Digital Age

Beginning of The Digital Age

Whig party held its national convention in Baltimore on May 1, 1844, and nominated Henry Clay. This news was hand-carried to Annapolis Junction (between Washington and Baltimore), where Morse’s partner, Alfred Vail, wired it to the Capitol. This was the first news dispatched by electric telegraph.

Located between US Route 1 and the B&O Railroad tracks near the intersection with Ritz Way about 1 mile north of Beltsville, MD.

Morse, Samuel F. B. (Finley Breese)  1791 — 1872 Painter, inventor; born in Charlestown, Mass. He began as a painter, studying in England under Washington Allston and Benjamin West (1811).  In New York (1832), he began his many electrical experiments. From 1835 to 1838, he invented the telegraph, a method of transmitting a series of dots and dashes, representing the alphabet, over telegraph lines by means of electromagnets.

He received many honors. Later he experimented with submarine cable telegraphy.  He also introduced the daguerreotype, a photographic process, to America (1839). Today he is honored for his work as both a painter and an inventor.

While a professor of arts and design at New York University in 1835, Samuel Morse proved that signals could be transmitted by wire. He used pulses of current to deflect an electromagnet, which moved a marker to produce written codes on a strip of paper – the invention of Morse Code. The following year, the device was modified to emboss the paper with dots and dashes. He gave a public demonstration in 1838, but it was not until five years later that Congress (reflecting public apathy) funded $30,000 to construct an experimental telegraph line from Washington to Baltimore, a distance of 40 miles. The line was successfully installed on May 24, 1844.

Before the line reached Baltimore, the Whig party held its national convention there and nominated Henry Clay on May 1, 1844. This news was hand-carried to Annapolis Junction (between Washington and Baltimore), where Morse’s partner, Alfred Vail, wired it to the Capitol. This was the first news dispatched by electric telegraph.

What Hath God Wrought?

The message, “What hath God wrought?” sent later by “Morse Code” from the old Supreme Court chamber in the United States Capitol to his partner in Baltimore, officially opened the completed line of May 24, 1844. Morse allowed Annie Ellsworth, a friend’s young daughter, to choose the words of the message, and she selected a verse from Numbers XXIII, 23: “What hath God wrought?” which was recorded onto paper tape. Morse’s early system produced a paper copy with raised dots and dashes, which were translated later by an operator.

Interactive Map
Uniting the States with Telegraphs, 1844-1862 – Carnegie Mellon University

“An Act to Facilitate  Communication between the Atlantic and Pacific States by Electric Telegraph”

Fort Laramie National Historic Site

Crossroads of a Nation Moving West
Fort Laramie was perhaps the single most important location in America’s expansion into the West. Founded in 1834 as a trading post, it became a military fort in 1849. Until it closed in 1890, Fort Laramie influenced major events in the history of the Trans-Mississippi West. From the eras of the fur trade, the Oregon Trail, and the Indian Wars, the fort served as an American foothold in a rapidly changing west. Electrical Engineering Milestone
Transcontinental Telegraph

Between July 4 and October 24, 1861. The Western Union Telegraph Company constructed a telegraph line between St. Joseph, Missouri, and Sacramento, California. Thereby completing the high-speed communications link between the Atlantic and the Pacific coasts. This service met the critical demand for fast communication between these two areas. This telegraph line operated until May 1869. When it was replaced by a multi-wire system constructed with the Union Pacific and Central Pacific Railroad line, the Transcontinental Telegraph reached Fort Laramie from the East on August 5, 1861. From then until May 1869, Fort Laramie was a major station on the telegraph line. Soldiers from Fort Laramie protected the line, made repairs, and operated remote repeater stations from Julesburg, Colorado (150 miles to the East) to South Pass, Wyoming (300 miles to the West).“Pacific Telegraph Act of 1860,” An Act to Facilitate  Communication between the Atlantic and Pacific States by Electric Telegraph”