M. in England, ~1~, 39, 152
  from M. (1820) on family at New Haven, 234
Brooklyn, N.Y., defences (1814), ~1~, 150
Brooks, David, and telegraph, ~2~, 290
Brougham, Lord, and M.'s telegraph, ~2~, 95, 125
Brown, James, banquet to M., ~2~, 467
Bryant, W. C., and The Club, ~1~, 282
  from M. (1865) on Allston's portrait, ~2~, 436
  at banquet to M., 472
  address at unveiling of statue to M., 484
  tribute to M., 508
Buchanan, James, official letter introducing M. (1845), ~2~, 248
  M. on election (1856), 371
Budd, T.A., and Perry's Japanese expedition, ~2~, 317
Bulfinch, Charles, and M., ~2~, 188
Bullock, A.H., sentiment for banquet to M., ~2~, 469
Bunker Hill Monument, Greenough on plans, ~1~, 413
Burbank, David, from M. (1844) on price for invention, ~2~, 235
Burder, George, minister at London (1811), ~1~, 120
Burritt, Benjamin, prisoner of war, M.'s efforts for release, ~1~,
Butler, Charles, at M.'s funeral, ~2~, 611

Cadwalader, Thomas, return to America (1832), ~1~, 430
_Caledonia_, transatlantic steamer (1846), ~2~, 266
Calhoun, J.C., and M.'s effort for commission for painting for Capitol,
    ~2~, 28
California, graft in telegraph organisation, ~2~, 338, 339
Campagna, Roman, dangers at night, ~1~, 359
Campbell, Sir John, and M.'s application for patent, ~2~, 93, 98
Campo Santo at Naples, ~1~, 367-369
Camucoini, Vincenso, M. on, as artist, ~1~, 350
Canterbury, M. on cathedral and service, ~1~, 310-312
Cardinals, lying in state, ~1~, 344
Carmichael, James, and proposed Spanish cable, ~2~, 405
Caroline, Queen, palace, ~1~, 309
Carrara, M. on quarries (1830), ~1~, 333-336
Carter, William, courier, ~2~, 362
Cass, Lewis, and M. at Paris (1838), ~2~, 109, 111
Cass, Mrs. Lewis, from M. (1836) on lotteries, ~2~ 131
Castlereagh, Lord, and Orders in Council (1812), ~1~, 76
_Catalogue Raisonné_, ~1~, 196, 200
Causici, Enrico, at Washington (1825), ~1~, 263
_Ceres_, transatlantic voyage (1815), ~1~, 186-195
Chamberlain, Capt. ----, transatlantic voyage (1815), ~1~, 188
Chamberlain, ----, exhibition of telegraph in European centers, ~2~, 148,
  drowned, 149
Champlin, E.H., American Asiatic Society, ~2~, 444
Chapin, C.L., and M.'s telegraph in Europe, ~2~, 255
Charivari, M. on, ~1~, 78
Charles X of France, New Year (1830), ~1~, 315
Charleston, M. as portrait painter at (1818-21),  ~1~, 214-217, 216-225,
  portrait of President Monroe, 222
  M. and art academy, 235, 236
Charlestown, Mass., dual celebration of Fourth (1805), ~1~, 7
  Jedediah Morse's church troubles, 223-225, 229
Charlotte Augusta, Princess, appearance (1814), ~1~, 137
Charlotte Sophia, Queen, appearance (1814), ~2~, 137
Chase, ----, and experimental line, ~2~, 209
Chase, S.P., presides at banquet to M., speeches, ~2~, 468-170, 475
Chauncey, Isaac, Cooper on, ~1~, 263
Chauvin, ---- von, and M. at Berlin, ~2~, 461
_Chesapeake_, U.S.S., defeat, ~1~, 109, 110
Chevalier, Michael, from M. (1868) on leaving Paris, ~2~, 464
Cholera, in Paris (1832), ~1~, 417, 422
  political effect, 431
Christ before Pilate, West's painting, ~1~, 44, 47
Christ healing the Side, West's painting, ~1~, 44
Christian IX of Denmark, and M., ~2~, 465
Christy, David, from M. (1863) on slavery, ~2~, 426
Church and State, M. on union, ~2~, 458
Church of England, disestablishment in Virginia, ~1~, 13
  M. on service, 311
Circuit, single, of M.'s telegraph, ~2~, 18, 102
  ground, 221, 367, 470
Cisco, J.J., banquet to M., ~2~, 467
Civil War, M.'s hope of prevention, ~2~, 414, 418
  his attitude during, 415, 424, 432
  his belief in foreign machinations, 420
  M. and McClellan's candidacy, 427, 429-431
  M. and Sanitary Commission, 428
  M.'s denunciation of rejoicing over success, 438-441
Claflin, William, and statue to M., ~2~, 483
Clarke, George, buys M.'s painting of Louvre, M.'s letter on this (1834),
    ~2~, 27, 28
Clay, Henry, and M.'s effort for commission for painting for Capitol, ~2~,
Clinton, ----, of Albany, and M. (1823), ~1~, 247
Club, The, of New York, ~1~, 282, 451
Coat of arms, Morse, ~1~, 110, ~2~, 268
Coffin, I.N., and lobbying for telegraph grant, ~2~, 164, 173
Cogdell, J.S., artist at Charleston (1819), ~1~, 221
  and art academy there, 236
Colt, Daniel, gift to Academy of Design, ~1~, 384
Cole, Thomas, and origin of Academy of Design, ~1~, 280
  at Royal Academy (1829), 308
  to M. (1837) on presidency of Academy of Design, ~2~, 32
Coleridge, S.T., mental prescription for Allston, ~1~, 60
  and hat-wearing, 60
  and M., traits, 95, 96
  premier of _Remorse_, 96
  and _Knickerbocker's History of New York_, 97
Colfax, Schuyler, and banquet to M., ~2~, 468
   at memorial services, 514
Color, M.'s theory and experiments, ~1~, 436
Colt, ----, with M. at Peterhoff (1856), ~2~, 357
Como, Lake of, M. at (1831), ~1~, 400
Concentration of effort, Jedediah Morse on, ~1~, 4
Concord, N.H., M. at and on (1816), ~1~, 201, 209
Congregational Church, Jedediah Morse and orthodoxy, ~1~, 4
Congress, M.'s painting of House (1822), ~1~, 240-242, 252
  conduct of presidential election (1825), 263
  resolution to investigate telegraph (1837), ~2~, 71
  skeptical of M.'s invention, 72
  exhibition of telegraph before (1838) but no grant, 81, 88, 103, 135,
    137, 150
  Smith's report on telegraph, 87
  renewal of effort for telegraph grant without result (1841-42), 164,
    166, 173-177
  second exhibition of telegraph (1842), 185
  workers for telegraph grant, 186, 189
  bill for experimental line in House (1843), 190-195
  passage of bill in House, 195
  no action expected in Senate, 197-199
  passage of act, 199-201
  refuses to purchase telegraph, 228, 229, 232, 244, 245
  memorial services to M., 513-516
Consolidation of telegraph lines, ~2~, 320, 326, 341, 405
  M. on beneficent monopoly, 444
  _See also_ Public ownership.
Constant, Benjamin, appearance (1830), ~1~, 316
Constitution, M. on loyalty, ~2~, 429
Cooke, O.F., rival of Kemble, ~1~, 77
Cooke, Sir W.F., telegraph, ~2~, 50
  M. on telegraph and his own, 92, 93, 242
  opposes patent to M., 93
  proposition to M. rejected, 158
  telegraph displaced by M.'s, 313
  personal relations with M., 350
  advocates use of M.'s telegraph, 368
  presides at banquet to M., speech, 368, 369
Cooper, H., and M.'s application for British patent, ~1~, 98, 99
Cooper, J.F., characteristic remark, ~1~, 263
  at Rome (1830), 338
  read in Poland, 388
  to M. (1832) on Verboeckhoven and portrait of C., 414
  on criticisms, bitterness against America, 416
  statement of M.'s hints on telegraph (1831), 418, 419
  from M. (1849) on this, 420
  at Fourth dinner at Paris (1832), 424
  M. on principles and patriotism, 426-428
  from M. (1832) on departure for America, Leslie's politics, ~2~, 3-5
  from M. (1833) on illness, cares, conditions in New York, Cooper's
    friends, art future, nullification, 21-24
  and rejection of M. for painting for Capitol, 30
  from M. (1849) on failure as painter, 31
  from M. (1849) on newspaper libels, _Home as Found_, 304
  M. on death and character, 314
Cooper, Peter, and Atlantic cable, ~1~, 343, 372
  banquet to M., 467
  at M.'s funeral, 511
Copenhagen. M. at (1856), ~1~, 351, 354
Copley, J.S., M. on, in old age. ~1~, 47, 102
Corcoran, W.W., telegraph company, ~2~, 247
Corcoran Gallery, M.'s House of Representatives, ~1~, 242
Cornell, Ezra, and construction of experimental line, ~2~, 214-216, 489
  M. on benevolences, 442, 489
  at M.'s funeral, 511
Cornell University, M. on founding, ~2~, 442
Cornwell, Sadie E., and M.'s farewell message to telegraph, ~2~, 486
_Corpus Domini_, procession at Rome (1830), ~1~, 352
Cox, S.S., resolutions on death of M., ~1~, 513
  at memorial services, 515
Coyle, James, and origin of Academy of Design, ~1~, 280
Crawford, W.H., Edwards' charges against (1824), ~1~, 256
Cries of London, ~1~, 48
Crinoline, M. on, ~2~, 373
Crosby, Howard, and M.'s farewell message to telegraph, ~2~, 485
Cummings, T.S., and origin of Academy of Design, ~1~, 280
  and M. as president of Academy, 280
  on M.'s connection with Academy, 281
  and commission to M. for historical painting, ~2~, 33
  and telegraph, 74, 75
Curtin, A.G., banquet to M., ~2~, 467, 473
Curtis, B.R., telegraph decision, ~2~, 347, 370
Curtis, G.T., M.'s attorney, ~2~, 370
  from M. (1860) on Smith's claim to gratuity, 409-411
  and on law, 411

Daggett, ----, of New Haven, M.'s portrait (1811), ~2~, 25
Daguerre, L.J.M., and M. at Paris (1839), ~2~, 128-130
  from M. on Sabbath, 128
  burning of Diorama, 130
  French subsidy, 130
  from M. (1839) on honorary membership in Academy of Design, exhibition
    of daguerreotype in New York, 141
  reply, 142
  and portraits, 145
Daguerreotype, inventor imparts secret to  M., ~2~, 129
  discovery made public, 143
  M. on effect on art, 143, 144
  experiments  of M. and Draper, portraits first taken, 144-146
  M.'s gallery, 146, 152
  first group picture, 146
Daly, C.P., and M.'s farewell message to telegraph, ~2~, 486
Dana, J.F., M. and lectures on electricity  (1827), ~1~, 290
 friendship and discussions with M., 290
Dana, R.H., at memorial services to M., ~2~, 516
Danforth, M.L. and origin of Academy of  Design, ~1~, 280
  M. on, ~2~, 5
Dartmouth College, quarrel (1816), ~1~, 208
Date of invention of telegraph, ~2~, 12, 13
Daubeny, C.G.B., inspects early telegraph, ~2~, 54
Davenport, Ann, ~1~, 28
Davis, ----, of New Haven, M. rooms at house (1805), ~1~, 10
Davy, Edward, and relay, ~2~, 42
  M. on telegraph, 101, 102
Day, Jeremiah, and M.'s pump, ~1~, 211
  to M. (1822) on gift to Yale, 243
Dead Man restored to Life, Allston's painting, ~1~, 105, 122, 124, 148,
    197, 199
Deadhead, M.'s characteristic telegraphic, ~2~, 445
Declaration of Independence, anecdote of George III and, ~1~, 42, 43
Decorations, foreign, for M., ~2~, 297, 298, 392, 393, 465
DeForest, D.C., to M. (1823) on portrait, ~1~, 243
Delaplaine, Joseph, and M., ~1~, 196
Democratic Convention, reports by telegraph (1844), ~2~, 224-226
Denmark, and M.'s telegraph, ~2~, 352
  decoration for M., 393, 465
Dennison, William, banquet to M., ~2~, 467
De Rham, H.C., informal club, ~2~, 451
Desoulavy, ----, artist at Rome, escapes poisoning (1831), ~1~, 397
De Witt, Jan, concentration of effort, ~1~, 4
Dexter, Miss C., and sketch of Southey, ~1~, 73, 113
Dijon, M. at (1830), ~1~, 320
Diligence, described, ~1~, 319
Dining hour, English (1811), ~1~, 40
Discovery and invention, ~2~, 13
Dividends, M. on lack, 2, 311, 336.
Dix, J.A., to M. (1829) on letters of introduction, ~1~, 299
  at M.'s funeral, ~2~, 511
Dodge, W.E., banquet to M., ~2~, 467, 473
Donaldson, R., M.'s painting for, ~1~, 338
Dot-and-dash code, conception for numbers with hint of alphabet, ~2~, 7,
    11, 12, 17, 18
  as recorded by first receiver, 39
  numbers principle, dictionary, 61, 74
  paternity of alphabet, 62-68
  substitution of alphabet for numbers, 74-76
  peculiar to M.'s telegraph, 93
  M. on reading by sound, 457, 479, 480
Douglas, G.L., from M. (1862) on effort to prevent Civil War, ~2~, 418
Dover Castle, M. on, ~1~, 313
Drake, Mrs. ----, transatlantic voyage (1815), ~1~, 188
Draper, J.W., and daguerreotypes, ~2~, 145, 146
Drawing-room, M. on Queen Charlotte's (1812), ~1~, 77;
  on Mrs. Monroe's (1819), 227
Dresden, M. at (1867), ~2~, 459
Drummond, Henry, and M.'s telegraph, ~2~, 95, 126
Dubois, John, at Rome (1830), ~1~, 340
Dunlap, William, on M.'s Dying Hercules, ~1~, 105, 106
  on M.'s Judgment of Jupiter, 178, 179
  and origin of Academy of Design, 280
Duplex telegraphy, Fisher's discovery (1842), ~2~, 185, 187
Durand, A. B., engraving of M.'s Lafayette, ~1~, 260
  and origin of Academy of Design, 280
Dwight, S.E., and M., ~1~, 10
  from M. (1811) on Daggett portrait, 25
Dwight, Timothy, and M., ~1~, 10
  on Jedediah Morse, 287
Dwight's Tavern, Western, Mass., ~1~, 9
Dying Hercules, M.'s sculpture and painting, ~1~, 85, 86, 102-107, 119,
    134, 185, 437, 2, 188

Edwards, Ninian, proposed Mexican mission (1824), and charges against
    Crawford, ~1~, 253, 256
  from M. on mission, 254
Electricity, M.'s interest at college, ~1~, 18
  and in Dana's lectures (1827), 290
  Henry on electric power, ~2~, 171
  _See also_  Morse (S.F.B.), Telegraph.
Elgin, Earl of, and M.'s telegraph, ~2~, 95, 124, 128
  to M. (1839) on patent, 126
Elgin Marbles, M. on, ~1~, 47, 2, 124
Elisabeth, Princess, appearance (1814), ~1~, 137
Ellsworth, Annie, and telegraph, ~2~, 199, 200, 217, 221
Ellsworth, Henry, and M. abroad, ~2~, 250
Ellsworth, H.L., marriage, ~1~, 112
  and M.'s telegraph, ~2~, 69, 189
  on telegraph in France, 108, 109
  from M. (1843) on construction of experimental line, 217
Ellsworth, Nancy (Goodrich), ~1~, 112
Ellsworth, William, engagement, ~1~, 112
Emancipation Proclamation, M. on, ~2~, 424, 429
Embargo, effect in England, ~1~, 39
Emotion of taste, M. on, ~1~, 401
England, appearance of women, ~1~, 36;
  wartime travel regulations (1811), 36
  condition of laboring classes, 36
  treatment of travellers, 37-39
  critical condition (1811), effect of American embargo, 39, 56, 57, 63
  dining hour, 40
  attitude toward art, 46
  unpopularity of Regent, crisis (1812), 67, 70, 71
  assassination of Perceval, 71
  Spanish victories (1813), 110
  severe winter (1813), 123
  economic depression (1815), 175
  Liverpool (1829), 302, 303
  stage-coach journey to London, 306-308
  peasantry, villages, 306
  Canterbury cathedral, church service, 310-312
  Dover, 313
  M. on social manners, 348
  refusal of patent to M., ~2~, 93-99, 124, 126
  coronation of Victoria, 100, 101
  use of M.'s telegraph, 367
  no share in gratuity to M., 393
  M. on, and Civil War, 420
  _See also_ London, Napoleonic Wars, Neutral trade, War of 1812.
English Channel, steamers (1829), ~1~, 314
  (1845), ~2~, 250
Erie, Lake, battle, ~1~, 151
Esterhasy, Prince, M. on, at Peterhoff (1856), ~2~, 358
Evarts, Jeremiah, to M. (1812) on avoiding politics, ~1~, 86
Evarts, W.M., at banquet to M., ~2~, 472
Evers, John, and origin of Academy of Design, ~1~, 280
Experimental line, bill for, in Congress, ~2~, 189-201
  route, 204
  M.'s assistants, 204-206, 210, 214
  wires, failure of underground, substitution of overhead, 205, 208-210,
  trouble with Smith, 206, 207, 212, 213, 218
  progress, 219
  operation during construction, 219-221
  completion, "What hath God wrought" message, 221-224
  reports of Democratic Convention, 224-226
  cost of construction, 227
  incidents of utility, 227, 228
Fairman, Gideon, and study of live figure, ~1~, 101
Faraday, Michael, and Atlantic cable, ~2~, 343
Farewell message to telegraph, ceremony of sending M.'s, ~2~, 485-491
Farmer, M.G., and duplex telegraph, ~2~, 189
Farragut, D.G., and banquet to M., ~2~, 468
Faxton, T.S., from M. (1847) on salaries, ~2~, 274
Federalists, celebration of Fourth at Charlestown (1805), ~1~, 7
  British opinion (1812), 81
  _See also_ War of 1812.
Ferguson, ----, travel with M. (1831), ~1~, 395, 402
Ferris, C.G., and telegraph, ~2~, 177, 186, 189
Field, ----, pupil of M., ~1~, 258
Field, C.W., and consolidation of telegraph companies, ~2~, 341
  organisation of Atlantic cable company, 341-343
  from M. (1856) on experiments for cable, 348, 366
  Kendall's distrust, 372
  and M.'s retirement from cable company, 385, 386
  from M. (1867) on a visit, success of cable, 450, 451
  banquet to M., 467, 469
  from M. (1871) on neutralizing telegraph, 497
  at M.'s funeral, 511
  at memorial service, 516
Field, D.D., and Atlantic cable, ~2~, 343
  at banquet to M., 473
Field, M.D., and telegraph, ~2~, 342
Finley, J.E.B., and War of 1812, ~1~, 183
  and M. at Charleston, 214, 220
  to M. (1818) on portraits, 216
  death, 225
Finley, Samuel, ~1~, 2
Fire-alarm, M.'s invention embodying principle, ~2~, 132
Fish, Hamilton, at early exhibition of telegraph, ~2~, 48
  banquet to M., 467
Fisher, ----, artist at Charleston (1819), ~1~, 221
Fisher, J.C., and duplex telegraphy, ~2~, 185, 187
  M.'s assistant at Washington, 186, 196
  and construction of experimental line, dismissed, 204, 205, 210-213,
Fisher, J.F., return to America (1832), ~2~, 3
  on conception of telegraph, 11
Fleas, M. on Porto Rican, ~2~, 406
Fleischmann, C.T., on Europe and M.'s telegraph (1845), ~2~, 254
Florence, M.'s journey to, during revolt (1831), ~1~, 385
  M. at, 386, 390
Flower feast at Genzano, ~1~, 354-359
Forsyth, Dr. ----, American Asiatic Company, ~2~, 444
Foss, ----, and F.O.J. Smith, ~2~, 319
Fourth of July, dual celebration at Charlestown (1805), ~1~, 7
  dinner at Paris (1832), 423-425
Foy, Alphonse, and M.'s telegraph, ~2~, 105, 109, 255
France, M. on attitude of Americans (1812), ~1~, 90, 91
  M. on first landing in (1829), 314
  on Sunday in, 318, 322
  cold (1830), 317, 320
  winter Journey across, by diligence, 318-326
  funeral, 321, 322
  M. on social manners, 348
  quarantine (1831), M. avoids it, 402-405
  Lafayette on results of Revolution of 1830, 430
  patent to M., ~2~, 103
  M.'s exhibitions and projects (1838), 104-134
  renewed interest in M.'s telegraph, 240, 243, 244, 255, 256, 313, 351
  M. on people, 256
  testimonials to M., 392
  _See also_ Napoleonic Wars, Paris.
Francesco Caracoiolo, St., M. on feast, ~1~, 352
Franklin, Benjamin, name coupled with M.'s, ~2~, 236, 237, 346, 469
  M. unveils statue, 505
Franklin Institute, exhibition of telegraph, ~2~, 80
Fraser, Charles, artist at Charleston (1819), ~1~, 221
Frasee, John, and origin of Academy of Design, ~1~, 280
Frederick VII of Denmark, and M., ~1~, 373, ~2~, 353
Frederick III of Germany, battle of Königgrätz, ~2~, 463
Frederick William III of Prussia, at London (1814), ~1~, 146
Fredrick Carl, Prince, battle of Königgrätz, ~2~, 463
Frelinghuysen, Theodore, nomination for Vice-Presidency announced over
    telegraph, ~2~, 219
Fremel, ----, and M.'s telegraph, ~2~, 111
French, B.B., telegraph company, ~2~, 247
French Academy of Science. _See_ Institute of France.
Frischen ,----, and duplex telegraphy, ~2~, 187
Fry, ----, and telegraph company (1844), ~2~, 236
Fulton, Robert, and art, ~2~, 471
_Fulton_, transatlantic steamer (1856), ~2~, 386
Funeral, M. on French, ~1~, 321, 322
  on lying in state of cardinal, 344
  on Roman, 350
  on Italian, 366, 367
  of M., ~2~, 311, 312
Fuseli, J.H., and M., ~1~, 179

Gale, L.D., first view of telegraph, ~2~, 41
  aid to M. in telegraph, 53-59, 61, 70, 489
  partnership in telegraph, 83
  loses interest, 136, 139, 151
  and subaqueous experiment, 183
  and construction of experimental line, 204, 211, 210
  Kendall as agent, 246, 326
  and estrangement with Henry, 264
  and extension of M.'s patent, 325
  from M. (1854) on Kendall, 326
  (1855) on trip to Newfoundland, 345
  M.'s tribute, 471
  from M. (1869) on receiving by sound, 479
  to M. (1872) on Smith's last attack, 499
  to Rogers on invention of telegraph, 500
  from M. on Smith, 502
_Galen_, transatlantic ship (1811), ~1~, 55
Gallagher, H.M., and M.'s farewell message to telegraph, ~2~, 486
Gallatin, Albert, informal club, ~2~, 451
  and Louis Napoleon at New York, 452
Galley slaves, at Toulon (1830), ~1~, 326, 327
Garfield, J.A., at memorial services to M., ~2~, 515
Gay-Lussac, J.L., and M.'s telegraph, ~2~, 108
Genoa, Serra Palace, ~1~, 329
Genzano, _festa infiorala_ (1830), ~1~, 354-359
George III, anecdote of Declaration of Independence, ~1~, 42, 43
  expected death (1811), 54
George IV, unpopularity as Regent (1812), ~1~, 67, 71
  appearance, 77
George, Sir Rupert, and American prisoner of war, ~1~, 126
Georgia, and nullification, ~2~, 23
Ghost, scare at London (1811), ~1~, 41
Gibbs. Mrs. A.J.C., child, ~1~, 112
Gibson, ----, artist at Rome, escape from poisoning (1831), ~1~, 397
Gintl, J.W., and duplex telegraph, ~2~, 187
Gisborne, F.N., and telegraph, ~2~, 342
Glenelg, Lord, and War of 1812, ~1~, 90
Gleson, ----, oration at Charlestown (1805), ~1~, 7
Goddard, Elisha, return to America (1813), ~1~, 107
Gonon, ----, visual telegraph, ~2~, 53, 166
Goodhue, Jonathan, informal club, ~2~, 451
Goodrich, Mary, drawing, ~2~, 506
Goodrich, Nancy, marriage, ~1~, 112
Goodrich, W.H., American Asiatic Society, ~2~, 444
  presented at French court, 448-450
Goodrich, Mrs. W.H. (Griswold), from M. (1862) on prospect of Northern
    success, ~2~, 419
  at Paris (1866), 448
Gould, James, and M., ~1~, 238
Grant, Charles. _See_ Glenelg.
Grant, U.S., M. on candidacy (1868), ~2~, 465, 466
  and banquet to M., 468
  at memorial services, 514
Granville, Countess, M. on, at Peterhoff (1856), ~2~, 358
Granville, Earl, M. on, at Peterhoff (1856), ~2~, 362, 363
Gratuity, proposed foreign, to M., ~2~, 373
  award, nations participating, 390, 391
  commission to Broek, 391
  niggardly, 392
  M.'s acknowledgment, 394, 395
  Smith's claim to share, 409-411, 423
  share for Vail's widow, 422
Greeley, Horace, unveils statue of Franklin, ~2~, 505
Green, Norvin, from M. (1855) on effect of telegraph, ~2~, 345
Greenough, Horatio, and M. at Paris (1831), ~1~, 406
  to M. (1832) on art future of America, poverty, religion, Bunker Hill
    Monument, M.'s. domestic affairs, 412
Gregory XVI, election, ~1~, 378
  coronation, 380, 381
  policy, 383
Grier, R.C., telegraph decision, ~2~, 293
Griswold, A.B., from M. (1861) on being a traitor, ~2~, 418
Griswold, Catherine (Breese), marriage, ~1~, 228
  in Europe with M. (1858), ~2~, 396
  from M. (1858) on experiences in West Indies, 397, 406
  (1866) on Paris quarters, 447
  (1867) on presentation at court, 448
Griswold, H.W., marriage, ~1~, 228
Griswold, R.W., from M. (1852) on Cooper, ~2~, 314
Griswold, Sarah E., marries M., ~2~, 289, 290
Gros, A.J., M. on allegorical painting, ~1~, 318
Gypsies, M. on, ~1~, 310

Habersham, R.W., and M. at Paris (1832), on hints of telegraph, ~1~, 417,
  on M.'s experiments with photography, 421
Halske, J.G., and duplex telegraph, ~2~, 187
Hamburg, M. at and on (1845), ~2~, 253, 254
  (1856), 352
Hamilton, J.C., informal club, ~2~, 452
Hamlin, Cyrus, and telegraph in Turkey, ~2~, 298
Hanover, N.H., M. at (1816), ~1~, 209
Hare and tortoise fable applied to M. and brother, ~2~, 388, 389
Harris, Levitt, M. on, ~1~, 146
Harrison, Thomas, American Asiatic Society, ~2~, 444
Hart, Ann, marries Isaac Hull, ~1~, 112
Hart, Eliza, ~1~, 28
Hart, Jannette, and M., ~1~, 28-30, 112
Hartford, inn (1805), ~1~, 9
Harvard College, lottery (1811), ~1~, 46
Hauser, Martin, from M. (1863) on slavery, ~2~, 424
Haven, G.W., at Fourth dinner at Paris (1832), ~1~, 424
Hawks, F.L., and Civil War, ~2~, 416
Hawley, Dr. -----, of New Haven, sermon (1810), ~1~, 20
Hayne, R.Y., and M., ~1~, 252, 253
Henry, Joseph, and relay, ~2~, 42, 140, 141
  share in M.'s telegraph controversy, 55-57, 261-266, 318, 329, 402, 405,
    476-479, 500, 504
  letters with M. (1839) on consultation, 138-141
  to M. (1842) in praise of telegraph, 170-174
  on electric power, 171
  and construction of experimental line, 215
  Smith on, as inventor of telegraph, 498, 499
Hepburn, H.C., and telegraph, ~2~, 296
Hillhouse, Joseph, to M. (1813) on M.'s family, social gossip, ~1~, 111
Hillhouse, Mary, ~1~, 111
Hilliard, Francis, referee on Smith's claim, ~2~, 411
Hilton, William, meets M., ~1~, 308
Hinkley, Ann, death, ~1~, 8
Hodge, Aspinwall, from M. (1872) on Smith's last attack, ~2~, 602
Hodgson, ----, proposed Mexican mission (1824), ~1~, 263
Hoffman, J.T., banquet to M., ~2~, 467;
  at unveiling of statue to M., 483;
  at M.'s funeral, 511
Holland, M. on Broek (1845), ~2~, 261-253
  and gratuity to M., 393
Holmes, I.E., and telegraph, ~2~, 180
Holy Thursday at St. Peter's (1830), ~1~, 346, 347
Holy See, and gratuity to M., ~2~, 393
  _See also_ Rome.
Holy Week in Rome (1830), ~1~, 344-347
Hone, Philip, owns M.'s Thorwaldsen, ~1~, 372
Hoover, R.B., and statue to M., ~2~, 482
Hopkins, J.H., and Civil War, ~2~, 416
Horsford, E.N., on invention of telegraph, ~2~, 14-17
  on discovery of relay, 41, 42
  at memorial services to M., 516
House, R.E., and telegraph, ~2~, 271. 276
House of Representatives, M.'s painting, ~1~, 240-242, 252
Houston, G.S., and telegraph, ~2~, 194
Howard, Henry, meets M., ~1~, 308
Howe, S.G., imprisonment at Berlin, ~1~, 430
Hubbard, R., pupil of M., ~2~, 156
Hull, Ann (Hart), ~1~, 112
Hull, Isaac, marriage, ~1~, 112
Humboldt, Alexander von, and M., ~1~, 423, ~2~, 104, 108, 365
  inscription on photograph, 366
Hunt, W.G., and Atlantic cable, ~2~, 343
Huntington, Daniel, and M.'s House of Representatives, ~1~, 242;
  estimate of M. as artist, 435-437
  early view of telegraph, ~2~, 48
  banquet to M., speech, 467, 473
  at M.'s funeral, 511
Huntington, J.W., and telegraph, ~2~, 187, 199
Husted, J.W., at M.'s funeral, ~2~, 512
Hutton, M.S., and Civil War, ~2~, 416

Immigration, M.'s attitude, ~2~, 331-333
India, and M.'s telegraph, ~2~, 350
Indians, Jedediah Morse as special commissioner, ~1~, 228
Ingham, C.C., and portrait of Lafayette, ~1~, 261
  and origin of Academy of Design, 280
  to M. (1849) on Academy, ~2~, 306
Inman, Henry, and portrait of Lafayette, ~1~, 261
  and origin of Academy of Design, 280
  to M. (1849) on Academy, ~2~, 305
Institute of France, M.'s exhibition of telegraph, ~2~, 104, 107, 108, 256
  M.'s membership, 393
Invention, Horsford on necessary elements, ~2~, 16
  _See also_ Morse, S.F.B. (_Scientific career._)
Ireland, Mrs. ----, at Recoaro (1831), ~1~, 897
Irving, Washington, and Coleridge, ~1~, 97
  and M. at London (1829), 309
Isham, Samuel, estimate of M. as artist, ~1~, 437, 438
Isle of Wight, M. on (1867), ~2~, 466
Italy, travel from Nice to Rome (1830), ~1~, 328-337
  beggars, 330, 332, 341, 355, 363, 369
  perils of travel, 332, 400
  flower festival at Genzano, 354-359
  M. at Naples and Amalfi, 364-370
  condition of travel (1831), 391
  to Venice by boat on Po, 391-393
  M. at Venice, 393-396
  testimonials to M., 2, 393
  M. on conditions (1867), 468
  _See also_ Rome.

Jackson, Andrew, congratulates Adams on election (1825), ~1~, 263
Jackson. C.T., voyage with M. (1832), ~2~, 3
  talks on electrical progress, later claim of giving M. idea of telegraph,
    6, 11, 58, 69, 78, 79, 121, 137, 274, 305
Jacobins, Federalist name for Republicans (1805), ~1~, 7
Jarvis, ----, with M. at Peterhoff (1856), ~2~, 357
Jarvis, S.F., to M. (1814) on war from Federalist point of view, ~1~, 157
Jarvis, Mrs. S.F. (Hart), 1, 28;
  from M. (1811) on attitude toward art, Copley, West, Elgin Marbles,
    London cries, knocking, American crisis, ~1~, 46
  to M. (1813) on art in America, 100
Jay, P.A., and Cooper, ~2~, 22
  informal club, 451
Jewett, J.S., on M. and Atlantic cable, ~2~, 386
Jewett, William, and origin of Academy of Design, ~1~, 280
Jocelyn, N., travel with M. on continent (1830-31), ~1~, 309, 317
  from M. (1864) on attempt to paint, ~2~, 433
Johnson, Andrew, M. on, ~2~, 446
  and banquet to M., 468
Johnson, Cave, and telegraph, ~2~, 192, 194, 225, 232
  from M. (1845) on Vail, 275
Johnson, William, informal club, ~2~, 451
Johnston, J.T., and M.'s Thorwaldsen, from M. (1868) on it, ~1~, 372-374
Judgment of Jupiter, M.'s painting, ~1~, 178, 179, 196, 199, 215

Kane, J.K., telegraph decision, ~2~, 273, 293
Kane, James, and M., ~1~, 247
Kemble, J.P., M. on, as actor, ~1~, 77
Kendall, Amos, character as M.'s business agent, M.'s confidence, ~2~,
    246, 326, 336, 372, 389, 409, 471, 481
  first telegraph company, 247
  progress, 247
  and rival companies, 276
  on Jackson's claim, 305
  and Smith, 308, 309, 503
  and consolidation of lines, 320
  and extension of patent, 325
  benevolences, 442
  M. on death, 481
  _Letters to M:_
    (1849) on despondency, litigation, ~2~, 301
    (1862) on destruction of evidence, 316
    (1855) on California telegraph graft, 338
    on suspicion of the Vails, 339
    on sale of interests, trials of management, 340
    (1857) on distrust of cable company, 372
    (1858) on foreign gratuity, 392
    (1859) on death of Vail, 400
  _From M:_
    (1847) on mercy to infringers, 272
    (1861) on preparation against loss of suits, Smith, 311
    (1852) on Smith's triumph, law expenses, 319, 320
    (1854) on lack of dividends, 336
    on Smith and extension of patent, 346
    (1866) on same, 370
    (1869) on honors and enmity, 406
    on lawyers, 409
    (1860) on Smith and gratuity, 410
    on ball to Prince of Wales, 414
    (1862) on foreign machinations in Civil War, 420
    (1866) on telegraph monopoly, 444
Kendall, John, and M., ~2~, 323
Kennedy, J.P., and telegraph, ~2~, 189, 192, 193
Kent, James, M.'s portrait, ~1~, 247, 248, 250
  and Cooper, ~2~, 22
  informal club, 451
  and Louis Napoleon at New York, 452
Kent, Moss, M.'s portrait, ~1~, 246
Key. _See_ Sender.
King, C.B., Leslie on, ~1~, 59
  to M. (1813) on personal relations, 60
  at premier of Coleridge's _Remorse_, 96;
  return to America, 100, 101
King's (Liverpool) Arms Hotel, ~1~, 34, 302
Kingsley, J.L., M.'s profile, ~1~, 19
Kirk, E.N., and M.'s exhibition of telegraph at Paris, ~2~, 106, 133
Knocking, M. on custom at London, ~1~, 48
Know-Nothing Party, M.'s attitude, ~2~, 332, 337
Königgrätz, battle of, influence of telegraph, ~2~, 463
Krebs, J.M., and Civil War, ~2~, 416

Laboring classes, condition of English (1811), ~1~, 36
Lafayette, Marquis de, M.'s portrait, ~1~, 260-262, 264, 270, 272, 286
  M.'s friendship, 262
  to M. (1825) on bereavement, 266
  from M. (1825) with sonnet, 273
  and M. at Paris (1830), 316
  and Revolution of 1830, 406
  and Polish revolt, 408, 430
  in 1831, 408
  on American finances (1832), 423
  M.'s toast to, at Fourth dinner at Paris (1832), 424, 425
  to M. (1832) on state of Europe, nullification, Poles, political effect
    of cholera, 430
  M. and death, ~2~, 34
  on Catholic Church and American liberties, 330
Lafayette, G.W., meets M., ~1~, 264
  M.'s letter of sympathy (1834), ~2~, 34
Lamb, Charles, and M., ~1~, 95
  at premier of Coleridge's _Remorse_, 96
Lancaster, ----, transatlantic voyage (1815), ~1~, 188.
Landi, Gasparo, M. on paintings, ~1~, 349, 350
Langdon, John, M.'s portrait, ~1~, 211
Languages, M. and foreign, ~1~, 372
Lasalle, ----, and M.'s telegraph, ~2~, 123
Latham, M.S., and telegraph in California, M.'s scorn of methods, ~2~,
    338, 339
Law and lawyers, M.'s opinion, ~2~, 272, 320, 371, 409, 412
Lawrence, James, M. on defeat and death, ~1~, 109
Lawrence, W.B., informal club, ~2~, 452
Lectures, M.'s, on fine arts, ~1~, 281, 284, 285
Lee, G. W., gift to Academy of Design, ~1~, 384
Leffingwell, Miss ----, miniature by M., ~1~, 19
Legion of Honor, bestowed on M., ~2~, 391
Le Grice, Comte, and M., ~1~, 377, 385
_Leopard_, and laying of first Atlantic cable, ~2~, 378
Leslie, C.R., and M. at London (1811-15), ~1~, 59, 62, 65, 74
  on Allston, King, Coleridge, 59, 60
  as art student, 65
  and Coleridge, 95, 96
  Saul, 123
  to M. (1814) on being hard up, Allston, war, 155
  and Allston, 156, 168
  life and economies as student, 159, 161, 162
  to M. (1816) on _Catalogue Raisonné_, 199
  reunions with M. (1829), 308
    (1832), 433
    (1856), ~2~, 351
  M. sits for Sterne, ~1~, 433
  M. on politics, ~2~, 4
  anecdote of Victoria, 101
  portrait of Allston, 436
Leslie, Eliza, travel with M. (1829), ~1~, 303
Leslie, J.R., tutor to M.'s children, ~2~, 447
  from M. (1868) on presidential election, 465
Letter-writing, Jedediah Morse on, ~1~, 4
Lettsom, J.C., character, Sheridan's ridicule, ~1~, 40
Lincoln, Earl of. _See_ Newcastle.
Lincoln, Abraham, M.'s attitude, ~2~, 424, 429
  M. leaves no reference to assassination, 437
Lind, Charles, M.'s grandson, ~2~, 219
  art study at Paris, 448
Lind, Edward, Porto Rican estate, ~2~, 399
  from M. (1867) on Paris Exposition, 453
Lind, Mrs. Henry, and M. at Hamburg, ~2~, 353
Lind, Susan W. (Morse), M.'s portrait, ~1~, 435
  at New York (1844), ~2~, 219
  from M. (1845) on Congress and purchase of telegraph, domestic
    happiness, 244
  on dinner at Russian minister's, 245
  (1845) on experiences on Continent, 250-254, 256
  M.'s visit to (1858), 397-400, 406
  from M. (1865) on proposed statue, 442
  (1871) on unveiling of statue, 492
  _See also_ Morse, Susan W.
Liverpool, M. at (1811), ~1~, 34-36
  (1829), docks, 303
Liverpool (King's) Arms Inn, ~1~, 34, 302
Livingston, Cambridge, letters with M. (1846) on coat of arms and motto,
    ~2~, 258
  at M.'s funeral, 511
Locust Grove, M.'s home at Poughkeepsie, ~2~, 269, 280, 284, 286, 296, 464
  M.'s farewell, 496
London, M. on cries (1811), ~1~, 48
  on custom of knocking, 48
  on crowds, 49
  on Vauxhall, 50-52
  on St. Bartholomew's Fair, 52
  entrée of Louis XVIII (1814), 136-140
  fête of Allies, 142-147
  approach (1829), 307
  M. at (1829), 308, 309
    (1845), ~2~, 249
    (1856), 349-351, 366, 368, 369
    (1857), 373
  M. on growth (1832), ~1~, 432
London _Globe_, on M.'s Dying Hercules, ~1~, 106
Lord, Daniel, to M. (1847) on infringements, ~2~, 272
Lord, Nathan, and Civil War, ~2~, 416
Loring, G.B., and M.'s farewell message to telegraph, ~2~, 485
Lottery, M.'s attitude, ~1~, 46, 130, 131
  Roman, 354
Louis XVIII of France, entrée into London (1814), ~1~, 136-140
  appearance, 139
Louis Philippe, and M.'s telegraph, ~2~, 103, 112, 123
Louisville _Courier-Journal_, tribute to M., ~2~, 510
Louvre, M. on, ~1~, 315
  M.'s painting of interior, 421, 422, 426, ~2~, 27
Lovering, ----, from M. (1840) on daguerreotype material, anecdote, ~2~,
Low, A.A., banquet to M., ~2~, 467, 472
Lowber, R.W., and Atlantic cable, ~2~, 343
Lowell, ----, minister at Bristol, Eng. (1814), ~1~, 121
Loyalty, M. on meaning in America, ~2~, 428
Ludlow, H.G., from M. (c. 1862) on Civil War, ~2~, 415
_Lydia_, transatlantic ship (1811), ~1~, 33
Lyons, M. at (1830), ~1~, 323

Macaulay, Zachary, invitation to M. (1812), ~1~, 79
  and M., 135
McClellan, G.B., M. and presidential candidacy, ~2~, 427, 429-431
McClelland, Robert, and Coffin, ~2~, 164
McCormick, C.H., and reaper, ~2~, 501
McFarland, Asa, and M., ~1~, 201, 202, 217
McGowan, Samuel, on telegraph in Australia, ~2~, 321
McIlvaine, C.P., and Civil War, ~2~, 416
Madison, James, and War of 1812, ~1~, 66
Maggiore, Lago, M. at (1831), ~1~, 400
Magnet, Henry and, of M.'s telegraph, ~2~, 66-57
  _See also_ Henry.
Magnetic Telegraph Company, ~2~, 247
Main, William, and origin of Academy of Design, ~1~, 280
Mallory, ----, bookseller at Boston, M. apprenticed to, ~1~, 24
Manrow, J.P., and company to operate telegraph, ~2~, 173
Marius in Prison, M.'s painting, ~1~, 82
Marlborough, Duke of, gambler (1829), ~1~, 307
Marseilles, M. at (1830), ~1~, 325
Marsh, ----, of Wethersfield (1806), ~1~, 9
Marsiglia, Gerlando, and origin of Academy of Design, ~1~, 280
Mary, Princess, appearance (1814), ~1~, 137
Mason, ----, proposed Mexican mission (1824), ~1~, 253
Mason, J.Y., from M. (1866) on presidential election, ~2~, 371
  and gratuity to M., 373
Mason, Samson, and telegraph, ~2~, 189, 194
Mathews, Charles, from M. (1814) offering a faroe, ~1~, 129
Maury, M.F., soundings of Atlantic plateau, ~2~, 343
Maverick, Peter, and origin of Academy of Design, ~1~, 280
Mead, F.J., from M. (1872) on Smith's last attack, ~2~, 504
Melville, Lord, and American prisoner of war, ~1~, 126
Mexican War, M. on, ~2~, 270
Mexico, M. and proposed mission (1824), ~1~, 252-256
Meyendorf, Baron de, and M.'s telegraph, ~2~, 120, 147
  from M. (1840) on improvement, 153
Milan, M.'s impressions (1831), ~1~, 398
Military telegraph, M.'s plan, ~2~, 132-134
_Miserere_, M. on Allegri's, ~1~, 345
Money, W.T., British consul at Venice, and M. at Recoaro (1831), ~1~, 396,
Monks, M. on, ~1~, 352
Monopoly, M. on beneficent telegraph, ~2~, 444
  _See also_ Consolidation.
Monroe, James, M.'s portrait, ~1~, 222, 226
  and M., 227
  last levee, 262
Monroe, Mrs. James, drawing-room, ~1~, 227
Montaigne, M.E. de, M. on _Essays_, ~1~, 16
Montalivet, Comte M.C.B. de, and M.'s telegraph, ~2~, 105, 109
Morgan, J.J., to M. (1815) on death of Mrs. Allston, ~1~, 168
Morris, Tasker, & Morris, and experimental telegraph line, ~2~, 206
Morse, Arthur, from M. (1868) on return home, Thorwaldsen portrait, ~2~,
  on death of brother, 466
Morse, C.W., birth, ~1~, 244
  childhood home, 298
  at New York (1844), ~2~, 219
  and farm, 269
  marriage, 289
  M. seeks official position for, 387
Morse, Elisabeth A., M.'s daughter, birth and death, ~1~, 237
Morse, Elisabeth A. (Breese), character, ~1~, 2, 293
  from R.W. Snow (1812) on M. as artist, 64
  and War of 1812, 114, 115
  illness (1818), 215
  travel (1826), 288
  decline and death, 292
  _Letters to M:_
    (1805) on religious duty, celebration of Fourth, ~1~, 6
    on uncertainty of life, 8
    on college extravagances, 11
    (1812) on sketch of Southey, 73
    on war, 79
    (1813) on war, 99
    on dangers of success, 113
    on infidelity of Americans in England, avoidance of actors and
      theatres, 117
    (1814) good advice, patron, his parents' early economies and success,
    reproof on debts, 158
    (1815) on peace, purchase for clothes, 173
    on right of parental reproofs, 182
    on Dying Hercules, 185
    (1816) on M.'s love affair, 203, 206
  _From M:_ (_See also_ his letters to Jedediah Morse)
    (1820) on work in Charleston, provisions and plans for family, 229
    (1826) on travel, brother, own work, proposed trip abroad, 289
    (1828) on exhibition, servants, her health, 291, 292
Morse, Finley, birth, ~1~, 267
  attends brother's wedding, ~2~, 289
Morse, Jedediah [1], death, career, ~1~, 227
Morse, Jedediah [2], orthodoxy, ~1~, 1
  prominence, 1
  children, 2
  to Bishop of London (1806) on church property in Virginia, 13
  to Lindley Murray (1806) on works, 14
  and M.'s desire for art career, 26, 31, 32, 116
  to Talleyrand (1811) introducing M., 31
  and War of 1812, 58, 109, 116, 181
  reputation in England, 76
  home scene (1813), 111
  domestic relations, 142, 287, 293
  from Romeyn and Van Schaick (1814) on M.'s character, war views, and
    progress, 166
  church trouble at Charlestown, 223-225, 228, 229
  Indian commissioner, 228
  moves to New Haven, 234
  from S.E. Morse (1823) on M. at New York, 251
  death, 287
  character and attainments, 287, 293
  monument, ~2~, 421, 422
  _Letters to M:_
    (1801) on letter-writing, concentration of effort, ~1~, 3
    (1810) on profession, 22
    (1812) on financial straits, brothers, war, 65, 80
    (1813) on economy, war, 108, 109
    (1814) on M.'s plans, 156
    (1815) on M.'s war views, 168, 181
    on M.'s plans, 182
    (1816) on love affair, 203, 205
    (1825) on death of M.'s wife, 265
  _From M:_
    (1799) earliest letter, 3
    (1805) on Journey to New Haven, start at Yale, 9
    (1807) on desire for relaxation, 14
    on routine, 16
    on Montaigne's _Essays_, 16
    (1810) on New York and Philadelphia, 20;
    on debts, 20;
    on brother at college, profession, 21, 22
    (1811) on voyage to England, 33, 34
    (1812) on West as artist, war, 62
    on England and American crisis, West as artist, assassination of
      Perceval, 67-72
    on Leslie, Allston, own work, 74
    on tea-making, 75
    on diploma for father, Orders in Council, 76
    on drawing room, theatres, charivari, 78
    on war, gratitude to parents, Allston, 80
    on war friends, 87-93
    (1813) on expenses, work, Allston, 103
    on Dying Hercules, 107
    on war, Spanish victories, poet and painter, Allston's poems, coat of
      arms, 110
    on progress, study at Paris, war views, 114
    (1814) on British treatment of Americans, religious sentiments,
      success at Bristol, politics, Allston, art in America, health,
      severe winter, 120
    on overthrow of Napoleon, further study, 127
    on further study, ambition, parents' complaint of neglect, Wilberforce
      and slave-trade, entrée of Louis XVIII, war views, 132
    on London fête of Allies, 142
    on study at Paris, 148
    on war views, study at Paris, failure at Bristol, 152
    on failure at Bristol, English hatred of Americans, 163
    (1815) on mother's reproof for extravagance and other failings, study
      at Paris, Russell portrait, 159, 173, 180
    on death of Mrs. Allston, 168
    on failure at Bristol, economy and expenses, Napoleon's return, 169
    on preparation for temporary return home, ambition, toil of painting,
    on Napoleon's abdication, 183
    (1816) on painting tour in New Hampshire, love affair and engagement,
    (1817) on success at Portsmouth, 212
    (1818) on voyage to Charleston, 219
    on lodgings there, brother, 220
    on success there, 220
    (1819) on church trouble at Charlestown, 223
    (1825) on death of M.'s wife, 267, 269
    on Academy of Design, Literary Society, 281
    (1826) on trials and blessings, lectures, 283
    on Academy, question of second marriage, 284
    lectures, Lafayette portrait, health, 285
    on anxiety about father's health, 286
Morse, Louisa, goes abroad with M. (1856), ~2~, 347
Morse, Lucretia P. (Walker), engagement to M., ~1~, 202-210, 212
  marriage, 217
  honeymoon, 217, 218
  goes to Charleston with M. (1818), 219, 220
  children, 225, 236, 244, 267
  and M.'s plans (1820), 229, 230
  at Concord (1821), 239
  and M.'s absence, 244
  with M. at New York, 257
  death, effect on M., 265-270
  epitaph, 270, 271
  _Letters to M:_
    (1821) on Academy at Charleston, ~1~, 236
    on perseverance, 240
    (1823) on sleeping on the floor, 250
    on Mexican mission, 253
  _From M:_
    (1820) on Alston as patron, 233
    on work at Charleston, 234
    on subsidence of work there, Academy, 235
    on return, 237
    on a bonnet, 239
    on painting of House of Representatives, 240, 241
    (1823) on experiences at Albany, 245
    on failure at New York, Mexican mission, 251
    (1824) on Journey to Washington, 255
    on failure of mission, 256
    success at New York, 257
    (1825) on same, Lafayette portrait, Washington experiences, 259-265
Morse, R.C., birth, ~1~, 2
  at Phillips Andover, 5
  at Yale, 21, 22, 26
  to M. (1813) on war views, 118
  studies theology, 142
  different career, 142
  and brothers, 142, ~2~, 269, 388
  at Savannah (1818), ~1~, 220, 223
  goes to frontier with father (1820), 228
  New York _Observer_, 244
  from S.E. Morse (1826) on M. at New York, 275
  marriage, 288, 298
  on M.'s talk on telegraph (1832), ~2~, 17
  assists M. financially, 25
  and Poughkeepsie place, 281
  from M. (1857) on withdrawal from cable company, 384
  and Civil War, 416
  monument to father, 421, 422
  from M. (1864) on supporting Lincoln, 429-432
  M. on death, 466
  For other letters from M. _See_ Morse, S.E.
Morse, S.E., birth, ~1~, 2
  at Phillips Andover, 5
  at Yale, 16, 21, 22
  plans for career, 66
  as misogynist, 99
  studies law, 142, 223
  different career, 142
  and brothers, 142, ~2~, 269, 388
  Boston _Recorder_, ~1~, 208
  invention of pump, 211
  New York _Observer_, 244
  to father (1823) on M. at New York, 251
  to R.C. Morse (1825) on same, 275
  on M.'s talk on telegraph (1832), ~2~, 17, 18
  assists M. financially, 25, 185
  in Europe (1845), 249, 269
  (1856), 349
  as tortoise to M.'s hare, 388, 389
  and Civil War, 416
  monument to father, 421, 422
  M. and death, 496
  _Letters to M:_
    (1813) on family interest, ~1~, 61
    (1813) on poet and painter, 99, 117
  _From M:_
    (1805) on religion, 5
    (1812) on an execution, progress, West, Van Rensselaer, 72
    (1828) on near accident, 293
    (1830) on Paris, letters for newspaper, 317
    (1831) on meeting with Prince Radziwill, 386
    on Greenough, Lafayette, Polish revolt, Paris mob, 407
    on painting of Louvre, cholera in Paris, Lafayette on American
      finances, 422
    on Louvre painting, Cooper's character, American principles and
      European criticism, 426
    (1837) on illness, Vail portraits, telegraph, ~2~, 72
    on exhibition of telegraph, 73
    (1839) on projects in France, discouragement, 113
    on daguerreotype, 129
    (1843) on telegraph bill in Congress, 190-193, 195
    (1843-44) on construction of experimental line, trials, Fisher,
      Smith, 210-213, 216, 218
    (1844) on success, reports of Democratic Convention, Smith, 228, 229,
    on foreign inquiries, Congress and purchase, 243, 244
    (1845) on France and telegraph, 255
    (1846) on painting for Capitol, 268
    on accident, 268
    on progress of telegraph, Mexican War, Infringements, printing
      telegraph, 269
    (1847) on rivals, litigation, 275, 276, 282
    on Smith, 280
    on Poughkeepsie home, 280-282
    (1848) on litigation, home, 283, 296
    on engagement, 289
    (1849) on Jackson's claim, newspaper hostility, 305
    (1856) on social and telegraph affairs in England, 349
    on experiences and honors on Continent, 351
    (1857) on telegraphic affairs, slavery, 389
    (1858) on family party in Europe, 397
    (1859) on death of Vail, 400
    on workings of Providence in his case, 403
    on telegraph in Porto Rico, proposed Spanish cable, 404
    (1867) on report of electrical exhibition at Paris, 454, 457, 460,
    on fêtes, 455
    on plans for winter, Italy, Church and State, American politics, 457
    on old age, 461
    (1869) on breaking leg, 481
Morse, S.E., Jr., from M. (1862) on monument to father, ~2~, 421
Morse, S.F.B.,
  _early years, domestic life, and characteristics:_
    birth, ~1~, 1
    parents, 1
    schooling, 3-8
    religious and moral attitude, 5, 18, 120, 212, 213, 296-298, 401, 438,
      ~2~, 128, 160
    parental solicitude as to character, ~1~, 6-8, 11, 113, 121, 149, 154,
      158-163, 166, 182
    attitude toward parents, 9, 129, 133, 135, 142, 152
    travel to New Haven (1805), 9, 10
    start at Yale, room, 10
    expenses and debts at college, 10, 16, 17, 20
    drops a class, 11
    parental admonitions against college extravagances, 11, 12
    tenacity, 11
    desire for relaxation at college, 14
    routine there, 15
    on Montaigne's _Essays_, 16
    desire to travel, 18
    interest in electrical experiments at college, 18
    portraits painted at college, 19, 20
    question of career, desires to become artist, apprenticed to
      bookseller, 21-24, 26
    continued interest in art, 24-26, 30
    art career decided upon, attitude and sacrifices of parents, 26, 29,
      31, 32, 82, 85, 116, 155
    college love affair, 28-30, 112
    on smuggling cigars, 45, 46
    on lotteries, 46, ~2~, 180, 181
    and theatres, ~1~, 72, 77, 78, 374-376, 399
    sincerity, 84
    interest in public affairs, 93
    frankness, enjoyment of controversy, 93
    reading, 102
    and coat of arms, 110, ~2~, 258
    appearance (1814), ~1~, 123
    writes a farce (1814), 129, 130
    and brothers, 142, ~2~, 269, 388
    industry, ~1~, 161, 162
    and Lucy Russell, 180
    buoyancy, 200, 235, 256, 284
    love affair and engagement, 202-210
    and fiancée, 212, 214
    on Universalists, 213
    marriage, 217
    honeymoon, 217, 218
    and father's church troubles, 223, 229
    children by first wife, 225, 236, 244, 267
    marriage of future mother-in-law, 228
    domesticity, 230, 238, 285, 375, 394, ~2~, 106, 116, 245
    family at New Haven (1820), ~1~, 234
    perseverance, 240
    on saying farewell, 254
    and death of wife, on her character, 265-270, 288, ~2~, 115
    sonnet on Lafayette, ~1~, 273
    homes for children, 274, 298
    leadership, altruism, 275, 305, ~2~, 443
    thoughts on second marriage, ~1~, 285, 418, ~2~, 115
    and decline and death of father, ~1~, 286, 287
    on servants, 291, 302
    and decline of mother, 292
    narrow escape (1828), 293-295
    constitution, 304
    temperance, 304
    moulding of character, 304
    and foreign languages, 372
    patriotism, 395, 423, 427-429, 438, ~2~, 383, 428, 429
    on devotion and emotion of taste, ~1~, 401
    capacity for friendship, 439, ~2~, 494
    maintenance of his rights, ~1~, 439, ~2~, 2, 518
    necessary qualities of an inventor, 16, 20, 57, 91, 152, 171
    belief in divine ordination of his invention, and divine plan in
      trials and successes, 19, 46-48, 127, 160, 170, 180, 181, 190-193,
      213, 216, 222-224, 229, 230, 233, 234, 266, 267, 271, 284, 403,
      442, 443, 453, 472, 493
    controversies over Catholic Church, 35-37, 330, 336
    self-control, 116, 155
    sense of humor, 116, 155
    horror of debt, 174, 178, 312
    liberality, donations, 269, 298-301, 311, 315, 321, 413, 437
    and Poughkeepsie home, 269, 280, 284, 286, 296, 464, 496
    on being fifty-six, 277
    second marriage and family, 289, 290, 494
    and printing when a boy, 299
    despondency under strain of litigation, 301
    attitude toward rewards for invention, 314
    refuses to endorse notes, 319;
    defence of slavery, 331, 333, 389, 390, 415, 416, 418, 420, 424-426,
      429, 430, 432
    on crinoline, 373
    as hare to brother's tortoise, 388, 389
    buys house in New York, 409
    monument to father, 421, 422
    on Unitarianism, 430
    exhortation of his children, 433, 434
    on wayward sons, 435, 466
    on enigma of wealth, 436
    trials and afflictions of old age, 459, 481, 482, 498
    on old age, 461, 464
    and death of brothers, 466, 496
    pastor on character, 493
    poem (1827), 495, 496
    versatility, 509, 517
    Prime's review of character, 516-519
    sensibility, 518
  _Art student in England, 1811-15:_
    voyage to England with Allston, ~1~, 32-35
    on English ladies, 36
    journey to London, 36
    on treatment of travelers, tips, impositions, 36-39
    on English laboring class, 36
    on England and embargo, 39
    on Dr. Lettsom, 40
    on English dining hour, 40
    on a ghost, 41
    West's interest in, 42, 44, 47, 62, 73, 85, 102, 103, 114, 179, 199
    anecdote of West and George III., 42, 43
    preparation to enter Royal Academy, 43, 46, 55
    on West as artist and man, 44, 63, 68, 69, 102
    on female artists, 45
    on attitude toward art in England and America, 46, 122, 123
    on Copley in old age, 47
    on Elgin Marbles, 47, ~2~, 124
    on cries of London, ~1~, 48
    on custom of knocking, 48
    on balloon ascension and London crowd, 49
    on Vauxhall Gardens, 50-52
    on St. Bartholomew's Fair, 52-64
    economy, expenses, debts, 54, 70, 103, 108, 149, 158-163, 171
    Allston's interest and criticism, 55, 56, 74, 75, 83, 85, 104, 114,
      130, 162, 197-199
    work, 56, 62, 75
    on conditions in England (1811-12), 56, 57, 63, 70, 71
    unfederalistic views on War of 1812, 58, 64, 67, 70, 76, 81, 82, 84,
      87-93, 109, 110, 114-116, 122, 140, 141, 152, 153, 165, 166, 181
    not molested during the war, 58, 86
    and Leslie, 59, 62, 65, 74
    family interest in progress, 61, 62
    commendations and criticisms, 64, 101, 120, 167
    on assassination of Perceval, 71, 72
    on difficulties and toil of painting, 73, 178
    and Van Rensselaer, 73, 245
    on life as student, 75
    on charivari, 78
    Marius in Prison, 82
    devotion to art, ambition, 85, 133, 161, 164. 177
    Dying Hercules, sculpture and painting, exhibition and awards, 85, 86,
      102-107, 119, 134, 185, 437, ~2~, 188
    rooms at London, ~1~, 86
    and Wilberforce, 89, 94
    on American attitude toward French (1812), 90, 91
    on Orders in Council, 91, 92
    on retreat from Moscow, 93
    on Gilbert Stuart, 93
    letters of introduction, 93
    London friends, 95
    and Coleridge, 95, 96
    on contemporary American artists (1813), 102, 103
    on Allston as artist and man, 102, 105, 108
    and study at Paris, 114, 134, 149, 152-154, 167, 174
    funds for longer stay abroad, 116, 142
    at Bristol as portrait painter, lack of success, 119, 121, 149, 153,
      163, 164. 169-171
    question of self-support and further study, 122, 123, 128, 129,
      131-134, 155, 157
    efforts for release of Burritt (1813), 124-127
    and overthrow of Napoleon, 127, 128
    seeks a patron, 134, 142, 155
    and London's celebration of overthrow of Napoleon, 136-140, 142-147
    and death of Mrs. Allston, 168
    on Napoleon's return and Waterloo, 172, 183
    prepares for temporary return home, 176, 176, 186
    hope for employment in America, 176
    Judgment of Jupiter, not allowed to compete by Royal Academy, 178,
      179, 196, 199, 215
    Russell portrait, 180
    journal of dreadful voyage home, 186-195
    experience at Dover (1814), 313
    see ship carrying Napoleon to St. Helena, 379
  _Art career in America:_
    lack of demand, ~1~, 196
    Adams portrait, 196
    portrait painting in New Hampshire (1816-17), 197, 201-209, 213
    settles down to portrait painting, 200, 217
    as portrait painter, 200, 216, 258, 438
    on painting quacks, 206
    portrait painting at Portsmouth, 210-212
    Langdon portrait, 211
    at Charleston (1818-21), 214-217, 219-226, 229-237
    and J.A. Alston, 215, 224, 226, 233
    voyage to Charleston (1818), 219
    on R.A. for Allston, 222
    Monroe portrait, 222, 226, 234
    thinks of settling at Charleston, 223
    at Washington (1819), 226, 227
    (1821), 240; (1824), 265
    (1825), 261
    trouble over Mrs. Ball's portrait, 231-234
    and Academy at Charleston, 236, 236
    trip through Berkshires (1821), 238, 239
    painting of House of Representatives, 240-242, 262
    gift to Yale (1822), 242
    DeForest portrait, 243
    search for work, absence from home (1823), 244
    (1824), 257
    at Albany, lack of success there, 245-249
    Moss Kent portrait, 246
    plans for settling at New York, 246-249
    James Kent portrait, 248, 250
    and advancement of arts, 249
    studios at New York, 249, 257, 274, 291
    initial failure there (1823), 249-252
    and Mexican mission, 252-256
    journey from New York to Washington (1824), 255
    successful establishment at New York (1824-25), 257-261, 269, 270
    pupils, 257, ~2~, 150, 156, 162
    Lafayette portrait, ~1~, 260-262, 264, 270, 272, 286
    Dr. Smith portrait, 261
    on election of Adams (1825), 263
    Stanford portrait, 270
    and founding of National Academy of Design, 276-282, 284
    as president of Academy, 280, ~2~, 33
    lectures and addresses on fine arts, ~1~, 281, 284, 285
    pecuniary effect of connection with Academy, 281
    as historical painter, 281
    informal literary club, 282, ~2~, 451
    electioneering (1826), ~1~, 288
    painting for steamer, 288
    annual address before Academy (1827), review and rejoinder, 289
    and annual exhibition (1828), 291
    casts for the Academy, 384
    divisions of life, 434
    art ambition and trials, 434
    Huntington's estimate of, as artist, 435-437
    color theory and experiments, 436
    influence of Allston, 436
    results of distractions, 436
    Isham's estimate, 437, 438
    hopes on return from abroad (1832), ~2~, 3, 20
    on New York (1833), 22, 24
    on art instruction as his future, 23, 24
    on nullification, 23, 24
    efforts to resume profession, 25, 31
    on need of refining arts in America, 26
    enthusiasm wanes, 28, 31, 168
    fails to get commission for painting for Capitol, 28-32
    commission from fellow artists, never painted, fund returned, 33, 34,
    professor in University of City of New York, 37, 114, 137
    on effect of daguerreotype on art, 143, 144, 160
    and question of resuming painting in later years, 160, 202, 268
    and death of Allston, 207, 208
    renewed effort for Capitol painting (1846), 266-268
    continued interest in Academy, 306, 471
    again president of Academy (1861), 417
    attempts to paint (1864), 433
    presents Allston's portrait to Academy, 436, 437
  _In Europe, 1829-32:_
    plans and preparation, commissions, ~1~ 289, 298-300, 338, 354, 390
    outbound voyage, diary of it, 300-302
    at Liverpool, docks, 302, 303
    materials on tour, 305
    journey to London, 306-308
    on English villages, 306
    at London, Royal Academy, Leslie, visits, 308, 309
    traveling companions, 309, 395
    on gypsies, 310
    on Canterbury cathedral and service, 310-312
    at Dover, 312
    on Dover Castle, 313
    on Channel passage, 314
    on landing in France, 314, 315
    at Paris, Louvre, Lafayette, weather, 315-317
    on letters for newspaper, 317
    on Continental Sabbath, 318, 322
    on allegorical painting, 318
    winter journey across France, 318-326
    on diligence, 319
    on Continental funerals, 321, 322, 350, 366, 367
    on Sisters of Charity and benevolence, 323
    at Avignon, 324
    on Catholic ritual and music, 324, 325, 340, 342, 346, 352, 376,
      398-400, ~2~, 104
    on Toulon navy yard and galley slaves, ~1~, 326, 327
    travel by private carriage from Toulon to Rome, 327-337
    imposition at inns, 327, 330
    on Serra Palace, Genoa, 329
    on Italian beggars, 330, 332, 341, 355, 363, 369
    on Ligurian Apennines, 331, 332
    on Carrara marble quarries, 333-335
    on Pisa and Leaning Tower, 335-337
    on Carnival fooleries, 336
    arrival at Rome, lodgings there (1830), 337
    on induction of cardinals, 339, 340
    on Pius VIII, 339
    on St. Luke's Academy, 340
    on kissing St. Peter's toe, 340
    on sacred opera, 341
    on feast of Annunciation, 341
    on Roman society, 342-344
    on Passion Sunday, 343
    on Horace Vernet, 343, 344
    on Palm Sunday, 344
    on lying in state of cardinal, 344
    on Roman market, 345
    on Allegri's _Miserere_, 345
    on Holy Thursday, papal blessing, 346, 347
    on Thorwaldsen, paints his portrait, 348, 370-372, ~2~, 354
    and later history, of portrait, ~1~, 372-374, ~2~, 465
    on English, French, and American manners, ~1~, 348, 349
    on Landi's pictures, 349, 350
    on Camuccini, 350
    sketching tour, happy life, 350
    rhapsody on Subiaco, 361
    on monks, 352
    on rudeness of Roman soldiers, 353
    on Roman lotteries, 354
    on _festa inflorata_ at Genzano, 354-359
    on Campagna at night, 359
    on summer day at Rome, 360
    on illumination of St. Peter's, 360
    on St. Peter's day, 361-363
    at Naples (1830), 363
    at Amalfi, on accident there, 364-367
    on Campo Santo at Naples, 367-369
    on Convent of St. Martino, rhapsody on view, 369, 370
    on Spagnoletto's Dead Christ, 370
    on Roman revolt and danger to foreigners, 376, 380-385, 397
    on Roman New Year, 377
    discussion with Catholic convert, 377
    on election and coronation of pope, 378, 380, 381
    spectator at historic events, 379
    journey to Florence during revolt (1831), 384-386
    getting permission to remain there, 386
    on encounter with Radziwill at Rome, 386-389
    work at Florence, 390
    on travel in Italy, 391
    on Bologna, 391
    on journey to Venice by Po, 391-393
    on Venetian sights and smells, 393
    moralising on Venetian society, 393
    homesick, 395
    travel to Milan, 395
    at Recoaro, 396-398
    on gambling priests, 396
    on Milan, 398
    on sacred pictures, 399
    at Italian Lakes, 400
    in Switzerland, on Rigi, 400, 401
    avoids French quarantine, 402-405
    on Paris after the revolution, 405
    and Greenough at Paris, 407, 412
    on Lafayette and Polish revolt, 408
    on Lafayette's health (1831), 408
    on Paris mob, 409-411
    and R.W. Habersham, 417
    and cholera, 417, 422
    painting of interior of Louvre, 421, 422, ~2~, 27, 28
    meets Humboldt, ~1~, 423
    presides at Fourth dinner (1832), toast to Lafayette, 423-425
    letters published in brothers' paper, 425
    on Cooper's patriotism, 426-428
    on European criticism of America, 428, 429
    active interest in Poles, 430
    at London (1832), 432
    on growth of London, 432
    sits to Leslie, 433
    recovers health, 433, ~2~, 4
    voyage home, 3, 5, 17
    on England, 4
  _Scientific career to 1844:_
    early interest in electricity, ~1~, 18
    invention of pump, 21
    early longing for telegraph, 41
    studies with Silliman, 236
    machine for carving marble, 245, 247
    and Dana's lectures on electricity (1827), discussions with Dana, 290
    familiarity with electrical science, 29
    thoughts (1821-31) connected with future invention of telegraph, 236,
      324, 335, 394, 395, 402
    first conception of idea of telegraph (1831), 417-421, ~2~, 8
    experiments with photography, ~1~, 421, ~2~, 129
    divisions of life, trials of scientific life, ~1~, 434, ~2~, 1, 2, 77,
    Jackson's conversations on electrical progress on board ship (1832),
      his later claim to invention, 5, 11, 58, 59, 78, 79, 121, 122, 137,
      274, 305
    basis of telegraph worked out on voyage, dot-and-dash code, sketches,
      6-9, 11, 18
    simplicity of invention, 9, 16, 18, 109, 435
    thoughts on priority, 9, 10
    testimony of fellow passengers, 11, 12, 14
    date of invention, 12, 13
    scientific knowledge necessary for invention, 14-16
    necessary combination of personal qualities and conditions, 16, 57,
      91, 152, 171
    testimony of brothers on talk upon landing, 17, 18
    insistence on single circuit, 18, 102
    bars to progress, lack of funds and essentials, 18, 19
    first steps toward apparatus, saw-tooth type, 21
    cares (1833), forced to put invention aside, 25
    and death of Lafayette, 34
    workshop in University building, resumes experiments (1836), 38, 48
    first instruments, 38-41
    electro-chemical experiments, 41
    discovery of relay, 41, 42, 141
    shuns publicity of invention, poverty, 42
    in Hall of Fame, 44
    first exhibitions of telegraph (1835-38), 45-48, 54, 73-76, 80, 473
    confidence of universal use, belief in aid to humanity, 48, 78, 125,
      153, 179, 314, 345, 435, 460, 488, 490
    fears forestalling and rival claims, 49, 50, 53, 126, 127, 150, 166
    difference in principle of foreign inventions, 50, 90, 92, 93,
      100-102, 240, 250
    writes it "Telegraph", 50
    originality of invention, share of others in it, 50-53, 61, 470, 472,
      488, 500, 501, 510, 519
    Gale's and Henry's connections, batteries, intensifying magnet, 54-59,
      141, 477-479
    public and congressional suspicion, 57, 60, 72, 77, 81, 88, 91, 164,
      189, 193
    acknowledgment of indebtedness, 58, 71, 263, 471, 489
    Vail's association, contract, 59, 60, 70
    reversion to first plan for receiver, 61
    number code, dictionary, 62
    paternity of alphabet code, 62-68
    patent in America, 69, 89, 157
    continuation of experiments, improvements, 70, 74, 76, 154, 182
    cumbersome instruments, 73
    alphabet supersedes number code, 74-76
    portrule, 74, 88, 90
    "Attention, the Universe" message, 75
    friction with Vail, 79, 80
    exhibition at Washington (1838), no grant results, 81, 103, 135, 137
    connection of F.O.J. Smith, cause of his later antagonism, 82, 83
    arrangement of partnership with Gale, Vail, and Smith, 83
    desire and plan for government control, 84-86, 119, 175, 176, 228,
      229, 232, 446
    no share in later stock-watering, 86
    Smith's report to Congress, 87
    expects disappointments, 88, 102, 106
    European trip (1838), 89
    rivals in Europe, 91, 109
    application for British patent, refused, 92-99
    interest of English gentlemen, effort for special act of Parliament,
      95, 124
    exhibitions in England, 96
    Russian contract, refusal of czar to sign it, 97, 120, 122, 136-138,
    witnesses coronation of Victoria, 100, 101
    French patents, 103, 119, 132
    on birth and baptism of Comte de Paris, 103, 104
    exhibition at Institute of France, 104, 107, 108
    public and private projects in France, obstacles and failure, 105,
    French enthusiasm over telegraph, 106, 107, 109, 111, 112, 114, 122,
    discouraged, dark years and poverty (1839-43), 113-116, 135, 147,
      149-155, 157, 159-164, 169, 178-181
    correspondent for sender, 117
    better part of failures, 120, 181
    protection of wires from malevolent attack, 120, 123, 147
    and underground wires, 121
    and Daguerre, 128-130
    invention for reporting railroad trains, 132
    and principle of fire-alarm, 132
    and military telegraph, 132-134
    return to America (1839), 135
    and lack of effort by partners, 136-138, 147, 151, 165, 167-169, 178,
      181, 186, 196, 401
    experiments with daguerreotype, takes portraits, 144-146
    makes a business of it, 146, 152, 155
    takes first group picture (1840), 146
    Chamberlain's exhibition of telegraph in European centers, 148-149
    rejects proposition from Wheatstone, 158
    renewed effort for congressional grant without result (1841-42), 164,
      166, 173-178
    proposals for private companies, 167, 173
    threatens to abandon invention, 167, 178
    Henry's praise of telegraph (1842), 170-174
    obliged to make instruments himself, 174, 179
    experiment with submarine wires, 183, 184
    search for funds (1842), 184
    second exhibition before Congress (1842), consideration and passage of
      act to build experimental line, 185-203
    and Fisher, 185, 187, 196, 204, 210-213
    wireless experiment, 186, 187, 242, 243
    friends in Congress, 186, 189
    omen in finding statuette of Dying Hercules, 187
    congratulations, 201
    construction of experimental line, route, assistants, 204-206, 214
    wires, insulation, change from underground to overhead, 205, 208-210,
    trouble with Smith, 206, 207, 212, 213, 216, 218, 219, 225
    prophesies Atlantic cable (1843), 208, 209
    on strain of construction, 217
    progress of line, messages during construction, 219-221
    ground circuit, 221
    completion of line, "What hath God wrought" message, 221-224
    reports of Democratic Convention, 224-226
    report on experimental line, 227, 228
    and on sounder and reading by sound, 457, 479, 480
  _Career from 1844:_
    price of offer of telegraph to Congress, ~2~, 86, 232, 235, 446
    defence of rights and priority, 223, 241-243, 283
    trials of success, 230, 231
    Congress refuses to purchase invention, 232, 244, 245
      (1844), 232
      (1846), 268
      (1857), 376, 377, 383
      (1869), 480
    abortive plans for private company, 235, 236
    Smith's fulsome dedication, 236
    Smith's antagonism and opposition, 238, 239, 247, 273, 280, 303, 304,
      307-309, 312, 319, 320, 324, 346, 370, 371, 409-412, 423, 498-500,
      502-505, 507
    foreign inquiries, 240, 243, 244
    Woodbury's address (1845), 244
    Kendall as agent, 246, 326, 335, 372, 389, 409
    first company, 247
    letter of introduction from Department of State, 248
    fourth voyage to Europe (1845), 249
    on crossing Channel, 250
    on Broek, 251-253
    on Hamburg, 253, 254
    attitude of European countries toward telegraph (1845), 254-256
    on the French, 256
    litigation with infringers and rival companies, 257, 271-273, 276,
      277, 282-294, 301-304, 316, 322
    extensions of patent, share of partners, 258, 322-329, 346, 347, 370,
    honors and decorations, 258, 297, 392-394, 403, 406, 465
    and faithless associates, 257, 258, 260, 277-279, 372
    and O'Reilly, 259, 260, 273, 279, 283, 287-291, 294, 303, 307, 503
    Henry controversy, 261-266, 318, 329, 402, 405, 476-479, 500, 504
    progress of telegraph, displacement of other systems, 269, 270, 313,
      321, 349, 350, 352, 367
    on Mexican War, 270
    printing telegraph, 271
    and lawsuits, 272, 320, 371
    and salaries of operators, 274
    and Vail, 275, 307, 327, 401, 422, 423
    financial stress, 276, 310, 311, 336, 460
    and Rogers, 277, 278
    on aviation, 300, 301
    hostility of newspapers, 304-307
    and death of Cooper, 314
    on origin of "telegram", 316
    destruction of papers and evidence, 316
    and instruments for Perry's Japanese expedition, 317
    and consolidation of lines and monopoly, 320, 326, 341, 405, 444
    defeated for Congress (1854), 331, 334
    and Know-Nothingism, 331-333
    and dishonesty in telegraph organisation, 338, 339, 444-446
    and sale of interests, 340, 341
    and organisation of Atlantic cable company, 344
    private connection with telegraph line, 344
    trip to Newfoundland (1855), 345, 346
    verse on invention, 346
    trip to Europe (1856), 347
    and pecuniary reward from foreign nations, their honorary gratuity,
      347, 373, 390-395, 409-412, 422, 423, 493
    experiments for Atlantic cable, 348, 366
    attentions in England, banquet, Cooke's toast, 349, 367-370, 373
    and Cooke, 350
    visit to Leslie, 351
    attentions on Continent, 353
    private interview with King of Denmark, 353
    at Copenhagen, 354, 355
    on Oersted, 354
    on St. Petersburg, 355
    on presentation to czar at Peterhoff, 356-364
    and Humboldt, 365
    on Buchanan's election, 371
    Kendall's caution against cable company, 372
    on laying of first Atlantic cable (1857), 374-383
    and Whitehouse's log, 378
    doubts success of first and second cables, 379, 386, 387
    forced withdrawal from cable company, 384-387
    on office-seeking, 387
    family party to Europe (1858), 396
    visit to daughter in Porto Rico, 397-400, 406
    on St. Thomas, 397, 398
    on change of climate and clothes, 398
    on son-in-law's estate, 399
    on death of Vail, 400
    constructs first line In Porto Rico, public breakfast, 404
    and proposed Spanish cable, 404-406
    on Porto Rican fleas, 406
    greeting at Poughkeepsie (1859), 407, 408
    on proposed candidacy for Presidency, 408
    financially independent, 409, 434
    and visit of Prince of Wales, 413, 414
    and secession and compromise, 414, 416, 418
    attitude during Civil War, 415-421, 424, 432
    president of Society for National Unity, 415
    and founding of Vassar, 417
    expects success of North, 419
    belief in foreign machinations, 420
    and sale of original wire of telegraph, 423
    president of a peace society, 424
    attitude toward Lincoln, 424, 429
    supports McClellan's candidacy, 427, 429-431
    and help for Southern prisoners of war, 428
    on loyalty to Constitution, 428, 429
    and brother's support of Lincoln, 429, 430
    endows lectureship in Union Theological Seminary, 437
    refused to attend class reunion (1865), rebukes sectional rejoicing,
    statue proposed, 442
    on benevolent use of telegraph wealth, 442
    demands on, for leadership and aid, 443, 446
    and American Asiatic Society, 443
    characteristic deadhead, 445
    on President Johnson, 446
    final trip to Europe (1866), 447
    Paris headquarters, family gathering there, 447, 448
    presentation at court, court costume, 448-450
    on Field and success of cable, 450, 451
    on incident of Louis Napoleon's stay at Now York, 451-453
    on Paris Exposition, fêtes, 453-456
    report on electrical display, 454, 457, 460, 464, 475
    on Isle Of Wight, 456
    winter plans (1867), 457
    on Italy and union of Church and State, 458
    on reaction of _Reconstruction_ (1867), 458
    at Dresden, 459
    at Berlin, Von Phillipsborn's courtesy, 461-464
    return to America, 464
    and presidential election (1868), 465, 466
    New York banquet (1868), speeches, 467-475
    on science and art, 471
    on death of Kendall, 481
    unveiling of statue, 482-484
    farewell message over the world by telegraph, 485, 486
    replies, 486
    address, 487-491
    abandons plan for trip abroad (1871), 493
    last summer, 493
    on neutralisation of telegraph, 497, 498
    last public appearance, unveils statue of Franklin, address, 505
    last illness, 506
    death, 507
    tributes to, 507-511
    funeral, 511, 512
    grave, 513
    memorial services in Congress, 513-516
    and at Boston, 516
    summary of inventions, 520
    fame, 521
  _Letters: See_ J.S.C. Abbott, Allston, Alston, Andrews, Aycrigg, Ball,
    Bellows, Blake, Boardman, Bodisco, Breguet, Brett, Bromfield, Bryant,
    Burbank, Mrs. Cass, Chevalier, Christy, Clarke, Cole, Cooper, G.T.
    Curtis, Daguerre, Day, De Forest, Dix, Douglas, Edwards, Elgin, B.L.
    Ellsworth, J. Evarts, Faxton, C.W. Field, J.E.B. Finley, Gale, Mrs.
    W.H. Goodrich, Green, Greenough, A.B. Griswold, C.B. Griswold, R.W.
    Griswold, Bauser, Henry, Jos. Hillhouse, Hodge, Ingham, S.F. Jarvis,
    Mrs. S.F. Jarvis, C. Johnson, Johnston, A. Kendall, King, Lafayette,
    Q.W. Lafayette, C.R. Leslie, J.R. Leslie, E. Lind. S.W.M. Lind,
    Livingston, D. Lord, Lovering, Ludlow, Macaulay, J.Y. Mason, Mathews,
    Mead, Morgan, A. Morse, E.A.B. Morse, J. Morse, L.P.W. Morse, R.C.
    Morse, S.E. Morse, S.E. Morse, Jr., S.E.G. Morse, S.W. Morse, Morton,
    Newcastle, O'Reilly, M.C. Perry, Ransom, Raymond, Reibart, Roby,
    Rossiter, Salisbury, E.S. Sanford, Shaffner, E.F. Smith, E.G. Smith,
    F.O.J. Smith, Stevens, Stickney, J. Thompson, H. Thornton,
    Thorwaldsen, A. Vail, Mrs. A. Vail, G. Vail, Van Schaick, Vassar,
    Viager, Walewaki, T.R. Walker, Mrs. T.R. Walker, Warren, Watson,
    Wells, Williams, Wood, T.D. Woolsey.
Morse, Sarah E. (Griswold) marries M., ~2~, 289, 290
  domestic life, 290
  from M. (1854) on diversions at Washington, extension of patent, 322
  Newfoundland trip (1855), 345
  goes abroad with M. (1858), 347
  (1858), 396
  (1866), 447
  from M. (1857) on crinoline, 373
  on laying of first Atlantic cable, 374
  in Porto Rico (1858), 397
  and memorial services to M., 514
Morse, Susan W., birth, ~1~, 225
  with M. in New York (1825), 274
  childhood home, 298
  from M. (1838) on coronation of Victoria, rival telegraphs, refusal of
    British patent, ~2~, 100, 102
  on French patent, birth of Comte de Paris, 103
  on exhibitions and projects of telegraph in France, 104
  on need of economy, 106
  (1839) on "home," 116
  _See also_ Lind, Susan W. (Morse).
Morse code. _See_ Dot-and-dash.
Morton, J.L., letters with M. (1831) on Academy of Design, ~1~, 384
Motto of Morse coat of arms, ~2~, 258
Moulton, S.D., at M.'s funeral, ~2~, 512
Murray, Lindley, complimentary letter from Jedediah Morse (1806), ~1~, 14
Music, M. on Continental, ~1~, 325, 343
  sacred opera at Rome, 341
  Allegri's _Miserere_, 345

Naples, M. at (1830), ~1~, 363, 367
  Campo Santo, 367-369
  Convent of San Martino, 369, 370
Napoleon III, and M., ~2~, 449, 456
  M. on, in New York, belief in his star, 452
_Napoleon_, transatlantic ship (1829), ~1~, 300
Napoleonic Wars, retreat from Moscow, ~1~, 93
  English success in Spain, 110
  overthrow of Napoleon, 127, 128
  Louis XVIII's entrée into London (1814), 136-140
  London fete of Allies, 142-147
  Napoleon's return from Elba, 172
  news in London of his abdication, 183-185
  M. sees ship bearing Napoleon to St. Helena, 379
National Academy of Design, inception, M.'s plan of membership and control,
    ~1~, 276-282, 284
  organisers, 280
  M. as president, 280
  M.'s annual address, review, and rejoinder (1827), 289
  exhibition (1828), 291
  M. secures casts for, 384
  needs M.'s guiding hand (1831), 384
  Trumbull's opposition to union of Art Academy, ~2~, 22
  fear lest M. should resign presidency (1837), 33
  M. expects to resign presidency (1839), 114
  Daguerre elected an honorary member, 141
  continuation of M.'s interest, 306
  M. again president (1861), 417
  M. presents portrait and brush of Allston, 436, 437
  M. on progress (1868), 471
National Gallery, M. on (1829), ~1~, 309
_Neptune_, transatlantic ship (1813), ~1~, 118
Nettleton, ----, butler at Yale (1810), ~1~, 20
Neutral trade, search (1811), ~1~, 33
  England and embargo, 39
  Orders in Council and nonintercourse, 67, 70, 76
  objects of Orders, 91, 92
  repeal of Orders, 115
  _See also_ War of 1812.
Neutralization of telegraph, M. on (1871), ~2~, 497, 498
Newcastle, Fifth Duke of (Earl of Lincoln), and M.'s telegraph, ~2~, 95,
    96, 124, 127
  to M. (1860) on visit of Prince of Wales, 413
Newcastle, Sixth Duke of (Earl of Lincoln), at Peterhoff (1856), ~2~, 363
New Haven, Morse family at, ~1~, 234
Newspapers, hostility to M.'s claims as monopolistic, ~2~, 304-306
Newton, G.S., and M., ~1~, 308, 309
  marriage, ~2~, 4
New Year at Rome, ~1~, 377
New York City, called insipid (1810), ~1~, 20
  defences in War of 1812, 150
  M.'s plans for settling at (1823), future, 246-249
  M.'s studios, rentals, 249, 257, 274, 291
  M.'s initial failure at, 249-252
  his establishment at (1824-25), 257-259
  M.'s portrait of Lafayette for, 260-264, 270, 272
  literary club, 282, ~2~, 451
  M. on improvement and conditions (1833), 22, 24
  M.'s home, 409
  banquet to M. (1869), 467-475
  statue to M., unveiling (1871), 482-484
  M.'s farewell message to the telegraph, 485-491
  M.'s funeral, 511, 512
  _See also_ National Academy of Design.
New York _Herald_, on M.'s submarine experiment (1842), ~2~, 183, 184
  tribute to M., 509
New York _Journal of Commerce_, M. and travel letters for (1830), ~1~, 317
  on exhibition of telegraph (1838), ~2~, 74
  on M.'s rivals, 284
New York _Observer_, founded, success, ~1~, 243
New York, University of City of, M. as professor, and his telegraph, ~2~,
  37, 43, 44, 114
_Niagara_, U.S.S., and laying of first Atlantic cable, ~2~, 378-383
Nicholas I of Russia, and M.'s telegraph, ~2~, 120
Nonintercourse, effect in England (1812), ~1~, 67, 70
Northampton, Marquis of, and M.'s telegraph, ~2~, 95, 128
Notes, M. refuses to endorse, ~2~, 319
Nothomb, Baron de, and M. at Berlin, ~2~, 462
Nullification, Lafayette on, ~1~, 431
  M. on compromise, ~2~, 23, 24

Oberman, ----, and M. at Hamburg (1856), ~2~, 353
Oersted, H.C., M. on, ~2~, 354
Office, M. on seeking at Washington (1858), ~2~, 387
Oldenburg, Duchess of, appearance (1814), ~1~, 137
Ombroai, ----, consul at Florence (1831), ~2~, 386
Orders in Council, British attitude (1812), ~1~, 67, 76
  repeal and war, 89, 115
  objects, 91, 92
O'Reilly, Henry, character, ~2~, 259
  to M. (1845) congratulations, 259
  infringements on M.'s patent, rival company, 260, 273, 279, 287-291,
    294, 303, 307
  last attack on M., 503
Orton, William, banquet to M., ~2~, 467, 472
  and statue to M., 484
  and M.'s farewell message to the telegraph, 485, 486
  at M.'s funeral, 511
O'Shaughnessy, Sir William, and M., ~2~, 349, 377
Otho of Greece, and M.'s telegraph, ~2~, 148
Owen, J.J., and Civil War, ~2~, 416
Owen, Robert, and Wilberforce, ~1~, 185
  at Washington (1825), 263
  and M., 264

Painting, Leslie on Allston and King, ~1~, 59
  comparison with poetry, 110, 117
  Allston on French school, 114
 _See also_ Allston, Morse, S. F. B., National Academy of Design.
Palm Sunday at Rome (1830), ~1~, 344
Palmer, ----, return to America (1832), ~2~, 4
Paradise, J.W., and origin of Academy of Design, ~1~, 280
Paris, Comte de, birth, ~2~, 103
  christening, 104
Paris, M. at (1830), ~1~, 316-318
  after Revolution of 1830, 405
  mob and Polish revolt (1831), 409-411
  cholera (1832), 417, 423
  M.'s exhibition of telegraph at (1838), projects, ~2~, 102-134
  M. at (1856), 851
    (1858), 396
    (1866), 447
    (1868), 464
  his presentation at court, 448-450
Paris Exposition (1867), M.'s enthusiasm, ~2~, 453
  his report on electrical exhibit, 454, 457, 460, 464, 478
  fêtes, 454-456
  attempt on czar's life, 455
Parisen, J., and origin of Academy of Design, ~1~, 280
Parker, Joel, and Civil War, ~2~, 416
Parkman, Dr. George, M. on meanness, ~1~, 160
Passion Sunday at Rome (1830), ~1~, 343
Patent of telegraph, caveat, ~2~, 69
  specification, 89
  application in England, refusal, 92-98
  proposal of special act of Parliament, 95, 124, 126
  French, 103, 132
  issued in United States, 157
  for printing telegraph, 271
  infringements, 257, 271-273, 276, 277, 282-294, 316, 322
  extension of M.'s, 258, 322-326, 346, 347, 370
Patron, M. seeks (1814), ~1~, 134, 142, 155
Patterson, J.W., at memorial services to M., ~2~, 515
Patterson, R.M., and exhibition of telegraph, ~2~, 79, 80
Payne, J.H., Mrs. Morse on character, ~1~, 118
Peace, M. on telegraph and promotion, ~2~, 345, 462, 497
Peale, Rembrandt, and study of live figure, ~2~, 101
  and portrait of Lafayette, 261
  and origin of Academy of Design, 280
Peel, Lady Emily, at Peterhoff (1856), ~2~, 358
Peel, Sir Robert, at Peterhoff (1856), ~2~, 362
Pell, Capt. ----, of the _Sully_ (1832), ~2~, 3
  on conception of telegraph, 12
Perceval, Spencer, and American crisis (1812), ~1~, 67, 70
  assassination, 71
Perry, H.J., and proposed Spanish cable, ~2~, 405
Perry, M.C., to M. (1852) on telegraph instruments for Japanese
    expedition, ~2~, 317
Persiani, ----, soirée, ~1~, 347
Peter, Saint, image in St. Peter's at Rome, ~1~, 340
  feast day at Rome, 361
Peterhoff, M. on presentation to czar at, ~2~, 356-363
Philadelphia, West on, as future art centre, ~1~, 73
  exhibition of telegraph (1838), ~2~, 80
Phillips, Mrs. ----, transatlantic voyage (1815), ~1~, 188
Phillips Andover Academy, M. at, ~1~, 3
Phillipsborn, ---- von, and M. at Berlin, ~2~, 461, 482
  on telegraph and battle of Königgrätz, 463
Photography, M.'s early experiments, ~1~, 421, ~2~, 129
  _See also_ Daguerreotype.
Pickett, B.M., Morse statue, ~2~, 482
Pisa, M. at (1830), ~2~, 335
  Leaning Tower, 336
Pius VIII, at ceremonies in old age, ~1~, 339, 346, 363
  death, 376
Platoff, ----, at London (1814), ~1~, 146, 147
Plattsburg, battle, ~1~, 150, 151
Poems by M. ~1~, 273, ~2~, 494-496
Poet, and painter, ~1~, 110, 117
Poinsett, J.R., and Art Academy at Charleston, ~1~, 235, 236
  and proposed Mexican minion (1823), 252, 253
Poland, revolt (1830), ~1~, 386-389
  Lafayette on revolt, 408, 431
  Paris and revolt, mob (1831), 409-411
  M.'s active interest, 430
Polk, J.K., presidential nomination reported by telegraph, ~2~, 224, 225
Pope, F.L., on Morse alphabet, ~2~, 76
Popes. _See_ Gregory, Pius.
Porteus, Beilby, from Jedediah Morse (1806) on disestablishment in
    Virginia, ~1~, 13
Porto Rico, M.'s visit (1858), ~2~, 399-400, 404, 406
  first telegraph line, 404
Portraits by M., John Adams, ~1~, 196
  Mrs. Ball, 231-233
  De Forest, 243
  James Kent, 250
  Moss Kent, 246
  Lafayette, 260-262, 264, 270, 272, 286
  John Langdon, 211
  Mrs. Lind, 435
  James Monroe, 222, 226, 234
  James Russell, 180
  Dr. Smith, 261
  Stanford, 270
  Thorwaldsen, 370-374, ~2~, 465
Portrule, ~2~, 74, 88, 90
  superseded, 117
Portsmouth, N.H., M. at (1816-17), ~1~, 210, 212, 213
Portugal, testimonials to M., ~2~, 393, 403
Potter, Edward, and origin of Academy of Design, ~1~, 280
Poughkeepsie, M.'s home at, ~2~, 269, 280, 284, 286, 296, 464, 498
  greeting to M. (1859), 407, 408
Powell, W.H., commission for Capitol painting, ~2~, 267
Prescott, G.B., M. on work, ~2~, 457
_President_, U.S.S., reported capture (1811), ~1~, 54
Presidential election, conduct in Congress (1825), ~1~, 263
  report over telegraph of conventions (1844), ~2~, 219, 224-228
  M. on Buchanan's election, 371
  M. supports McClellan's candidacy, 427, 429-431
  M. on (1868), 465, 466
Prime, S.I., on M.'s anecdote of West, ~1~, 42
  on M.'s grandfather, 227
  on Jedediah Morse and wife, 287, 293
  on incident in construction of experimental line, ~2~, 214
  on success of line, 222
  on sustainment of M.'s patent, 291
  on M. and Phillipsborn at Berlin, 461-484
  review of M.'s character, 516
Prince, L.B., at M.'s funeral, ~2~, 512
Printing, M. on, ~2~, 299
Printing telegraph, ~2~, 271
  _See also_ House.
Prosch, ----, and instruments for telegraph, ~2~, 153, 154
Prussia, testimonials to M., ~2~, 392
  telegraph in Austrian War, 463
Public ownership, M.'s plan for telegraph, ~2~, 84-86, 119, 175, 176
  price of offer, 86
  Congress declines to purchase, 228, 229, 232, 244, 245
Pump, M.'s invention, ~1~, 211

Putnam, Aaron, oration at Charlestown (1805), ~1~, 7.
Putnam, I.W., as minister, ~1~, 213

Quarantine, M. evades French (1831), ~1~, 402-405
Quincy, Josiah, at memorial services to M., ~2~, 516

Raasloff, Capt. ----, and M., ~2~, 353
Radziwill, Prince M.J., M.'s encounter with, at Rome (1830), ~1~, 386-389
  and Polish revolt, 389
Railroads, first mention by M., ~1~, 335
  M.'s invention for reporting trains, ~2~, 132
Ralston, Eliza, and M., ~1~, 88, 89
Rankin, R.G., on first view of telegraph and M.'s attitude, ~2~, 45-47
Ransom, W.L., from M. (1864) on loyalty, ~2~, 428
Raymond, H.J., and Henry-Morse controversy, letters with M. (1852), ~2~,
Reading, M. and old poets, ~1~, 102
Receiver, M.'s original conception, ~2~, 7, 8, 18, 21
  first form, 38-40
  reversion to first plan of up-and-down motion, 61
  multiple record, 76
  M. on receiving by sound, 457, 479, 480
Recoaro, M. at (1831), ~1~, 396-398
Reconstruction, M. on reaction (1867), ~2~, 458
Reeves, Tapping, and M., ~1~, 238
Reibart, ----, from M. (1859) on candidacy for President, ~2~, 408
Reid, J.D., on Kendall as M.'s agent, ~2~, 246
  on O'Reilly, 259
  on Vail's incapacity, 295, 296
  on Huntington's address at banquet to M., 473
  and statue to M., 482
  and M.'s farewell message to telegraph, 486
  M.'s thanks to, 490
  tribute to M., 507
Reinagle, Hugh, and origin of Academy of Design, ~1~, 280
Relay, M.'s discovery, ~2~, 41
  other discoverers, 42
  Henry and, 140, 141
Religion, M.'s early bent, ~1~, 5, 6, 18
  parental admonitions, 6-8
  M.'s attitude, 6, 18, 120, 212, 213, 296-298
  M. on Canterbury Cathedral and service, 310-312
  on Continental Sunday, 818, 322
  on devotion and emotion of taste, 401
  M.'s observance of Sabbath, ~2~, 128
  M. on union of Church and State, 468
  _See also_ Morse, S.F.B. (_Early years_), Roman Catholic Church.
Remberteau, Comte, and M.'s telegraph, ~2~, 123
Rents at New York, ~1~, 249, 274, 291
Renwick, James, on M.'s conception of telegraph, ~1~, 420
Republicans, called Jacobins (1805), ~1~, 7
  celebration of Fourth at Charlestown, 7
  _See also_ War of 1812.
Revolution of 1830, Paris after, ~1~, 405
  Lafayette on European results, 430
Ribera, Jusepe. _See_ Spagnoletto.
Rigi, M. on, ~1~, 401
Ripley's Inn, Hartford, ~1~, 9
Rives, W.C., M.'s letter of introduction. ~1~, 299
  at Fourth dinner at Paris (1832), 424
  return to America, ~2~, 3
  M. on, 4
  and invention of telegraph, 14
Roberts, M.O., and Atlantic cable, ~2~, 343
Robinson, Charles, and M.'s telegraph in Europe, ~2~, 255
Roby, Mrs. Margaret, from M. (1829) on ocean voyage, Liverpool, ~1~, 306
  (1830) on journey to London, experiences there, Canterbury, Dover,
    Channel passage, Paris, 306
  on journey to Dijon, diligence, funeral, Continental Sunday, 318
Rocafuerto, Vicente, M. on, ~1~, 247
Rogers, H.J., and telegraph, ~2~, 239
  break with M., 277, 278
  from Smith (1871) on Henry's invention of telegraph, 498
Rogers, Lewis, return to America (1832), ~2~, 4
Rogers, Nathaniel, and origin of Academy of Design, ~1~, 280
Rogers, Samuel, and M., ~1~, 95, 308
Roman Catholic Church, emancipation question in England (1812), ~1~, 67;
  M. on French funeral, 321, 322
  on Sisters of Charity, 323
  on ritual, 324, 340, 398
  _festa infionta_ at Genzano, 354-359
  M.'s discussion with converts, 377, ~2~, 364
  gambling priests, ~1~, 396
  M. on sacred pictures, 399
  M.'s antagonism and controversies, ~2~, 36-37, 330-333, 337
  _See also_ Rome.
Rome, M.'s arrival and lodgings (1830), ~1~, 337
  his work, 338, 354
  induction of cardinals, 339, 340
  Plus VIII in old age, 339
  kissing of St. Peter's toe, 340
  St. Luke's Academy, 340
  beggars, 341
  feast of Annunciation, 341
  society, 342-344, 347
  Passion Sunday, 343
  Palm Sunday, 344
  lying in state of cardinal, 344
  market, 345
  Allegri's _Miserere_, 345
  Holy Thursday, papal benediction, 346, 347
  funeral, 360
  feast of St. Francesco Caracoiolo, 352
  procession of _Corpus Domini_, M. on monks, 352
  rudeness of soldiers, 353
  lotteries, 354
  Campagna at night, 358
  a summer day, 360
  illuminations of St. Peter's, 360
  St. Peter's day, 361-363
  vaults of St. Peter's, 362
  social evil, 374
  death of Pius VII, 376
  revolt in provinces (1831), danger to foreigners, 376, 380-385, 397
  New Year, 377
  election and coronation of Gregory XVI, 378, 380, 381
  Trasteverini, 382
Romeyn, Dr. Nicholas, and M., ~1~, 152
  to Jedediah Morse (1814) on M., 166
Rossiter, J.P., to M. (1811) on social gossip, ~1~, 27-30
Royal Academy, M.'s preparation for entrance, ~1~, 43, 46, 65
  Allston elected, 222
  M. at lecture (1829), 308
Royal Society, M.'s exhibition of telegraph, ~2~, 96
Russell, James, M.'s portrait, ~1~, 180
Russell, Lucy, and M., ~1~, 180
Russia, and M.'s telegraph (1839), ~2~, 97, 120, 122, 136-138, 147
  renewed interest in telegraph (1844), 240, 244
  M. at St. Petersburg and Peterhoff (1856), 355-364
  and gratuity to M., 393
Russian Extension, M. and manipulation, ~2~, 445

St. Bartholomew's Fair, London, M. on (1811), ~1~, 52-54
Saint-Germain Railroad, and M.'s telegraph, ~2~, 105, 110, 119
_St. Laurent_, transatlantic steamer (1868), ~2~, 464
St. Luke's Academy, Rome, M. on, ~1~, 340
St. Martino Convent at Naples, M. on, ~1~, 309, 370
St. Peter's Church. _See_ Rome.
St. Petersburg, M. on display of wealth (1856), ~2~, 355
St. Thomas Island, M. at (1858), ~2~, 397, 398
Salisbury, E.S., from M. (1841) on order for portrait, discouraging
    conditions, ~2~, 158
  (1865) on Yale's celebration of sectional victory, 438
Samson, G.W., and M.'s farewell message to telegraph, ~2~, 485
Sanford, Ahas, "appointment" at Yale, ~1~, 26
Sanford, E.S., from M. (1867) on crooked telegraph manipulations, ~1~, 444
  on government purchase, 446
  on financial stress, 460
Sanitary Commission, M. on aid for Confederate prisoners of war, ~1~, 428
Santa Anna, A.L. de,  at St. Thomas (1858), ~2~, 397
  Saul, Leslie's painting, ~1~, 123
Sculpture, M.'s carving machine, ~1~, 248, 247
Seabury, Samuel, and Civil War, ~2~, 416
Search, British, of American ships, ~1~, 33
Sebastiani, Comte F.H.B., mob attack (1831), ~1~, 410, 411
Secession, M.'s attitude, ~2~, 414, 416, 418
Sender, saw-tooth type, ~2~, 18, 21; first form, 89
  Improvement in portrait, 74, 88, 90
  correspondent or key substituted, 117
"Serenade," M.'s poem, ~2~, 495, 496
Serra Palace, M. on, ~1~, 329.
Serrell, ----, and experimental telegraph line, ~2~, 206, 211, 212
Servants, M. on problem, ~1~, 281, 292
  on English, 302
Servell, ----, visual telegraph, ~2~, 53
Seymour, T.H., with M. at Peterhoff (1856), ~2~, 356, 357
Shaffner, T.P. letters with M. (1848) on clash with rival company, ~2~,
  and M. at Washington, 323
  from M. (1859) on death of Vail, 400
  on Henry controversy, 402
Shaw, ----, invention of percussion cap, ~2~, 472
Shee, Sir M.A., meets M., ~1~, 308
Shepard, Nancy, M.'s nurse, ~1~, 3, ~2~, 72
Sheridan, R.B., lines on Lettsom, ~1~, 40
Shubrick, W.B., at early exhibition of telegraph, ~2~, 48
Siddons, Mrs., M. on, ~1~, 77
Siemens, Werner, and duplex telegraph, ~2~, 187
  and M. at Berlin, 461
Silliman, Benjamin, M. on "Journal," ~1~, 18
  M.'s scientific studies under, 236
  in Berkshires with M., 238, 239
  epitaph for Mrs. Morse, 270, 271
  experiments in photography, 421
  M.'s indebtedness, ~2~, 58
Simbaldi, Palazzo, musical soirée at (1830), ~1~, 342
Simpson, John, at M.'s funeral, ~2~, 512
Sisters of Charity, M. on, ~1~, 323
Slave-trade, Wilberforce and abolition, ~1~, 135
Slavery, M.'s defence, ~2~, 331, 333, 389, 390, 415, 416, 424-426, 432
Smith, Capt. ----, of _Napoleon_ (1829), ~1~, 300
Smith, E.F., from M. (1853) on endorsing notes, ~2~, 319
Smith, E.G., and M. ~2~, 188
  to M. (1847) on painting for Capitol, 267
Smith, F.O.J., offer to help M., ~2~, 82
  character, cause of later antagonism, 82, 83
  conditions of partnership, 83
  report to Congress on telegraph, 87
  and patent specification, 89
  goes to Europe with M., 89
  returns, 109
  on Chamberlain, 148
  abandons efforts for telegraph, 151, 165, 168, 178, 181, 186
  and construction of experimental line, and beginning of hostility to M.,
    206, 212, 213, 216, 218, 219, 225
  and formation of companies, 235, 236
  telegraph dictionary, dedication to M., 236-238
  life-long continuation of antagonism, 238, 247, 273, 280, 303, 304, 307,
    312, 320
  and management of partnership, 247
  separation of interests, 308, 309, 312
  denial of injunction against, 319
  and extension of patent, demand of share, 324, 328, 346, 370
  claim to share foreign gratuity, 409-412, 423
  M.'s acknowledgment to, 471, 489
  on Henry as inventor of telegraph, 498-502
  last attack on M., 502-505, 507
  _Letters to M.:_
    (1841) on M.'s service to humanity, ~2~, 165.
  _From M:_
    (1838) on public control of telegraph, 84
    (1838-39) on French and Russian projects, key, 109-112, 117, 122
    on Jackson's claim, 121
    on English affairs, 124
    (1839) on discouraging conditions, abandonment by partners, 135, 150
    (1840) on Wheatstone's proposition, 158
    (1841) on lobbyist, 164
    on making further effort, progress of rivals, aid from Congress, 165
    (1842) on Henry's praise, private company, 172, 173
    on abandoning invention, Congress, 178
    on discouraging conditions, 180
    (1843) on bill in Congress, 195
    on passage of act, 201
    on trenching contract, 206
    (1844) on company, 236
    on Smith's dedication to M., disputed division of partnership, 238
    (1849) on separation of interests, 308
    (1850) on claim to share of gratuity, 412
Smith, Goldwin, at banquet to M., ~2~, 472
Smith, J.A., informal club (1837), ~2~, 451
Smith, J.L., and telegraph in Turkey, ~2~, 298
Smith, Nathan, M.'s portrait, ~1~, 261
Smithsonian Institution, and Henry-Morse controversy, ~2~, 402
Smuggling, M.'s experience, ~1~, 45, 46
Snow, R.W., to Mrs. Morse (1812) on M. as artist, ~1~, 64
Social evil, M. on, at Rome, ~1~, 374
Society, M. on Roman (1830), ~1~, 342-344
  on English, French, and American manners, 348, 349
  on Venetian. 394
Society for diffusing Useful Political Knowledge, ~2~, 424
Solomons, A.S., and memorial services to M., ~2~, 514
Somaglia, Cardinal, lying in state, ~1~, 344
Sorrento, M. at (1830), ~1~, 364
Soult, Marshal, ministry, ~2~, 117
Sounder. _See_ Receiver.
South Carolina, nullification, ~1~, 431, ~2~, 23, 24
  _See also_ Charleston.
Southey, Robert, sketch for admirer, ~1~, 73, 113
Spagnoletto, M. on Dead Christ, 370
Spain, M. on Wellington's victories, ~1~, 110
  interest in M.'s telegraph, 244
  testimonials to M., 368
  proposed cable to West Indies (1859), 404-406
Spaulding, M.J., M.'s religious controversy, ~2~, 35, 330
Spencer, George, discussion with M. on Catholicism, ~1~, 377
Spencer, J.C., and telegraph, ~2~, 204
Sprague, Peleg, referee on Smith's claim, ~2~, 411
Stafford, Marquis of, seat and gallery, ~1~, 307
Stanford, ----, of New York, M.'s portrait, ~1~, 270
Stanly, Edward, and telegraph, ~2~, 194
Statham, Samuel, and M. in (1856), ~2~, 348
Statue to M., proposed (1865), 3, 442
  unveiling, 482-184
Steinheil, K.A., telegraph, ~2~, 109, 150, 171, 173
  and ground circuit, 243, 367, 470
  recommends M.'s telegraph, 313, 367
Stephen, ----, son of James, and War of 1812, ~1~, 89
Sterling, Antoinette, and M.'s farewell message to telegraph, ~2~, 486
Stevens, W.B., from M. on telegraph in Congress, ~2~, 198
Stickney, William, from M. (1869) on death of Kendall, ~2~, 481
Stiles, J.C., and Civil War, ~2~, 416
Stock-watering, M. not responsible, ~2~, 86
Stothard, Thomas, meets M., ~1~, 308
Strong, Caleb, expected election (1812), ~1~, 66
Strother, D.H., on M.'s poverty (1841), ~2~, 162, 163
Stuart, Gilbert, M. on, ~1~, 93, 102
Sturgeon, William, and electro-magnet, ~2~, 478
Subiaco, M.'s rhapsody, ~1~, 351
Sullivan, Sarah W., marriage, ~2~, 4
Sully, Thomas, and study of life figure, ~1~, 101
  and portrait of Lafayette, 261
  painting for steamer, 289
_Sully_, transatlantic ship (1832), ~2~, 3
Sunday, M. on Continental, ~1~, 318, 322
Supreme Court, on M.'s patent, ~2~, 291-293, 322
_Susquehanna_, and laying of first Atlantic cable, ~2~, 378
Swedish Royal Academy of Science, M.'s membership, ~2~, 393, 403
Switzerland, M. in (1831), ~1~, 400-402

Talleyrand, C.M. de, from Jedediah Morse (1811) introducing M. ~2~, 31
Taney, R.B., telegraph decision, ~2~, 292
Tappan, H.B., on first view of telegraph, ~2~, 47
Tardi, Luigia, singer, ~1~, 342
Tatham & Brothers, and experimental telegraph line, ~2~, 212
Taylor, Moses, and Atlantic cable, ~2~, 343
"Telegram," origin, ~2~, 316
Telegraph. _See_ Atlantic cable, Battery, Circuit, Consolidation,
    Dot-and-dash, Duplex, Experimental line, Morse (S.F.B.), Patent,
    Public ownership, Relay, Receiver, Sender, Wire, Wireless.
Theatre, at St. Bartholomew's Fair (1811), ~1~, 53
  M.'s attitude, 72, 78, 374-376
  M. on Kemble, Cooke, Mrs. Siddons, 77
  premier of Coleridge's _Remorse_, 96
  maternal warnings against, 118
  M.'s farce, 129, 180
Thompson, John, from M. (1867) on fêtes of Paris Exposition, ~2~, 464
  (1868) on desire to return home, 464
Thompson, M.E., and origin of Academy of Design, ~1~, 280
Thornton, Sir Edward, at banquet to M., ~2~, 468, 469
Thornton, Henry, and M., ~1~, 89, 90
  and War of 1812, 89
  on Orders in Council, 91, 92
  letters with M. (1813-14) on prisoner of war, 124-127
Thorwaldsen, A.B., M. on, at Rome and as artist, ~1~, 348, ~2~, 354
  M.'s portrait, ~1~, 348, 370
  from M. (1830) on portrait, 371
  later history of portrait, 372-374, ~2~, 466
  gift to Academy of Design, ~1~, 384
Thunder storms in Venice, ~1~, 393, 394
Tilden, S.J., at M.'s funeral, ~2~, 512
Tips, M. on, in England, ~1~, 37
Tisdale, ----, on Dying Hercules, ~1~, 185
Todd, John, on Jedediah Morse, ~1~, 287
  on Mrs. Morse, 293
Torrey, John, at exhibition of telegraph, ~2~, 54
Toucey, Isaac, and M. as office-seeker for son, ~2~, 388
Toulon, M. on navy yard and galley slaves (1830), ~1~, 326, 327
Town, Ithiel, and origin of Academy of Design, ~1~, 280
  travel with M. (1829-30), 309, 317
Trasteverini, character, ~1~, 382
Travel, English war-time regulations (1811), ~1~, 36
  treatment of travellers, tips, impositions, 37-39
  delay in sailing of ships, 55
  M.'s Journal of dreadful voyage (1815), 186-195
  from New York to Washington (1824), 256
  transatlantic (1829), 300-302
  stage coach to London (1829), 306-308
  Channel steamers (1829), 314
  (1845), ~2~, 250
  winter journey across France by diligence (1830), ~1~, 318-326
  diligence described, 319
  from Toulon to Geneva, 327, 328
  imposition of innkeepers, 327, 330
  from Genoa to Rome, 330-337
  conditions and perils of Italian, 332, 391, 400
  to Venice by boat on Po, 391-393
Trentanove, Raymond, gift to Academy of Design, ~1~, 384
Trentham Hall, ~2~, 307
Trollope, Mrs. Francos, M. on _Domestic Manners_, ~1~, 428
Trumbull, John, M. on, as artist, ~1~, 102
  and M.'s portrait of Mrs. Ball, 232
  and Academy of Arts, 249, 276, ~2~, 22
Turkey, testimonials to M., ~2~, 297, 393
Turner, J.M.W., M. meets, ~1~, 309
Twining, Stephen, and M. at Yale, ~1~, 14, 21
Tyng, S.H., and statue to M., ~2~, 484

Union Theological Seminary, M. endows lectureship, ~2~, 437
Unitarianism, Jedediah Morse's opposition, ~1~, 1
  M. on, ~2~, 430
Universalists, M. on, ~1~, 213
Upham, N.G., referee on Smith's claim, ~2~, 411
Uriel in the Sun, Allston's painting, ~1~, 307

Vail, Alfred, first view of telegraph, ~2~, 54
  association with it, contract, 59, 60
  and dot-and-dash alphabet, 62-65
  work with M., 70, 76, 81
  M.'s acknowledgment of indebtedness to, 71, 471, 489
  friction, 79, 80
  new arrangement of partnership, 83
  ceases effort for telegraph, 136, 151, 168, 178, 181, 186, 401
  and construction and operation of experimental line, agreement, 204,
    205, 215, 216, 220
  and operation of telegraph, 239
  Kendall, as agent, 246, 339, 340
  and Henry controversy, 261
  relations with M. after 1844, 275, 307, 327-329, 339, 401
  incapacity for telegraph work, 296
  M. and death, 400, 401
  _Letters to M:_
    (1840) proposing exhibition at Philadelphia, ~2~, 153
    (1841) on private line, 169
    (1846) on accident, 268
    (1847) on avoiding active interest in companies, 275
    (1848) on suits, severing connection with telegraph, 294
    (1849) on newspaper hostility, 307
  _From M:_
    (1838) on prospects, portrule, 88, 90
    on exhibition before Institute of France, 107
    (1839) on discouraging conditions, 149
    (1840) on same, 151
    (1841) on scattered partners, hope, 169
    (1842) on duplex and wireless experiments, action in Congress, 185
    (1843) on bill, 196
    on passage of act, 201
    on preparation for experimental line, 204
    (1844) on operating, 220, 221
    (1846) on faithless associates, 260
    on accident, 268
    (1847) on personal relations, 275
    (1847) on faithlessness of Rogers, 277, 278
    (1854) on share under extension of patent, 327
Vail, Mrs. Alfred, from M. (1862) on share in gratuity, ~2~, 422
Vail, George, and brother's connection with telegraph, ~2~, 79
  to M. (1842) refusing assistance, 184
  from M. (1854) on  brother's share in extension of patent, 328
  suspicion of M., 339
  from M. (1862) on original wire of telegraph, 423
Vail, Stephen, and telegraph, ~2~, 70, 184
Van Buren, Martin, and letters of introduction for M. (1829), ~1~, 299
  and exhibition of telegraph (1838), ~2~, 81
Vanderlyn, John, and M.'s portrait of Mrs. Ball, ~1~, 232
  and portrait of Lafayette, 261
  and origin of Academy of Design, 280
  painting for steamer, 289
Van Dyke, H.J., and Civil War, ~2~, 416
Van Rensselaer, Stephen, and M. at London (1812), ~1~, 73
  presented at court, 77
  and M. as artist, 245, 252
Van Shalek, ----, to M. (1814) on New York's defenses, ~1~, 150
  on victories, New England Federalism, 150
  to Jedediah Morse on M.'s character, war views, and progress, 166
  orders painting from M., 251
  from M. (1831) on copies of paintings, 390
Vassar, Matthew, from M. (1861) on Vassar College, ~2~, 417
Vassar College. M. and founding, ~2~, 417
Vauxhall Gardens, M. on (1811), ~1~, 50-52
Venice, M.'s Journey to, by Po (1831), ~1~, 391-393
  sights and smells, 393
  thunder storms, 393, 394
  society, 394
  _Venice Preserved_, M. on, ~1~, 72
Vernet, Horace, M. on, at Rome, ~1~, 343, 344
Victoria of England, coronation, ~2~, 100
  anecdote of kindness, 101
Villages, aspect of English (1829), ~1~, 306
Vinci, Leonardo da, and science, ~2~, 471
Virginia, disestablishment, church property, ~1~, 13
Visger, Harman, and M., ~1~, 121
  to M. (1814) on self-support, Allston, 123
Visscher, ----, in England (1812), and M., ~1~, 83, 169-171
Vouchy, Comte de, and M., ~2~, 351

Wainwright, J.M., informal club (1837), ~2~, 451
Walcott, ----, and daguerreotypes, ~2~, 145
Walcott, G.K., and M.'s farewell message to telegraph, ~2~, 486
Waldo, S.L., and portrait of Lafayette, ~1~, 261
  and origin of Academy of Design, 280
Wales, Prince of, M. and visit to America, ~2~, 413
  New York ball, 414
Walewski, Comte, and gratuity to M., ~2~, 373
  to M. (1858) announcing award, 390
  M.'s reply, 394
Walker, Charles [1], M. on family, ~1~, 202
Walker, Charles [2], with M. at New York (1825), ~1~, 275
Walker, Lucretia P., love and engagement to M., ~1~, 202-210
  visits his parents, 212
  and fiancé, 214
  converted, 214
  marriage, 217
  _See also_ Morse, Lucretia P.
Walker, S.C., and Henry-Morse controversy, ~2~, 262
Walker, T.R., to M. (1849) on animosity of newspapers, ~2~, 304
  from M. (1855) on Atlantic cable, 343
  (1862) on monarchy in America, 420
Walker, Mrs. T.R., from M. (1872) on poem, ~2~, 494
Wall, William, and origin of Academy of Design, ~1~, 280
Walpole, N.H., M. at (1816), ~1~, 206
Walsh, Robert, and M.'s telegraph, prophecy, ~2~, 125
War of 1812, M. on British attitude (1811), ~1~, 48;
  M.'s Republican attitude, 58, 64, 70, 76, 81, 82, 84, 87, 109, 110,
    115, 116, 140, 141, 152, 153, 166, 168, 181
  Federalistic attitude of M.'s family, 58, 66, 79, 80, 99, 109, 114, 118,
    122, 181
  Americans in England not disturbed, 58, 86
  question of Orders in Council, 67, 76, 89
  English opinion of Federalists, 81
  Allston's attitude, 89
  and French influence in America, 90, 91
  repeal of Orders in Council, 115
  hatred of Americans in England, 116, 117, 120, 163
  M.'s efforts for release of a prisoner of war, 124-127
  New York defences, 150
  Lake Erie and Plattsburg, 150, 151
  New England's opposition, 151
  American effort (1814), 156
  Federalistic view (1814), 157, 158
  England and peace overtures, 165
  Mrs. Morse on peace, 173
Warren, Edward, and Jackson's claim, letter from M. (1847), ~2~, 274
Warren, Mass. _See_ Western.
Warren Phalanx of Charlestown (1805), ~1~, 7
Washington, ----, telegraph operator, ~2~, 480
Washington, George, as letter-writer, ~1~, 4
Washington, D.C., M. at (1819), ~1~, 226
  (1824), 255
  (1825), 261
  Mrs. Monroe's drawing-room, 227
  Monroe's last levee, Adams and Jackson at it, 262
  M.'s effort for commission for painting for Capitol, ~2~, 28-32, 266-268
  first exhibition of telegraph, 81
  second exhibition, 185
  construction of telegraph line to Baltimore, 204-228
_Washington_, transatlantic steamer (1846), ~2~, 283
Watson, P.H., and extension of M.'s patent, ~2~, 325
Wealth, M. on divine enigma, ~2~, 436
Webster, Daniel, on Jedediah Morse, ~1~, 287
  and M.'s effort for commission for painting for Capitol, ~2~, 28
Webster, Emily, engagement, ~1~, 112
Weld, Thomas, induction as cardinal, ~1~, 339
  meets M., 385
Wellington, Duke of, Spanish victories, ~1~, 110
Wells, William, to M. (1793) on money, ~1~, 2
West, Benjamin, interest in M., ~1~, 42, 44, 46, 47, 62, 73, 85, 102, 103,
    114, 179
  anecdote of George III and Declaration of Independence, 42, 43
  Christ healing the Sick, 44
  Christ before Pilate, 44, 47
  activity and powers in old age, 44
  M. on, as artist, 63, 68, 69
  on Philadelphia as art centre, 73
  gout, 85
West. W.E., and M., ~1~, 309
Western, Mass., tavern (1805), ~1~, 9
Western Union Telegraph Company, passes a dividend (1867), ~2~, 460
"What hath God wrought" message, ~2~, 222
Wheatstone, Sir Charles, and relay, ~2~, 42
  telegraph, 50
  M. on telegraph and his own, 90, 92, 93, 100-102, 242
  opposes patent to M., 93
  progress of telegraph, 150
  proposition to M. rejected. 158
  gets American patent, 166
  Henry on telegraph, 171, 173
  and ground circuit, 243, 250
  telegraph displaced by M.'s, 313, 350
Wheeler, ----, return to America (1812), ~1~, 80
Wheeler, F.B., on M.'s character, ~2~, 493
  at M.'s funeral, 511
  at memorial services, 516
Whig Convention (1844), report by telegraph, ~2~, 220
White, Chandler, and Atlantic cable, ~2~, 343
Whitehouse, E.O.W., experiments for Atlantic cable, ~2~, 348, 366
  and laying of first cable, 377
  log, 378
Whitney. Eli, and M.'s pump, ~1~, 211
Wilberforce, William, and M., ~1~, 89, 94
  and War of 1812, 90
  and slave-trade, 135
  character, 140
  and final overthrow of Napoleon, 185
Willard, J.S., death, ~1~, 8
_William Joliffe_, Channel steamer (1845), ~2~, 250
Williams, H.I., from M. (1847) on law suits, ~2~, 272
Willington, R.S., from M. (1835) on Catholic plot, ~2~, 35
Wilson, D.W., and origin of Academy of Design, ~1~, 280
Wilson, J.L., and Civil War, ~2~, 416
Windsor, Vt., M. at and on (1816), ~1~, 207, 208
Winslow, Hubbard, and Civil War, ~2~, 416
Wire, M. and underground, ~2~, 121
  experiment with submarine, 183
  duplex telegraphy, 185, 187
  failure of underground, for experimental line, 205, 209-211, 214, 216
  insulation for experimental line, 208, 209, 215
  use of naked, 208
  overhead, for experimental line, 210, 215
  use of ground circuit, 221, 367, 470
Wireless telegraphy, M.'s experiment, ~2~, 186, 187, 242, 243
Wiseman, N.P.S., meets M., ~1~, 377
Women, M. on appearance of English, ~1~, 35
Wood, Fernando, and memorial services for M., ~2~, 513, 515
Wood, George, to M. (1849) on harassments, 2, 303;
  and extension of patent, letter to M. (1854), 324, 325
  to M. (1865) on slavery argument, 432
  from M. (1864) on divine hand in progress of telegraph, 435
  on wayward sons, enigma of wealth, 436
  (1866) on benevolent uses of wealth from telegraph, 442
  death, 482
Woodbury, Levi, and telegraph, ~2~, 71, 187, 244
Woods, Leonard, and Civil War, ~2~, 416
Woolsey, Mary A., engagement, ~1~, 112
Woolsey. T.D., and M. in Italy (1830), ~1~, 338
  from M. (1854) on contribution to  Yale, ~2~, 321
Wright, C.C., and origin of Academy of Design, ~1~, 280
Wright, Silas, and telegraph, ~2~, 187, 199
  refuses vice-presidential nomination over telegraph, 226
Württemberg, medal for M., ~2~, 393
Wyatt, Richard, gift to Academy of Design, ~1~, 384
Wynne, James, anecdotes of Coleridge and Abernethy, ~1~, 96-99

Yale College, M. at, ~1~, 10-23
  student's routine (1807), 15
  M.'s incidental expenses, 17
  "appointments," 26
  M.'s gift (1822), 242
  (1854), ~2~, 321
  daguerreotype of 30th anniversary of Class of 1810, 146
  LL.D. for M., 258
  M. refuses to attend class reunion (1865), 438-441
Yates, J.C., and M., ~1~, 247
Young, McClintock, and telegraph, ~2~, 227

Zantzinger, L.F., telegraph operator, ~2~, 480

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