- Education and Science
Astonishing Saga Of Painter Turned Inventor__Samuel B Morse and Incredibly Useful Telegraph
Samuel Morse__A Talented Painter__Unable to Make A Living As Artist
Samuel B. Morse (1791-1872) invented this electrical device some 25 years before the American Civil War . It is incredible that Morse had no prior scientific and technical training relating to this invention. In fact, he was a talented professional artist, a "historical painter" as he described himself.
But once he was introducd to the idea on a ship journey back from Europe by a fellow passenger, he was sufficiently intrigued to have made a sketch of the idea the next day as he was able to visualize it in his own mind. Later upon return to America, he pursued the idea by picking up scientific and technical knowledge by his own persistence, and came up with the first prototype demonstration in Baltimore, MD. To be able to communicate instantly by electrical wire, using codes, he thought would have considerable value to intelligence.
On this potential "practical use" Morse's assessment was certainly correct. But as railroad emerged in America's expansion out west, in the pre-Civil War period in the mid-19th Century, telegraphy found a most practical and valuable application for communications along the railroad tracks going west in America of that time period, pushing westward in a virgin land of wilderness and Native Americans.
Telegraphy__Incredible Useful Invention
U.S. Congressional Grant To Morse Supported Early Prototype Development
During the Civil War, telegraph provided a valuable tool for the Northern millitary forces pushing south across Virginia in 1864 time frame. It is written that by the era of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln used telegraphed message from the war front on a daily basis sent to him by telegraph on the progress in the war to the White House.
Abrham Lincoln is still known today as one of the most innovation supportive President of the United States since that time.
In the electrical fields, early 19th century, substantial new discoveries were made mostly in Europe of that time, inspired perhaps by the legacy of the Italian Renaissance centuries earlier.
Morse's paintings, both portrait and commissioned art still exists in museums in America and elsewhere, including some in the National Museum of Art in Washington DC.
"Reversal of Fortune" by David Mccullough featured article in Smithsonian Magazine (September, 2011 issue, page 80) is about Morse's painter career that did not provide sufficient income for him to live . But the accidental introduction to the idea of the telegraph on the return ship journey is an valuable background story of the historical event.
Smithsonian Magazine Article Highlights Crucial Decision By Morse - To Leave Forever His Painting Career & Focus on Telegraph Invention
Mccullough highlights this Morse decision to leave forever his profession as a painter in that time period. Using the historical words and documents of the past, Mccullough tells the story of how and why Morse made the decision to leave his career as a painter and devote himself to the invention of the telegraph shortly after return from France in 1832.
It is pretty clear that upon his return to America, he was intrigued by the potential of the telegraph idea and using his own creative ability to pick up the additional knowledge and with help from some others , he determined to seek this invention for the benefit of America.
Photo Album 01_Painter Turned InventorClick thumbnail to view full-size
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