SAMUEL F. B. MORSE - AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED 02/24/1844 - HFSID 67939
Sale Price $1,360.00
SAMUEL F.B. MORSE
The artist and inventor signs this letter to F. O. J. Smith regarding vague matters, dated three months before the first message was sent over telegraph
Autograph letter signed: "Saml F.B. Morse", 1p, 7½x9½. Washington, 1844 February 24. Recipient's name has almost been completely obliterated, but "F.O.J. Smith, Esq." is faintly visible. In full: "In answer to your note of this morning I would say that I am engaged this day in the moments not called for by public duties, in looking over and arranging my papers for the purpose of adjusting the accounts of which you speak, the result of which you shall be apprized of with as little delay as the nature of the case will admit of." Samuel Finley Breese Morse (1791-1872) was an American painter and inventor. While attending Yale College Morse painted for a living and later studied art in Europe. His first wife died suddenly and Morse, heartbroken, became determined to formulate a faster way to send messages long distances. While returning by ship from Europe in 1832, Morse encountered Charles Thomas Jackson of Boston, a man who was well schooled in electromagnetism. Witnessing various experiments with Jackson's electromagnet, Morse developed the concept of a single-wire telegraph. On May 24, 1844, using a code of dots and dashes that he developed, sent the message, "What hath God wrought!" from the Supreme Court room in the Capitol building to Baltimore, the first successful application of the telegraph. In time the Morse code, which he developed, would become the primary language of telegraphy in the world. It is still the standard for rhythmic transmission of data. The original Morse telegraph, submitted with his patent application, is part of the collections of the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution. Francis Ormand Jonathan Smith (1806-1876) represented Maine in Congress from 1833-1839, serving as Chairman of the House Committee on Commerce. MORSE offered Smith a partnership mainly for his political knowledge and influence. Smith purchased a one-fourth interest in Morse's patent. After Smith left Congress, he continued lobbying his former colleagues. Finally, in 1843, Morse succeeded in getting a federal subsidy of $30,000 by an Act of Congress which made possible a 40-mile demonstration line between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore. The first public message was sent on May 24, 1844, just three months after Morse wrote Smith this letter. Morse had intended to bury the telegraph line and Smith enlisted the aid of Ezra Cornell, whom he had first met in Maine, to devise a digging machine which laid the line between the two cities. Smith proved to be a difficult associate. In 1845, he produced his own version of Morse's codebook, The Secret Corresponding Vocabulary; Adapted to Morse's Electro-Magnetic Telegraph, adding letters to Morse's numerical lists. The first telegraph line between New York and Boston was opened in 1846 under the management of F.O.J. Smith. It is most probable that it was Smith himself who erased his name from this letter (2½x½-inch shading by salutation) before he gave it, or most likely, sold it to a collector. Folds touch signature. Lightly creased. Slightly shaded edges. 1¾-inch vertical stain borders left side of text. Top half of letter darkened on verso. Pencil notes (unknown hand) on verso. Otherwise, fine condition.
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