27 Apr, 2021

Samuel Morse – artist and inventor

Samuel Morse was born on April 27, 1791 in Charlestown (Massachusetts, USA). He studied at Yale College, where he developed an interest in both electricity and painting.

After graduating from college in 1810, Morse became a clerk in Boston, but painting remained his main passion. In 1811, his parents helped him travel to England to study painting. There he created a number of historical paintings.

During the war of 1812 between England and the United States, he took a pro-American position. In 1815 he returned to his homeland, but the Americans did not appreciate his historical canvases. In order to make a living, he returned to portrait painting and worked in New England, New York and South Carolina. Among his friends were the hero of the American Revolutionary War – the Marquis Lafayette and the novelist Fenimore Cooper.

In 1826 Morse founded the National Academy of Drawing and was its first president until 1845. In 1832, while sailing on a ship from Europe to the United States, under the influence of the message about the invention of the electromagnet, he thought about the possibility of creating an electric telegraph.

He made the first working model of the telegraph in 1835. During this time, he still devoted most of his time to painting, teaching at New York University (where he became professor of painting and sculpture in 1832) and politics.

From 1837, Morse began to focus on his invention. In 1838, he developed a system of dots and dashes (dashes) for coded message transmission, which became known throughout the world as Morse code.

After a failed attempt to establish a telegraph line in Europe in 1843, Morse received financial support from Congress to create the first experimental telegraph line in the United States from Baltimore to Washington. In 1844, the line was completed, and on May 24, 1844, he sent the first telegraph message: “Wonderful are your works, Lord!”

Morse was involved in patent litigation by competing inventors and fought vigorously for his rights, which were recognized by the US Supreme Court in 1854. Telegraph lines were drawn on both sides of the Atlantic.

In his declining years, being a wealthy man, Morse was engaged in philanthropic activities – helping colleges, churches and poor artists.

Samuel Morse died on April 2, 1872 in New York.