Morse Code: What Hath God Wrought!

Samuel Morse was Universalist of the Biblical kind. He 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.”

Universalism touches every area of life leading us to work and play for the betterment of the human race. Learn how one technology, developed by a Universalist, changed the world for the better.

Morse Code: What Hath God Wrought! – By Daniel Sheridan

#OTD, May 24, 1844, the most significant discovery in the methods of communication, an invention born out of personal tragedy, was successfully put to the test, thus launching the worldwide communications revolution and marking a turning point in the advancement of human civilization.

Professor Samuel Morse was born in Massachusetts in 1791, graduated from Yale, and became a notable portrait painter; he was commissioned to paint Revolutionary heroes like John Adams and James Monroe. One day in 1825, while in D.C. working on a painting of our French ally and friend during the Revolution, Lafayette, Morse received a letter from his father informing him that his wife was deathly ill. By the time Morse returned home, however, the love of his life was already dead and buried. She was only 25.

Morse was devastated. It haunted him that the snail’s pace in which news traveled in those days prevented him from being able to respond soon enough to be with his wife in her final hours. Thinking thereon, Morse turned his attention to the study of electricity, hoping to come up with a way to speed up communications, and by 1835 he had invented the electric telegraph.

On this day, May 24, 1844, he put his new technology to the test. Morse set up his telegraphic sounder at the Federal Supreme Court, and witnesses watched with anticipation while marveling at this strange machine with copper wires attached. The moment of truth came when the inventor sat before the contraption and ticked off the Biblical words:

“What hath God wrought.”

The message was received seconds later by Morse’s assistant in Baltimore who promptly responded to the astonishment of all present.

Professor Morse thought that was only the beginning, and he prophesied that his wires would one day encircle the earth carrying messages not only across America but under the ocean to Europe.

The road to success, however, wasn’t smooth. Morse received his patent in 1838, six years before his test, and spent every dime he had on the invention. Morse was broke. Congress, thankfully, stepped in to help, and then his project was a success.

In 1844, Morse’s invention carried the news of the election of James K Polk from Baltimore to Washington D.C., a forerunner to our election night coverage with its instant results. Telegraph lines started spreading rapidly throughout the country. In 1851, the first electric fire-alarm telegraph was set-up.

Morse lived to see his invention change the world, and he eventually retired from public life satisfied with his life’s work. In 1871, the elder Morse published his final words through his invention when he dictated to the operator these words:

“Greeting and thanks to the Telegraph fraternity throughout the world. Glory to God in the Highest, on Earth Peace, Goodwill to men.”

Morse then sat down and personally typed his name at the end. He died ten months later at the age of 80.

On this day, May 24, 1844, the first Morse code message is sent; a day that should be recognized as a turning point in the advancement of human civilization.

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