Biography of Samuel Morse


SAMUEL FINLEY BREESE MORSE, LL.D., etc., inventor of the magnetic telegraph, was the eldest son of the Rev. Jedediah Morse, D.D., geographer, and was born at Charlestown, Massachusetts, April 27th, 1791. He graduated at Yale College in 1810, and visited England with the American painter, Washington Allston, to study painting with him and Benjamin West. In 1813, he received the gold medal of the Adelphi Society of Arts for his first effort in sculpture, the "Dying Hercules." Returning to New York, he became the first president of the National Academy of Design, and was appointed Professor of the Arts of Design in the university of the city of New York. He did not give his entire attention to art, but was interested in chemistry, and especially in electrical and galvanic experiments; and on a voyage from Havre to New York, in 1832, he conceived the idea of a magnetic telegraph, which he exhibited to congress in 1837. He struggled on with scanty means until 1843, when, as he had almost yielded to despair, congress, at midnight, and the last moments of the session, appropriated thirty thousand dollars for an experimental line between Washington and Baltimore. For his telegraphic inventions, Dr. Morse was rewarded by testimonials, honors, orders of nobility and wealth. Several European states joined in presenting him a purse of four hundred thousand francs, and banquets were given him in London and Paris. Dr. Morse died in New York, April 2nd, 1872, at the age of eighty-one years.