Samuel F. B. Morse, His Letters and Journals eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 588 pages of information about Samuel F. B. Morse, His Letters and Journals.

On June 3, Morse made his report to the Honorable McClintock Young, who was then Secretary of the Treasury ad interim.  It was with great satisfaction that he was able to say:  “Of the appropriation made there will remain in the Treasury, after the settlement of outstanding accounts, about $3500, which may be needed for contingent liabilities and for sustaining the line already constructed, until provision by law shall be made for such an organization of a telegraphic department or bureau as shall enable the Telegraph at least to support itself, if not to become a profitable source of revenue to the Government.”

In the course of this report mention is also made of the following interesting incidents:—­

“In regard to the utility of the Telegraph, time alone can determine and develop the whole capacity for good of so perfect a system.  In the few days of its infancy it has already casually shown its usefulness in the relief, in various ways, of the anxieties of thousands; and, when such a sure means of relief is available to the public at large, the amount of its usefulness becomes incalculable.  An instance or two will best illustrate this quality of the Telegraph.

“A family in Washington was thrown into great distress by a rumor that one of its members had met with a violent death in Baltimore the evening before.  Several hours must have elapsed ere their state of suspense could be relieved by the ordinary means of conveyance.  A note was dispatched to the telegraph rooms at the Capitol requesting to have inquiry made at Baltimore.  The messenger had occasion to wait but ten minutes when the proper inquiry was made at Baltimore, and the answer returned that the rumor was without foundation.  Thus was a worthy family relieved immediately from a state of distressing suspense.

“An inquiry from a person in Baltimore, holding the check of a gentleman in Washington upon the Bank of Washington, was sent by telegraph to ascertain if the gentleman in question had funds in that bank.  A messenger was instantly dispatched from the Capitol who returned in a few minutes with an affirmative answer, which was returned to Baltimore instantly, thus establishing a confidence in a money arrangement which might have affected unfavorably (for many hours, at least) the business transactions of a man of good credit.

“Other cases might be given, but these are deemed sufficient to illustrate the point of utility, and to suggest to those who will reflect upon them thousands of cases in the public business, in commercial operations, and in private and social transactions, which establish beyond a doubt the immense advantages of such a speedy mode of conveying intelligence.”

While such instances of the use of the telegraph are but the commonplaces of to-day, we can imagine with what wonder they were regarded in 1844.

Morse then addressed a memorial to Congress, on the same day, referring to the report just quoted from, and then saying:—­

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