Family Tree Tuesday – Samuel Morse

Posted April 2, 2013 by Hiromimarie | No Comment

Samuel Morse

Samuel Morse was an inventor, contributing to the invention of a single-wire telegraph system based on European telegraphs and he was a co-inventor of the Morse code. He was also an accomplished painter. Morse had gone to England for three years to perfect his painting techniques and by the end of 1811 he gained admittance to the Royal Academy. After observing and practicing life drawing and absorbing its anatomical demands at the academy he produced his masterpiece, Dying Hercules. To some, the painting seemed to represent a political statement against the British and also the American Federalists. 

He started pursuing a means of rapid long distance communication because he was unaware of his wife’s failing health and her lonely death for days do to the current way of communication of a horse messenger. He had witnessed various experiments with Charles Thomas Jackson’s electromagnets which helped him develop the concept of a single-wire telegraph. The original Morse telegraph is part of the collections of the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution. With the help of Professor Leonard Gale, who taught chemistry at New York University, Morse introduced extra circuits of relays at frequent intervals and was soon able to send a message through ten miles of wire instead of just a few hundred yards. In time the Morse code would become the primary language of telegraphy in the world, and is still the standard for rhythmic transmission data.

Original Morse telegraph

Samuel Finley Breese Morse was born on April 27, 1791 in Charlestown, Massachusetts to Jedidiah Morse and Elizabeth Ann Finley Breese. Jedidiah was a preacher of the Calvinist faith and supporter of the American Federalist party. He thought it helped preserve Puritan traditions and believed in the Federalist support of an alliance with Britain and a strong central government.  He was a notable geographer whose textbooks became a staple for students in the United States. He made significant contributions to Dobson’s Encyclopedia, the first encyclopedia published in the United States after the American Revolution.  He became a pastor in Charlestown, Massachusetts and served until 1820. Throughout his life he was occupied with religious controversy, and in upholding the faith of the New England church against the assaults of Unitarianism. 

Jedidiah Morse painting by Samuel Morse

Sidney Edwards Morse was Samuel’s brother who was a geographer, journalist and also an inventor. He became a contributor to the Columbian Centinel of Boston, writing a series of articles that illustrated the danger of the American Union from an undue multiplication of new states in the south, and showing that it would give to a sectional minority the control of the government. He moved to New York in 1823 and founded the New York Observer with his brother Richard Cary Morse. The newspaper became the oldest religious newspaper in New York and the oldest weekly newspaper in New York City. Sidney remained as senior editor and proprietor until 1858 when he retired.

Samuel’s maternal great grandfather and namesake was Reverend Samuel Finley who founded the West Nottingham Academy and was the fifth president and an original trustee of the College of New Jersey (now known as Princeton University) from 1761-1766.

Check out Samuel Morse’s family tree and see how you may be related!

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