“’Oh! no, my young friend, you are mistaken; I was in the Senate chamber till after the lamps were lighted, and my senatorial friends assured me there was no chance for me.’
“‘But,’ she replied, ’it is you that are mistaken. Father was there at the adjournment at midnight, and saw the President put his name to your bill, and I asked father if I might come and tell you, and he gave me leave. Am I the first to tell you?’
“The news was so unexpected that for some moments I could not speak. At length I replied:—
“’Yes, Annie, you are the first to inform me, and now I am going to make you a promise; the first dispatch on the completed line from Washington to Baltimore shall be yours.’
“‘Well,’ said she, ‘I shall hold you to your promise.’”
This was the second great moment in the history of the Morse Telegraph. The first was when the inspiration came to him on board the Sully, more than a decade before, and now, after years of heart-breaking struggles with poverty and discouragements of all kinds, the faith in God and in himself, which had upheld him through all, was justified, and he saw the dawning of a brighter day.
On what slight threads do hang our destinies! The change of a few votes in the House, the delay of a few minutes in the Senate, would have doomed Morse to failure, for it is doubtful whether he would have had the heart, the means, or the encouragement to prosecute the enterprise further.
He lost no time in informing his associates of the happy turn in their affairs, and, in the excitement of the moment, he not only dated his letter to Smith March 3, instead of March 4, but he seems not to have understood that the bill had already been signed by the President, and had become a law:—
“Well, my dear Sir, the matter is decided. The Senate has just passed my bill without division and without opposition, and it will probably be signed by the President in a few hours. This, I think, is news enough for you at present, and, as I have other letters that I must write before the mail closes, I must say good-bye until I see you or hear from you. Write to me in New York, where I hope to be by the latter part of next week.”
And to Vail he wrote on the same day:—
“You will be glad to learn, doubtless, that my bill has passed the Senate without a division and without opposition, so that now the telegraphic enterprise begins to look bright. I shall want to see you in New York after my return, which will probably be the latter part of next week. I have other letters to write, so excuse the shortness of this, which, IF SHORT, IS SWEET, at least. My kind regards to your father, mother, brothers, sisters, and wife. The whole delegation of your State, without exception, deserve the highest gratitude of us all.”
The Representatives from the State of New Jersey in the House voted unanimously for the bill, those of every other State were divided between the yeas and the nays and those not voting.