Among other interesting inventions of this time was the making of the first photographs, or daguerreotypes. Then there was also the discovery that a patient could be put to sleep, so that he need not feel pain, while doctors performed an operation. But the greatest change in our country, and, indeed, in the whole world, was brought about at this time by the invention of the electric telegraph, by Samuel Morse.
You have heard, have you not, how Benjamin Franklin made his electrical experiments” Well, once when Samuel Morse was on his way to America, a passenger on the same ship told him that an electric current could be sent along a wire. Morse immediately thought that if such was the case, an electric current could be used to convey messages, and during that long sea trip he worked out the system which still bears his name.
Although poor, he spent every cent he had in making experiments. Then, when his plans were all ready, he laid them before Congress, and, after many discouraging delays, he was finally given thirty thousand dollars to build the first telegraph line in the United States. This was between Baltimore and Washington, and Ezra Cornell, founder of Cornell University, invented the machine to lay the wires.
But, after the greater part of the money had been spent in vain efforts to make underground wires work, Morse hung them on poles, and the first official message was sent over the line in 1844, by the young lady who had brought Morse the welcome news that Congress had given him thirty thousand dollars. She telegraphed the words “What hath God wrought.” Two days later a message was sent from Baltimore to Washington, to announce that Polk was to run for President, but some people refused to believe it until the news reached them in the usual way.
Since then telegraph lines have been built in every direction. Wires run now underground as well as above it, and a way has also been found to lay them in the sea.