Samuel Morse – Patriot of the Week

Samuel Morse was an American painter and inventor, who invented the single-wire telegraph system.. Born to a modest household, Morse started his career as a painter, his forte being portraiture. In no time, he established a name for himself in the field of painting and painted portraits of significant personalities such as, former US President John Adams and James Monroe and French aristocrat Marquis de Lafayette. Though Morse was always fascinated with electromagnetism, it was the sudden news of the death of his wife that gave him the impetus to come up with a device that allowed long-distance communication. After years of hard work, he finally came up with the single-wire telegraph system that changed the way people sent and received messages in the world. He co-developed Morse Code, a method of transmitting textual information as a series on an off tones. Interestingly, in some parts of the world, Morse Code is still in use in radio communications.

•Samuel Morse was born on April 27, 1791 in Charlestown, Massachusetts to Jedidiah Morse and Elizabeth Ann Finley Breese.

•Morse gained his early education from Philips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts before enrolling at the Yale University to study religious philosophy, mathematics and science of horses.

•While at Yale, he attended lectures on electricity. To support his living, he took to painting. In 1810, he graduated from Yale with Phi Beta Kappa honors.

•His most notable early work includes ‘Landing of the Pilgrims’ which caught the attention of Washington Allston. Impressed by his work of art, he encouraged Morse to move to England. It was in England that Morse gave finesse to his artwork. He perfected his painting technique so much so that by 1811, he gained admission at the Royal Academy.

•Morse is credited with the invention of a single-wire telegraph that allowed long-distance communication. He along with his partners co-developed the Morse Code thus helping make telegraph a viable commercial-use device.

•Recognizing his contribution in the field of science, leaders of several countries rewarded him with notable honors. Sultan Ahmad I ibn Mustafa of Turkey inducted him into the Order of Glory, Emperor of Austria presented him Great Golden Medal of Science and Arts and Emperor of France bestowed upon him a cross of Chevalier in the Légiond’honneur.

•While the King of Denmark credited him with the Cross of a Knight of the Order of the Dannebrog, the Queen of Spain presented him with the honor of Cross of Knight Commander of the Order of Isabella the Catholic. Other significant awards include Order of the Tower and Sword from the kingdom of Portugal and Chevalier of the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus by Italy.

•The government of the United States did not recognize him until the last years of his life. He lived to see a statue of himself unveil at the New York Central Park. Posthumously, his portrait was engraved in the United States two-dollar bill silver certificate series in 1896.

•Morse married twice. His first marriage was with Lucretia Pickering Walker on September 29, 1818. The marriage bore him three children: Susan, Charles and James. Lucretia died on February 7, 1825.

•Morse married Sarah Elizabeth Griswold on August 10, 1848. The couple had four children: Samuel, Cornelia, William and Edward.

•Morse passed away on April 2, 1872, in New York City. He was interred at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.

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