“In the carrying-out of any plan of improvement, however grand or feasible, no single individual could possibly accomplish it without the aid of others. We are none of us so powerful that we can dispense with the assistance, in various departments of the work, of those whose experience and knowledge must supply the needed aid of their expertness. It is not sufficient that a brilliant project be proposed, that its modes of accomplishment are foreseen and properly devised; there are, in every part of the enterprise, other minds and other agencies to be consulted for information and counsel to perfect the whole plan. The Chief Justice, in delivering the decision of the Supreme Court, says: ’It can make no difference whether he [the inventor] derives his information from books or from conversation with men skilled in the science.’ And: ’The fact that Morse sought and obtained the necessary information and counsel from the best sources, and acted upon it, neither impairs his rights as an inventor nor detracts from his merits.’
“The inventor must seek and employ the skilled mechanician in his workshop to put the invention into practical form, and for this purpose some pecuniary means are required as well as mechanical skill. Both these were at hand. Alfred Vail, of Morristown, New Jersey, with his father and brother, came to the help of the unclothed infant, and with their funds and mechanical skill put it into a condition to appear before the Congress of the nation. To these New Jersey friends is due the first important aid in the progress of the invention. Aided also by the talent and scientific skill of Professor Gale, my esteemed colleague in the University, the Telegraph appeared in Washington in 1838, a suppliant for the means to demonstrate its power. To the Honorable F.O.J. Smith, then chairman of the House Committee of Commerce, belongs the credit of a just appreciation of the new invention, and of a zealous advocacy of an experimental essay, and the inditing of an admirably written report in its favor, signed by every member of the committee.... To Ezra Cornell, whose noble benefactions to his state and the country have placed his name by the side of Cooper and Peabody high on the roll of public benefactors, is due the credit of early and effective aid in the superintendence and erection of the first public line of telegraph ever established.”
After paying tribute to the names of Amos Kendall, Cyrus Field, Volta, Oersted, Arago, Schweigger, Gauss and Weber, Steinheil, Daniell, Grove, Cooke, Dana, Henry, and others, he continued:—
“There is not a name I have mentioned, and many whom I have not mentioned, whose career in science or experience in mechanical and engineering and nautical tactics, or in financial practice, might not be the theme of volumes rather than of brief mention in an ephemeral address.