"What Hath God Wrought" Telegraph Message

"What Hath God Wrought" Telegraph Message

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Telegraph message, printed in Morse code, transcribed and signed by Samuel F. B. Morse. This message was transmitted from Baltimore, Maryland, to Washington, D.C., over the nation's first long-distance telegraph line.
In 1843, Congress allocated $30,000 for Morse (1791-1872) to build an electric telegraph line between Washington and Baltimore. Morse and his partner, Alfred Vail (1807-1859), completed the forty-mile line in May 1844. For the first transmissions, they used a quotation from the Bible, Numbers 23:23: "What hath God wrought," suggested by Annie G. Ellsworth (1826-1900), daughter of Patent Commissioner Henry L. Ellsworth (1791-1858) who was present at the event on 24 May. Morse, in the Capitol, sent the message to Vail at Mt. Claire Station in Baltimore. Vail then sent a return message confirming the message he had received.
The original message transmitted by Morse from Washington to Baltimore, dated 24 May 1844, is in the collections of the Library of Congress. The original confirmation message from Vail to Morse is in the collections of the Connecticut Historical Society.
This tape, dated 25 May, is a personal souvenir transmitted by Vail in Baltimore to Morse in Washington the day following the inaugural transmissions. The handwriting on the tape is that of Morse himself. Found in Morse’s papers after his death the tape was donated to the Smithsonian in 1900 by his son Edward, where it has been displayed in many exhibitions.
Currently not on view
Object Name
telegraph message
date made
associated date
associated person
Morse, Samuel Finley Breese
Morse, Samuel Finley Breese
place made
United States: Maryland, Baltimore
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
overall: 1 1/2 in x 27 3/4 in; 3.81 cm x 70.485 cm
overall, mounted: 5/32 in x 35 in x 9 in;.39687 cm x 88.93967 cm x 22.86 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
from Edward Lind Morse
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Work and Industry: Electricity
Government, Politics, and Reform
Cultures & Communities
Family & Social Life
Industry & Manufacturing
National Treasures exhibit
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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This is very interesting... Stuart Collection added this to UCSD's extensive collection. It is on the UCSD campus and blinks throughout the day and night. A wonderful collection for the whole campus and surrounding areas in San Diego to see...
Western Electrcian (Vol. IX August 8,1891 No.6, Page 72). states: Mrs. Roswell Smith, then Annie G. Ellsworth, that while working for the her father, the commissioner of patents was the first to inform Samuel Morse of the passing of a bill appropriating funds from Congress for Morse's telegraph system. So pleased with her, Morse honored Annie in writing the first message., "What has God Wrought". to be sent by telegraph. The transmitted stripe of paper was then claimed by Governor Seymour of Connecticut who felt his state should have the stripe because Annie was a native and Morse received his education at Yale.

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