Samuel Morse

Samuel Morse The American contributor to the invention of a single-wire telegraph system and co-inventor of Morse code, was born 27th April in 1791 in Charlestown Massachusetts he attended the Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, after which he went on to Yale College where he studied religious philosophy, mathematics and science of horses. While at Yale, he also attended lectures on electricity from Benjamin Silliman and Jeremiah Day, and In 1810, he graduated from Yale with Phi Beta Kappa honours.

Samuel Morse was also an accomplished painter and whilst at Yale He supported himself financially by painting. He expressed some of his beliefs in his painting “Landing of the Pilgrims”, through the depiction of simple clothing as well as the people’s austere facial features. His image captured the psychology of the Federalists; Calvinists from England brought to North America ideas of religion and government, thus linking the two countries. This work also attracted the attention of the notable artist Washington Allston. Later Morse accompanied Allstone on a three-year painting study in England, where he worked to perfect his painting techniques under Allston’s watchful eye. By the end of 1811, he gained admittance to the Royal Academy. He liked the Neo-classical art of the Renaissance particularly the works of Michelangelo and Raphael. After observing and practicing life drawing and absorbing its anatomical demands, the young artist produced his masterpiece, the Dying Hercules. Morse eventually left England on August 21, 1815, to return to the United States and begin his full-time career as a painter.

Between 1815–1825 Morse painted America’s culture and life, including the Federalist former President John Adams, hoping to become part of grander projects as the The Federalists and Anti-Federalists clashed over Dartmouth College. Morse painted portraits of Francis Brown — the college’s president — and Judge Woodward, who was involved in bringing the Dartmouth case before the U.S. Supreme Court. Morse moved to New Haven and was commissioned to paint the Hall of Congress and a portrait of the Marquis de Lafayette, who was a leading French supporter of the American Revolution. From 1830 to 1832, Morse traveled and studied in Europe to improve his painting skills, visiting Italy, Switzerland and France, Some of Morse’s paintings and sculptures are on display at his Locust Grove estate in Poughkeepsie, New York. During his time in Paris, he developed a friendship with the writer James Fennimore Cooper, and On a subsequent visit he also met Louis Daguerre and became interested in the latter’s daguerreotype — the first practical means of photography. In 1825, the city of New York Morse was commissioned to paint a portrait of Gilbert du Motier, marquis de Lafayette, in Washington.

Unfortunately whilst Morse was painting, he received a letter from his father that read one line, “Your dear wife is convalescent”. Morse immediately left Washington for his home at New Haven, leaving the portrait of Lafayette unfinished. By the time he arrived, his wife had already been buried. Heartbroken in the knowledge that for days he was unaware of his wife’s failing health and her lonely death, he moved on from painting to pursue a means of rapid long distance communication. On the sea voyage home 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. However Morse encountered the problem of getting a telegraphic signal to carry over more than a few hundred yards of wire. His breakthrough came from the insights of Professor Leonard Gale, With Gale’s help, Morse introduced extra circuits or relays at frequent intervals and was soon able to send a message a distance of ten miles (16 km) of wire. Morse and Gale were soon joined by a young enthusiastic man, Alfred Vail, who had excellent skills, insights and money. At the Speedwell Ironworks in Morristown, New Jersey, Morse and Vail made the first public demonstration of the electric telegraph on January 11, 1838. and Today 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

Morse sadly passed away on 2 April 1872 aged 80, and is buried in the Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York. However his legacy lives on. His valuable contributions to science and technology has enabled people to communicate long-distance and saved many lives.  Even today Morse code is still the primary language of telegraphy and is still the standard for rhythmic transmission of data.

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