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What Hath God Wrought? The Invention of the Telegraph Presentation by Ben Sulser, Article by Daniel Walker Howe, Professor of American History at Oxford.

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Presentation on theme: "What Hath God Wrought? The Invention of the Telegraph Presentation by Ben Sulser, Article by Daniel Walker Howe, Professor of American History at Oxford."— Presentation transcript:

1 What Hath God Wrought? The Invention of the Telegraph Presentation by Ben Sulser, Article by Daniel Walker Howe, Professor of American History at Oxford University and the University of California, Los Angelos.

2 Why was the invention of the telegraph a revolution in communication (accroding to Howe)? -The telegraph's invention allowed, for the first time in World History, for messages to be sent faster than a man on horseback. -The telegraph lines were easy to build and spread, ensuring that even remote and removed farmsteads could now recieve the latest information. -The rapid messaging system sped up and transformed the economy of both the United States and the world, spreading globilization.

3 In What context did Morse invent his Telegraph? -The mid 1840's were a period of migration- both from European countries, and a push for westward expansion ("Manifest Destiny"). -Railroads began to connect and criss-cross the country, bringing people and goods across the Nation in increasingly shorter times. -Ties with Mexico are strained as the Santa Fe trade is closed.

4 Who was involved in the invention of the Telegraph? - Professor Samuel F.B. Morse- The cheif inventor and the man credited with the invention, he formulated the idea of the telegraph, and built the first working prototype in 1837, although, due to an econimic disaster, was not formally recognized until Joseph Henry, Professor of Chemistry at University of New York- provided assistance with using an electrical circuit to boost a signal, and invented a relay system for long-distance signals. -Ezra Cornell, Morse's construction engineer- Solved the dilemma of spreading the telegraph lines by mounting the wires on tall poles and trees, spreading lines across the U. S. and inventing the telegraph pole.

5 Contributions by others: Telegraph Pole Telegraph Relay

6 What was the lasting impact of Morse's work? 1. Telegraph lines opened and spread along the newly-built railroads, ensuring fast and stable means of communication anywhere along these avenues of transportation- eventually, across the Atlantic Ocean (1866) 2. The Morse code used in Telegraphs would be used to send simple signals and transmissions rapidly- extensivley used in navies and aircraft worldwide, continuing through the modern era, primarily with the use of radios. 3. Even after the telegraph passed into obsoleteness, the telegraph poles themselves would be modified to carry telophone wires, electricity, and internet cables.

7 Applications of the telegraph Field telegraph issued to U.S. soldiers in WW1 Telegraph relays at a train station in England, 1909.

8 What evidence supports Howe's thesis? -The newly built telegraph systems could relay messages in under a few minutes to virtually anywhere connected to a telegraph line- transatlantic communication now only took 2 hours per message, a then-unheard of speed. -Corrospondents for Newspapers, another spreading invention, could send reports and messages from miles away to the local news print, facilitating the spread of information. -Farmers and bankers now had acess to far-off and international prices of goods, contributing to the industrial change in the 1840's.

9 Telegraph Lines in 1853

10 Telegraph Lines in 1891

11 What are arguments against Howe's thesis? - Telegraphs, though they could send messages extremley quickly, required a skilled operator that knew Morse code and could read- these were not acessible to illiterate, uneducated majority of Americans. - Charles Wheatstone, an English inventor, developed his own electrical telegraph independently from Morse in the same time period. -The steam printing press, also invented in 1943, greatly contributed to the spread of information by allowing newspapers, magazines, books, documents and even telegrams to be printed quickly and in great quantities.

12 Sources - Daniel Walker Howe, What hath God wrought (published in American Heritage magazine, volume 59, No. 4) -Dageuerrotype by Mathew Brady, around Telegraph reproduction from American Museum of Radio and Technology - (Library of Congress Website) -Telegraph pole picture taken at Yuma, Arizona. -Telegraph maps from the website -Robert A. Divine, America Past and Present.


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