The world of communication was revolutionized by a man who died April 2, 1872. His name was Samuel F.B. Morse, inventor of the telegraph and the Morse code.
Samuel F.B. Morse graduated from Yale in 1810, and became one of the greatest portrait artists. He founded the National Academy of Design, and served as its president for 20 years. In 1831, Morse was appointed to the first chair of fine arts in America, the professor of sculpture and painting at New York University.
Morse obtained a patent for his telegraph, but found it difficult to get financial backers. During the anxious days between failure and success, Samuel F.B. Morse wrote to his wife: “The only gleam of hope, and I can not underrate it, is from confidence in God. When I look upward it calms my apprehensions for the future, and I seem to hear a voice saying: ‘If I clothe the lilies of the field, shall I not also clothe you?’ Here is my strong confidence, and I will wait patiently for the direction of Providence.”
In 1843, Congress agreed to underwrite Morse to erect the first telegraph lines between Baltimore and the U.S. Supreme Court chamber in Washington, D.C.
Samuel F.B. Morse demonstrated the telegraph for the first time on May 24, 1844, allowing Annie Ellsworth, the young daughter of a friend, to chose the message. She selected a verse from the Bible, Numbers 23:23, “What hath God wrought?”
Four years before his death, Samuel F.B. Morse wrote: “The nearer I approach to the end of my pilgrimage, the clearer is the evidence of the divine origin of the Bible, the grandeur and sublimity of God’s remedy for fallen man are more appreciated, and the future is illumined with hope and joy.”
Samuel F.B. Morse was the son of educator Jedediah Morse, known as “Father of American Geography.” Jedediah Morse published:
Geography Made Easy, 1784,
The American Geography, 1789;
Elements of Geography, 1795;
The American Gazetteer, 1797;
A New Gazetteer of the Eastern Continent, 1802;
A Compendious History of New England, 1804; and
Annals of the American Revolution.
Jedediah Morse founded: the New England Tract Society, 1814; the American Bible Society, 1816; and was a member of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, 1811-19.
In an “election sermon” given at Charleston, Massachusetts, April 25, 1799, Jedediah Morse stated: “To the kindly influence of Christianity we owe that degree of civil freedom, and political and social happiness which mankind now enjoys. In proportion as the genuine effects of Christianity are diminished in any nation, either through unbelief, or the corruption of its doctrines, or the neglect of its institutions; in the same proportion will the people of that nation recede from the blessings of genuine freedom, and approximate the miseries of complete despotism. I hold this to be a truth confirmed by experience…”
Jedediah Morse concluded: “If so, it follows, that all efforts to destroy the foundations of our holy religion, ultimately tend to the subversion also of our political freedom and happiness. Whenever the pillars of Christianity shall be overthrown, our present republican forms of government, and all the blessings which flow from them, must fall with them.”
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